Open software service for IO-Link function blocks

26 October 2020

An open software service, which creates ready-made IO-Link function blocks to integrate data from any IO-Link device into a wide range of common PLC control systems, has been launched by the SICK.

The SICK Function Block Factory is said to be the first web-based service of its type that enables users to create function blocks automatically from any IO-link device with an I/O device description (IODD), no matter what the device type or its manufacturer. It allows users with no specialist IO-Link knowledge to configure and create their own function block libraries and reuse them in their PLC programs as often as needed. 

To create a function block, users simply sign in to the SICK 24/7 web service, select the IODD file for the IO-link device and the chosen PLC system. The name of the function block can be edited to suit naming conventions. Then, the IO-Link parameters and key features of the function block are selected. With a click to finish, and an easy e-cart payment, the function block is ready to go.

The function block created can be used to read and write parameters and service data for any IO-Link device. It handles the entire acyclic IO-Link communication including data interpretation, index and sub-index resolution as well as byte-swapping, if required. 

As part of the library provided, the data structure already contains all required variables, so the need for manual variable declaration is eliminated.  The scope and content of libraries can be defined individually through free selection of the available device parameters and can be adjusted at any time.

In addition, process data parser functions can be generated, simplifying and speeding up PLC programming considerably, as well as helping to avoid errors. The process data parser function makes it possible to systematically access any individual piece of information in the IO-Link process data without having been previously informed of its structure and contents from manuals. 

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