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Modular Control Concepts with IO-Link

IO-Link – the USB for Industrial Automation

Modular Control Concepts with IO-Link

The universal interface IO-Link, with its own protocol and IO-Link master, is revolutionizing industrial automation the same way the USB port did for the computer world. Just as any USB-compatible device can be connected to any USB port, any IO-Link device can be operated with any IO-Link master: IO-Link is therefore a standardized interface for all devices, like the USB, with simple installation and a full scope of functionality. That makes the communication standard with its IO-Link protocol an enabler technology for networked and intelligent production and an important building block for the industry of the future.

From parallel wiring to the fieldbus protocol

Replacing parallel wiring with fieldbus usage was an enormous step for industrial automation. This is because fieldbus protocol successfully eliminated the immense installation effort associated with copper cables and substantially reduced costs. Fieldbus use requires less working time because a bus cable replaces several parallel strands of wire and therefore reduces the number of strands that need to be wired, saving additional material and space. Additionally, the bus cable links the components of various levels, and makes it possible to have a system without control cabinets.

Pitfalls of the fieldbus protocol

But even fieldbus cables are not without problems, even if their protocol is no longer electrical and the cabling effort goes down by orders of magnitude. Fieldbus cables have a low signal level, are noise-susceptible, are inflexible and are expensive due to the need for shielding.

IO-Link: simple and flexible

The weaknesses of the fieldbus protocol are now a thing of the past thanks to IO-Link. Included in an IO-Link system are an IO-Link master and one or several IO-Link devices – sensors or actuators. The IO-Link master is the interface to the controller (PLC) and takes over communication with connected IO-Link devices. The interface uses unshielded, three- or four-conductor standard industrial cables. They are highly flexible and suitable for many bending cycles. As standard, three wires are used to communicate between the devices and the IO-Link master and to deliver supply voltage. These are easy to connect, highly economical and their connections are standardized with M5, M8 or M12 connectors.

IO-Link: universal and intelligent

Due to the universal IO-Link protocol, you can rely on an established standard to incorporate the most diverse devices simply and intelligently. Process monitoring, configuration and error analysis of the IO-Link devices now takes place in the controller. Balluff IO-Link ensures extremely flexible control concepts and the communication of devices across various levels. This versatility, simplicity and performance capability mean IO-Link can be considered a universal interface – like USB – in automation.

Parallel configuration of different devices

Direct access to all IO-Link devices in the network via UDP (User Datagram Protocol) enables parallel configuration of different devices in the same network. The multi-window function of the device manager software allows different devices to be configured and diagnosed at the same time. The ability to perform an IO test using software and make parameter settings without the PLC means significantly faster system startup. Along with PLC communication, process, parameter and diagnostic data can be transported without affecting the process cycle of the PLC. This communication takes place continuously with all IO-Link devices in the network. The IO-Link device manager can be used with all Profinet and Ethernet-IP master modules from Balluff.

We Speak IO-Link

The comprehensive IO-Link portfolio from Balluff includes sensors with different functional principles and a peerless, broad spectrum of network and connection technology. As a result, Balluff IO-Link supports all current fieldbus protocols. With fieldbus systems such as Profibus, Profinet, Ethernet-IP, Devicenet, CC-Link and EtherCAT, we speak IO-Link in every field – for quick start up, optimal processes, high connectivity, as well as the greatest possible planning security and increased flexibility for the control concepts you want. Our IO-Link solutions are precisely tailored to your needs.


  • Performance portfolio – We speak IO-Link. Worldwide – in all areas

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