Industrial Computer Hardware

Balluff adds wireless solution to IO-Link portfolio

March 2022 Industrial Computer Hardware Fieldbus & Industrial Networking

As a digital interface, the IO-Link communication standard enables fieldbus-independent point-to-point connection and seamless communication between intelligent sensors and automation systems. The technology is thus an essential building block for the factory of the future.

With the introduction of IO-Link Wireless, Balluff is now adding a wireless solution to its own extensive IO-Link portfolio. “Whether in inaccessible places, in robotics or in highly dynamic transport systems, IO-Link Wireless promises an even more flexible and sustainable application – while maintaining system integration and compatibility,” says Balluff product manager, Michael Zahlecker. Customers already using IO-Link can easily configure IO-Link Wireless via the integrated web server.

Via the IO-Link master, intelligent sensors and actuators are linked to the controller.

Instead of using cables, the wireless master receives the sensor data by radio via a bridge or hub. “The new wireless standard meets the high demands of factory automation,” says Zahlecker. Easier planning and installation, greater flexibility and mobility, and the elimination of plugs or cables are among the major advantages over a wired system. At the same time, IO-Link Wireless can be used worldwide without a licence in a frequency range of 2,4-2,483 GHz.

“When developing IO-Link Wireless, high reliability was of paramount importance to us,” explains Zahlecker. A latency of 5 ms and an error rate of 10-9 thus enable direct connection as well as fast and reliable data transmission. A further plus-point is the problem-free scaling and extended integration of up to forty devices.

The wireless IO-Link variant is used in dynamic, fixed and mobile applications: On transport systems with high speeds, compatible sensors can thus be placed directly on the carriage for more precise monitoring. When changing tools on a gripper, the absence of cabling enables data transmission in confined spaces. This also applies to milling machines, which offer little space for sensors but require high process reliability. Here, the new system scores with its robustness: “Since there is no need for cabling, IO-Link Wireless can also be used to install condition monitoring sensors in monitoring systems, even in inaccessible places,” explains Zahlecker, “making the system ideally suited for retrofitting existing solutions.”

Instead of using cables, the wireless master receives the sensor data by radio via a bridge (right) or hub (left). The technology is thus an essential building block for the factory of the future.

In addition to the new IO-Link wireless standard, Balluff offers various solutions for contactless data and power transmission, and is constantly expanding its own wireless portfolio. “Using wireless technology, we want to unleash industrial communication,” says Hubertus Breier, head of technology at Balluff, describing the benefits of wireless solutions in industrial communication. “Thanks to the IO-Link Wireless standard, we can now collect data in applications, for example, where this was either technically impossible or too costly before.”


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