Industrial Wireless


Wireless fieldbus modules

May 2022 Industrial Wireless

For many decades, pneumatic solenoid valves were controlled through discrete wiring, with each solenoid individually wired and connected to a common cable interface such as a 25-pin D-Sub connector. Technology then progressed to fieldbus networking for shorter installation times, reduced wiring errors and, importantly, diagnostic feedback capabilities. These fieldbus solutions have increased system availability and reliability at a massively reduced installation and maintenance cost.

SMC analysed the control of manifolds-in-motion, where the physical removal of communications cables is desirable. Applications include manifolds mounted on robot gripper assemblies or rotating tables. Wireless communication and control of electro-pneumatic manifolds and IO slip rings are commonly used to supply 24 V DC control voltages to devices in motion, but fieldbus communication via slip rings is problematic and unreliable.

SMC solved this problem with its EX600-W wireless modules. The system uses two modules: a base unit to which the standard hardwired fieldbus network connects, and a remote module that is placed on the moving part of the machine. Communication between the modules is wireless via the 2,4 GHz ISM frequency band, which is unaffected by everyday industrial noise such as magnetic fields generated by welding machines or electric motors. Physical damage to the network cable, or poor connections, are no longer a threat since the cable-in-motion has been eliminated.

The EX600-W is well suited for use with collaborative robotics for improved machine safety and quick connection of tool changers on robotic arms. The base and remote stations make use of SMC’s unique encrypted communications protocol, preventing unauthorised third-party access to keep machines and data secure.

SMC welcomes contact from interested parties wanting a practical demonstration or demo modules to test in their own application.


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