Fieldbus & Industrial Networking

IO-Link in manufacturing

August 2020 Fieldbus & Industrial Networking

The manufacturing industry is constantly evolving due to changing consumer demands. This has resulted in a cycle of continuous improvement to drive operational efficiency, whilst minimising resource usage and the impact to the environment. Data has therefore become the preferred resource to facilitate these initiatives.

Much excitement has been created by IO-Link technology due to its advanced features such as parameter storage and detailed diagnostics. IO-Link is defined as a short-distance, bidirectional, digital, point-to-point, wired (or wireless), industrial communications networking standard (IEC61131-9) used for connecting digital sensors and actuators to either a type of industrial fieldbus or a type of industrial Ethernet. The primary goal of IO-Link is to improve sensor or field-level device communication capabilities through a standardised interface. IO-Link is a proven technology for extracting more information from low-level devices across a range of manufacturing environments.

Endress+Hauser is a pioneer in digital communication and plays a leading role in the implementation of HART, Profibus DP/PA and Foundation Fieldbus technology. As a market leader, the company continues to implement the groundbreaking industrial Ethernet trend and was the first manufacturer worldwide to offer process automation field devices with Profinet in addition to EtherNet/IP. IO-Link is the youngest member in the portfolio of Endress+Hauser devices and brings digitalisation to basic instruments. By digitally communicating data from sensors back to the PLC, this technology helps many organisations save on cabling costs and integration time, as well as expanding the amount of available I/O.

Digital communication unlocks benefits throughout the plant life cycle

• Efficient integration by using standardised functions.

• Faster commissioning and start-up.

• Increased accuracy due to digital signal transmission.

• Effective maintenance by having diagnostics with cause and remedy.

• Plug-and-produce device exchange through automatic parameter handling.

Process orchestration is typically done with an automation control system, which interconnects the controllers of each skid by using EtherNet/IP or Profinet as the data exchange backbone. In auxiliary circuits, e.g. heat exchangers, devices such as the Picomag flowmeter provide additional process data to increase plant efficiency and up-time. Since IO-Link is fully digital, multivariable measurements from each sensor are possible (e.g. volume flow, temperature, totaliser).

Simple measurement points such as pressure, level and temperature as well as valves can easily be integrated using IO-Link. The master bundles the information and can store the sensor parameterisation for plug-and-produce device exchange. Intelligent 4-wire devices such as the Proline Promass S 300 can be directly connected using EtherNet/IP or Profinet, enabling full transparency and seamless integration down to the field level.

For more information contact Dhiren Naidoo, Endress+Hauser South Africa, +27 11 262 8000,,


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