System Integration & Control Systems Design


FieldEcho: the future of integrated IO-Link technology

December 2019 System Integration & Control Systems Design

Integrated IO-Link technology that enables full data accessibility and transparency across all platforms is here with the FieldEcho from SICK Automation. IO-Link is an increasingly used manufacturer-independent communication standard that provides significantly more information, configurability and control. From installation to operation and even maintenance of an automation system, integrated IO-Link technology provides clear advantages over analog solutions.

Continuity of information

This technology brings continuity of information from the sensor level to the automation and web worlds, and is an enabler for innovative sensors. Sensors and actuators become active process participants in an end-to-end automation network. The FieldEcho ensures the data availability demanded by Industry 4.0 and the IIoT. SICK’s FieldEcho gives users platform-independent access to all IO-Link devices in an automation system with only one software tool.

Now, with simple sensor technology, plant owners can establish a reliable communication channel integrated into any existing network to supply a wealth of real-time information. Using FieldEcho, engineers can parameterise, diagnose and monitor all the IO-Link devices that are integrated into a machine or plant. From commissioning and runtime, to device replacement and maintenance, they can monitor all IO-Link devices with a few clicks from any Internet browser, throughout the plant’s entire life cycle.

Regardless of which programmable PLC, fieldbus or IO-Link master is used, FieldEcho automatically finds connected IO-Link devices. Thanks to the remote access function, all relevant IO-Link device data can be easily accessed from anywhere in the world. With the FieldEcho, remote diagnosis is possible, which minimises maintenance costs and reduces downtime. Manual download of IODD is no longer necessary, which saves time and increases efficiency.

The FieldEcho provides unlimited, bi-directional communication access to the IO-Link device. Covering the globally recognised PLC standard, it allows data to be exchanged between all configured IO-Link masters and devices clearly and conveniently using a modern interface. This software tool can also be used in browsers or integrated in HMIs.

Valuable process and service data is available in the operational management level (MES), the enterprise level (ERP), for various cloud services and any customer-specific applications. The data can be efficiently used for subsequent processing e.g. for inventory, predictive maintenance or data analysis.

There are numerous advantages to support Industry 4.0 solutions. The FieldEcho IO-Link software enables continuous digital data transmission, allows standard non-shielded cables to be used, is capable of receiving new parameter sets within seconds, and makes plug-and-play a reality. Different parameter settings can be visualised, tested and optimised during integration and commissioning. It is also possible to store different parameter sets in the automation system and upload them to the sensor during operation without any delay. With the FieldEcho users can automatically and remotely configure sensors installed in locations that are difficult to access.

IT access to IO-Link

FieldEcho’s REST API grants IT access to IO-Link device data for applications like ERP, MES or cloud-based services and bridges the shop floor and Industry 4.0. Only one line of PLC code is required to call up the generic function block delivered with the FieldEcho, which exchanges data with the PLC via OPC UA. Neither special hardware nor a special protocol is required for use of the system, making time and cost-intensive programming of the PLC unnecessary. A self-structuring dashboard rounds out the product.

SICK Automation has met the challenge of matching automation technology with the Internet world. In line with Industry 4.0 standards, the FieldEcho software tool ensures all relevant plant information is globally available regardless of the platform used. Thanks to SICK’s intelligent sensors and sensor solutions, accessing a plant’s process and service data is a click away from any Internet browser.

For more information contact Grant Joyce, SICK Automation Southern Africa, +27 10 060 0550, grant.joyce@sickautomation.co.za, www.sickautomation.co.za


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