The branch held its most recent technology evening at the Durban Country Club on 4 March. Neil Burger, a specialist in ifm’s industrial networking department, gave a presentation which started at process sensors and continued to look at the largely untapped potential of signal and information systems.
Hennie Prinsloo (left) thanks Neil Burger for the presentation.
IO-Link has been developed by leading sensor, actuator and control manufacturers, and many devices which are currently available have IO-Link capability, even if that feature is not always used yet. IO-Link is a standardised fieldbus and can offer much more information than just the measured parameter by using a field module that interfaces sensors with the fieldbus. It is a point to point bidirectional communication system that facilitates diagnostics and, subject to security safeguards, permits setting from the control room which simplifies sensor replacement. It can also help by using historical data to optimise spares holdings.
The Y-path allows process signals for monitoring and control to be split away from the mass of other useful information obtained from measuring devices, such as that which may be used by SAP or another external system; and the use of separate IP addresses, e.g. when connecting to the cloud, can enhance security.
Neil demonstrated an example of how a simple Excel spreadsheet may be used to show a sensor reading, by having a displacement sensor connected using IO-Link and moving the sensor to show values change in the spreadsheet. He encouraged people to visit http://www.io-link.com for more information.
The presentation concluded with a lively question and answer session, from which it became clear that use of IO-Link is expanding, particularly in the food and beverage industry. The simple and cost-effective cabling makes it particularly attractive to greenfield and some brownfield, projects. Future developments may allow it to be used in hazardous areas, and, potentially, in SIL rated applications.
Branch general manager, Hennie Prinsloo, closed off by thanking Neil for his presentation and ifm for co-sponsoring the meeting. The evening concluded with networking over drinks and dinner.
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