Take my old prox switch… please. And give me a new one with IO-Link. The old one just closes contacts. IO-Link, however, uses the same wires for the contacts but superimposes a digital signal over those wires. The old prox switch could be trained with a button to set the operating distance. IO-Link lets me do that over the digital communications link and much, much more. It tells me how many times the contacts have actuated. I can use that information to replace the switch before it reaches its maximum actuations. And when I do replace it I don’t have to configure the replacement. IO-Link automatically retrieves that information to set it without my intervention.
The old prox switch allowed me to see its contact closure in the PLC and on the HMI. So does the IO-Link one, but it also provides the configuration and asset management information. And I can connect IO-Link to the fieldbus or Industrial Ethernet of my choice because IO-Link is fieldbus-neutral.
IO-Link enables Industrial Internet of Things and Industrie 4.0 by providing communications over the last meter*. It can be used in devices as simple as a prox switch and as complicated as… well, I don’t think there’s a limit. It’s popular in starters and contactors, vision systems, encoders, color sensors, and more.
Here are some more answers:
Visit the IO-Link website for more.
*One meter is more of a figure of speech. The actual maximum length is 20 meters.