May 30

IO-Link to the Rescue

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…

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Apr 28

Hanover 2015: IO-Link News

IO-Link had some big news at the fair, but first let’s look at some of the IO-Link products.  First, the IO-Link wall at the PI booth with more products than ever before. One of those products was an AS-interface master for IO-Link.  Ok, there are masters for every other bus you can imagine, but, really,…

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Dec 3

SPS 2014 – PROFINET for Machine Builders

Machine builders have long been using PROFINET. At the SPS Fair this year we paid tribute to them with a machine to print, build, and launch paper airplanes. Like many real production machines, this one had multiple modules. The three interdependent modules communicated over PROFINET. And each module was controlled by PROFINET. Twelve vendors contributed…

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Dec 13

SPS 2012: IO-Link

IO-Link also featured prominently in the PI Booth. Our relationship with IO-Link is a bit peculiar. The consortium responsible for IO-Link relies on the PI infrastructure. If you have not encountered IO-Link before, I call it HART for discrete because it superimposes the digital communications over the three-wire DI/DO cable. IO-link is therefore not a…

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May 18

Hanover Fair 2011 Part 5: IO-Link

IO-Link was once again displayed in many locations, including the PI booth.  I especially liked this pictorial explanation of the benefits of IO-Link: [click for larger image] The benefits can be summarized as “You don’t have to manually go to each device to configure it, re-configure it, or extract asset management information from it.”  In…

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Dec 28

Use of Hard Wiring Is Down

The use of hard wiring is down according to Control Design’s recent survey of their readers, primarily machine builders it seems.  Video: Market Intelligence Report: Sensors & Vision Part 1. From 2008 to 2010 the respondents saying they used hard wiring went from 78% to 57%.  This is certainly a step in the right direction,…

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Dec 7

SPS Show Report 2010, Around the Show

Before I had time to leave the PI booth, at the Phoenix Contact station I was handed a Tiger chip.  Except they’re not calling it “Tiger” anymore; it’s just called TPS-1.  This ASIC is intended for simple PROFINET IO devices.  Right next to their station was the Innovasic station.  Keith Prettyjohns introduces their solution in…

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Apr 21

IO-Link, a natural complement to PROFINET

I thought I would be reporting this week from Hanover Fair, but… well, the transportation to Europe was disrupted.  It’s not the first time my travel has been disrupted; in fact, not even the worst disruption.  At least I’m stuck at home instead of halfway to somewhere like I was on 9/11/2001.  So, I’ll get…

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Nov 28

SPS Report 3: IO-Link

IO-Link is a fieldbus-neutral, point-to-point connection and communication method for intelligent IO.  I think of it as HART for discrete because it superimposes a digital signal over the regular wiring.  More information on IO-Link is at   And for my past posts on the topic, use the IO-Link tag. IO-Link was big again this year:…

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Apr 28

Technology Updates (Hanover Fair 2009 Report 3)

There was news of progress in a number of technology areas: IO-Link, wireless, PROFIBUS, and PROFINET. IO-Link products are appearing more rapidly.  IO-Link is not a fieldbus, but allows digital communications over the device’s cable.  This led me to characterize it as “HART for discrete.”  Conventional devices can be interchanged with IO-Link devices easing the…

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