Bidirectional communication with IO-Link sensors

SICK Pty Ltd
Monday, 13 October, 2014

Since 1974, SOMIC has been developing and building packaging systems, predominantly for the food industry. Through intelligent sensor and control technology, the machines provide options for greater operating safety, packaging quality and output.

“We fit SICK photoelectric sensors as IO-Link sensors - for example, the WTB4-3 miniature photoelectric sensor for detecting and counting products entering machines,” says Stefan Julinek, head of design at SOMIC. “The miniature construction of the sensors saves space, they reliably detect different forms of packaging, they have precise background suppression and, because of their special chip technology, they are the natural first choice of IO-Link.”

IO-Link technology offers a range of options for cost-effective, bidirectional communication between sensors and automation systems. IO-Link makes it possible to transfer not only digital output states and digitised analog values, but also additional information, such as contamination warnings, sources of interference in the working environment, the quality of the switching signal, the current sensing range or the sensor’s serial number.

The advantages offered by the IO-Link as a serial interface between sensors and I/O components are its prompt updates about the present status of the machine and the ongoing process quality. The result is a wide range of options for downloading parameters from a machine controller, comprehensive remote diagnostic capabilities, increased system throughput, automatic plant documentation and validation of the entire machine right down to the sensor, which is essential in the chemical and pharmaceutical industry.

“Using IO-Link with SICK sensors, the machine carries out its own active troubleshooting,” explains Stefan Julinek. “It warns independently if the optics becomes contaminated by dirt. As a result of this condition monitoring, the machine operator can carry out preventive maintenance on the system, for example during a planned pause in operation, and avoid unplanned downtimes.”

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