A standard for safe communication

A gen­uine mile­stone en route to open com­mu­ni­ca­tion stan­dards: with IO-Link Safety, a non-pro­pri­etary, stan­dard­ised com­mu­ni­ca­tion system for func­tional safety is avail­able for the first time. At SPS 2023, Pilz will be pre­senting some­thing new on the market: a com­plete system with Master and sen­sors – an eco­nom­ical and flex­ible solu­tion.

In 2018, inter­ested com­pa­nies within the IO-Link Com­mu­nity got together, with the aim of also using IO-Link Stan­dard for func­tional safety appli­ca­tions: IO-Link Safety (IOLS). A huge task! Because until then, there was no non-pro­pri­etary com­mu­ni­ca­tion stan­dard at fieldbus level that could be used for func­tional safety. Pilz has worked inten­sively on the cor­re­sponding spec­i­fi­ca­tion, with the asso­ci­ated tests and cer­ti­fi­ca­tions. Experts from Pilz lead the two IO-Link Safety working groups for tech­nology and mar­keting.

“Behind IO-Link there are many, mostly medium-sized enter­prises, who drive the working groups with their devel­op­ments. The avail­able solu­tions from IO-Link and IO-Link Safety show a dis­tinct cost-ori­en­ta­tion and close cus­tomer prox­imity.”

Matthias Wolfer, Product Man­age­ment at Pilz

“Behind IO-Link there are many, mostly medium-sized enter­prises, who drive the working groups with their devel­op­ments. The avail­able solu­tions from IO-Link and IO-Link Safety show a dis­tinct cost-ori­en­ta­tion and close cus­tomer prox­imity,” says Matthias Wolfer, Product Man­age­ment at Pilz. After a lot of stan­dard­i­s­a­tion and devel­op­ment work, numerous tests and the drafting of spec­i­fi­ca­tions, a multi-vendor demo with IO-Link Safety was intro­duced to the public for the first time at SPS 2022. IO-Link Safety has proven its prac­ti­cality.

The benefits of IO-Link

Cost reduction.

Para­me­ters can be set for the sen­sors and actu­a­tors, reducing the variety of device types needed. That reduces the com­plexity of pur­chasing and cre­ates space in the ware­house.

Innovative machine concepts.

Only seam­less com­mu­ni­ca­tion with each sensor and actu­ator exploits all the func­tions of intel­li­gent devices. That expands the options for devel­oping inno­v­a­tive plant and machinery.

Shorter commissioning times.

IO-Link com­mu­ni­ca­tion occurs via unshielded cable and uses stan­dard indus­trial con­nec­tors. This saves time and money when swap­ping devices.

Greater productivity.

IO-Link devices are iden­ti­fied auto­mat­i­cally and para­me­ters are adopted directly. This makes it easier to exchange defec­tive com­po­nents and reduces plant and machine down­times caused by repairs.

Economical maintenance.

Intel­li­gent IO-Link devices offer diag­nostic func­tions. That enables new, pre­dic­tive repair and main­te­nance con­cepts.

The final tests and cer­ti­fi­ca­tions by the rel­e­vant noti­fied bodies were com­pleted in the spring. Pre­vi­ously, IO-Link Safety tech­nology was always shown on the stand of the umbrella PROFIBUS user organ­i­sa­tion, but at this year’s SPS exhi­bi­tion in Nurem­berg, for the first time, indi­vidual sup­pliers will exhibit their own IO-Link Safety prod­ucts.

Pilz presents system comprising IO-Link Safety Master and sensor technology

“The ben­efit of Pilz is that they don’t just offer devices at field level, but rather a com­plete system! That includes sen­sors and actu­a­tors, as well as Master mod­ules. That sim­pli­fies the customer’s appli­ca­tion and increases per­for­mance”, explains Matthias Wolfer, Product Man­age­ment at Pilz.

“The offer from Pilz is a com­plete system!”

Matthias Wolfer, Product Man­age­ment at Pilz

On Pilz’s stand at SPS, vis­i­tors will be able to see a demo fea­turing an IP67 module, which takes over com­mu­ni­ca­tion to the higher level PLC con­troller as Master. Both non-safety-related stan­dard devices such as an IO-Link LED signal tower and IO-Link Safety sen­sors and com­mand devices from Pilz are con­nected to the IO-Link Safety Master from Pilz: the safety light cur­tain PSENopt II Advanced IOLS and the push­button unit PIT­gatebox IOLS, to acti­vate addi­tional safety switches such as the PSEN­m­lock, for example. Cus­tomers ben­efit from reduced com­mis­sioning and assembly times, due to the sim­pli­fied wiring for example, and at the same time are clearly more flex­ible, as the inter­face for the sen­sors is inde­pen­dent from the fieldbus system.

Safety controller

The safety con­troller processes all safety-related data. It mon­i­tors the inputs and con­trols the out­puts. For decen­tralised con­trol archi­tec­tures, com­mu­ni­ca­tion between the con­troller and decen­tralised periphery is via PROFINET / PROFIsafe, for example.

IO-Link Safety Master

The IO-Link Safety Master enables point-to-point com­mu­ni­ca­tion in the field of func­tional safety. As the inter­face to the safety con­troller, it enables bidi­rec­tional com­mu­ni­ca­tion up to field level. IO-Link sen­sors and actu­a­tors can be con­nected in addi­tion to the IO-Link Safety devices, as can classic safety sen­sors.

IO-Link Safety devices

IO-Link Safety devices include safe sen­sors and safe actu­a­tors. They com­mu­ni­cate directly with the IO-Link Safety Master and pro­vide impor­tant status infor­ma­tion. Improved diag­nostic options are the result, including in the field of func­tional safety. The IO-Link Safety devices can be iden­ti­fied and para­me­terised inde­pen­dently, thus ensuring simple exchange and reduced down­times.

Safety sensors

Safety sen­sors are used in almost every sector and appli­ca­tion, enabling plant and machinery to be oper­ated safely and effi­ciently. These stan­dard safety sen­sors can also be con­nected to the IO-Link Safety Master.

IO-Link devices

IO-Link devices include sen­sors and actu­a­tors with IO-Link func­tion­ality. For example, signal lights, level sen­sors or tem­per­a­ture mea­sure­ment sen­sors. The gen­er­ated data is for­warded directly to the higher level Master, where it can be fur­ther eval­u­ated.

Click on the ‑signs to find out more

The pos­si­bil­i­ties offered by IO-Link Safety, plus the ben­e­fits of the system for cus­tomers, can be seen very well on the exhi­bi­tion model. For example, com­mu­ni­ca­tion with the safety light cur­tain via IO-Link Safety allows better diag­nostic options, as well as addi­tional func­tions such as single beam eval­u­a­tion. The user can imple­ment var­ious con­fig­u­ra­tions via a user-friendly soft­ware tool. Common muting and blanking appli­ca­tions are also pos­sible.

“It’s sim­pler and more effi­cient with IO-Link Safety!”

Matthias Wolfer, Product Man­age­ment at Pilz

The push­button unit PIT­gatebox IOLS can be used not only to trigger the machine’s stop func­tion, but also to trigger the E‑STOP. Com­mands to acti­vate or reset safety locking devices can also be con­trolled. The push­button unit PIT­gatebox IOLS can be used as a stand­alone device, but also in com­bi­na­tion with con­nected safety switches and safety locking devices. Without IO-Link Safety, or IO-Link, a lot of effort would be required for wiring and con­fig­u­ra­tion work on such func­tions. Matthias Wolfer puts it in a nut­shell: “It’s sim­pler and more effi­cient with IO-Link Safety!”

With IO-Link Safety: New possibilities for data evaluation

As far as poten­tial appli­ca­tions are con­cerned, the automa­tion sector is only at the begin­ning still: safety sen­sors in par­tic­ular col­lect a wealth of impor­tant infor­ma­tion from the field. For example, how often is a safety locking device switched? What is the status of the safety switch? Is the gate open or closed? What is the state of the sen­sors? This infor­ma­tion is gath­ered cen­trally, so that cor­re­sponding reac­tions, such as main­te­nance for example, can be planned at an early stage. Experts agree that it will bring numerous new pos­si­bil­i­ties for data eval­u­a­tion.

Wolfer esti­mates the poten­tial for the new com­mu­ni­ca­tion system to be just as large: “There are now around 460 member com­pa­nies world­wide in the IO-Link con­sor­tium, now offering more than 25,000 avail­able IO-Link enabled prod­ucts. The com­mu­ni­ca­tion system has estab­lished itself in just a few years and has proved its use­ful­ness. We see the same poten­tial for the safety ver­sion.”

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