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
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.
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.
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.
IO-Link Safety – A complete system from Pilz for direct, fieldbus-independent communication.
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.”