Pepperl+Fuchs Blog

Enhancing IO-Link Masters with Multi-Protocol Communication

Posted by Dylan Skraba on Fri, Sep 20, 2019

Industry 4.0 applications require sensors to do more than just deliver process data to the PLC. In smart manufacturing, sensors must be able to communicate with other devices and higher-level information systems. This is possible with IO-Link, a simple, flexible, and secure open communication technology that enables continuous communication at the sensor level.

Pepperl+Fuchs has expanded its reach within the IO-Link market even further with two new IO-Link masters: the ICE2 and ICE3. These IO-Link masters include some of the most ground-breaking Industry 4.0 technology and are available in two different form factors—DIN rail and IP67. Each IO-Link master speaks a specific protocol: ICE2 communicates over EtherNet/IP while ICE3 communicates over PROFINET. Both, however, are also able to communicate over MODBUS and OPC UA simultaneously. Together, the new ICE2 and ICE3 IO-Link masters can communicate with PLCs (even older Allen Bradley PLC5s and any Siemens PLC that supports PROFINET) and PLC/HMIs using MODBUS TCP while connecting to the newest IIoT/Industry 4.0 cloud-based applications via OPC UA.

OPC Unified Architecture (OPC UA) is a machine-to-machine communication protocol capable of storing your data in the cloud (servers). OPC UA is not tied to a specific programming language, which means you can use common languages such as C++ and JavaScript.

OPC UA and MODBUS enable a SCADA system or HMI to access your data while controlling your plant with either EtherNet/IP or PROFINET, further error-proofing your processes. Before multi-protocol communication was available, PLC logic had to be changed to pull IO-Link service data from an IO-Link sensor. During plant operation, one line of incorrect logic could interrupt your processes or even shutdown the entire facility. Now, with multi-protocol communication, you can request sensor data by bypassing the PLC with either MODBUS or OPC UA. You also have the option of running a SCADA system while your plant remains fully operational. This creates flexibility and decreases downtime.

The compact housing of the ICE2 and ICE3 allows these modules to be easily integrated into existing process equipment. IP67 versions can be mounted directly on the machine or alongside conveyors. Universal mounting adapters can be used to replace competitor products with these modules. All wiring is done with M12 connectors. DIN rail versions can be mounted on the DIN rail in the electrical cabinet and offer pluggable/removable push-in ports and direct-wire screw terminals as opposed to M12 connectors. For both DIN rail and IP67 versions, easily distinguishable data, communication, and power helps avoid installation errors.

We designed the ICE2 and ICE3 IO-Link masters to help your company transition easily to Industry 4.0. These IO-Link masters work with multiple PLC platforms. With the help of MODBUS and OPC UA, PLCs no longer have to be reprogrammed for you to gather sensor data. IO-Link masters also allow you to use Enterprise Cloud solutions or SCADA systems while giving you simultaneous access to the PLC and HMI.

Learn More about our Industry 4.0 Solutions

Topics: IO-Link, industry 4.0, iiot

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