You’ve likely heard of the Internet of Things (IoT) and how it not only connects your internet-enabled devices to each other, but enables them to communicate and share data to improve your quality of life. Today, the manufacturing industry is using the IoT as a key piece of the next wave of manufacturing. Industry 4.0, which is a word some have coined to mean the next industrial revolution, describes factory automation and the ability to construct a “smart factory” where data is easily exchanged and harnessed to keep factories running at maximum efficiency. IO-Link is an important interface to implement this factory transition.
You may think that factories are already efficient based on the quality of products you buy today and the price at which you can purchase them. In reality, factories have numerous inefficiencies that an interface like IO-Link can help reduce. The IO-Link Consortium and International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) 61131-9 standard established a bidirectional, manufacturer-independent communication protocol for sensors and actuators. The specification also defines a mechanical interface that is fully backward-compatible with existing field buses, such as Profibus, Profinet and EtherCAT, used today.