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I/O blocks for quicker network building

01 August 2016

The trend for factory automation and machine control solutions to move from classic fieldbus setups to Ethernet based systems is being supported by new CC-Link IE I/O blocks from Balluff.

Stephan Langer, product manager with Balluff specialist for sensor systems and solutions, says there is a need to develop robust, high performance and intelligent infrastructures for industrial communications. He cites CC-Link IE and CC-Link as being key drivers for enabling this advance.

Balluff offers a range of I/O blocks and also IO-Link sensor hubs, which enable simple, rapid building and/or reconfiguring of networks, including CC-Link IE and CC-Link enabled versions. They are configured as two galvanically isolated segments, so that two separately switchable safety circuits can be implemented using a single module. Further, they can support both digital and analogue sensors and can be used with an additional power module if required. All types are available in a rugged IP67 format for reduced installation costs.

Balluff is a global manufacturer for sensor systems and solutions for the industrial automation headquartered in Germany, with representation in 61 countries around the world. Langer notes that its customers are increasingly asking for sensor solutions based on intelligent networks that can reliably collect data from sensors, interpret it to create higher level information and deliver this to locations in the network where it is used.

CC-Link IE is the Industrial Ethernet version of the successful CC-Link fieldbus. It is unique in providing gigabit bandwidth so that large amounts of data can be transmitted very quickly. Both CC-Link IE and CC-Link have the combined support of over 300 different device manufacturers worldwide.

The networks enjoy a leading position across Asia, and are also popular in other major regions such as Europe and the Americas. The technical specifications for CC-Link technologies are available to any company that joins the CLPA, which is responsible for the development and promotion of the technologies. The CLPA is one of the largest open network associations, with over 2,600 partners globally.

Langer again: “We see that CC-Link IE’s gigabit bandwidth is crucial for customers developing the Ethernet based communications networks that are increasingly in demand due to the trend for Industry 4.0 solutions. Compatibility therefore aids us in supplying them with complete solutions. Further, its strong position in Asia makes it absolutely essential for comprehensive export success in that region.”

Balluff’s I/O blocks, both digital I/O blocks and IO-Link hubs, enable up to 16 standard sensors or other field devices to be connected into networks quickly, conveniently and reliably. The blocks are available with plastic or metal bodies, their fully encapsulated housing providing protection against impacts and corrosive liquids to IP67. They are designed for temperatures of up to 70 degrees C and for use in harsh industrial environments.

“The blocks enable quick and easy building of large networks. CC-Link units are vital for our Asian projects and CC-Link IE facilitates the increasingly large data transfer capabilities that are required. Once system designers know they have access to an open gigabit network, they tend to design around that capability, so our products are being used as enabling parts of that development process.”

Balluff also manufactures solutions for: object detection, linear position sensing, industrial RFID, fluid sensors and, increasingly, industrial networking. The company’s sensor ranges include inductive, proximity, photoelectric, vision, ultrasonic, capacitive, pressure and magnetic.