Two new developments in industrial automation space are the global adoption of an open standard for intelligent sensors – IO-Link – as well as advances in remote I/O systems for Internet of Things (IoT) capabilities – decentralized I/O. These developments have driven intelligence deeper into the brewing and packaging process for improved overall performance and lower risk of waste. They also reduce the cost of installing and modifying existing automation as well as provide flexibility of operations for breweries.
IO-Link is the first worldwide standardized IO technology designated for interactions with smart sensors and actuators. Intelligence pervading the sensor and actuator level is necessary for monitoring the status of the system and in predicting problems. Both functionalities increase outputs and reduce the amount of waste in production. IO-Link devices cost roughly the same as standard sensors, making them justifiable and accessible.
There are three data types accessible in IO-Link devices:
>Event data that flags or notifies users when critical events occur.
>Service data, including all the critical information about the unit such as model, serial number and manufacturer. Service data also includes parameters that are itemized by the system and can be changed using the controller.
>Parameters such as temperature, media flow, distance, proximity, and current. Depending on the process being monitored this information can flag unusual operations.
Since IO-Link is an open standard, devices from various vendors can be connected and operated together, which means the most effective and cost-effective solutions can be utilized and users are not constrained to a single vendor’s system.
Two decades earlier, sensors and other components in an Input/Output (I/O) system required their parts to be connected directly to a central I/O block, resulting in a copious amount of wires and compressed air running through the system. Wiring was expensive to install, time consuming and hard to maintain. Control cabinets required significant space for the I/O. With the development of remote I/O, a single wire runs through components, this has simplified installation and maintenance. With the advent of IoT, Ethernet connectivity to remote I/O requires expensive adapters. Decentralized I/O makes it easier and less costly for Ethernet connectivity all the way down to the sensor level.
Decentralized I/O is an Ethernet-based system comprising of intelligent bus modules that are rated IP65/IP67 for flexibility in mounting outside a control cabinet. Decentralized I/O bus modules are compatible with major communication protocols for seamless integration. Decentralized I/O systems like the Festo CPX-AP-I are able to accommodate about 80 modules of digital and analogue I/O with valve manifolds for each bus module. When a brewery needs to modify its automation, it can extend IoT capability cost effectively by incorporating intelligent bus modules to sensors and actuators. By allowing valve manifolds to be located closer to actuators, creating shorter tube lengths, decentralized I/O systems improve pneumatic-system cycles for increased responsiveness.
Ethernet based decentralized I/O represents the latest development in lowering the cost of I/O while obtaining greater operational benefits. Looking ahead, it is certain that 5G enabled decentralized I/O systems will foster the drive of IoT deeper into the system.
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Olamide is a technology consultant with cognate experience providing digital transformation services for small and large-scale clients globally. With a focus on emerging technologies like IoT, Extended Reality, Blockchain and Artificial Intelligence, he has spent three years developing numerous articles on these knowledge areas for different platforms online and offline.
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