Bridging the analogue and digital worlds

Hydraulics and technology specialist Bosch Rexroth has added IO-Link connectivity to its range, making low-cost, high-availability connections between analogue and digital realms a reality. 

The company has harnessed the advantages of the IO-Link open standard for hydraulic actuators and sensors – meaning that its 4WRPEH proportional control valves and HEDE10 pressure switches are now available with IO-Link interfaces. This connectivity is achieved through the decentralised IP67 I/O system S67E IO-Link Master, which gives users direct access to the fieldbus, as well as all data provided by the device.

While some suppliers present their own networking solutions, IO-Link is one of the established, open standards that offers the same connectivity. Already supported by over 150 companies, it enables digital communication between peripherals with control in parallel to common fieldbuses – and, now, Bosch Rexroth has brought the first hydraulic actuators and sensors into the network. Enabling vertical connection of components into IT systems, this is a critical bridge between analogue and digital – something central to the idea of Industry 4.0, made real.

IO-Link standardises and simplifies wiring thanks to standard M12 connectors with unshielded 3-conductor/5-conductor cables. It eliminates the time and errors that come with wiring devices by hand, while the open standard makes project planning, parameterisation, testing, servicing, adjustment, replacement and communication smoother and easier. For example, it reduces machine and system standstill through the standardised electronic name plate of plug-and-play devices, while parameterisation is automatically carried out by the IO-Link Master. Components are clearly identified via site ID, and servicing requirements are localised and displayed, meaning no special training is needed. All of this combines to reduce errors and problems, making life simpler through one standard.

Paul Streatfield, product manager, at Bosch Rexroth, expanded on this new development: “This evolution of IO-Link connectivity is a clear sign of the open, fluid and connected nature of Industry 4.0 – as well as the fact that it’s all closer than you might think. Best of all, it standardises and simplifies a whole range of processes linked to communication, monitoring, installation and motion control, so the benefits will be felt for years to come.”

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