Unleashing industrial communication

In its 100th anniversary year, Balluff is launching an IO-Link variant for the first time that transmits data wirelessly. The elimination of the lines results in new applications that were previously not possible or only possible with a great deal of effort.

Balluff’s own ambition to develop new solutions for industrial automation was a great incentive for Alexander Weber’s team to make IO-Link wireless a reality. Balluff’s domain is to capture data, transport it and create valuable information from it. This can then be evaluated in higher-level systems and serves as the basis for intelligent decisions. “The starting point for us was a simple question. How can we generate data in places where a solution was previously technically impossible or too costly? The communication standard for contactless data transmission was the answer.

Seamless communication

As a digital interface, the IO-Link communication standard enables a fieldbus-independent point-to-point connection as well as seamless communication between the intelligent sensor and the automation system. “IO-Link Wireless promises an even more flexible and sustainable application – while maintaining system integration and compatibility,” says Balluff Product Manager Michael Zahlecker.

Radio transmission

Instead of using cables, the wireless master receives the sensor data by radio via a bridge or a hub. Easier planning and installation, more flexibility and mobility, and the elimination of plugs or cables are among the major advantages over a wired system. “When developing IO-Link Wireless, high reliability was of paramount importance to us,” explains Zahlecker. A latency of 5ms as well as an error rate of 10-9 enable a direct connection as well as fast and reliable data transmission. Another plus point is the problem-free scaling and extended integration of up to 40 devices.

During the development of IO-Link Wireless, high reliability was of paramount importance to us.

Michael Zahlecker, Produktmanager bei Balluff

New applications in robotics

The wireless IO-Link variant is used, for example, in highly dynamic applications in industrial robots or transport systems. Dynamic motion sequences on three axes make cabling difficult. It can quickly become very complex and costly and also has disadvantages. Cables and contacts are heavily stressed or broken by bending and torsional forces. This can lead to machine downtime. Non-contact data transmission in robot arms and transport systems can provide a remedy here.

Simple, mobile and secure

The use of IO-Link wireless also makes sense when upgrading existing systems. This is because there is no need to intervene in the entire architecture of the system. The new variant of the communication standard is also suitable for mobile applications or hard-to-access and harsh environments.

Balluff is more than IO-Link Wireless

“For us, IO-Link Wireless is an important building block in the factory of the future,” explains Weber. “However, Balluff offers more than IO-Link Wireless.” In addition to the new IO-Link Wireless standard, Balluff offers various solutions for contactless data and power transmission and is constantly expanding its own wireless portfolio. Currently, wireless solutions still have a small market share. However, the networking specialist expects the use of various wireless technologies to increase in the future due to greater flexibility in modern manufacturing. “Wireless is an IIoT enabler for smart and flexible manufacturing, making it a technology with a future for us.”

For us, IO-Link Wireless is an important
building block in the factory of the future.

Alexander Weber, Head of Product Cluster Networking bei Balluff
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