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Introduction to IO-Link

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Introduction to IO-Link

IO-Link is the first worldwide industry-standard automation networking platform for communication with sensors and actuators. It is not another type of fieldbus, but rather, an open source point-to-point system that can provide standardized communication between master and slave using common industry standard 3-wire unshielded cables.

An IO-Link configuration can be used as a standalone installation, communicating between PLC and devices, or it can be integrated into other fieldbus networks such as ProfiNet, EtherNet I/P, etc. making it 100% backwards compatible with existing technologies.


(+) Connection between IO-Link master and actuator / sensor is simple and flexible. Just connect the devices using common industry-standard 3-wire unshielded M8 or M12 cables. No expensive or proprietary cables are required. For OEMs this can mean faster built times, less wiring, and reduced cost.

(+) Utilize the same components for distributed I/O regardless of the PLC brand or industrial network selected. Pricing for control equipment can be standardized from machine to machine and calculations are easily expandable. No need to select alternative valve manifold adapters or I/O blocks based on protocol.

(+) Allows for quick change out of failed sensors. Many smart sensors that require setup or configuration store this data in the sensor (think color sensors or ultrasonic sensors). If that sensor fails, the replacement sensor will also have to be programmed. By using an IO-Link master and an IO-Link compatible sensor, this configuration data can be transmitted and stored in the PLC.  When a new sensor is required the controller can write this data to the sensor reducing programming time and allowing for increased machine uptime.

Types of devices that can be used:

Industrial sensors including digital and analog I/O
Programmable or smart sensors
Pneumatic solenoid valve terminals 
Linear Transducers
Stack Lights *new*
Our manufacturers that support IO-Link:



In addition to IO-Link, Ralph W. Earl Company Inc provides the most expansive offering of industrial networking solutions from leading manufacturers such as Balluff, Murr, Festo, and Pepperl & Fuchs. 

No other company is better positioned to be your connectivity experts.

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Additional Information:

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IO-Link on Pepperl & Fuchs

IO-Link from Murrelektronik

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