I/O Built for Flexibility, Scalability, Auto-Configuration, Compatibility and Reliability

Input/Output Devices Meet Many Needs: Components Must Be Flexible, Scalable, Auto-Configurable, Compatible and Reliable

Flexibility, scalability, auto-configuration, compatibility and reliability all play into machine builders' choices and uses of I/O components.

As systems become obsolete or reach capacity, new I/O must have the flexibility to connect for efficient real-time data exchange without replacing the outdated I/O or installing expensive customized interfaces, says Charlie Norz, product manager—Wago-I/O-System, Wago (www.wago.us). "Open standard protocols enable I/O systems to interface directly with most existing systems, and there are options available, depending upon company standards or regional conventions," he says. "I/O devices need to be network-independent to maximize efficiency and reduce system costs."

Beckhoff sees scalability as a critical feature of an I/O system. "One way to look at scalability is to have one I/O system that can be used as local I/O but is also capable of being distributed easily," explains Graham Harris, president, Beckhoff Automation (www.beckhoff.com). "This reduces the extra costs and effort associated with having different I/O systems for each application. The other criterion for scalability is whether the I/O system can be used in small I/O counts or large ones and can be specified to an exact I/O point count." The small counts can save considerable cost and labor when compared with I/O designs that only come in large blocks of eight or 16 channels and given that small I/O count PLCs often need a different I/O system than large PLCs, he says.

Many machine builders would count automatic configuration or automatic addressing as aspects of ease of setup and installation, says Richard Jackson, product marketing specialist, Omron Electronics (www.omron247.com). "Self-registering remote I/O reduces setting errors and can shorten production changeover significantly for machinery that has optional processing units for flexibility in manufacturing," he explains. "Once the smart I/O on a unit are connected to the main machine, it auto-registers not just the I/O but the unit itself. An example typical in printing operations are the interchangeable finishing units for folding, stitching and adhesive application."

Compatibility with existing systems allows users to connect new I/O devices directly to their existing network infrastructure, explains Stephen Arnold, senior automation product marketing specialist—automation products, Schneider Electric (www.us.schneider-electric.com). "Not only does this simplify installation and maintenance, it also reduces the cost to purchase and own your system by eliminating the need for network gateways," he says. "Gateways add cost, complexity and an additional point of failure to any solution. Choosing I/O that is compatible with multiple products and product types can further enhance this value, particularly if these products provide the flexibility to choose your specific level of sophistication based on the need of the application or machine." Some new I/O allow the user to choose an HMI controller or PLC solution and still utilize the same I/O across the application, says Arnold.

Susanne Walker, product manager—advanced connectivity, Weidmüller North America (www.weidmuller.com), agrees that compatibility must be considered. "In selecting I/O interface devices that are certified and tested by organizations and associations such as ODVA for DeviceNet and other CIP-based components, companies can ensure that the different components in their multi-vendor network systems can be installed easily and quickly and communicate properly with each other," she says. "This saves time and cost in installation and maintenance, optimizes machine up-time and assures the quality of the end product."

With regard to reliability, engineers often require more than just good manufacturing quality and MTBF rates, says Donald Lupo, director of sales & marketing—process, Acromag (www.acromag.com). "They need ‘survivability' to withstand a variety of environmental concerns such as extreme operating temperatures, RFI, EMI, electrical transients/surges, shock, vibration and location in potentially hazardous areas," he says. "The system architecture may also require redundant communications, power or even I/O to increase system reliability. In the event a failure occurs, engineers need features to help switch over or shut down the system in a safe, predictable manner."

Chris Vitale, senior product manager—network and interface, Turck (www.turck.com), agrees that reliability is the most important feature. "If a plant's I/O is not working, neither is the machine or system," says Vitale. "This will lead to downtime, repair costs, faulty end products and, worst of all, lost productivity. To increase reliability, I/O devices must be made with components that can withstand the harsh, industrial environment that they are installed in."

Like good health, reliability is the underpinning of any well functioning system, adds Bill McGovern, national sales manager, Dataforth (www.dataforth.com). "That's why we consider reliability the most important consideration for I/O devices or any product, and it's why we've worked hard to achieve a DPMO (defects per million opportunities) rate for our signal conditioners that is better than Six Sigma," he says. "What good is compatibility with an existing system or ease of setup and installation if the product is prone to failure?"

While the connector can feature everything from compatibility to superior setup and installation, scalability, density, power/signal and hot-swap capability, if the connector fails to perform, all of these features become a moot point, explains Chris Tubbs, assistant product manager, Hirose Electric (www.hirose-connectors.com). "Connectors designed for industrial I/O applications should meet appropriate water/moisture resistance, shock, vibration and gas-tight specifications," says Tubbs.

"Reliability finishes at the top of this list of most important features," says Ben Orchard, application engineer at Opto 22 (www.opto22.com). "It's a quality all of us look for in anything we purchase and use. For industrial OEMs and machine builders in particular, it's doubly important, as the goal for them is to ship their machine out the door and never have to see or hear about it again because it, and the I/O embedded in it, performs reliably for the customer with absolutely zero issues."

LB/FB Remote I/O systems with redundant communication interface and power supply, connect to Profibus-DP, Modbus and Foundation fieldbus for discrete, analog, frequency and temperature signals. With LB systems, intrinsically safe (IS) and general-purpose modules can be mixed and matched on the same backplane. With FB systems, IS and increased safety modules can be mixed and matched on the same backplane.
XBQ IDC terminal blocks allow wire to be connected without prior stripping. The RoHS-compliant series is suited for high-volume connections for low-voltage control and signal circuitry where easy assembly is required, such as machine tools, material handling machinery and automated equipment.
Omega Engineering
X20 module is designed for bipolar, two-phase stepper motors, 1 A (24 V) or for 3 A (18-48 V) rated current. The stepper motor connections can resolve each full step into up to 256 microsteps. Additional features include automatic motor detection when booting and stall detection. The module also has four digital inputs as standard, and the integrated counter functions can connect an AB or ABR encoder as an external feedback signal.
B&R Industrial Automation
Snap-AIPM-3 analog input module measures and manages three-phase ac power usage, mounts on an I/O rack and measures Vac rms and Aac rms. The module calculates true power, Volt-Amps and power sums for all three phases of power. When used with a Snap PAC R-series controller or Snap I/O brain, it can supports controlling and regulating equipment and facility power monitoring.
Opto 22
Distribution Blocks80 A OF POWER DISTRIBUTION
Screw clamp, 80 A power distribution block allows three wires in and four wires out, is available for base or DIN-rail mounting, and rated for 600 V. Molded polyamide 6.6 thermoplastic housing offers funneled wiring entry with finger-safe IP20 terminals. The block is UL and CE certified, as well as RoHS compliant.
Adam-6000 modules provide a variety of input/output options; PC ladder logic, logic cascade and feedback function; online monitoring of running status; ability to connect to SCADA/HMI software; and a built-in Web server. It includes communication controllers, analog input/output modules and digital input/output modules. The modules have peer-to-peer (P2P) and graphic condition logic (GCL).
Advantech Industrial Automation Group
RFID-S slice for BL20 modular I/O system contains two channels. Additional RFID slices, as well as traditional discrete and analog I/O slices, can be combined on the same network node without special software for integration into a PLC system. Designed with digitized communication, it allows a 50 m separation between the transceiver and slice without noise induction, and all RFID channels operate in parallel.
Dinnector line of terminal blocks includes circuit breaker terminal blocks available in ¼ A to 10 A sizes. Terminal block sockets in 12 V and 24 V come with or without LED indicators, and offer single- and double-level plug-in style.
Terminal BlocksSMARTSLICE
SmartSlice GRT1 remote I/O terminals include ac input modules with 110 Vac or 240 Vac inputs on four inputs per module. GRT1-IA4-1 and GRT1-IA4-2 have individual two-wire inputs with isolation to 600 V, and isolation between input and the I/O bus to 2,500 Vac. Building-block style I/O terminals can connect 64 remote I/O units. Network interfaces are available for CompoNet, DeviceNet, Profibus-DP and Mechatrolink-II. 
Omron Industrial Automation
NetBloc line of 11 networking terminal units provide connection and cable management on 35-mm DIN rails. The line includes standard RJ45-to-RJ45 couplers, RJ45 A-coded, RJ45 B-coded and RJ45 Profinet. Fiberoptic versions include SC single mode, SC multimode, ST single mode, ST multimode, LC Duplex single mode and LC Duplex multimode. Each NetBloc includes earth-grounding option.
M37xx terminals record differential and absolute pressures. A 16-bit value can be transmitted by over a dozen fieldbuses. The bus terminals execute temperature compensation and avoidance of long-term drift. KM3701 one-channel terminal measures differential pressure differences. KM3702 and KM3712 two-channel terminals record absolute pressure values.
Beckhoff Automation
Analog I/O signal channels provide each 8B module with an analog bus, and all module outputs are simultaneously accessible to high-speed data acquisition boards. A temperature sensor each channel provides cold junction compensation for thermocouple input modules. Field connections are terminated with four screw terminals at each module site. It has -40 to 85 °C operating range, relative humidity 95% noncondensing and high-density screw clamp, 16 AWG max, interface connector.
Screw-connection terminal blocks with integrated PE foot available in 6.2 mm versions of the UT 4 knife disconnect, diode and fuse terminal blocks, provide options to disconnect or use a universal lever-style fuse holder for 5x20 plugs with or without light indication. UT 4-PE series provides termination for grounding shields commonly used in shielded twisted-pair wires for analog and digital sensors. Uniform dual-bridge channel delivers power distribution with FBS push-in jumpers.
Phoenix Contact
8129 supervised discrete input/output, 8132 universal analog input and 8133 analog input with HART modules include ISA G3 corrosion resistance and extended shock and vibration capabilities. It provides interfacing to eight channels in any combination of discrete inputs and outputs. 8132 provides eight isolated, universal input channels. 8133 provides interface to eight channels of 4-20 mA input signals.
GE Fanuc
Advantys STB IP20, bit-modular, distributed I/O platform provides up to 512 I/O points per island, consisting of up to 32 modules per island on up to seven segments. Configuration software includes I/O diagnostic features, and the platform has hot-swap capability and removable memory cards. One to 16 I/O and up to eight networks can be supported. TeSys motor management devices, Altivar drives and Magelis HMI can be integrated.
Schneider Electric
Terminal BlocksTOPJOB LINE
Topjob S line has 24 disconnect, diode and LED terminal blocks. Specialty feed-through blocks accommodate conductors AWG 22–12 and are available in two-, three- or four-pole variants with single-, double- or triple-deck configurations. Each DIN-rail mount block has a staggered jumpering system for potential commoning and traditional push-in jumpers. Disconnect terminal blocks feature a test plug located on the side of each knife disconnect. The specialty blocks employ push-in terminations for ferruled or solid conductors.
Simatic ET 200pro IWLAN delivers wireless connectivity from any distributed I/O station. Based on IEEE 802.11 WLAN standards, the wireless design supports deterministic industrial point coordination function (iPCF) for critical industrial Ethernet communications using standard Profinet protocol. Wireless radio frequency is selectable for either standard 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz and includes support for IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/h/e/i transmission standards.  The maximum wireless data transmission rate is 54 Mbits/sec with a typical send cycle time of 32 msec.
Siemens Energy & Automation
Family of terminal blocks includes screw terminals, spring terminals, IDC terminals, distribution blocks, fuse blocks, switch blocks, 2 and 3 deck blocks, mini blocks and power blocks. There is also Absolute Rail Design software that allows users to design and layout a complete terminal block assembly, without detailed instructions.
Four R Series I/O modules for the PXI platform are equipped with Xilinx Virtex-5 field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs). The PXI-7841R, PXI-7842R, PXI- 7851R and PXI-7852R modules have eight analog inputs, eight analog outputs and 96 digital I/O lines, as well as analog input rates that are more than 3.5 times faster than previously released R series devices. These modules provide engineers with commercial off-the-shelf hardware that can be graphically programmed with the LabView FPGA module to perform custom onboard processing for inline data analysis and deterministic I/O control for applications that require specialized timing and triggering.
National Instruments
DST1-XD0808SL-1 safety I/O terminals support six safety inputs and eight safety outputs and can store simple logic. This allows local outputs to be directly controlled by local inputs with a maximum response time of 18.7 msec. The I/O terminals safely move a machine to a safe state regardless of network structure, number of I/O modules or overall program complexity.
Omron Scientific Technologies
Cube20 Profibus Module fieldbus I/O station with modular expandability enables 488 I/Os to be placed on 90 cm of DIN rail. Equipped with a continuous diagnostic system, it has signal status and error display at the connecting terminal, rapid failure localization and single-channel diagnostics at outputs. The modules are galvanically separated and have an integrated power-supply terminal.
Analog input modules for EtherStax provide high-resolution scanning of 64 single-ended channels monitoring dc current or voltage signals. ES2163 and ES2164 models perform 16-bit A/D conversion and interface to Ethernet devices or controllers with Modbus TCP/IP or UDP/IP. Scanning updates all 64 channels in less than 10 msec. ES2163 accepts dc current with ±20 mA, 0-20 mA, or 4-20 mA ranges. ES2164 units accept ±5 V or ±10 V.
I/O AdapterSMART I/O
Smart Remote I/O Adapter includes a three-port managed Ethernet switch and embedded firewall, and it can optionally be equipped with a fiberoptic interface or phone modem interface to eliminate supplemental equipment such as switches or media converters. Adapter holds three modules or connects to up to 12 locally connected racks. All local I/O can be scanned in less than 1 msec. Five RS-232 serial ports and one optional RS-485 port can remotely interface to serial devices.
4.00 mm pitch positive-locking terminal block connection system allows up to 12 AWG wire to bring 10 A of current directly to the board. Positive-locking design requires a screwdriver to unmate plug and header. PCB headers are molded from a glass-filled high-temperature polyamide 46, and the positive-locking terminal block connection is available in circuit sizes 2-12.
Field-mountable FreeLine Type 8645 modular electrical and pneumatic automation system provides a combination of electric and pneumatic modules that can be arranged in any sequence, as a central station, single modules or any combination required. IP67-rated unit mounts on the wall or DIN railing. Sixteen digital inputs (DI) and 16 digital or pneumatic outputs (DO/PO) are provided. Ambient opertaing range is 32–131 °F; storage range is -4–140 °F.
Bürkert Fluid Control Systems
Terminal BlockH POWER BLOCK
H series power distribution terminal blocks have 24, 32 and 41 A versions. PTC jumpers are available in positions 2-47. Main power feed terminal block option can distribute two different voltages. Power can be distributed to fuse blocks, circuit disconnect blocks and multiple wire terminal blocks.