What's an I/O Device?

Dec. 30, 2011
What Are the Choices Users Make When Deciding the Course of Action for Implementing This Technology on the Factory Floor?
By Katherine Bonfante, Senior Digital Editor

At first, I had a hard time understanding what I/O devices were and what they did.

When it comes to the computing world, a keyboard or a mouse could be an input device for a computer, where those input signals are processed, and monitors and printers are the output devices. I could see that.

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The machine automation controller (MAC) meets market needs more effectively than previous controller solutions.

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However, as you well know, machine builders and discrete manufacturers have many more complex and sophisticated control signals to deal with. There also are many more options regarding the type of I/O technology and devices to choose from depending on the users’ needs.

What are the choices users make when deciding the course of action for implementing this technology on the factory floor? Read on and find out, or visit our I/O Systems Resource Center at www.ControlDesign.com/iosystems to get the latest articles, whitepapers, products and news stories covering this subject.

In the industrial machine world, there are different types of industrial I/O modules such as remote I/O, distributed I/O and machine-mount I/O. With technology being so advanced today and industrial systems becoming more wireless than before, remote I/O systems have taken center stage. Senior Technical Editor Dan Hebert recently wrote an article about this.

On the Web

Modular I/O Distributes the Data
Use modular I/O to maximize efficient use of spares.

Signal In/Signal Out
Products that connect the "dots" to enhance machine control systems.

Switch to Machine-Mount I/O?
Is it better to switch to machine-mount I/O, or stick with cabinet-mount?

Read "Remote Access Makes New Connections" at www.ControlDesign.com/connections to see how you can connect machines and share data. Hebert explains how mobile devices now compete with the speed of hardwired connections, allowing you to monitor and manipulate machines from anywhere.

Our editors, in conjunction with Jeff Hanna, manager of control product development at Intelligrated, and Lee Hilpert, president of HilTech, put together a video report based on a Control Design survey of how industrial users employ I/O points, modules and related devices. We asked our readers to choose their preferences on a number of topics—centralized vs. distributed, hardwired vs. fieldbus, reliability vs. compatibility, PLCs vs. PCs. Watch the results and analysis at www.ControlDesign.com/MIR-IO.

When it comes to distributed I/O systems, we know that when these are connected to an industrial network, they allow for I/O data to be spread across the machine and outside of the cabinet, reducing the total component and hardware costs of the system. New developments in distributed I/O technology have lowered the cost per point of the controls design, and have reduced the time to integrate. If you are still using anything other than distributed I/O systems, you should read this to learn five reasons why you should make the switch. 

Now, back to my initial uncertainties about I/O. You can help me understand even more about how I/O choices help the machine builder at work.