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Distributed I/O is `as simple as a rack-based system`

14 September, 2012

GE Intelligent Platforms has announced a distributed I/O system that communicates with the company’s PACSystems controllers via Profinet and is said to deliver high-performance integration between field I/O and controllers. The RSTi I/O is also claimed to simplify development and commissioning, and to boost productivity.

“In designing our distributed network architecture, GE set a goal of making distributed I/O configuration and operation as simple as traditional rack-based systems,” says Bill Black, the company’s controllers product manager. “With the introduction of RSTi, this capability is extended to an entire new range of applications that benefit from the combination of a wide range of high-density, small form-factor I/O types.”

The I/O is located close to field devices using standard Ethernet cabling, while the use of Profinet allows connections to be made to hundreds of third-party devices. The distributed design provides the flexibility to expand and reconfigure field devices without affecting control-to-device wiring – unlike centralised control systems that need new wiring to be installed back to central control cabinets.

OEMs can build machines in sections with local I/O drops which can be assembled on site and connected to the controller via a standard Ethernet cable, rather than needing to use hundreds of wires. GE says that this will be attractive both to OEMs and to end-users because it allows the modules to be located close to the control devices, thus cutting wiring and hardware costs.

The “granular slice” I/O format will allow users to simplify their panel designs and cut control panel sizes. There are more than 80 different modules available for discrete, process, motion and specialty applications. In addition, a variety of communications protocols are supported. Users can standardise on RSTi for a wide range of applications, thus reducing spares, training and support costs.

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