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Any field sensor or actuator can now link to SmartWire-DT

09 May, 2014

At the recent Hanover Fair, Eaton announced an enhancement to its SmartWire-DT technology that will allow any sensor or actuator to be linked into the system via IP67-protected M12 connectors designed to be used outside cabinets.

It says that the new technology – called T-Connector – will give machine-builders more options and provide them with improved diagnostics. It will allow new systems to be installed, and existing machines to be upgraded, using less cabling and other materials. It will simplify systems from their design, through to their construction and eventual disassembly, Eaton claims.

Conventional architectures for connecting sensors and actuators to machine controls often involve several challenges. Cabling of complex, centrally configured systems that extend over a large area, usually involves a great deal of materials and effort. With decentralised systems using remote I/Os in remote switch cabinets, or IP67 I/O modules at the machine, the granularity of the terminals often does not match the number or type of peripheral devices being used, resulting in unnecessary hardware costs. Expansions are often difficult.

Eaton argues that the T-Connector system offers a flexible way of simplifying such installations. It can link any standard sensor or actuator to SmartWire-DT via a standard M12 plug connector. Up to 99 modules to be connected to a controller on a string up to 600m long.

If the sensors have their own power supplies, their power consumption can be monitored to check whether the sensor is connected, thus simplifying inspection of the installation. The T-Connector also shows its network status from any mounting position and can display diagnostic messages.

Eaton's T-Connectors allow any combination of sensors and actuators to be connected to its SmartWire-DT system

Because each sensor or actuator is connected individually, different types of digital and analogue device can be combined. With distributed applications such as conveyor belts, for example, it is possible to connect all of the sensors needed over the 600m length of the system. Assigning a T-Connector to each sensor reduces cabling dramatically, according to Eaton. It allows machine-builders to route their cables flexibly and to install individual sensors or actuators at any position. They can combine digital and analogue I/O, as required.

If more sensors need to be connected later, new T-Connectors can be added to the network wherever they are needed, or existing ones can be refitted quickly. T-Connectors are available for connecting one, two or four sensors.

The SmartWire-DT system allows users to connect to any PLC via gateways (including Profibus-DP, CANopen, Modbus-TCP, EthernetIP, Profinet, and Powerlink), or to use an Eaton controller with an integrated SmartWire-DT interface.

The IP67-protected T-Connectors can each link up to four devices in the field via standard M12 plugs

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