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Gateway marries IO-Link with controls to gather device data

05 March, 2020

The German sensor-maker Sick has unveiled an IO-Link gateway with an on-board Web server that can collect, combine, evaluate and transmit signals from IO-Link devices from any manufacturer. The SIG200 Profinet Sensor Integration Gateway is the first in a family of intelligent Industry 4.0 gateways designed to work both as IO-Link masters and as small, distributed control systems.

The device is said to make light work of configuring local sensor applications and, at the same time, opens up high-speed transfer of sensor status, parameter and diagnostics to enterprise-level or cloud-based systems. Only one cable is needed to communicate simultaneously via the fieldbus with the machine controller and with higher-level systems.

Data can be integrated into both common PLC environments and higher-level systems. The gateway’s built-in logic and remote intelligence make it quick and easy to create and run distributed sensor applications, even independently of the PLC.

“The beauty of the SIG200 is that it offers all the Industry 4.0 benefits of setting up a system using an IO-Link master, PLC and sensors,” explains David Hannaby, Sick’s UK product manager for presence detection. “Alternatively, it opens a second route, where you can bypass the PLC and create your own data-gathering system linking straight to the cloud.

“Engineers will find it easy to configure and visualise an automation solution with the SIG200,” Hannaby continues. “The Sopas logic editor has a great drag-and-drop function so you can visualise all the connected sensor and actuator signals and measured values without the need for special software knowledge. It saves a huge amount of programming time, effort and cost.

“Process control functions – for example, activating a mechanical pusher to reject products from a conveyor system – can be configured and set to operate autonomously without the need for the PLC,” he adds. “So, the communication load in the fieldbus is reduced at the same time.”

The gateway can solve simple application tasks using binary switching signals or measured values from IO-Link sensors and actuators, without needing an additional controller. Diagnostics, process parameters, and status information from IO-Link devices – for condition monitoring or predictive maintenance, for example – can be accessed at both the machine and corporate levels. Data can be exchanged with MES, ERP and cloud-based software applications, and a REST API interface enables integration with Web-based software.

The gateway has four master ports for connecting any IO-Link sensors or actuators. Its can even be extended to standard binary sensors using Sick’s SIG100 sensor hub to bundle up to 12 standard I/Os in a single IO-Link data packet, which can then be communicated to machine controllers and cloud-based systems via the SIG200. Up to 52 I/Os can be connected to one gateway in this way.

Sick’s SIG200 gateway (centre, left) can collect, combine, evaluate and transmit signals from IO-Link devices from any manufacturer

The gateway uses Sick’s Sopas PC-based engineering tool as an intuitive user interface that can be accessed via M8 USB, Ethernet or a Web browser. Sopas’ logic editor allows users to visualise all connected signals and to solve application tasks quickly using drag-and-drop logic blocks.

An embedded IODD (IO-Link Device Description) interpreter allows users to configure both the SIG200 and connected IO-Link devices simply by uploading the IODD files. Parameterisation of connected devices is said to be straightforward using Sopas, and device replacement is easy. The SIG200 can work with any third-party products if the IODD file is accessible.

Sick’s vision is to offer a portfolio of sensor integration gateways to support integration into fieldbus environments and higher automation hierarchies. Initially available for the Profinet protocol, other versions of will follow.

Sick is offering an IO-Link master starter kit containing everything needed to set up an application using the SIG200. The kit includes a proximity sensor, a photoelectric sensor and reflector, cabling and accessories, as well as the gateway and the Sopas ET and FieldEcho software. Step-by-step guidance is provided for quick-start configuration of simple applications using the IO-Link master.

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