An example of PI’s close relationships with other automation organizations is IO-LINK, which is an independent sensor / actuator interface solution for use with PROFIBUS and PROFINET.
IO-LINK is a point-to-point interface for the low-cost connection of smart/intelligent devices serving the lowest level of automation (see right - click the image to enlarge). Devices at this level were once exclusively 'on/off' types, but increasingly they offer higher performance capabilities such as configuration on-the-fly, higher resolutions and enhanced operations.
They incorporate greater processing power and need faster and more intelligent communications with controller devices. IO-LINK serves this need with a flexible solution that is fieldbus-independent. IO-LINK is flexible because it is designed to work with traditional devices without modification so installing an IO-LINK network is extremely easy. Existing sensor networks can also be easily upgraded to incorporate the newer device types.
PI hosts the IO-LINK ORGANIZATION and provides it with administration services including specification writing, test, standardization and so on. IO-LINK interfaces have been specified for PROFIBUS and PROFINET, with interfaces for other fieldbuses and Industrial Ethernet solutions also being developed. IO-LINK will also provide the field connections for PI's standardized wireless solution for Factory Automation applications.
In the past years IO-Link in turn experienced immense increase. 5 million devices were supplied in 2020 – the largest number of any year so far. Even in tough times, IO-Link managed to achieve a growth rate of 31%, which proves that the technology is firmly anchored in the applications. The total number of installed IO-Link devices is now more than 21 million.
Companies especially appreciate the easy installation and parameter assignment of IO-Link as well as its fieldbus neutrality. Accordingly, IO-Link has been implemented in all fieldbus systems established in the market. This also applies to almost every well-known PLC manufacturer. The fieldbus-independent IO-Link standard is thus the ideal solution for many companies that allows them to connect products to different systems and controllers worldwide.