I/O takes a road trip

July 24, 2020
IP67-rated, distributed, web-based I/O system for cabinet-free automation

Freedom is fine, but protected freedom is better. And, just as kids—and cables—are always advised to wear jackets, distributed I/O points have been taking on new protections as they venture out of their traditional cabinets to establish new connections in more widespread and less-constrained environments.

Perhaps the most inclusive of these protections is I/O System Field distributed I/O system that consists of an IP67-rated fieldbus switch, which can include up to eight I/O points, daisy chain with M8 or M12 Ethernet connectors, and run in -13 °F to 158 °F (-25 °C to 70 °C) settings. These capabilities optimize I/O System Field for dependable, cabinet-free automation, and engineer it to serve in decentralized processes.

"IP67 distributed I/O aren't new, but we saw users seeking more ways to connect to more devices. They need to support Profinet, EtherNet/IP and EtherCAT, even as newer users want to connect I/O directly to SCADA and cloud-computing to mostly monitor their applications," says Charlie Norz, automation product manager at Wago Corp. "To do it, I/O System Field still uses traditional fieldbuses, but it also employs OPC UA and MQTT publish-subscribe protocols to collect and monitor signals."

I/O System Field includes two housing types: fully encapsulated metal for harsh settings, and lighter-weight, less than 4.25-ounce, non-molded plastic for mobile applications. Both are available in standard and slim-line options. They can be mounted directly or laterally without added adapters.

Within their protective housings, I/O System Field support multiple communication protocols. It's initial July release has a built-in Profinet switch for feed-through networking, while future releases will support EtherNet/IP and EtherCAT. I/O System Field also supports OPC UA for linking to clients like SCADA systems or Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) devices. Its modules are also TSN Ready, so they're designed to comply with the time-sensitive networking standard that's scheduled for completion in 2021.

"Thanks to its software, I/O System Field can perform web-based management and simplified device configuration over an Ethernet network," explains Norz. "For users in the field, it has Bluetooth and a smart device app, so they can configure or adjust the module with a tablet PC or smart phone. This gives users two options for configuring their device, either from the engineering terminal or from the plant floor, which could be especially helpful for web-based, younger or less-experienced users."

For even more networking flexibility, I/O System Field also incorporates IO-Link master ports for accessing intelligent sensors/actuators or using its modules as IO-Link hubs. They're available as eight- or 16-channel, 24-VDC configurable digital I/O (DIO) ports. Each channel is configurable as a 24-VDC digital input or output, while the digital outputs are rated at 2 amps per channel.

"IO-Link gives users more options for making connections," adds Norz. "Wago's philosophy is to always have open networking, which is why we support more than 16 fieldbuses, and don't make users choose just one. I/O System Field fits this mission by allowing users to use the protocol that's best for them."

To power its multiple roles and networking tasks, I/O System Field has input and output power ports that its daisy-chained modules can use. These M12 L-coded ports support two different supply lines, including L1 and L2 that can support up to 8 amps each for a total of 16 amps of module-supplied power. This high-current capacity is helpful in case power is cascaded (connected) to other I/O System Field modules. In addition, each I/O System Field device has built-in electrical load management, which records and evaluates current and voltage levels per channel or for the entire module, and allow current limits and alarms to be set for each to increase system reliability.

"Load management lets I/O System Field monitor its own voltage and current it's consuming, and measure the current and voltage of each I/O point," adds Norz. "This lets users monitor their system, set trip points and alerts, show loads on their PLCs, and enable predictive maintenance programs."

For more information, visit www.wago.com/us/discover-io-systems/field

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