Manufacturing businesses have witnessed the rapid ascension of industrial networks, and in the pneumatics industry, there’s a real desire to ensure the benefits that connectivity can bring are leveraged. To maximise this opportunity, those looking to connect pneumatic valve manifolds to an industrial network will want to make sure of an optimised outcome. But how?
To begin with, select the network and communications protocol that is best suited to the application.
Common Ethernet networks and protocols, such as PROFINET IO, EtherNet/IP, EtherCat and Modbus TCP, have been around for some time now. However, the high cost of adopting such systems has restricted the range of their application to those requiring the highest levels of system sophistication. This factor is precisely why cost-effective fieldbus networks like PROFIBUS DP, DeviceNet, CANopen and AS interface have become popular for more straightforward operations.
And yet these too, are getting squeezed out of the picture. To find out why we only need to look at rapidly emerging technologies like wireless networks and open communications protocols. A clear case in point can be seen with IO-Link, which thanks to simple installation, better control and enhanced diagnostics capabilities, has already secured a large user base.
In support of IO-Link’s increasing stature, Parker has released its P2H network node, an addition to the H Series ISO valve platform. The good news is that P2H delivers a robust way of connecting H Series valves to the IO-Link network, therefore saving total system and installation costs compared with Ethernet or hard wiring.
Applications include vehicle body welding and assembly, along with systems for applying adhesives and sealants, end of arm tooling (EOAT) for robots, riveting machines, blow moulding machines and case erectors, to list but a few.
Regarding network connectivity, flexibility and modularity are the factors underpinning ease-of-use and space saving. The value of our P2M IO-Link node module, for example, is as a low-cost network connection with simple integration and easy-to-use local diagnostics. In addition, voltage monitoring and cycle counting are available through the network, simplifying diagnostics and supporting the take-up of predictive maintenance strategies.
Many general pneumatic control applications can benefit from such modules, including packaging machines, automotive systems and factory automation. In fact, if you happen to visit any automotive or packaging facility, the ‘elephant in the room’ will be clear to see: the big controller cabinet housing the PLCs and contactors. These cabinets consume valuable floor space, but now they are set to shrink in size. Safety relays are increasingly moving out of the cabinet, and trends indicate that PLCs are soon to follow. This ‘do more with less’ business model should encourage any of you who typically still hard-wire valve manifolds, to make that leap towards industrial networks.