IO-Link Digital Communication Interface


io link industrial communications

What is IO-Link?

IO-Link is the world’s first standardised communication IO technology that continuously communicates with both sensors and actuators. It is also a digital point-to-point communication device that can recognise any fieldbus. The cable simply needs to be plugged in and can be used straight away. The IO-Link communication interface provides a straightforward and economical connection to controls as well as access to networks and business systems, helping businesses to remain competitive in the modern Industry 4.0 era.

How IO-Link Devices Work

IO-Link is a powerful digital point-to-point connection that is based upon the conventional sensor and actuator connection and takes machine connectivity technology to the next level. It operates in much the same way that most standard analogue connection technologies do, in that there is a single cable that leads from IO-Link sensors and actuators to a data collector known as a master that transmits data to other participants in the company network.

Components of an IO-Link Communication System

  • IO-Link sensors
  • Unshielded standard cables
  • IO-Link master

IO-Link Applications

  • Machine tools
  • Plastic injection moulding
  • Presses
  • Pulp and paper
  • Wind power
  • Hydro power
  • Steel plants
  • Condition monitoring

What an IO-Link Communication Interface Can Do

Transfer of Information

Unlike analogue systems, IO-Link industrial communications devices can transfer three types of data:

  • Process Data – Input or output data that gets automatically transmitted at consistent intervals. This data tells the user the recommended state of the actuator and shows the present state of the sensor, including its temperature, humidity and pressure.
  • Device Data – IO-Link industrial communications devices can retrieve detailed data from basic information about the system, such as serial numbers, type numbers and version numbers, as well as more complex data pertaining to diagnostics, configurations, parameters and statuses.
  • Events – Error and warning messages pertaining to technical issues that have occurred, such as a short circuiting or overheating device.

Self-Diagnosis Capabilities

IO-Link industrial communications devices are able to diagnose any issues incurred and recommend to the user what kind of repair or maintenance work is needed to fix the issue at hand. Such issues can include overpressure, low voltage and over-temperature, all of which can indicate that there is an issue in the production line.


Conventional analogue technology and switch connections can only transmit data in one direction. IO-Link technology, however, allows higher-level controls to communicate bi-directionally with the sensor or actuator.

Reasons to Use an IO-Link Communication Interface

Reduces Running Costs

Configurable IO-Link sensors and actuators drastically reduce a company’s expenditure in regards to operating IO-Link devices and processes.

Reduces Downtime

With older systems, only qualified technicians could replace failed sensors and set up the exact parameter of settings needed for a sensor with an IO-Link interface system. This was also often a complicated and time-consuming endeavour. IO-Link interface devices, however, identify and configure themselves automatically, which helps to minimise additional costs and potential errors from occurring, reducing how much downtime occurs in the production line.

Plug and Play

Conventional systems need to be connected using multicore cables. This can lead to issues caused by human error during the installation process and later on, making it hard to detect any problems in the application. Faulty IO-Link interface devices can be replaced through the plug and play method. The configuration parameters will also automatically be transferred from the control to the new device.

Uses Unshielded Cables

The IO-Link digital communication interface is not a fieldbus and does not require the use of special shielded cables. It instead uses unshielded cables and industry-standard connection plugs that are very cost-effective when compared to shielded cables. These cables, when used with established connection technology, allow data to be transmitted into the digital world without requiring a lot of effort to accomplish the task.

Simple Installation Process

If your company is getting a brand new system installed, or an existing system is getting retrofitted, an IO-Link digital communication interface makes these processes considerably easier when compared to doing these jobs with conventional systems. IO-Link technology uses standardised interfaces to make the new sensor configuration process easier, and also uses standard connectors and cables that make the system’s wiring requirements more straightforward.

Reduces How Much Manual Work Is Needed

Settings that have to be changed manually by pressing buttons on conventional pressure switches can now be changed from the control via IO-Link during the start-up process or during ongoing operation.

Can Convert Analogue Data

Any analogue data that an analogue system collects at the sensor level must be converted to digital data before it reaches the programmable logic controller (PLC). IO-Link communication systems and devices, on the other hand, can not only transfer and convert analogue data, but can also reduce how many data conversions are needed and minimise the potential of the data accuracy being compromised.

Contact HYDAC Today

Contact HYDAC today by calling 1300 449 322 for further information about how your organisation can benefit from using an IO-Link communication interface and remain competitive in the Industry 4.0 arena.

IOLink Digital Communication Interface

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  • Is IO-Link a fieldbus?

    No, it is a digital point-to-point connection device.

    How does IO-Link technology function?

    One cable connects any smart sensors or actuators that are used to a master (data collector). Data will be transferred to other participants (controls) within the organisation’s network.

    What are the advantages of using a digital IO-Link communication protocol?

    An IO-Link digital communication interface protocol facilitates the transfer of data pertaining to:

    • Value status (validity of the process data)
    • Events (error messages)
    • Device information (ID, parameters, diagnosis)
    • Predictive analytics
    • Predictive maintenance
    • Bi-directional communication
    • Improved machine connectivity
    • Enhanced motion and control
    • Automation and control capabilities