Data foundations for networking and in-depth analysis


With modern industrial sensors providing the data for the control system and a wide range of additional information, they form the basis for in-depth status analysis and data-driven decisions. The Sensorik4.0 concept sees Pepperl+Fuchs spotlighting communication technologies and aligning its portfolio with IIoT and Industry 4.0 requirements.

Traditional plant and process architecture involved the field devices – i.e., sensors and actuators – communicating only with the relevant control system, and only this control system was connected to other higher-level instances. In the networked world of IIoT, this division has been eliminated. In essence, sensors can exchange data with a PC on a remotely situated office desk, provided that suitable connection technology is installed. IO-Link and OPC UA are established worldwide as uniform standards. IO-Link enables cost-effective, bidirectional connection of simple field devices. Ethernet-based protocols provide the basis for communication with more complex components, even over longer distances.

The IO-Link master with MultiLink technology from Pepperl+Fuchs Comtrol offers a proven solution for connecting the sensors by linking IO-Link and Ethernet technologies. It forwards the process data from IO-Link-capable sensors to the control system via PROFINET or EtherNet/IP and simultaneously transfers data from Indexed Service Data Units (ISDU) to SCADA systems or IIoT clouds via MODBUS TCP, OPC UA, or MQTT. The parallel transfer of process data is possible. All field-level information can be used in IT systems and cloud-based applications.

The new Pepperl+Fuchs IIoT starter kit was designed around the IO-Link master. It supports the simple implementation of solutions for visualising and analysing sensor technology and RFID data and allows their seamless integration into Industry 4.0 applications. In addition to the master module, the kit contains IO-Link-capable sensors, an RFID read/write device, a tag, an Ethernet switch, the electric power supply, and all necessary cables. Software interfaces connecting to various platforms such as AWS, PTC, and AVEVA are already integrated into IO-Link master firmware. The starter kit highlights the possibilities offered by Sensorik4.0 and gives users an easy introduction to the digital transformation.

Sensors in IIoT Applications

One component must meet two requirements to conform to the concept of Sensorik4.0: identifiability and the ability for bidirectional communication with a standard protocol. The component, therefore, bears an individual product identifier, which can be accessed via a suitable interface. In addition to reading out the sensor data, the interface allows intervention in the sensor configuration to parameterise or re-parameterise the sensor. With simple sensors, this happens via IO-Link.

Identifying via RFID

One example of this is the IUT-F190-B40 UHF RFID read/write device which features an integrated industrial Ethernet interface and communicates via a REST API. It can, therefore, be integrated directly into IT networks without an additional analysis unit. The device can be fully parameterised and operated from there, eliminating the need for PLC programming. It can be quickly adapted to dynamically variable identification tasks and can be parameterised and commissioned via the integrated web interface. The IUT-F190-B40 is a flexible solution for production control and monitoring, track-and-trace applications, and other Industry 4.0 applications in factory automation.

Monitoring Machine Health

The moving components in intact machines usually exhibit characteristic vibration patterns. If these patterns change, conclusions can be drawn about damage and unavoidable wear. Vibration sensors detect such patterns and provide highly differentiated information about machine health. The sensor can equally monitor the machine’s functional safety. In the VIM32PL vibration sensor, Pepperl+Fuchs offers an IO-Link-capable component suitable for numerous applications.

The device outputs a data set with averaged peak speed, acceleration, and temperature values. This data set enables specific vibration patterns to be assigned to individual machine parts. A justified alarm is triggered, or a servicing operation is initiated in time, as and when required. The machine control can switch to the safe state if critical limit values are exceeded. The IO-Link interface provides the information digitally for visualisation and analysis.

Radio Connection for Stand-Alone Units

Stand-alone functional units in different areas can be connected to communication networks. The autonomous WILSEN ultrasonic sensor detects tank fill levels and transmits them wirelessly to LoRaWAN networks. Entire fleets of tanks, containers, and silos can be centrally recorded and managed in widely distributed process plants, municipal supply and disposal facilities, construction-site logistics, and agriculture.

Due to comprehensive communication capabilities, Sensorik4.0 provides the data foundation for cross-linked structures.


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