Drives and Controls Magazine
Software tool sends sensor data direct to higher-level apps
Published:  15 June, 2017

The sensor manufacturer ifm has developed a software tool that transmits data from IO-Link-equipped sensors directly to high-level systems, such as SAP, for applications including predictive maintenance and energy management. Ifm argues that argues that around 90% of the sensor data required for such applications is not needed for control tasks and is not available from shopfloor PLCs.

It has therefore opened up a second communication path which takes the data directly from the sensor to higher-level systems. Using an approach that it calls “Y communication”, the sensor data is split and sent either to a PLC or a management-level system.

These functions are implemented using a modular software tool called Linerecorder. One module, dubbed the Agent Connectivity Port, is a software gateway that allows bidirectional communications between different interfaces. Another module, called Smartobserver, offers visualisation functions for monitoring the condition of machines and equipment.

ifm's Smartobserver module offers functions for visualising the condition of equipment

It can be used, for example, to monitor the condition of bearings using vibration sensors. This information can be used to replace the bearings before they fail, thus minimising downtime. Another example is the monitoring of compressed air consumption to identify and eliminate leaks.