Drives and Controls Magazine
Standard will integrate IO-Link with OPC UA
Published:  05 September, 2017

The IO-Link community has set up a technical working group to specify the integration of IO-Link into OPC UA. The Industry 4.0 platform sees OPC UA as a suitable architecture model for implementing IT at the field level. The IO-Link community has therefore decided to develop a standard for a data and function model that will represent future IO-Link devices and masters accurately in OPC UA. The working group will follow the general recommendations for developing OPC UA companion standards.

Over the past few years, IO-Link has established itself as a manufacturer-independent – and thus fieldbus-independent – point-to-point protocol for connecting sensors and actuators. The technology is now supported by more than 4,500 devices.

IO-Link masters, as well as compatible sensors and actuators, can be connected to various fieldbus systems without further adjustment. The masters can be integrated into simple devices. IO-Link thus offers the opportunity to access a broad range of sensors and actuators in a standardised way that is fieldbus-independent.

As Industry 4.0 becomes more widely implemented, it is also becoming necessary to connect IO-Link devices to higher-level systems, to allow them to evaluate sensor data. This is often referred to as a “sensor to the cloud” to describe the way that sensor data is analysed by IT systems outside the automation process. In this way, sensor data can also be linked seamlessly to MES and ERP systems.

Where IO-Link will fit into the OPC UA family of specifications

The IO-Link/OPC UA working group aims to complete a final proposal for the companion specification (draft for voting) by the end of 2018.