Simplify End-of-Arm (EOM) Tooling with IO-Link

Inductive Couplers for Discrete Sensors: Quickly connect up to eight sensors without physical contact.

When quick or frequent wiring changes need to be made, inductive couplers can provide a fast and error-free way to connect multiple discrete PNP sensors. Balluff offers two versions to meet your specific application needs. The version in an M18 cylindrical housing can connect to up to four sensors, while the version in a Q40 cuboid housing can connect up to eight sensors. These IP67-rated couplers transmit power and signals across a small air gap.

An inductive coil in the base and remote units sends and receives the magnetic signals. A single base unit can be used with multiple remote units, so you can create several wiring setups on the remote-unit side and interchange them as needed. Balluff’s passive junction boxes make this wiring a simple task. To connect to the base unit, simply place the base in front of the remote. Perfect alignment isn’t necessary, and their orientation can be changed. They begin communicating once they are in close proximity, at which point LEDs on the base and remote will switch on to indicate that a connection is active. Magnetic mounts for the Q40 models protect the couplers and keep them aligned and at the optimal distance.

This is a smart retrofit to replace electromechanical or hardwired connections on existing machines. A slip ring or rotary connector will eventually wear out, but an inductive coupler avoids mechanical failure since the base and remote don’t come in contact. Changing a die or mold often requires disconnecting and reconnecting cables, where it’s easy to bend a pin in the connector or put other stresses on the connector, eventually causing it to fail. With inductive couplers, you mount the remote coupler at the same position on each die or mold and then swap as needed. Give your machines a productivity boost by changing out wired connectors for non-contact ones.

Application Spotlight

The customer was experiencing excessive downtime due to the relatively low flex rating of a 23 conductor cord set. The cable ran up the dresser pack to the end effector of the Fanuc Robot with a total of 30 inputs that needed to be returned to the PLC. The customer wanted a solution that could be easily integrated onto other robots while also offering flexibility to meet the needs of various other end effectors that they may install.

Through the use of a DeviceNet IO-Link Master, 2 sets of Inductive Couplers (base and remote) and 2 standard M12 sensor cables, Balluff was able to provide a solution that effectively replaced the large 23 conductor cable with a high flex solution. This eliminated the cable breakage issue and provided the advanced diagnostic features available with Balluff’s distributed I/O Modules.

The DeviceNet IO-Link master was mounted at the base of the robot. Two high flex standard M12 sensor cables ran up the PLC dress pack to the inductive coupler base units. The remote inductive coupler communicates with the IO-Link input hub and is permanently mounted on the end effector tool. The IO-Link input hub also features an ID capability enabling identification of the tooling. The identification of the tooling is key to this application due to the vast amount of tools that need to be identified.

After installation, the unplanned downtime was virtually eliminated. Similar solutions are possible with other major networks such as EtherNet/IP, PROFINET, EtherCAT, PROFIBUS or CC-LINK.

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