SmartBridge technology enables an extended, wireless based channel (“data access channel”) to access information generated by sensors or actuators inside a machine or plant. This data access channel is plugged into the connection line between machine control and an IO-Link compatible field device. Here, the system picks up the digital signal of the IO-Link device and uses Bluetooth to transfer the signal to a mobile device with Internet access. The standard communication channel between field device and control unit remains unaffected by the addition.
This extended, wireless based channel provided by SmartBridge is an important building block for the networking with sensors and actuators in the “industrial internet” of Industrie 4.0.
The SmartBridge system for IO-Link devices
The SmartBridge system consists of a hardware interface (IO-Link/Bluetooth interface) and the SmartBridge app for mobile devices. When the interface is plugged into an existing IO-Link communication between an IO-Link compatible device and a control unit, it displays this information exchange on a mobile device. If the interface is plugged into a connection between an IO-Link compatible device and a conventional control unit, or is being used entirely without a machine control, it works as a master module. In this operating mode, SmartBridge supports the display of all device information as well as the parameterization of IO-Link compatible sensors and actuators.
The interface operates based on the standardized IO-Link protocol (IEC 61131-9) and is vendor-neutral. Consequently, sensors and actuators from all manufacturers that are part of the IO-Link consortium can be addressed with this interface (see www.io-link.com)—giving you the flexibility to choose the appropriate device for your application.
The SmartBridge app provides a clean and easily understandable user interface for IO-Link compatible field devices. Once a new device has been detected, required drivers (IO-Link Device Description and Graphical-Interface Description) are loaded automatically. With these driver files, the functionalities of the respective field device get displayed graphically and in clear text for the respective language. You enjoy a very intuitive handling of sensors and actuators.
The interface features a built-in slot for microSD cards. With this additional functionality, you log process data on a memory card and later run an advanced analysis of the recorded data on your desktop PC.
The SmartBridge system features a rigorous safety concept: only after a clear authentication of permitted hardware and a password check have been passed will the SmartBridge app grants access to connected IO-Link devices.
Intelligent sensors and actuators frequently boast a variety of functionalities with the most different parameters. The SmartBridge app displays all of these device functionalities with their respective parameters and allows you to quickly change them without extensive study of manuals.
During the initial commissioning of machines and plants, various functionalities may not run smoothly right from the start. In these situations, SmartBridge gives you insights whether the parameters of sensors and actuators are correct and if data transfer is working properly.
Troubleshooting can be an extremely time-consuming task—especially when errors occur at random. In these situations, a data logger protocol for the actual activities is very helpful. In addition to this real-time process information, analyzing historical process data (as operation or function counter) is beneficial as well. SmartBridge enables easy access to both current and historical data of an IO-Link compatible device.
Sensors and actuators often times are located at error-prone positions in plants and machines. The reasons for faults and discrepancies vary from mechanical wear-and-tear, to electrical failure, or changes in ambient conditions. In these scenarios, permanent monitoring of limit values is of great use. SmartBridge is suited for long-term application in a machine or plant and transmits relevant process and status information of the IO-Link device to an external monitoring system of your choice.
With SmartBridge, Pepperl+Fuchs is taking a first step on the path towards Sensorik4.0. Contact us now to get more information on the advantages the future holds for you.