Decentralized safety technology for modular production

AWL-Techniek is a company offering scalable safety technology directly on the modules of its M-Line machine platform – implemented with Turck's IP67 IO-Link and safety I/O concept

AWL-Techniek's M-Line series makes it a trailblazer in the modularization of production lines. Turck was able to optimally support the Dutch machine builder with a decentralized safety concept with IP67 protection. The combination of IO-Link and hybrid safety I/O block modules saves a lot of wiring work because the entire safety architecture can be installed outside of the control cabinet. 

The consistent galvanic isolation of the sensor and actuator voltage enables the decentralized safety disconnection of actuator groups on the I/O hubs with IO-Link. The binary interface supplies valuable diagnostic data for Lyla, AWL's dashboard solution for displaying and evaluating the data. The project proves how modular machine construction can create flexibility and shorten lead and commissioning times.

  • A TBIL I/O hub brings the signals of the welding cap cutter to the IO-Link master

  • The different modules of the M-Line can be combined to form a complete production line

  • The Lyla dashboard system collects, evaluates and monitors data from different machines

  • Field-tested: Turck's TBPN (below left), IO-Link master (below center) and safety box (center)

  • Thanks to the decentralized I/O concept there is a lot of space in the control cabinet

  • Hardware engineer Jasper van Kooij, AWL-Techniek

Frameworks create flexibility and save costs

AWL’s M-Line represents a modular product series as well as standing for “line” as in “production line” in which the individual modules are combined. The basis of each module is the rectangular steel frame. Three central module types were defined from which the M-Line is to be built: an operator module, in which a worker can insert components and start processes, an indexer module, which consists of turntables or other devices for handling the workpieces, and a process module, which processes workpieces, such as with welding robots or machine tools. 

The aim: an empty control cabinet

AWL benefited here from Turck's Ethernet multiprotocol technology for I/O modules. It enables the manufacturer to use identical IO block modules in each M-Line module – regardless of whether the customer prefers  a Profinet or an Ethernet/IP controller. “We wanted as many standardized components as possible and also a largely standardized control cabinet. Ideally, we will one day just have a PLC and a power supply unit in the control cabinet,” hardware engineer Jasper van Kooij announced. We haven't got there yet but there is already a lot of air in the control cabinet of the AWL modules.

Impressive IP67 IO-Link safety I/O concept with scalable safety technology 

AWL was impressed by Turck's concept of a modular IP67 IO-Link safety solution: The core of the solution is the TBPN hybrid safety I/O module. This comes with an integrated safety controller which can talk to the PLC via PROFIsafe over Profinet. The module is provided with four safety I/Os, two conventional digital I/Os and two IO-Link ports. The TBSB safety disconnection box, which safely switches off the actuator voltage V2 in a serious situation, is connected to one of the safety I/Os. The power supply for all modules runs likewise via the safety disconnection box. This ensures that no actuator is supplied with power, for example, in the event of an emergency stop and nothing can move anymore in the machine. The sensors remains active as these are fed via V1. In this way the machine is always visible in the controller. 

Galvanic isolation of sensor/actuator voltage 

The digital sensors and actuators of the welding cap cutters is connected to I/O hubs, which in turn communicate with Turck's TBEN-L-8IOL IO-Link master. The IP67 block provides four IO-Link ports in accordance with the Class A and four in accordance with the Class B standard. This separates the voltage for the sensors (V1) from the actuators (V2). In this way the safe disconnection of the power supply is ensured also via IO-Link. AWL had already used Turck's TBIP module in similar projects in the USA. It has a similar hardware design to TBPN, although it is intended for EtherNet/IP and CIP-Safety communication. 

IO-Link boosts standardization

The use of the IP67 solution including safety and I/O hubs with IO-Link saves AWL a lot of wiring work. For the Dutch machine builder, another reason was the fact that the bidirectional interface boosts the standardization of the M-Line. The safe signal transfer via three-wire cables eliminates the need for specially shielded cable types and special cables. IO-Link also ensures higher availability of the machine: The Lyla dashboard system is part of the M-Line. This collects the data of different machines, evaluates it and thus monitors the operation and performance of the machine. This is also possible through the use of diagnostic data via IO-Link.