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Comeback: Modular I/O device family

Weidmueller (Germany) is back on the I/O business stage. The design of the u-remote family is based on a user questionnaire. The provider will also support CANopen and Devicenet connectivity.

THE IP20-RATED I/O DEVICES COMPRISE a bus-coupler with power supply and up to 64 modules with input/output functionalities. The I/O modules measure 11,5 mm. Competitor Sigmatik (Austria) has achieved 12,5 cm; some other products require even more space. The main players in CANopen I/O business, Beckhoff and Wago, provide a very broad range of different I/O functions. This is a challenge for Weidmueller, especially because the company doesn’t offer PLCs and therefore can’t provide turnkey solutions. And there are other companies manufacturing CANopen PLCs and I/Os (B&R, Eaton, Lenze, Systeme Helmholz, etc.).

The bus-coupler features an integrated web-server for remote access. This can be used for configuration, diagnostic, and software update purposes. Another feature of the bus-coupler is the separated, galvanic-isolated 10-A current supply for inputs or outputs. If more power is required, the user can add power-refreshing units. Besides the CANopen or Devicenet interface, the bus-coupler also hosts Ethernet and USB ports.

The sensors can be connected with two, three, or four lines. According to the supplier the push-in connection is vibration-proof. The devices are capable of reading or setting 256 digital I/Os within 20 µs. Each of the up to 64 modules can be equipped with up to 16 ports. This results in a maximum of 1024 digital I/O channels. The entire length of such a device is 80 cm. The devices are specified for a temperature range from -20 °C to +60 °C. Each channel is equipped with its own LED in order to simplify visual inspection and diagnosis.

About 20 years ago, Weidmueller already offered I/O modules. The company was also involved in the development of the CiA 401 profile for I/O modules. But after a couple of years the company sold its Winbloc family to Moeller (now Eaton). “Sometimes you must do things twice to do them really well,” said Dr. Timo Berger from Weidmueller. The two and half year development was based on a questionnaire of 120 industrial users of modular I/O systems. One of the desired functions is the hot-swapping capability of modules.

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