With the release and publication of the IO-Link Safety specification by the IO-Link Community and the successful concept assessment by the TÜV SÜD, nothing else stands in the way of implementation in systems and devices.
Like IO-Link, IO-Link Safety is also fieldbus and system-independent. This is achieved through conversion of the many safety protocols available on the market to IO-Link Safety in the master. Thus the IO-Link Safety Devices remain available worldwide. As there are considerably more device types (already more than 4,000) than IO-Link masters, the advantages are obvious. To open a new market or a new system for IO-Link Safety, all that is necessary is to develop a corresponding IO-Link Safety master. All existing IO-Link Safety devices can then be used without modification.
The time and effort for configuring IO-Link Safety is minimal. The authentication is derived from the assignment to the master port, and the monitoring time is set automatically for each device. As with IO-Link, devices can be replaced without using an engineering tool. A replaced device is automatically assigned the stored parameters of its predecessor after startup. Furthermore, the authentication rules out both confusion and manipulation.
A significant challenge is open and secure parameterization of safety devices. IO-Link Safety devices always have an IODD device description, which contains the complete communication properties, identification, parameterization, and diagnostics. However, the applicable standards require a “dedicated safety tool” to rule out manipulation. Therefore, a software interface exists for integrating the dedicated tools associated with the devices into the IO-Link engineering tools. The Device Tool Interface (DTI) has been kept very simple and ensures that integration into the existing IO-Link engineering tools does not pose a problem and that safety-related device software can be easily adapted and used further on the device side.
In the process, it is important that the package consisting of the IO-Link Safety device, IODD, and the “dedicated tool” can be used globally in all system environments without modification. Thus, users can access a broad range of devices – regardless of what automation system they use or in what industry and region they work.
On the basis of the existing specification, manufacturers can now begin to integrate IO-Link Safety into their systems. The test specification, the test system, and the certification are being developed in parallel. Therefore, although products are not yet expected in 2017, a rapid rollout is anticipated.