Baltazar Mercado
Senior Product Marketing Manager at Renesas
Published: July 24, 2019

IO-Link is a point-to-point serial communication protocol standard (IEC 61131-9) used to communicate with sensors and/or actuators through the existing cables. It allows users to control and exchange three types of data – process data, service data, and events. It is a powerful, yet simple protocol with wide support in the industry. In almost any place where a digital or analog sensor is used, an IO-Link sensor can provide users with significantly more information, configurability, control, and even maintenance of an automated system. Industrial automation device manufacturers are looking for solutions that will be robust and easy to implement in their designs, and IO-Link-enabled systems have a projected CAGR of 33.56% through 2023. IO-Link is a key step towards the realization of a smart connected factory and a move away from traditional discrete systems.

At the heart of our IO-Link solution is the ZIOL2401. This interface comprises a complete solution that supports industrial automation trends, such as Industrial 4.0, Made-In-China 2025, and IIoT (see Diagram 1). Applications can include pressure sensing, level sensing, weight sensing, and a variety of other sensing functions. The ZIOL2401 is a line driver/level shifter IC specifically designed to support the physical layer requirements of IO-Link. It provides two independent high-voltage I/O channels with a wide range of configurable system features. The output drivers are push-pull stages, which in tandem mode, reach an RDSon of less than 3.3Ω at all operational temperatures. The configuration is stored in an on-chip EEPROM and automatically loaded into the control register during power-up. The ZIOL2401 also provides status information, such as overload and over-temperature conditions to support the robustness of the system.

Diagram 1. IO-Link Enabled Sensor Block Diagram

The RL78/G1A microcontroller and the ZSC310xx sensor signal conditioners (SSC) round out this solution. Renesas’ broad portfolio of integrated, high precision, reliable, and robust SSC ICs make it easy for our customers to build best-in-class sensor solutions for demanding industrial environments with long-term stability in mind. The SSCs support a wide range of sensing technologies: resistive, magneto-resistive, capacitive, ultrasonic, inductive, light and gas sensing. The RL78 in turn captures the sensor outputs, and translates them for the ZIOL2401 to send to the IO-Link Master. The RL78/G1A supports a wide variety of inputs from the sensors from SPI, I2C, GPIO or even directly into the ADC. It also supports some of the industry’s lowest current consumption at 66uA/MHz (Standby) and 230nA (STOP), making the solution highly energy efficient.  

Renesas is enabling designers to meet the challenge of creating smart factories and increasing up-time by including IO-Link communications into what were once separate and discrete functions. This is one way that Renesas is helping our customers deliver comprehensive solutions with our complementary portfolio and showcasing compelling product combinations to accelerate your design.

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