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IO-Link 101: Top Ten Benefits Explained

1. IO-Link System

A communication standard embedded in sensors and actuators which are connected via a Master, such as Comtrol offers. The Master then will send the device data to a controller (PLC, HMI, SCADA, OPC Client etc.) through an industrial Ethernet protocol such as Ethernet/IP, Profinet IO, OPC UA or Modbus TCP.

Core IO-Link user benefits include: Data Storage, Remote Parameterization, Advanced Diagnostics and Reduced Wiring.

  MultiLink IO-Link Sensors2. MultiLink™ – Comtrol Specific Benefit

Multi Link™ through Comtrol’s Masters allow IO-Link device communication to multiple industrial Ethernet protocols, simultaneously.

  • Provide simultaneous data to the PLC and HMI, using different protocols
  • Communication to Ethernet/IP or Profinet controllers, and OPC UA Clients separately
  • Reduce the amount of data being pushed through one controller to others
  •   3. Auto-Device Replacement (ADR)/Data Storage

    Allows an IO-Link device to be automatically configured using previously stored values. Quick and easy replacement of failed or damaged sensors or actuators which means reduced downtime and maintenance costs. IO-Link devices have to be v1.1 or greater to use this feature.

    Example: Company A has IO-Link v1.1 sensors deployed and Data Storage enabled in Comtrol’s web interface. If an IO-Link device needs to be replaced, a factory default device of the same type and can be connected and automatically configured.

      4. Remote Parameterization

    Comtrol’s IO-Link Master enables remote communication from a control system to an IO-Link device for parameter changing. Tools and files are available depending on the protocol used.

    In addition, you can change an IO-Link device’s configuration using the Comtrol IO-Link Master web interface without a PLC or HMI. Both PDI (process data input) and PDO (process data output) parameters can be changed.

  • Perform common device setting changes a variety of ways, no manual configuration
  • Reconfigure IO-Link devices in hard-to-reach or hazardous areas
  • Recipe or product line change parameter sets to rapidly adjust device settings
  •   5. Data Types: Process, Service, Event

    Three types of data are visible with IO-Link: Process Data, Service Data and Event Data.

      6. IODD: IO Device Description

    Every IO-Link sensor/actuator has an IODD file which contains device information and parameter values. These files can be loaded on a web interface such as Comtrol’s. Each IO-Link device manufacturer will have these available on their website, or they can be found on

    With Comtrol’s IO-Link Master you can load and store a library of IODD files onto the Comtrol IO-Link Master so that you can access device information and parameters easily through Comtrol’s IODD Handler.

      IO-Link Master with IO-Link Blocks7. Reduced/Simplified Wiring

    There are a number of ways IO-Link offers reduced or simplified wiring

      8. Clone Configuration

    With IO-Link devices, you can back them up and replace or replicate settings easily. What about the IO-Link Master? Comtrol has implemented a feature called Clone Configuration that allows the user to save:

    The selected settings will then save to a file on the user’s computer, and can be loaded to a new Master, or to rapidly mass commission sets of Masters with the same or similar settings required.   9. Device Validation

    Allows the user to choose if a port on Comtrol’s IO-Link Master will work with any sensor, a sensor brand/type, or a specific sensor down to the serial number.

    Use Case: If a controls manager wants Distance Sensor 1 to only work on Port 1, they can achieve this. This prevents potential errors or communication issues when regular maintenance is performed. A red LED light will flash on the master if the wrong device is connected. You will also see feedback in Comtrol’s web interface.

      10. ISDU: Index Service Data Unit

    There are multiple ways to read/write ISDU’s through Comtrol’s interface and clients like a PLC. Each message can contain a single command, multiple commands with the same data area size, or commands with varying data area sizes.