BS Punching Systems integrates IO-Link

Tuesday, 20 August, 2019 | Supplied by: Balluff Pty Ltd


BS Punching Systems, headquartered near Milan, Italy, offers a range of semi- and fully automated punching machines for tubes and profiles made of sheet metal and steel. The company services customers in the automobile, construction, energy and food industries.

In 2016, development of a new punching machine began. BS Punching systems required a machine that could process two tubes with maximum cross-sections of up to 60 x 60 mm or up to 30 x 120, simultaneously. The new model also needed a flexible changeover concept to allow for quick product changes. The planning, manufacturing and start-up processes also needed to be simpler and shorter than before.

“Our goal was an innovative, compact and versatile Industry 4.0 capable punching machine which offers users maximum flexibility and productivity and saves time and money through faster changeovers to new formats,” said BS Punching Systems Head Manager Davide Magnani.

When assessing the brief for the punching machine, project partner Balluff identified an ideal application for IO-Link. The brief called for an inductive distance sensor for detecting the press stroke; a fork sensor for presence monitoring of the workpiece; inductive sensors for position and end-of-travel sensing; valve interfaces and network modules with fieldbus interface — all intelligently connected together.

“For me this was clearly a job for IO-Link,” said Balluff’s Alessio Tosi.

“Instead of wiring sensors and actuators together in the cumbersome way, IO-Link connects them to the IO-Link using just standardised 3-conductor cable and M12 connectors and thereby to the system controller.”

IO-Link enables uncomplicated data exchange between the sensor/actuator and master/control levels. This efficient point-to-point connection is not a fieldbus, but a logical continuation of the previous connection technology for sensors and actuators.

Sensor data and signals are sent to the controller, while parameter values are loaded from the controller into the sensors. Thanks to centrally stored parameter values, format and product changes are simple and quick to accomplish.

Decisive in selecting the integrated IO-Link solution was Balluff’s LED SmartLight stack light. In contrast to conventional stack lights, the colours and zones of the IO-Link SmartLight can be freely controlled and centrally programmed. Up to 20 coloured, stacked LEDs light up or flash depending on the tasks at hand, allowing easy visualisation of the system’s operating states.

“Balluff worked with us through the entire development process and expanded our horizon for what was technically feasible with their solid automation expertise,” Magnani said.

“Thanks to IO-Link we are delivering our machines faster; our customers are telling us how much they appreciate the high degree of flexibility and the easily implemented configuration and diagnostic features.”

Image caption: Parts delivery with fork sensor. Image courtesy of Balluff.

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