IO Link is quickly becoming the manufacturing industry’s standard protocol for industrial data communication. The problem is how to facilitate the exchange of data between sensors and/or actuators. Comtrol sought to make a gateway controller to reduce maintenance and cabling costs and PLC programming times, while offering a complete set of network management tools. The goal of this product was to: - Reduce maintenance and cabling costs - Reduce PLC programming times - Increase system integration and interoperability for SCADA process controllers - Provide a complete set of network management tools
Solid Design Solutions (Solid) was asked to design and develop a unique, compact, and user friendly housing for the latest technology in industrial controls data sharing. Working with the Comtrol Team, the Solid Team began by identifying the important requirements needed to ensure the gateway controller performed at a high degree of efficiency and to the expected level of ease. Some of these requirements included: - 100% sealed - Highly visible/easy port identification - Ease of access to each port - Smallest possible packaging - Unique visual appearance for industry
Technical details were discussed and numerous concepts were developed. During this phase, concept sketches were created to examine port configuration and placement. Once the preferred concept was chosen, a 3D CAD model was created of all the product components. This allowed us to discuss the strategic design and manufacturability trade-offs with Comtrol and our manufacturing partners. The resulting detailed design enabled us to estimate the complete manufactured cost of the product.
After the 3D model had been approved, prototypes were made for assessment and testing. We continued to refine the design until the functionality and manufacturing requirements were met before we moved on to finalize the design.
During the Final Design Phase, Solid worked closely with the contract manufacturer to design assembly and potting processes as the design was prepared for mass production. Solid also provided the assembly fixtures necessary for production. After inspecting the samples, the design was refined to fit and function properly. Assembled samples were then rigorously tested, followed by the final reviews and a final quality check. After the product was approved, assembly and instructions were created.
The sum of the design process was the Comtrol IO Link Master 4-PNIO. This streamlined IO-link gateway offers many advantages to other gateways of its kind. Stand-out achievements include: - Fully potted assembly with nine major enclosure fenestrations - 13 insert-molded light-pipes - Highly visible port labeling and LED activity indication - User “write-on” replaceable tags