RS, a trading brand of RS Group plc offers a wide range of IO-Link solutions ideally suited for helping industrial automation customers in the material handling and packaging industry overcome pressing market challenges. The material handling and packaging industry is currently contending with consumer and regulatory pressures to improve efficiency, reduce downtime, become more sustainable, and comply with evolving industry standards. These complex challenges will require numerous solutions, but one solution -- modular machine concepts -- effectively addresses both efficiency and downtime demands.

The IO-Link communications protocol is an open standard serial communications protocol that uses a simple, fieldbus-agnostic master/device architecture to enable bidirectional data exchange between compatible sensors and devices connected to an IO-Link master and operator interfaces including PLCs, HMIs, and cloud services. IO-Link devices support modular machine concepts and interoperability, standardize and reduce device and equipment hiring requirements and costs, acquire and transmit actionable data, enable remote configuration and monitoring, simplify device replacement and equipment retrofits, and provide detailed diagnostics. When deployed in the material handling and packaging Industry, IO-Link devices improve process efficiency, reduce equipment downtime, increase production, and empower users to make better, data-driven decisions.

The RS IO-Link portfolio offers solutions from suppliers, including Banner Engineering, Phoenix Contact, and Norgren, and is backed by customer and technical support teams highly experienced in helping customers identify, procure, deploy, and maintain IO-Link products. Banner Engineering's Q5X Series laser measurement sensors support plug-and-play modularity, exhibit exceptionally high excess gain, and reliably detect a wide range of objects --including extremely dark targets, black targets against black backgrounds, black targets against shiny metal backgrounds, clear and reflective targets, and multicolor targets -- at a range of up to 5,000mm. They are easy to install, set up, and troubleshoot, which reduces installation costs; are equipped with IP67 form factors for robust, reliable performance and bright output indicators for real-time distance feedback, both of which help reduce equipment downtime; and support remote programming and monitoring with the addition of an optional remote sensor display, which can further improve process efficiency and uptime.

They have compact and robust stainless steel form factors engineered for use in harsh-environment applications and angled displays for clear visibility and easy operation. They can handle pressures extending from vacuum up to 600 bar and are available in 18 variants with a range of mounting brackets, a flange adapter, and cables designed to support fast and flexible installations in a variety of automated systems.