How the latest fieldbus-enabled valve islands speed installation and minimise costs


Graphic display


When compared with traditional hardwired solutions and conventional, stand-alone solenoid valves, the latest fieldbus enabled valve islands offer substantial improvements in the areas of application, performance, and maintenance – Dave Minors, ASCO Numatics explains.

Fieldbus-enabled valve islands offer a number of advantages over conventional valve islands, including reduced wiring costs and faster and easier commissioning and start-up. Built-in diagnostics make it easy to trouble shoot problems - reducing maintenance costs and minimising downtime.

However, to realise the full benefits from this technology, there are a number of considerations when applying these devices - particularly in the areas of commissioning, distribution, modularity, diagnostics, and recovery.

For example, following installation, fieldbus valve manifolds must be tested and commissioned. When many connections are involved, time and costs quickly add up. The latest generation of valve manifolds now offer SPEEDCON M12 connectors that only need a half-turn to gain a secure connection, so reducing commissioning time and costs.

With conventional valve manifolds, DIP switches are often used for configuration and these can be an exercise in frustration. A recent innovation is an embedded small graphic display on each module. This offers plain-language messaging that clearly identifies network addresses, baud rates, and other parametric data. Pushbuttons enable navigation through intuitive menus and this simple system represents a revolution in pneumatic fieldbus manifold interfaces.

Flexibility and modularity are also important. For example, if a particular I/O module is malfunctioning or a late change order during assembly requires an alteration, conventional non-modular designs force the user to dismantle the entire assembly to get access. By contrast, some new fieldbus valve manifold systems offer modular designs that simply connect together via easily removable clips and screws.

If a set of I/O cables turn out to be too short to reach their associated manifold, the user was forced to order a whole new assembly. With the new modular designs, the I/O module is simply unclipped from the main pneumatic fieldbus valve manifold and positioned on the machine within reach of the cables, then connected back to the main module via a sub-bus cable.

When there is a problem, diagnostic indicators play a key role in identifying its cause to get the machine up and running quickly. Options include sending data to a local or remote HMI, or interpretation of diagnostic LEDs on the manifold system itself. However this can be a time consuming exercise.

Fortunately, new designs offer more functional alternatives. Most innovative is the module integrated graphic display with plain-language messaging. This arrangement places visual status and alarm indication away from tangled cables, in a clearly visible display area. It involves no programming or extra cost, and requires no training to use. Error messages are generated and cleared automatically. The display’s associated pushbuttons allow the user to navigate quickly through intuitive menus for easy and effective troubleshooting.

By applying proven technology in innovatively simple ways, the latest valve manifolds such as the G3 valve island from ASCO Numatics, are helping end users to deliver greater cost efficiency and wider application opportunities, while considerably improving commissioning, use, and maintenance.

For more information on the ASCO Numatics G3 valve island visit or visit Stand E69, Hall 11 at ACHEMA 2012, 18 - 22 June in Frankfurt, Germany.

ASCO Numatics Ltd
Tel: 01695 713600

Published in Valve User Magazine Issue 21

Summer 2020 // Issue 53
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