The Balluff Case Study series consists of articles written by key partners of our company, integrators and specialists implementing dedicated solutions for manufacturing companies using Balluff tools and solutions.

Modularity, fast installation and fewer connections in the cabinet – IO-LINK in practice

Sometimes one solution is used in many places in the same production line. Such is the case with IO-Link, which has become the answer to the many challenges of turning, moving or palletising mattresses at IKANO Industry.

Our company – Ikano Industry in Rogoźno – deals with the entire mattress production process, from the manufacture of polyurethane foam to shipment of the finished product to the customer. We have our own automation department, Indemo, which implements Industry 4.0 solutions and creates machines.

Mattress turning machine

One of our prototypes is a mattress turning machine. Until now, twenty-kilogram mattresses were packed by hand. This meant rearranging them, flipping them, and then rolling them into a roll. To provide more ergonomics for people in production and to relieve a lot of physical strain, we used an IO-Link master and two hubs.

The use of IO-Link makes it possible to use so-called plug and play. We can remove the module from the machine, move it, and the device will work with or without it. Besides, it makes it easier to make changes to the machine in the future. Previously, we used multicore wire connections. When we ran out of space while upgrading a component – which happens very often in a manufacturing plant – we had to add new wires. Now, when we work with IO-Link, we simply add another hub and we have additional I/O. We don’t need separate modules for analogue or digital inputs, we can do it using just one. We have the ability to expand the system virtually indefinitely.

Between pallet and conveyor

Another of our solutions, at a later stage of the process, is a robot which takes the mattresses from the pallet and puts them on a conveyor.

We used an IO-Link master and magnetic lines here. The transducer acts as a readout of the height the gripper is open to, allowing us to accurately determine and adjust it to any mattress height. Here, the main argument for choosing an IO-Link interface was to reduce the amount of wiring.

Because we used four servos on the gripper, there are ten wires in the robot’s wire guide: four power wires, four encoder wires, and a network cable and power wire to the Balluff island. Out of curiosity, we also decided to use smart lights. They allow us to use the whole palette of markings we want to issue through our controller. We can use any RGB colour, which allows us to signal multiple elements to operators.

We also used wires with prefabricated L12 terminals, which helped us a lot because we often changed the positions of the sensors on the robot gripper. Because we produce prototypes, not every machine is a final product right away. Using these wires allows us to have a really short installation time.


The last component recently automated with IO-Link is a palletiser for moving mattresses from the conveyor to pallets. This process was also done by hand.  The palletiser completely relieved the operators and let them take control of the machine.

The heart of this line is a Siemens controller. Additionally, the cabinet has a Siemens island for the signals that are left. In order to keep costs down and not pull a lot of wires to it, we used IO-Link in this case as well. So, here we have two masters and two hubs. This is crucial because the machine is quite heavily sensorised and consists of two modules; the pallet feeder and the palletiser itself.

Simple integration and diagnostics

Most of the machines we make are original designs, which are usually not available on the market. We introduce and implement them ourselves. So we look for the best possible technology fit that is at the right level of technology, has a short delivery time and has a component that fits our vision. After implementing many solutions, we already have some that work, like Siemens and Balluff. We intend to use them for as long as possible because we have learned them and they meet our expectations.

Even just integrating the masters, the Balluff hubs with the Siemens we work on, is very easy. Balluff offers a lot of off-the-shelf features that you can use, but we often run into problems that we have to solve all over again. However, creating new functionalities with the Balluff elements does not cause us any problems either. And the solutions we receive allow us to easily diagnose which element has currently stopped working or what happened to it. This helps with preventative maintenance.

Bartłomiej Działo, IKANO Automation Specialist

Lechosław Pelczar, IKANO Automation Specialist


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