Balluff offers a minimalist yet powerful entry-level IO-Link sensor and actuator control hubs

August 16, 2023 by Seth Price

Checking all the boxes needed for harsh industrial applications, Balluff’s IO-Link hubs are fit for duty without frills or extra expense.

Industrial environments demand ruggedized, robust equipment designed to endure the vibration, dirt and moisture, heat, and cold of everyday manufacturing life. For the most part, if it didn’t look tough it probably wasn’t going to be tough—enough. Apparently, Balluff’s designers missed the memo. 


A Simple Entry-Level IO-Link

IO-Link is well-known as a secure, wired connection, specifically designed for connecting sensors and actuators for measurement and control. Unlike wireless connections, IO-Link control networks are less prone to cybersecurity attacks. System engineers also avoid much of the overhead associated with industrial ethernet protocols including ModBus TCP, EtherCAT, and PROFINET.

Balluff introduced two models, the BNI00J8 and the BNI00JA with similar specifications; the only real difference being the latter has an extension port for joining multiple hubs together. According to Baluff, the devices are simple and good. Both devices have 16 digital input channels, or 8 digital inputs and output channels, depending on how the hub is configured. Out of those ports, four can be configured variably. Both models run on a standard 18-30V DC power supply, making them easier to integrate into existing automation systems.


Designed and engineered for flexibility and sustainability, Balluff I0-Link hubs are both sleek and tough.

Designed and engineered for flexibility and sustainability, Balluff I0-Link hubs are both sleek and tough. Image used courtesy of Balluff


Tough Enough and Priced Right

Despite its appearance, the device’s simplified design is no less capable of withstanding punishment than its larger, more rugged (read expensive) counterparts. Manufactured by an efficient, highly-automated process, Balluff’s production economies of scale help make the company’s sensor/actuator hubs less costly to manufacture than the more complex IO-Link hubs available. Free of bells and whistles, the IO-Link hubs from Balluff are ideal for engineers looking to innovate and trial I/O Link sensor/activator technology without breaking the bank.

Capable of operating in temperatures ranging from -20° C to 60° C, Balluff’s hubs are fit for duty in virtually any environment that manufacturing can throw at them. Both the BNI00J8 and the BNI00JA are IP67 dust and waterproof rated. Furthermore, their compact size (54 mm x 39.2 mm x 141.3 mm) occupies a smaller footprint than most typical “hardened” IO-Link hubs found in industrial settings. Ultimately the design offers more mounting possibilities, less weight, and the flexibility to support easier integrations.


Designed for End-of-Life Recyclability

No designer likes to think about the “end” of their product’s life, but the fact is, even the most evergreen designs eventually find their way to the landfill. Balluff had something more sustainable in mind, designing the BNI00J8 and the BNI00JA to be recycled rather than trashed. From the clear polycarbonate housing to the printed circuit board, all substrates and electronic components are 100% recyclable. 

According to Balluff its I/O-Link hub technology is highly recyclable because devices are manufactured with components free of potentially harmful potting compounds. Potting compounds are used to protect and seal components, Balluff gets rid of potting compounds entirely because the design relies on a sealed housing backfilled with inert gas to prevent the egress of contamination and moisture.


Simple is Great Place to Start

Balluff set out to develop a simple, flexible entry-level IO-Link hub that stands up to harsh industrial environments. The company also wanted to peel away impediments that might limit access to IO-Link technology. Replacing complexity with simplicity the BNI00J8 and the BNI00JA offer a sleek, efficient design as well as a great place to start your first IO-Link-based sensing and actuating network adventure!