Field Input and Output Blocks From Allen-Bradley

May 26, 2023 by Shawn Dietrich

Rockwell Automation has released an IO-Link master with configurable ports designed for harsh, on-machine environments with the ability to connect both discrete and IO-Link field devices.

There was a time when all the sensors on equipment had to be wired directly to the electrical panel because the PLC only had rack-mounted input and output cards. Today, there are a great many options for sensors and outputs to be connected to I/O blocks, collecting sensor statuses and setting output values over a fieldbus protocol such as Ethernet/IP. This style of I/O is often referred to as field I/O or on-machine I/O. Recently, Rockwell Automation released its new Allen-Bradley ArmorBlock 5000 I/O blocks.


Rockwell Automation's Allen-Bradley ArmorBlock 5000 I/O blocks

Rockwell Automation's Allen-Bradley ArmorBlock 5000 I/O blocks. Image used courtesy of Rockwell Automation


On-Machine Distributed I/O

Rockwell Automation is joining multiple automation component manufacturers by offering on-machine I/O blocks with IO-Link capabilities. Using a field, or on-machine, I/O block allows for multiple sensors and output devices to be connected to your control system via standard fieldbus protocols over Ethernet. The I/O block will communicate with the PLC over a cyclic protocol so that input status can be read from the ethernet map and outputs can be set just like discrete I/O cards. These blocks often come in various sizes and have configurable input, output, and IO-Link ports.


The Allen-Bradley ArmorBlock 5000 is available in three different versions and can have IO-Link ready devices connected directly to it without additional hardware. Image used courtesy of Rockwell Automation

Allen-Bradley ArmorBlock 5000 IO-Link Master

The Allen-Bradley ArmorBlock 5000 comes in three different versions: 4-pin, 5-pin, and M12 L coded, all of which have 8-channel IO-Link ports. The ArmorBlock is an IO-Link master so that IO-Link-ready devices can be connected directly to the ArmorBlock without additional hardware. Four ports are IO-Link Class A, and the other four are Class B. The different classes represent how the power is distributed through the connectors. Each of the eight IO-Link ports can be configured as input, output, or IO-Link ports. Refer to the electrical drawings for proper wiring on specific pins.


Allen-Bradley ArmorBlock 5000 I/O Block

Rockwell Automation aims to release a 16-point configurable version of the ArmorBlock 5000. This version will have eight ports that can be configured as inputs and outputs, providing up to 16 I/O points. The device will have a similar layout with regard to connector size and power requirements. Both versions will have an IP rating of IP66/67/69K for harsh environments.


The ArmorBlock 5000 is completely integrated into Rockwell Automation Studio 5000 Logix Designer IDE. Image used courtesy of Rockwell Automation


Device Symmetry

When building automation equipment, a lot of time is spent tracking down electronic data sheet (EDS) files or installing software, but when the same manufacturer provides devices, they typically configure faster and function better. There are many different IO-Link masters on the market, and there are many different on-machine I/O blocks on the market.

If your PLC is an Allen-Bradley PLC, then it makes sense to use the Allen-Bradley I/O block. The ArmorBlock 5000 is completely integrated into Rockwell Automation Studio 5000 Logix Designer IDE, which helps reduce configuration and integration time. By using the same I/O blocks between projects, machine builders can develop standard code for field inputs and outputs, reducing integration time.