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The next level: I/O system for ctrlX AUTOMATION

Symbolized spiral staircase

ctrlX AUTOMATION has reached the next level: With the launch of ctrlX I/O, we have developed and manufactured our own I/O system for the platform. It offers comprehensive communication and performance enhancements as well as IO link modules geared to technologies of the future such as 5G, TSN and AI. This is the basis for connectivity and networking – and thus for the Industry 4.0.

I/O (input/output) describes the communication of a device with its environment – for example, from machine to machine, to system and operator. This connectivity is essential for the digital factory, but also for intelligent processes and new business models in other industries.

“Our customers today need automation solutions or control platforms that give them the ability to implement digitized processes. The available interfaces are therefore essential,” explains Thomas Höfling, Product Manager ctrlX I/O.

For this reason, we will focus on even more flexibility and future viability for our customers with ctrlX I/O. This is ensured by standardized, sector and manufacturer-independent interfaces and communication standards. The I/O portfolio is used for horizontal (machine-internal) and vertical (production network and cloud) machine integration. On the field level, the solution smoothly facilitates flexible machine topologies and the seamless integration on the sensor/actor level. As a result, higher-level control systems as well as MES and cloud solutions can be easily connected on the control level.

In addition, ctrlX I/O represents a functional expansion of the control platform ctrlX CORE, providing it with technology and hardware options such as additional memory, USB and Ethernet interfaces.

Increased flexibility with an almost unlimited interface portfolio

With ctrlX AUTOMATION, we open up new target groups and market segments. ctrlX I/O is the logical consequence of the market requirements, because new applications are diverse and require individual interfaces and technologies. ctrlX I/O allows easy and fast expansion of the solution portfolio and forms the foundation for competitive and future-oriented machine concepts.

The I/O modules offer the right extension for holistic automation solutions. They are based on EtherCAT, on the basis of which synchronized data processing takes place. In addition, the system supports PROFINET and IO-Link.

These features provide users with a virtually unlimited range of high-performance, freely combinable interfaces for maximum flexibility in automation. More than 30 communication standards such as OPC UA and MQTT facilitate the seamless connection to IT and IoT systems. Analog and digital inputs/outputs allow standard sensors and actuators to be connected. Through the use of encoder interfaces and drive modules, small and stepping motors can be controlled directly from the I/O level.

Machine manufacturers can combine modules and extensions freely. Apps tailored to ctrlX I/O from the ctrlX WORKS software and engineering toolbox cover numerous technological functions. The I/O level information is available in the ctrlX Data Layer. All apps can access it directly, process it and output it again via the ctrlX Data Layer. This also works without PLC.

Decreased engineering effort and further savings potential

ctrlX I/O offers developers the greatest possible degree of freedom for implementing modular machine concepts. This supports the principle of ctrlX AUTOMATION: More productivity, fewer components, less engineering. “The I/O portfolio in automation solutions has changed fundamentally in recent years. The number of available I/O functions is constantly growing. Small drives, intelligent sensors or actuators, vision systems, energy measurement and network modules are just a few examples. These enable machine manufacturers to develop flexible and more compact systems,“ Thomas Höfling explains.

The simple project planning and commissioning is supported by our ctrlX Configurator. The solution shortens engineering times by up to 30 percent.

Less is more also when it comes to components: With the same compact form factor as ctrlX CORE, ctrlX I/O saves space in the control cabinet and offers up to 16 I/O points over a width of just 12 mm. The well-considered, ergonomic mechanical design and the push-in technology allow easy installation without the use of tools and the quick exchange of modules thanks to removable peripheral plugs. The clever diagnostic concept on the module and channel level reduces downtimes. The robust design in the IP20 protection type ensures maintenance and fault-free operation in the control cabinet. Performance functions can be flexibly added to the system.

Future-proof and designed for cooperation

ctrlX I/O drives intelligent networking forward within automation and sets new standards. With the co-creation concept, third party providers can bring their own hardware and software into the ctrlX World and thus benefit from the ecosystem. ctrlX I/O, in combination with ctrlX AUTOMATION, supports our customers in creating future-proof machine concepts. With this concept, we are also playing a pioneering role in new markets.


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Portrait view of Thomas Höfling, Game Changer ctrlX I/O

Thomas Höfling

Game Changer
ctrlX I/O



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