Connection of all network participants with power and communication through one single, yellow profile cable; simple and reverse polarity protected wiring using piercing technology; no plugs or pre-assembled cables; no special connection technique; no special switches while also offering safety “on board” – no other wiring technology makes it possible to integrate both individual components and devices in large quantities into material handling systems so cost-effectively and efficiently. Storage and material flow technology, conveying and sorting equipment, shuttle pallet storage equipment, picking systems, stacker cranes and other crane technology – conveyor machinery, systems and equipment are inspiringly simple to connect with AS-Interface. Whereas the established and widely used ASi-3 standard scores points in the collection of digital I/O signals and implementing functional and passive safety technology, ASi-5 with its high transmission speed and great data bandwidth offers all the prerequisites for solving more complex applications in material flow systems. Added to this is a high degree of future-proof capability – thanks to the options for integrating intelligent sensors with IO-Link and for Industry 4.0 communication via OPC UA. Not to mention the fact that you can deploy ASi Safety at Work to also provide full integration of safety technology for personal protection in material handling systems up to SIL3 and PLe.

Open for all control concepts and communication requirements

As a complete ASi provider Bihl+Wiedemann offers a portfolio that opens up many vistas and flexibility for material handling. For one thing it takes into account the requirements of different drive concepts and manufacturers, and for another its fine granularity of the available modules and its compatibility with both ASi-3 and ASi-5 enables custom tailored solutions from the single binary signal from a light barrier to large, fast-transmission data quantities such as are generated by scanners, RFID readers or encoders.

The versatility of this portfolio from Bihl+Wiedemann can be seen for example in the electric drive technology as it is used in automated material flow systems. AC motors with frequency inverter from companies like Lenze, SEW-EURODRIVE or NORD DRIVESYSTEMS are the standard for drives in many conveying technology systems. In the simplest case they can be driven in binary fashion using ASi-3 components. Less complex functions like start/stop, leftright run or open/close can be implemented very economically with cost-effective modules – particularly as the pin configuration can be adapted to the respective drives, making plug-and-play solutions possible.

AC motors with frequency inverter where the controller has access to performance parameters – such as speed or acceleration and braking behavior – can today be efficiently controlled using ASi-5. The ASi-5. Motor Modules from Bihl+Wiedemann not only provide CANopen, RS485, Modbus TCP and IO-Link interfaces, they also offer compatibility with various fieldbus interfaces. Speeds or defined acceleration and delay profiles, so-called ramps, can be cyclically and steplessly activated and changed. For example it is possible to adjust the transport speed both to the object itself and to the conveying line to provide careful delaying and acceleration – say with objects having a high center of gravity at risk of tipping, or at the entry of a conveyed material and when it exits a curved section, a machine or a hoist. This form of serial control also offers the option of expanded diagnostics: the yellow ASi cable can be used to transmit information such as current power consumption and temperature along with detailed status messages from the frequency inverter to the ASi-5/ ASi-3 fieldbus gateway and use the diagnostic data per OPC UA directly in Industry 4.0 applications like predictive maintenance.

Another standard drive solution in material handling are roller drives powered by 24 VDC or 48 VDC. Once again: simple applications with start/stop, left-right drive or open/close can be efficiently and cost-effectively implemented using the established ASi-3 solutions. For more complex applications the Bihl+Wiedemann portfolio includes special ASi-5 Motor Modules for motorized roller drives from companies like Interroll, Itoh Denki and RULMECA – but on request other manufacturers and drives can also be served using the appropriate ASi-5 solutions offered by the company. Common to all is that the modules control the motorized rollers directly – without the necessity of an additional controller – through ASi. Now each ASi module can fully power two roller drives simultaneously and link them to the data communication channel. This control method also makes it possible to change speeds and ramps cyclically and steplessly. The ramps for delaying and acceleration of the line can also be stored individually for each drive as parameters.

And finally, the ASi-5 Modules with integrated IO-Link Master from Bihl+Wiedemann enable devices such as intelligent actuators – i.e. smart drives with IO-Link – to be simply connected to the system controller via ASi-5. The fine-grained scalability of the connected modules with one, two, four and eight IO-Link master ports help to reduce costs – the user only needs to invest in the IO-Link ports he actually needs. This technical and economic efficiency is simply not possible in this form today using IO-Link fieldbus modules that are typically equipped with eight IO-Link master ports and an individual Ethernet interface.

Implementation of AS-Interface

Success experiences guaranteed

As wiring technology, AS-Interface can fully exploit all its strengths when used in drive technology. The ASi-3 and ASi-5 portfolio from Bihl+Wiedemann combines the performance capability of fieldbus technologies with the advantages of an uncomplicated wiring process for field devices. Add to this the fact that Bihl+Wiedemann assists in many ways in the planning and commissioning of ASi installations, enabling even ASi newbies to enjoy fast results. The company’s software suites with their integrated hardware catalog ensure not only simple and errorless project planning and commissioning of ASi networks, but also efficient addressing and parameterization of the ASi modules in the field – among other things through the ability to copy module settings as often as desired. If multiple frequency inverters with the identical parameterization are used in a system, the values only need to be saved once and can then be copied to all the other devices. Also: in contrast to PROFINET, only one IP address and one webserver is required for all devices in order to control for example up to 124 frequency inverters or up to 248 roller drives. When it comes to addressing the devices in-place in a material handling application, the new ASi-5/ASi-3 Address Programming Device provides valuable services: it lets you assign bus device address fast and easily without requiring an actual bus structure to be in place. Another functionality within the software suite from Bihl+Wiedemann which many users appreciate is the online bus information. This lets you address devices simply from the PC, parameterize them live and monitor in- and outputs. The user knows directly what actual effects the new settings have for error-free functionality of the material handling system to allow immediate optimization if needed.

The two software solutions ASIMON360 and ASi Control Tools360 – the latter without the safety functionality – make planning, configuration and parameterization of ASi networks especially convenient, reliable and fast. The numerous diagnostic tools with their wide selection of representation options provide for continuous monitoring, maintenance and error clearing. In addition to being precise error descriptions, these are above all concrete recommended solutions that save time and ensure efficient error clearing. And when systems are handed over, even detailed test reports are created in PDF format and saved with the machine documentation.

Easy to install, high functionality and flexibility, low cost – all that plus great user convenience: AS-Interface has established itself as an internationally standardized wiring system in modern conveying and material flow technology as well. The mix of drive solutions with ASi-5 and ASi-3 which Bihl+Wiedemann offers for integration of roller drives, AC motors and frequency inverters as well as the various hard- and software tools for creating ASi networks have contributed greatly to this success.

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