Does the sensor, button or switch have an interface to ASi? This used to be a key criterion for AS-Interface users when selecting their modules. Now the sky is the limit: the Active Distributors with integrated ASi chip from Bihl+Wiedemann open up a world of freedom in designing your systems. The most appealing success stories are often the ones you never saw coming. At least not in this dimension. When the AS-Interface Masters at Bihl+Wiedemann introduced their Active Distributors with integrated ASi chip more than a year ago, they actually assumed that they had started a traditional problem solver: “We knew already from many discussions with customers that just such a product was missing on the market,” recalls Christian Lang, Director of Sales for Germany at Bihl+Wiedemann. “But we obviously underestimated how impatiently the market was waiting for it. Not only to respond to specific and current demands in the most elegant way possible, but also to ensure the greatest possible flexibility for future requirements.” In other words: the Active Distributors found favor with customers as pressing problem solvers – as the keys to freedom in designing systems they are an absolute bestseller.
The difference is easy to explain. Originally the developers at Bihl+Wiedemann were thinking in terms of two typical application cases for the Active Distributors: One when the customer wants to connect an additional sensor with individual I/Os to an already existing Passive Distributor, and the other when he wants to use special sensors which are not available with ASi capability or whose pin configuration is unusual. In such cases he used to have to resort to cumbersome special adapters. With the Active Distributors incorporation into the AS-Interface network is now utterly simple thanks to the integrated ASi chip and without any additional hardware.
This is just where the “misunderstanding” arose: whereas the ASi experts from Mannheim at first wanted to develop “just” an efficient solution for very particular applications, customers saw in it much more. They understood immediately that this product which was at first glance fairly unassuming in fact opened entirely new perspectives in selecting the individual modules they wanted to install in their production equipment.
“Whether a sensor, switch or button has an interface to ASi or not is ultimately just one criterion of many,” affirms Johanna Schüßler, Product Manager at Bihl+Wiedemann. “Aspects such as form factor, electromagnetic characteristics and scope of functions play a similarly large role.” The fact that the Active Distributors now allow even components without an interface to ASi to be easily integrated into the application means mainly one thing to customers: in the future the sky is the limit when it comes to picking out that one device that is best suited for the application.
To make these active multi-talented products ready for truly any application and especially to account for individual cable routing scenarios, the developers paid special attention to a form factor optimized for the installation in a cable duct. In addition, a great variety of components can be connected. The Active Distributors are available as Safety Input Modules with a two-channel safe input (SIL3, PLe) and a standard output as well as digital I/O Modules – currently already available as 2I/1O Modules, 2I/2O Modules, 3I/1O Modules, 4I Modules, 4O Modules or 4I/4O Modules. And safety in case of short circuits is also provided for. Already integrated into the devices as an option is protection in the form of either four 4 A replaceable fuses or four 1 A self-resetting fuses.
In view of the huge demand they have already begun in Mannheim to continually expand the product offering – both with respect to the performance level and in terms of connectivity options: in the meantime the Active Distributors from Bihl+Wiedemann can process up to eight signals with over 15 perfectly preassembled cable and connector combinations available. “And if we don’t have exactly the version the customer needs within our range,” says Product Manager Johanna Schüßler, “we can change that in a very short time.”