The Role of Switches in Industry 4.0

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The topic of Industry 4.0 is very important for many industries. Manufacturing is one sector that benefits from the highly advanced technological revolution. Companies try to transform their products into smart factories based on the Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data and cyber-physical systems.

EAO is one of such companies that brings the best solutions for factory plants. Their Series 84-IO link is a new type of fully waterproof electronic switch with an IO-link interface that allows it to connect machines and process lines to IoT digitally. These EAO switches give the benefits of industry 4.0, such as remote monitoring, planned maintenance and/or interrupts in transmission systems.

Introduction to the Fourth Industrial Revolution

The fourth industrial revolution (industry 4.0) is defined as a level of automation where machines can be largely operated autonomously without constant supervision. As a result of technological advancements, the industrial Internet of Things devices and machines have become interconnected.

With Big Data and Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the continued optimization and data flow across units, interaction can be intuitive and efficient. It is possible thanks to robotics, machine learning, VR, and other technological advancements. Also, the adoption of the Digital Twin enhances working with organised, intelligent data collecting and better insights.

All of these innovations made smart factories a reality. However, along with these numerous advantages, businesses have to be aware of some dangers and focus on the issue of security. The Internet of Things and cloud-based data storage systems are both vulnerable, so security measures are critical. Read more about cloud-based solutions and security.

EAO Switches in Industry 4.0

In the fourth industrial revolution, the role of switches is to allow new generations of digital machine systems to be intelligently connected to higher-level bus systems or a programmable logic controller (PLC) via an IO link controller.

IO-Link is a powerful standard that is increasingly widely utilised as a point-to-point serial communication protocol for sensors and actuators. Thanks to the IO-Link communication interface and programmable connection, the HMIs can be networked with a high-tech machine system.

The new 84 IO-Link Touch series of switches with different switching functions. Source: EAO

Switches specialists

In EAO, HMI specialists released a new series of capacitive switches – 84 IO-Link Touch – enabling digitalisation through IO link interfaces. That series is completely programmable, bright, and capacitive. It opens up a slew of new HMI application options for various raw industrial applications as it can be freely configured for HMI applications with an IO-Link interface.

However, EAO is not only known for their new 84-IO link series of switches that can be digitally networked, but they have already won some awards for their 3D Configurator. According to David Kramer, Head of Corporate Communication at EAO, their 3D E-Stop Switch Configurator has won four awards at the “Best of Swiss Web Award 2021”.

Improvement of HMIs systems

The improvement of human-machine interfaces (HMIs) through new advanced technologies brings a new view on manufacturing to embrace radically new machinery design and manufacturing approaches.

Digital machine systems may be easily and quickly equipped and operated with HMIs using the Series 84 IO-Link Touch. The IO-Link Touch line comprises actuators and indicators suited for a wide range of applications in the mechanical engineering industry and beyond. HMIs can be networked with an advanced machine system via an integrated M12 5-pin screw connection with a mounting depth of just 25.8 mm, that provides rear IP67 sealing to the switch.


  • Protected against short circuit and overload
  • Adjustable output PNP/NPN; NO/NC
  • Load current max. 200mA
  • Operating voltage: DC 24 (8.4…. 32 V)
  • Protection of all cables/lines
  • IO-Link specification V1.1
  • With capacitive measuring principle

The front sealing to IP69K allows for jet-wash cleaning  and the 316L stainless steel versions are also certified to EHEDG for use in food factories. 

The numerous applications of human-machine interfaces are based on a freely chosen configuration that can be exactly aligned to the application – from illumination to symbols to switching functions.

When activated, for example, the illumination can switch-on with a deliberate delay when actuated, and operational readiness can be signalled by steady green or flashing illumination, which turns to red when actuated and then back to green a few seconds later. Even without power, the HMI saves the setting. If you are considering choosing a new HMI, read more here.

  • Automated production
  • Control and switch cabinets
  • Food and beverage industry
  • Packaging equipment
  • Autonomous robot systems
  • Mobile and medical devices
  • Monitoring stations
  • Transmission systems for telecommunications

Switched future of smart factories

With its possibilities for new HMI applications, the IO-Link Touch series of switches are suitable  for a wide range of industrial applications within smart factories. Nowadays, everything is connected. With the switches, each configuration of HMI, either for illumination, symbols or switching functions, is easy.

If you would like to improve your workplace with technologically advanced switches and be part of the smart manufacturing of Industry 4.0, check Distrelec shop, a distributing partner of EAO.

Source: EAO

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