02 Mar 2022

Industry 4.0

Industry 4.0

EB 80 is ready for Smart Manufacturing!


The Italian company Metal Work S.p.A. has been a leader in the pneumatics industry for more than 50 years. The company has developed the EB 80 system consisting of solenoid valves with fieldbus or multi-pin control, and modules to manage analogue or digital input/output signals.

In pneumatic terms the EB 80 system can accommodate solenoid valves with varying functions (2/2 NC, 3/2 NC and NO, 5/2 monostable and bistable, 5/3), with electric and manual controls, inlet connections with fittings up to 12 mm æ and output connections from 4 mm to 8 mm æ, and 10 mm æ to be introduced shortly. Flow rate reaches 800 Nl/min in the 8 mm æ pipe version and 1200 Nl/min for the high-flow version, which supports pipes with a æ of 10 mm.

EB 80 offers great connection possibilities.

In electrical terms, all modules that are available offer control via the main fieldbuses on the market. A module for using an island as an IO Link hub is also planned for release shortly. The maximum number of commands for valves is 30 with an electric multi-pin connection and 120 with a fieldbus connection.

Fieldbus-controlled signal modules can manage up to a maximum of 336 signals (128 DI, 128 DO, 40 AI, 40AO). The range will be extended by the end of the year with terminal modules for digital inputs/outputs and modules for reading thermocouples and thermistors.

Maintenance and diagnostics

During the product development phase significant effort was placed on reducing faults via failure mode and effects analysis (FMEA), and the use of the most advanced simulation tools and extensive laboratory and field testing.

As an example, the EB 80 was designed to be powered electrically with a large voltage range from 10.8V to 31.2V DC, in order to prevent surge or low voltage issues that can often transpire in industrial environments and affect system behaviour.

Despite this, we are aware of the consequences of stoppages for maintenance, and have included powerful diagnostic functions for troubleshooting and replacing damaged parts.

EB 80 can control various field signals.

We have developed diagnostics in the EB 80 system, which monitor islands continuously and flag issues in various ways. All multi-pin or fieldbus-controlled versions have an error LED for the electrical connection modules in addition to warning LEDs for each individual valve. The LED system shows solenoid valve status when there is a short circuit, a valve is missing or malfunctioning, surges, insufficient voltage, and interruptions to electrical signal transmission. The presence of a fault is transmitted to the island control system, and in the case of a fieldbus connection the type of fault is also shown.

Each base has dedicated memory to collect diagnostic and operational data (type of fault, number of cycles implemented, duration of activation time) for each valve for up to 50 years of operation!

The user interface is particularly convenient to facilitate the work of technicians. All information to be viewed and elements to be worked on are on one side of the island: LEDs, pneumatic layout, code, manual controls, information plate, which can be customised by the customer, clamping screws.

Faulty parts can be replaced using a star screwdriver without dismantling the island, and not only for valves but also fieldbus modules and input/output modules. As a result, not only does the EB 80 have excellent horizontal modularity, i.e. the possibility of adding or removing bases for valves and signal modules, but also innovative vertical modularity, i.e. the possibility of vertically removing elements without dismantling the island.

Smart components

The diagnostic functions of the EB 80 and its ability to store large amounts of data and interface with various fieldbuses make this an excellent component for use in Industry 4.0 environments.

Some typical applications that can be achieved with EB 80 functionality are outlined below.

The first application is the collection of self-diagnostic data, i.e. the behaviour of solenoid pilots fitted to the valves themselves. The EB 80 processor collects data, stores it in the internal memory, and sends it to the external controller via the fieldbus. It can then be processed in the field or sent to suitable storage systems in the company or a cloud server.

This function enables systems to be monitored locally or from a company maintenance centre in another physical location, or even remotely by Metal Work on user request.

EB 80 can send data collected to the cloud.

This second smart function offered by the EB 80 is the control of cylinder response times. Let's not forget that a typical use of island valves is to operate pneumatic cylinders, which normally have limit sensors that read the position of the piston. The digital signals sent from the sensors are read by the EB 80 input modules, completing a control ring on the cylinder itself. The island controls the movement of the cylinder and reads the signal linked to the movement itself. This is done locally without going via the PLC.

As a result, the island can assess potential delays in cylinder operation, due for example to faults, pipe interruptions, seized parts or anything else. The standard time of operation and range of tolerance can be configured. In the event of changes an error message is generated, which can be managed locally or remotely.

The third application is the control of cylinder speed. As in the case above, the EB 80 can control the motion of the cylinder in both directions, and read the signals generated by the two limit switches. By doing so it can detect and monitor the average speed of the cylinder and the number of strokes completed.

The island can therefore log the distance travelled and monitor speed variations, which could for example be due to adjustments, an increase in friction, or changes to loads applied. An unexpected reduction in speed can cause a fall in productivity, whereas a sudden increase can break the actuators or mechanical machine parts.

In this case too a standard value can be inserted for the speed and a range of tolerance. In the event of unexpected changes an error message is generated, which can be managed by the user. It should be emphasised that verification is local, in real time and directly in the field, without the need for developing additional applications on the control system. This makes the EB 80 a very powerful and flexible smart component with no need for additional modules with respect to the standard version.


Figure 4: Industry 4.0 applications with EB 80.


The potential applications and smart manufacturing do not end here - what we wanted to highlight in this article is the potential of EB 80 for use in varied applications. Potential use is only limited to the imagination of developers, and this is the real challenge of Industry 4.0.


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