Metal Work EB 80 – designed for smart manufacturing

Italian company Metal Work has been a leader in the pneumatics industry for over 50 years. Their experience
is showcased in their EB 80 electro-pneumatic system. ‘Solenoid valve island’ is just too simple a term to define this system; using a small number of basic components, it can be configured into endless combinations.

Building a solenoid valve assembly can be a complex task involving many different types of solenoid valves, multiposition bases, pneumatic and electric supplies, digital or analogue signal control modules and much more besides. Metal Work have simplified solenoid valve assemblies by developing a small range of single-size, high performance valves to cover the vast majority of applications.

EB80 in action
EB80 in action

EB 80 Overview

The EB 80 electro-pneumatic system consists of solenoid valves with fieldbus or multi-pin control, and modules to manage analogue or digital input/output signals.

The system is designed to run millions of cycles without lubrication. Metal Work have made this possible by
optimising its components while using NSF H1 certified grease to lubricate the valve spool and seals.

All EB 80 versions come with an efficient diagnostic system. They reorganise and optimise maintenance management by developing predictive maintenance in order to:
• Predict faults
• Intervene early to avoid system downtime
• Have all information on equipment operation available, in real time
• Monitor component end-of-life
• Optimise warehouse spare parts management

The collected data can be transformed into concrete actions using standard EB 80 stations without the need of additional modules. Advanced EB 80 diagnostic functions – EB 80 14.0 – provide a powerful analysis tool for traditional maintenance operations, ensuring safe and reliable operation of the system. The advanced diagnostics are integrated in all electrical connections with fieldbuses and bases marked 14.0, making the EB 80 Industry 4.0 ready. These functions use the original EB 80 diagnostics, integrating them with
the ability of the station itself to control IOs. 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 EB 80 in Detail

In pneumatic terms, the EB 80 system accommodates 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 12mm Ø and output connections from 4 to 10mm Ø. Flow rate reaches 800 Nl/min in the 8mm Ø pipe version and 1200 Nl/ min for the high-flow version, which supports pipes with a Ø of 10mm.

In electrical terms, all modules offer control via the main fieldbuses. 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), with terminal modules for digital inputs/outputs and modules for reading thermocouples and thermistors.

The EB 80 electro-pneumatic system 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 disrupt system behaviour.


Significant effort has been placed on reducing faults via failure mode and effects analysis (FMEA), the use of
advanced simulation tools, and extensive laboratory and field testing. Diagnostics in the EB 80 system continuously monitor islands and flag issues in a variety of ways. All multi-pin or fieldbus-controlled versions have an error LED for the electrical connection modules and warning LEDs for individual valves. The LED system shows solenoid valve status when there is a short-circuit, a valve is missing or malfunctioning, power surges, insufficient voltage, and interruptions to electrical signals. 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.


The user interface makes the work of technicians much easier. Everything a technician needs to access is on the same side of the island: LEDs, pneumatic layout, code, manual controls, information plate and clamping screws.

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

Smart Components for Industry 4.0

The diagnostic functions of the EB 80, and its ability to store large amounts of data and interface with various
fieldbuses, make this electro-pneumatic system an excellent choice for Industry 4.0 environments.

Here are some typical applications that can be achieved with the EB 80 system: Self-diagnostic data The EB 80 processor collects data, stores it in its internal memory, and sends it to the external controller via the
fieldbus. It can then be processed on site or sent to hardware storage systems or a cloud server. This function
enables systems to be monitored locally or from a maintenance centre in a different physical location.
Cylinder response times A typical use of island valves is to operate pneumatic cylinders. These typically 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. This is done locally without going via the logic controller.

As a result, the island can assess potential delays in cylinder operation due 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.

Cylinder speed

As in the case above, the EB 80 electro-pneumatic system can control the motion of the cylinder in both directions, and read the signals generated by the two limit switches. It can detect and monitor the average speed of the cylinder and the number of strokes completed. The island can log the distance travelled and monitor speed variations, which could 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.

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. 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 system with no need for additional modules.

The possibilities for smart manufacturing do not end here – the EB 80 has potential for use in many applications, limited only by the imagination of developers.