In many cases, the mechanical components of an older machine can basically operate forever. Critical surfaces can be remachined, and bearings and gears can be replaced again and again to restore lost accuracy and repeatability.
But what about the control system? Sometimes older machines are retrofitted with a new controller to enhance its productivity and extend its useful life. Such refits should not stop with the controller alone. Many of the greatest improvements in machine performance can be obtained by upgrading the entire sensor package as well. Sensors are at the heart of today’s automation systems. They provide the critical information and feedback about what the system is doing, and the status and condition of products being handled and produced.
If an automation system is getting a bit old, chances are the installed sensors are getting old too. Advances in technology mean that the latest sensor designs may offer benefits in the areas of temperature stability, sensing range, reduced hysteresis, higher resolution, lower noise, improved shock and vibration ratings, wider operating temperature range, enhanced resistance against electr0-magnetic interference, and more up-to-date electrical interfaces.
Take the time to re-qualify every sensor application on the machine. Re-define the key performance metrics, and don’t be afraid to raise the bar! You don’t just want to rebuild your machine – you want to leverage the best modern technology to make it perform even better than it did when it was new.