Evolution of Magnetic Field Sensors

When I visit customers, within a few minutes into our conversation they indicate to me they “must decrease their manufacturing downtime.” We all know an assembly line or weld cell that is not running is not making any money or meeting production cycle times. As we have the conversation regarding downtime the customer is always wanting to know what new or improved products are available that can increase uptime or improve their current processes.

A major and common problem seen at the plant level is a high amount of magnetic field sensor failures. There are many common reasons for this ranging from low quality sensors being used such as Reed switches that have a mechanical contact. Reed switch offerings typically have a lower price point than a discrete solid state offering with AMR or GMR technology however these low cost options will cost much more in the long run due to inconsistent trigger points and failure resulting in machine downtime. Another big part of failure is the location of the pneumatic cylinder position. It is not uncommon to see a cylinder located in a very hostile area resulting in sensor abuse and cable damage. In some cases the failure is simply associated to a cut cable or a cable that has been burned through from weld spatter.

Below are some key tips and questions that can be helpful when selecting a magnetic field sensor.

  • Do I need a T or C slot?
  • Do I need an NPN or PNP output?
  • Do I need a slide in style or a drop in type?
  • Do I need an offering that has an upgraded cable for harsh environment such as silicone tubing?
  • Do I need a duel head offering that only has one cable to simplify cable connections?
  • Do I need options like IO-Link that can provide multiple switch points and hysteresis changes?
  • Do I need one teachable sensor head that can read extended and retracted position?

If the tips above are put into practice you will sure have a better experience selecting the correct product for the application. Magnetic field sensors have evolved over the years with improved internal technology that make them much more reliable and user friendly for a wide range of applications. For example if the customer has magnetic field sensors installed in a weld cell they would want to select a magnetic field sensor that has upgraded cable materials or perhaps a weld field immune offering to deal with welding currents. Another example could be a pick and place application where the customer needs a sensor with multiple switch points or a hysteresis adjustment. In this case the customer could select a single head multiple teach sensor, offering the ability to fine tune the sensor using IO-Link.

For more information on all the various types of magnetic field sensors click here.

About Shawn Day

Balluff Inc. Market Manager ~ Object Detection
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