Weld cells are known for their harsh environments, with high temperatures, electromagnetic field disruptions, and weld spatter debris all contributing to the reduced lifespan of standard sensors. However, there are ways to address this issue and minimize downtime, headaches, and costs associated with sensor replacement.
Choosing the appropriate sensor for the environment may be the answer to ensuring optimal uptime for a weld cell environment. If current practices are consistently failing, here are some things to consider:
- Is there excessive weld spatter on the sensor?
- Is the sensor physically damaged?
- Is there a better mounting solution for the sensor?
For example, sensors or mounts with coatings can help protect against weld spatter accumulation while specialized sensors can withstand environmental conditions, such as high temperatures and electromagnet interferences. To protect from physical damage, a steel-faced sensor may be an ideal solution for increased durability. Identifying the root cause of the current problem is critical in this process, and informed decisions can be made to improve the process for the future.
In addition to selecting the correct sensor, further steps can be taken to maximize the potential of the weld cell. The sections below cover some common solutions for increasing sensor lifetime, including sensor mounts and bunkers, and entirely removing the sensor from the environment.
Mounting and bunkering
Sensor mounting enables the positioning of the sensor, allowing for alignment correction and the possibility of moving the sensor to a safer position. Some examples of standard mounting options are shown in image 1. Bunkering is generally the better option for a welding environment, with material thickness and robust metal construction protecting the sensor from physical damage as displayed on the right in image 2. The standard mounts on the left are made of either plastic or aluminum. Selecting a mounting or bunkering solution with weld spatter-resistant coating can further protect the sensor and mounting hardware from weld spatter buildup and fully maximize the system’s lifetime.
Using a plunger probe, which actuates along a spring, involves entirely removing the sensor from the environment. As a part comes into contact with the probe and pushes it into the spring, an embedded inductive sensor reads when the probe enters its field of vision, allowing for part validation while fully eliminating sensor hazards. This is a great solution in cases where temperatures are too hot for even a coated sensor or the coated sensor is failing due to long-term, high-temperature exposure. This mechanical solution also allows for physical contact but eliminates the physical damage that would occur to a normal sensor over time.
The solutions mentioned above are suggestions to keep in mind when accessing the current weld cell. It is important to identify any noticeable, repeatable failures and take measures to prevent them. Implementing these measures will minimize downtime and extend the lifetime of the sensor.
Leave a comment for a follow-up post if you’d like to learn about networking and connectivity in weld cells.