Automotive structural welding at tier suppliers can destroy thousands of sensors a year in just one factory. Costs from downtime, lost production, overtime, replacement time, and material costs eat into profitability and add up to a big source of frustration for automated and robotic welders. When talking with customers, they often list inductive proximity sensor failure as a major concern. Thousands and thousands of proxes are being replaced and installations are being repaired every day. It isn’t particularly unusual for a company to lose a sensor on every shirt in a single application. That is three sensors a day — 21 sensors a week — 1,100 sensors a year failing in a single application! And there could be thousands of sensor installations in an automotive structural assembly line. When looking at the big picture, it is easy to see how this impacts the bottom line.
When I work with customers to improve this, I start with three parts of a big equation:
- Sensor Housing
Are you using the right sensor for your application? Is it the right form factor? Should you be using something with a coating on the housing? Or should you be using one with a coating on the face? Because sensors can fail from weld spatter hitting the sensor, a sensor with a coating designed for welding conditions can greatly extend the sensor life. Or maybe you need loading impact protection, so a steel face sensor may be the best choice. There are more housing styles available now than ever. Look at your conditions and choose accordingly.
Are you using the best mounting type? Is your sensor protected from loading impact? Using a protective block can buffer the sensor from the bumps that can happen during the application.
How is the sensor connected to the control and how does that cable survive? The cable is often the problem but there are high durability cable solutions, including TPE jacketed cables, or sacrificial cables to make replacement easier and faster.
When choosing a sensor, you can’t only focus on whether it can fulfill the task at hand, but whether it can fulfill it in the environment of the application.
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