Industrial sensors with diagnostic functionality

Self-Awareness
For monitoring functionality in industrial processes two aspects are relevant: Environmental awareness and self-awareness. Environmental awareness analyzes impacts which are provided by the environment (e.g. ambient temperature). Self-awareness collects information about the internal statuses of (sub)systems. The diagnostic monitoring of industrial processes, which are typically dynamic, is  not as critical as the monitoring of static situations. If you have many signal changes of sensors due to the activity of actuators, with each plausible sensor signal change you can be confident that the sensor is still alive and acts properly. A good example of this is rotation speed measurement of a wheel with an inductive sensor having many signal changes per second. If the actuator drove the wheel to turn but the sensor would not provide signal changes at its output, something would be wrong. The machine control would recognize this and would trigger a stop of the machine and inspection of the situation.

Inductive Sensors with self-awareness

DESINA
For level sensing applications in cooling liquid tanks of metalworking applications inductive sensors with self-diagnostics are often used. The inductive sensors detect a metal flag which is mounted to a float with rod fixation.

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Additionally, to the switching output these sensors have a monitor output which is a “high” signal when the sensor status is OK. In situations where the sensor is not OK, for example when there has been a short circuit or sensor coil damage, the monitor output will be a “low” signal.  This type of so called DESINA sensors is standardized according to ISO 23570-1 (Industrial automation systems and integration – Distributed installation in industrial applications – part 1: Sensors and actuators).

Dynamic Sensor control
Another approach is the Dynamic Sensor Control (DSC). Rather than using an additional monitoring output, this type of sensors provides impulses while it is “alive.”

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The sensor output provides information about the position of the target with reference to the sensor as well as status diagnostic of the sensor itself.

IO-Link
With IO-Link communication even teaching of defined switching distance can be realized. The IO-Link concept allows you to distinguish between real-time process data (like target in/out of sensing range) and service data which may be transferred with a lower update rate (in the background of the real process).

For more information, visit www.balluff.com.

This blog post was originally published on the innovating-automation.blog.

If I had a Hammer…

Let’s start with a question:  Could a pair of slip-joint pliers be used to drive a nail into a 2 x 4?  Sure it could.  It requires persistence, and there’s often a great deal of profanity involved, but it can be done.  Don’t ask me how I know this.  The pliers get the job done,  but quite obviously, they’re not the right tool for the job.

But this isn’t a DIY carpentry blog, it’s a blog about industrial sensors.  So what does any of this have to do with industrial sensors?  Just as it’s important to select the right tool to pound a nail into a piece of wood, it’s also important to choose the right sensor when faced with a sensing task.

For example, let’s say you have an application that requires a position sensor that is going to be subjected to regular, high-pressure wash down.  Could you use a standard, IP67-rated sensor?  Sure you could, it would work just fine…For a while.  And then the profanity would begin again.  Fortunately, there are purpose-built sensors designed for just such applications.  Or, let’s say you use sensors as part of a welding process, and the weld slag build-up is murdering your sensors.  Rather than trying to drive nails with pliers, why not select a hammer right from the start?  The right tool for the job.

Continue reading “If I had a Hammer…”