In typical sensors all you get is ON or OFF… we just hope and assume that the prox is working, until something doesn’t work properly. The part is seated but the sensor doesn’t fire or the operator can’t get their machine to cycle. This can sometimes be tricky to troubleshoot and usually causes unplanned interruptions in production while the maintenance teams attempt to replace the sensor. On some recent customer visits on the east coast, I have had a number of interesting conversations about the customer’s need to collect more information from their sensors; specifically questions like:
- How do I know the sensor is working?
- How do I predict sensor failure?
- How do I know something has changed in the sensor application?
- How do I get my sensor to provide adaptive feedback?
- How do I plan preventative maintenance?
- How can I increase the overall equipment throughput?
- How can I increase my process reliability?
Continue reading “3 Production Problems Solved by Intelligent Sensors”
Recently Hank Hogan published an article in Control Design titled “Sensor, Diagnose Thyself.” (To be honest, I really wanted to steal his title for my blog entry.) I think Hank did a great job dissecting the key benefits of smart sensors and the amazing things you can do with them. Utilizing the technology IO-Link (that we have discussed in many past Blog Entries), sensors can communicate more with the controller and provide more data than ever before.
Some of the key points that I really thought are useful to maintenance and engineers at end-user facilities or machine builders:
- Being able to detect and notify about pending failures; for example a photoeye’s lens is dirty and needs to be cleaned.
- A failed sensor needs to be swapped out quickly; IO-Link allows for the smart sensors settings to be cloned and the swap to be executed super fast.
- Configure a sensor before installation; program with your laptop: sample rate, response time, measurement settings, on/off switch points, anything!
- One platform can be used for many sensor types; this gives familiarity to a single interface while using multiple sensor types and technologies.
- In the future sensors in a wireless cloud would self-heal; this is an amazing concept and if we can figure out the price for radios and batteries to make it cost-effective, I think this could be a game changer someday.
But all that being said, it really comes down to the total cost of ownership doing it the standard sensor way versus the smart sensor way. I think you will pay more upfront in capital but down the line there will be less cost in maintenance and downtime.
To learn more about about IO-Link visit www.balluff.us
When I am discussing with customers the use of smart sensors and smart devices in industrial automation, I always get posed with these questions:
- How do the smart sensors interface with the controller?
- How do you configure the device?
- How do you get diagnostics out of it?
- What other information can it provide?
This is sort of solved in a muddled world of proprietary communications or expensive network enabled sensors. But John and I have been talking for a long time about IO-Link, which can easily and cost effectively answer all these questions!
Continue reading “The Best Way to Communicate with Smart Sensors”