Protect Your Sensors – Implement the 3-Step Process

When installing sensors into a harsh environment, for example a weld cell application, protecting the sensor is a crucial step in the installation process.  These sensors are exposed to extreme heat, weld slag and sometimes impact.  In order to reduce sensor usage, the sensor needs to be protected from the harsh area of exposure.  This can be achieved by using a complete sensor protection method that includes proper sensor selection such as sensors that have a weld slag resistant coating, proper mounting and cable protection.  If you follow these steps the end result will be longer sensor life.

  • Step 1
    • Identify form factor (size of sensor)
    • Output polarity (DC 3wire PNP, NPN etc.)
    • Identify special sensor characteristics (Slag resistant coating, SteelFace, F1 etc.)
  • Step 2
    • Select your mechanical protection system (ProxMount etc.)
  • Step 3
    • TPE cable
    • WeldRepel tubing and wrap

So, by simply implementing the three step total solution into your harsh or extreme application you can protect and lengthen the life of the sensors and cables providing less downtime. For more information on the total solution, check out this whitepaper on Increasing Sensor Life and Production Productivity.

Protect your sensors

Total Solution

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.

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Broken sensors that won’t stay fixed!

It’s another day at the plant, and the “Underside Clamp Retracted” sensor on Station 29, Op 30 is acting up again.  Seems to be intermittently functioning…the operator says that the line is stopping due to “Error: Underside Clamp Not Retracted”.

You think to yourself, “Didn’t we just replace that prox last week?”  A quick check of the maintenance log confirms it: that prox was indeed replaced last week.  In fact, that particular prox has been replaced seven times in the last six months.  Hmm….the frequency of replacement looks like it’s going up…four of the seven replacements were performed in the last two months.

What’s going on here?  Is it really possible that seven defective proxes just all happened to end up at Station 29, Op 30, Underside Clamp Retract?  Not likely!

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Ceramic-faced Sensors Stand up to Welding Processes

Inductive proximity sensors in a welding environment face a variety of hazards.  Hot metal particles – called weld spatter – are ejected from the welding process and can melt or burn their way through unprotected plastic sensor faces.  Built-up weld spatter (often called weld slag) can eventually cause a sensor to trigger on falsely.  If the slag can’t be removed, the sensor has to be replaced.

One solution to these issues is sensors made with tough ceramic faces.  The ceramic face stands up to the hot weld spatter without melting, and doesn’t provide a good surface for slag adhesion.  Even if slag does build up on a ceramic face, it can typically be removed during maintenance without the need for sensor replacement.

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