A Sense of the Market

Machine Builders Remain Consistent With Sensor Choices

By Control Design Staff

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We conducted a study in December 2011 to identify use and application trends for sensors and vision products among the industrial machine builders in our print and digital audience.

No huge technological changes have shaken the world of sensors and machine vision since we first conducted this type of survey in 2008, and the pecking order of sensor popularity and selection is largely unchanged. About 72% of respondents use inductive proximity sensors, 64% use photoelectric sensors, and a further 64% use process variable sensors. Some 62% use rotary encoders/resolvers, 45% use capacitive proximity sensors, and a further 45% use linear position indicators. About one-third of respondents said they also employ ultrasonic proximity, vibration and machine vision.

The use of point-to-point hardwiring to connect sensors to I/O points seems to have stabilized around 57%, which is down from the 78% reported in 2009. About one in nine respondents reported using device-level digital networks in 2011, down from 15% in 2010. Showing no significant change from 2010 were users of Ethernet (9%), proprietary (8%) and serial (6%) networking solutions.

Some 41% of 2011's respondents reported using machine vision-based sensing, up from 36% in 2010. Of those, 46% reported using vision for online inspection (down from 57% in 2010). Showing no significant change from 2010, 30% used it as feedback for real-time machine control; 6% used it for offline inspection.

This time, 39% said they use all-in-one, integrated, smart cameras. Last year, 37% said that. About 27% are using vendor-built systems with camera, frame grabber and processor (down from 31%). That's similar to prior studies.

  Wide Range Sensing
BOS 50K photoelectric sensors with glass lens and IP67 housing have 2 m sensing range, background suppression, and a red light emitter for setup and adjustment. Some models include polarized retroreflective with 18 m range, and a through-beam version with a 60 m range.
(800) 543-8390
  All-Purpose Sensor
LR-Z Series all-purpose laser photoeye has a CMOS image sensor and laser power control function for stable detection of targets with color, angle, material and surface finish variations. The sensor has an SUS316L stainless steel enclosure with NEMA 4X, 6P and 13, and IP68/69K ratings. Operation is simplified by a digital, seven-segment display and one-touch teaching technology.
(888) 539-3623
  More Than Black and White
DK12-11-IO contrast sensors detect differences in two colors of media, with a three-color light source. The sensors are IO-Link compatible, include customizable and diagnostic LEDs, and can invert the output state and disable the adjustment potentiometer for tamperproof requirements, and log the output.
(330) 486-0001
  Flow Measurement
Cubemass Coriolis flowmeter measures mass flow, volumetric flow, temperature and density, and communicates to controllers via pulse, frequency, 4-20 mA with HART, and Modbus RS-485. Four pipe sizes from 1/24 to ¼ in. measure flow of a few drops or 2,200 lb/hr with mass flow accuracy ±0.10% of reading, and repeatability of 0.05% for liquids. It measures density in liquids with accuracy to ±0.001 g/cc with repeatability of 0.0005 g/cc.
(317) 535-1329
Current Sensing
AS1 Series compact case current-sensing switch monitors an energized circuit in tight spaces. The ring design slips onto a conductor to reliably detect currents as low as 0.5 A with a single conductor pass. Solid-state output provides a nearly unlimited number of operations. It can control ac or dc circuits to 120 V, with a maximum load capacity of 150 mA.
NK Technologies
(800) 959-4014
Read Infrared
Pro 100 and Pro 200 Series multi-wavelength infrared temperature sensors use ESP algorithms to provide aim-and-read capabilities for non-graybody materials that are not accurately measured by single- or dual-wavelength sensors. The sensors can be used as a standalone transmitter with a choice of inputs, outputs and alarms. For advanced capabilities, remote interface modules, PID controllers and PC software programs are available.
(978) 369-9607
Think Big, Detect Small
BJ Series photoelectric sensors detect transparent objects and include reverse polarity protection, output short-circuit protection, and auto mutual interference prevention function, and are optimized for sensing small objects. They include a setup sensing spot via a red LED.
(847) 680-8160
  Safety Simply
F3SJ-E safety light curtains have quick-mount brackets, reduced wiring and alignment indicators for applications where simple on/off hand detection with one fixed response time is needed. Protective heights to nearly 2.5 m are available with M12 connector pigtails or a pre-wired 3 m cable.
Omron STI
(800) 479-3658
  Clear and Present Detection
Q26 photoelectric clear object detection sensors have a polarized retro coaxial design that permits operation over a wide range of distances with the reflector mounted as close as 5 mm for applications with restricted spaces. It has an LO/DO switch to control the output type, a single-turn potentiometer to adjust detection sensitivity, and a Health Mode output for application monitoring.
Banner Engineering
(888) 373-6767
  No Contact
Q-track compact, non-contact inductive sensors have printed emitter and receiver coil systems. The emitter coils are activated with a high-frequency ac field, and produce an inductive RLC circuit with the positioning element. They include current and voltage outputs, eliminating the need for two separate sensors.
(800) 544-7769
  Magnetic Sensing
R-Series magnetic rotary angle sensors with an embedded microprocessor convert magnetic orientation to an analog output repeatable to 0.03% or 0.1° of measurement range. The sensors have a measurement range up to 360° and have 12- or 14-bit resolution.
Novotechnik U.S.
(508) 485-2244
  Handles the Pressure
ProSense digital pressure switch/transmitters for air, non-corrosive gas and non-flammable gas applications have a three-color LCD and provide two digital outputs and one analog output. They have three operation modes and six pressure unit conversions, and two vacuum to pressure ranges (-14.5 to 14.5 psi and -14.5 to 145 psi).
(770) 889-2858
  Choose the Clear
Ultrasonic clear label sensor with an OLED onboard display has a home screen and one-button autoset (gap set), and is tweakable (momentary up/down adjustable). It has M12 and M8 versions, and 200 μs response.
(800) 237-0946
  Inductive Thinking
E2E two-wire dc inductive proximity sensors have a sensing range of 2-20 mm in shielded and unshielded models with short barrel or standard lengths. They have solid potted internal circuitry to withstand shock, vibration and severe environment locations.
Omega Engineering
(203) 359-1660
  Humid Navigation
LS5 Navigator is designed to withstand -30 to 50 °C, 95% relative humidity, and vibrations and shocks. It has an optics system and is adaptable to different types of communication. It works with AutoSurveyor, a software tool for determination of reflector coordinates, and is available in an outdoor/indoor-use and an indoor-use-only version.
(540) 633-3545
  Object of My Detection
SA1E-X miniature photo sensors for transparent or translucent object detection offer an optimum response speed of 500 µs, feature a coaxial optic and narrow beam to ensure stable detection, and are not affected by angle, inclination or target shaking. Objects as far as 2 m can be detected. NPN or PNP outputs are available, as well as a choice of Dark ON or Light ON operation modes.
(800) 262-4332
  Flexible Sensor
Worm flexible sensors bend around and through the enclosure and are immune to external temperature effects even in a short thermowell. The temperature assembly keeps the spring-loaded sensor in place, and it trims to lengths to handle thermowell assemblies, transmitter head, hockey-puck connection head and dual-sided enclosure. The sensors are available with 100 and 1,000 Ω, platinum, copper and nickel RTDs, and J- and K-type thermocouples.
Moore Industries
(818) 894-7111
  Sense the Power
OptoEMU Sensor is a web-enabled energy monitoring and data acquisition hardware appliance that lets commercial and industrial customers acquire power consumption data from facility systems, machines, equipment and metering devices in real time and with minimal configuration.
Opto 22
(951) 695-3010
  Well-Connected Sensor
Sensor-actuator cable has M12 connector with black polyamide coupling nut, is corrosion-resistant, and comes in 3-, 4- and 5-pole configurations. Halogen-free PUR cable is available in lengths 0.2–40 m and rated for IP67/IP68/IP69K.
Phoenix Contact
(717) 944-1300
  Dry Sensing
Photoswitch 42CS inductive sensor has smooth or threaded 18 mm 316L stainless steel housing with a hard plastic lens for an operating range of -25 to 85 °C. Ferromagnetic teach feature minimizes the possibility of water ingress associated with pushbuttons or potentiometers. It has polarized retroreflective, diffuse, transmitted beam, clear-object detection and background suppression sensing modes.
Rockwell Automation
(440) 646-3434
  Custom Pressure
Unik 5000 pressure sensing platform has a modular design to allow users to customize pressure measurement parameters. The sensors are available with pressure ranges 1.5–10,000 psi. Three grades of performance—industrial, improved and premium—offer accuracies 0.2–0.04%. A choice of eight electronics boards provides a variety of outputs.
GE Measurement & Control
(203) 373-2211
  Shaft Sensor
PST-360 shaft-angle, rotary position sensor through-hole design fits over existing shaft and bearing assemblies. The sensor has a ring magnet with a fully sealed Hall ASIC as the sensor element. Standard rotor has a 14.05 mm inside diameter shaft design and custom configurations are available. It has electrical angles to 360° with no dead band, and linearity error as low as ±0.5%.
Piher Int’l.
(224) 475-0582
  Mighty, Small
R12575 micro-proximity switch is 0.379 in. long with a 0.098 in. diameter. There is no power draw in the off state. It has a response time of 0.2 ms, release time of 0.1 ms, a power rating of 3 VA maximum, and will switch 0.1 Adc with a carry current rating of 0.5 A.
Standex Electronics
(513) 871-3777
  Insensitive to Color
OADM 250 optical laser distance sensor detects target objects, regardless of their surface properties or color at distance ranges of 0.2–4 m with response times below 10 ms, 1.2 mm resolution, and ±5 mm repeat accuracy, even on moving targets. It has an aluminum housing, washable glass front optics, and IP67 certification.
(860) 620-6369
  Teach Color
Series 4055 color sensors have three teachable color channels with independent 200 mA outputs, which allow for three color tones to be programmed. The teach process provides five different tolerance levels, and color detection within the 30–40 mm operating range is virtually independent of target distance.
(866) 289-2899
  Level Variety
OEM series of level sensors have thermal dispersion technology with solid-state or relay contact outputs in a range of materials independent of conductivity or dielectric constant, and resist a high degree of coating. Standard designs include two-wire, loop-powered; insertion type with pigtail; level and temperature; mass level with two-wire, loop-powered; integral type; high temperature; and wet/dry.
Fluid Components Int’l
(760) 744-6950
  Photoelectric Family
E3Z photoelectric sensor family includes an advanced condition monitoring series, 30 m through-beam models, oil-resistant series and stainless-steel sensors. The E3Z dc sensor has a built-in amplifier with pulse synchronization. Intensive shielding prevents malfunctions caused by inverter noise or wireless communications equipment. The electronics are fully potted to resist dust and water spray to 1,200 psi. Stainless-steel E3ZM series is rated IP69K for 1,450 psi washdowns.
Omron Electronics
(866) 88-omron
  Live Long and Probe
BBPM Series spring-loaded LVDT position sensors for use as dimensional gauging probes come in four models, including full bridge, half bridge, pneumatic and soft touch, to control precise dimensional product parameters. They combine an AC-LVDT with a linear ball bearing assembly to reduce radial play and core skewing for repeatability of 0.15 μm and long life of 2x108 cycles.
Macro Sensors
(856) 662-8000
Temposonics magnetostrictive linear-position sensors include the R-Series Ethernet Powerlink sensor. Resolution of 1 μm  is possible for lengths 25–20,000 mm. Position and velocity measurements can be provided for up to four locations on the sensor. For higher accuracy requirements, a linearity correction option is available to improve the sensor's non-linearity specification within ±20 μm. Even better sensor accuracy (±10 μm) is available with a proprietary magnet.
MTS Systems
(919) 677-0100
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