Sensing Technology Advancement Trends

Smaller, Lower-Power, Lower-Cost Sensors Find Uses in Industry

By Control Design Staff

The basic principles of sensor operation have changed little over the years, but smaller form factor, less power consumption, higher feature integration and lower costs are trends that are driving sensor market growth in several industries, according to research from Frost & Sullivan.

Other significant changes include the type of materials that will be used in advanced sensors, such as silicon carbide (SiC), carbon nanotube (CNT) and indium antimonide. Ultimately, sensing technologies are expected to go beyond the traditional principles of piezoresistive, capacitive and inductive, Frost analysts say, as sensors find new applications.

SEE ALSO: A Sensor Exists for Almost Every Application

But for the time being, users are predominantly sticking with tried and true sensor technologies. According to a recent survey of Control Design readers, nearly 70% of those responding say they use inductive proximity sensors in their machines, with 45% relying on capacitive technologies and 23% ultrasonic technologies for proximity sensing. Process variable sensors — measuring temperature, pressure, flow, weight, etc. — are prevalent (59%), as are rotary encoders/resolvers (53%).

As in years past, close to a third of our study respondents are using some kind of vision sensor in their applications, mainly for online inspection or real-time machine control. According to another recent study from Frost & Sullivan, advances in the fabrication and design of image sensors are enabling them to penetrate a wider range of applications, pushing them beyond consumer electronics and into more areas of industrial imaging.

Omron Industrial Automation's E3FA plastic body and E3FB metal body M18 cylindrical photoelectric sensors Sensible Reflections    
E3FA plastic body and E3FB metal body M18 cylindrical photoelectric sensors include straight-beam or right-angle, radial-beam models. Red LED light source aids alignment. The sensors include through-beam ranges to 20 m, retro-reflective versions with ranges 0.1–4 m, coaxial retro-reflective versions with ranges up to 500 mm, and three models of diffuse-reflective sensors with ranges of 100 mm, 300 mm and 1 m.
Omron Industrial Automation
(866) 88-omron
Novotechnik U.S.'s Contelec Vert-X 21 LP non-contact angle sensors Frugal Consumer   
Contelec Vert-X 21 LP non-contact angle sensors consume only 300 µA at 3.3 V. They have 0–360° measurement range, 12-bit resolution, repeatability to 0.1°, and maximum hysteresis of 0.2°. Power supply range is 1.8–5.5 V. Sensors can be ordered as a simple three-wire angle sensor or a programmable version with up to two switch outputs, custom measurement angle, start- and end-point settings, custom characteristic curve and/or sense of rotation.
Novotechnik U.S.
(508) 485-2244
One Chip Only   
BTF Series photoelectric sensors use a one-chip photo IC design, and include background suppression function, through-beam or diffuse reflective types, visible red LED detection spot, and IP67 rating. Stable sensing minimizes false detection regardless of the color or glossiness of the target.
(847) 680-8160
T It Up   
Configurable SMT-8M-A proximity sensor for drive units with T-slot provides installation aid via second LED; one-hand assembly; reversible switching output; choice of IP65, IP68 or IP69K protection; and ATEX design configurable up to 30 m cable length.
(631) 435-0800
Tri-Tonics' (RGB) vertical and horizontal sensor Web Sense Tri-color X-Mark LED   
(RGB) vertical and horizontal sensor with line optics is high-speed 12 µs, and will select the correct color for maximum contrast and resolution, average out imperfections and make sensor lineup easier. It is designed for flexographic printing, converting and registration mark sensing for high-speed webs.
(800) 237-0946
Endress+Hauser's Liquiphant FailSafe FTL8x point level switches Busy When Wet   
Liquiphant FailSafe FTL8x point level switches have two relay outputs, a 4–20 mA output that connects to a failsafe switching unit with a two-channel output, safety contacts and a safety locking function. The 4–20 mA signal jumps from high to low current when the MIN or MAX point level is reached, and a permanent live signal of 0.25 Hz is superimposed on the sensor output to indicate the sensor status.
(317) 535-1329
Banner Engineering's QM26 photoelectric sensor Clean Sensing   
QM26 photoelectric sensor for food and beverage and pharmaceutical is housed in a 316L stainless-steel housing, and survives high-pressure washdowns and temperature cycling -30 to 60 °C. QMH26 version is designed with minimal grooves and crevices, leaving no room for bacteria to hide and multiply. It is self-draining for clean-in-place (CIP) applications. Both operate in retro-reflective, clear object and adjustable field background suppression mode.
Banner Engineering
(888) 373-6767
Turck's Q42 uprox+ long-range inductive proximity sensor FDA-Rated   
Q42 uprox+ long-range inductive proximity sensor uses FDA-rated materials for washdown applications and choice of top-facing or front-facing models. It has a sensing range of 50 mm for all types of metals in temperatures ranging from -40 to 100 °C.
(800) 544-7769
Non-contact ultrasonic sensors measure fill levels, heights and sag; count and monitor the presence of objects; and operate independently of color and surface finish. Detection ranges extend from 20 mm to 8 m, and they are available in switching or analog versions. All analog versions are available with voltage or current output (0–10 V or 4–20 mA). M30 version includes variants with two switching outputs.
(800) 543-8390
  Sensing Choices   
High-temperature inductive proximity sensors available in M8, M12, M18, M30 and M50 sizes in standard and short housings, shielded and non-shielded, have PNP n.o. and n.c., and NPN n.o. and n.c. output with sensing ranges to 30 mm. Other features include reverse circuit and polarity protection, factory pre-set lifetime calibration.
Automation Systems Interconnect
(877) 650-5160
AutomationDirect's Capacitive proximity sensors Capacity to Sense   
Capacitive proximity sensors include 12 mm, metal, round-bodied dc models with shielded and unshielded mounting options, PNP, n.o. outputs, potentiometer adjustment and M12 disconnect. Unshielded, 18 mm, dc plastic bodied models with selectable n.o./n.c. outputs have logic auto detection. Other unshielded 30 mm units have ac and dc versions with plastic housings and programmable n.o. or n.c. outputs. Rectangular plastic dc sensors feature selectable n.o. or n.c. outputs and a 2 m, three-wire axial cable.
(770) 889-2858
  Many Sensible Uses   
Type 8045 electromagnetic insertion all-purpose flowmeter has adjustable backlit LCD; optional digital input to control remotely; setting of a low-flow cut-off value; and third status LED with three colors.
Burkert Fluid Control
(800) 325-1405
Pepperl+Fuchs' NBB family of sensors Edit Your Profile   
NBB family includes short, cylindrical-barrel and square-profile inductive, flush-mount sensors that operate in temperatures -25 to 85 °C. Short-barrel models deliver a 1.5 mm nominal sensing range with switching frequency of 6 kHz, and square-profile sensors deliver a 0.8 mm nominal sensing range and switching frequency of 10 kHz.
(330) 486-0001
Macro Sensors' GHSE/GHSER 750 Series of 3/4 in. diameter LVDTs Differentials Vary   
GHSE/GHSER 750 Series of 3/4 in. diameter LVDTs have a spring-loaded shaft running in a precision sleeve bearing and connected to the core of an LVDT. Measurement repeatability is 0.6 µm or better. The probe shaft is fully extended by a spring exerting a nominal force of 6–20 oz. Devices operate from 24 Vdc inputs and generate pre-calibrated 0–10 Vdc outputs that work with most PLCs, digital indicators and data acquisition systems.
Macro Sensors
(856) 662-8000
Keyence's PR-M/F Series miniature photoeyes Not Easily Shocked   
PR-M/F Series miniature photoeyes have a resin-filled, SUS316L stainless-steel body for shock resistance. The devices claim stable detection by reducing the effects of interference and target color or angle. Multiple sensors will not interfere with each other in close proximity because of built-in cross-talk prevention function. They feature both Light-ON and Dark-ON outputs in the same unit, and also feature M8 connector type models.
(888) 539-3623
  High-Pressure Situations   
PT-400 heavy-duty pressure transducers have ATEX and IECEx certification, rated EX II 1G Ex ia IIB T4 Ga for use in hazardous locations. The transmitters provide at least 10 million operating cycles with accuracy to ±0.1% F.S. in operating temperatures -40 to 180 °F, and pressures 0–20,000 psi. They have high burst pressure to 3X full scale and overpressure to 2X full scale. They offer standard 4–20 mA, 0–5 Vdc and 0–10 Vdc outputs with a 1/4–18 NPTM process connection.
Automation Products Group
(888) 525-7300
NK Technologies' DS1 dc current sensors Current Detection   
DS1 dc current sensors have a non-adjustable one-piece design for detection of very low dc current levels. The sensors can be powered by any dc voltage of 10–28 V and use the same circuit as the one being controlled, or a separate power as long as the circuit being controlled uses the same ground. A solid-state contact closes the output when there is dc current as low as 0.75 A, and opens when there is no current. The contact can control a dc load up to 1 A/30 Vdc.
NK Technologies
(800) 959-4014
  Accuracy Authenticated   
Model HPK compact pressure transducer with a choice of pressure and electrical connections has current or voltage outputs for readings from vacuum through 20,000 psig and absolute ranges to 150 psia. It touts ±0.15% F.S. accuracy, authenticated with a nine-point NIST-traceable calibration report.
(203) 378-8281
Heidenhain's RSF MS 45 exposed linear encoder Nothing to Hide   
RSF MS 45 exposed linear encoder features an integrated status display with a multicolor LED to facilitate simple mounting and signal quality monitoring during operation. The quality of the incremental signals is clarified by shades of color as well as the blinking of the LED. An accuracy grade of ±30 µm will cover lengths of up to 10 m, and also provides a grating period of 200 µm for analog systems. For digital systems, signal periods of 5, 1 and 0.5 µm are available.
(847) 490-1191
  Three of a Kind   
O500 series optical sensors offer a diffuse sensor with background suppression; SmartReflect light barrier without a reflector; and a retro-reflective sensor also for reflective surfaces. The sensors have the same dimensions, through holes and control elements. With qTeach the sensors can be taught-in by touching them with any ferromagnetic tool, e.g. a screwdriver.
(860) 621-2121
Omega Engineering's E2E two-wire dc inductive proximity sensors 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
Honeywelll's Three versions of VersaFlow Coriolis mass flow sensors

Straight Flow
Three versions of VersaFlow Coriolis mass flow sensors has a straight measuring tube available in stainless steel, Hastelloy, titanium or even tantalum. Its TWC 9000 transmitter has a wide range of output options, and is suitable for mounting in various integral and remote housing configurations.
(800) 822-7673

Williamson's Pro 100 and Pro 200 Series multi-wavelength infrared temperature sensors

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

  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
Opto 22's OptoEMU Sensor 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
  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