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Editor’s choice


Unusual sensors W


In this article, the experts at Turck Banner provide a helpful guide to understanding the more unusual types of sensors


hen sensors (photoelectric, inductive, pressure, temperature and so on) were in their infancy,


they were difficult to configure and users were relatively inexperienced. Over the following decades sensor manufacturers have had to meet the demands of industry and make sensors far more complex, in order to detect smaller differences, while also making them much easier to set up and use. To achieve this, the sensor gathers a large amount of data and is packed with intelligence to process this data and output a simple on/off signal or analogue value. Although the built in sensor intelligence means that most sensors will work to some degree in most applications, ensuring that they work reliably requires knowledge of each sensor’s strengths. Whilst these features are known for commonly used sensors, some of the more specialised sensors have not had as much general use in industry, so where they are best applied is not as widely known. Specialised sensors include, Ultrasonic, Laser, Fibre-optic, Radar, Guided Microwave, Measuring sensors with I/O Link.


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ULTRASONIC Ultrasonic sensors use a high frequency sound wave and time of flight to determine the distance from the sensor to the object. As the target must reflect the soundwave back to the sensor, a hard target will be better than a soft sound-absorbing target. E.g. A still liquid is a good target whereas foam on top of liquid is a bad target. Wave guides or stilling tubes can be used to eliminate the problem of foam on a liquid. The size and shape of the target also affects its performance; a flat target perpendicular to the sensor is good, but when the angle of the target varies from perpendicular, the sound wave gets increasingly reflected away from the sensor, making a hard flat target at 30° from perpendicular difficult to detect. Ultrasonic sensors tend to have a wide and long detection area. A typical sensor could detect a 500mm flat plate out to 8m distance. At 4m distance the plate could still be detected if it were 500mm to the side of the centre line of the sensor, and a 25mm round rod could be detected 800mm from the centre line. Ultrasonic sensors are good distance


measuring sensors, especially if they incorporate October 2020 Instrumentation Monthly


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