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Overview of Industrial Sensors

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In the current state of factory operations, sensors are key components to data acquisition and instrument measurement. In its simplest terms, an industrial automation sensor is defined as an input device that provides an output signal with respect to a physical quantity (input). Modern plants utilize a multitude of various sensors, each with its own unique design and duty. Below, we’ll detail some of the common industrial sensors and outline how they help a plant become more cohesive, efficient, and ultimately save money.

Temperature Sensors

A temperature sensor is a device that collects thermal information from a resource and translates it into a form that can be understood by another device. These sensors are often divided into two subsets - positive temperature coefficient (PTC) or negative temperature coefficient (NTC). PTC thermistors are resistors with a positive temperature coefficient, meaning that resistance increases with temperature. These sensors are utilized in the windings of industrial electric motors along with a monitoring relay to provide overheating protection to prevent insulation damage. This monitoring, which can be linked to the wireless sensor network, allows real-time adjustments and preventative measures to counteract potential disasters. 

On the other hand, NTC thermistors have long term stability over a wide range of temperatures as resistance decreases. These sensors are used in thermistor probe assemblies across IIoT and smart factories for fault diagnosis. Like the PTC, they also can be linked to your wireless sensor network for total wireless oversight.

Proximity Sensors

Proximity sensors have a wide range of uses in a plant setting. Inductive proximity sensors can detect nearby metal, allowing human-machine interfaces (HMI) to remain safer. Laser ranging sensors are another prominent example of proximity sensors in a modern plant environment. A 1D topology laser can be used for object detection on a conveyor line as an infrared motion sensor, while a 2D lidar sensor can be used to identify the positioning of various parts in the production line.

Vibration Sensors

Vibration sensors capture data from nearby changes in frequency. They utilize MEMS (micro-electro-mechanical systems) accelerometer elements to measure the frequency of vibration, which in turn provides critical data for fault diagnosis as well as a handful of other vital measurements. Accelerometers, gyroscopes, inertial measurement units (IMU), and e-Compasses all utilize vibration sensors in unique ways.

And Many More…

Temperature, proximity, and vibration sensors are only a handful of the dozens of sensors currently being used in industrial automation. Pressure, torque, pH, flow, and ultrasonic sensors are all currently being used in plants to collect data and monitor operations. Like their counterparts, all these sensors can be directly linked to the wireless sensor network back to the IoT to provide real-time analysis and conditional monitoring. These wireless sensors streamline communication and instrument data, allowing for a more cohesive and efficient plant.

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