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Production Automation Sensors Keep an Eye On Manufacturing Processes - Turck Sensors _____________________________________________________________________________________

By Peter Roscoe - Any time you have moving parts or equipment that does work without the intervention of human effort it is necessary for some type of sensing or verification of the process. Production automation sensors do the job of keeping an eye on production tasks that run unattended. These tasks that are performed can vary quite a bit. Production automation sensors make sure that humans are aware of the accuracy or inaccuracy of the tasks that automation performs in manufacturing. Learn More About Turck Sensors

There are three basic types of production automation sensors, contact sensors, process monitoring sensors, and no-contact sensors. Each of these types has its own unique set of sensing applications in the manufacturing process. The tasks that are done by each of these types is either monitoring a process, detecting conditions, analyzing a process, or calibrating a part or the process. As monitors production automation sensors assess the quality, consistency, and conformity of parts on the production line. This monitoring function would also include the review of assembly operations which encompasses the identification and location of parts used in assembly, and the proper positioning of parts relevant to the assembly process. When performing the detecting function production

automation sensors determine if there is imminent danger for the production equipment, the product being manufactured, or the workers near the work cell. This task would also include the detection of malfunctions or breakdowns in the process. An example of this type of sensing occurs when a sensor is installed to monitor a conveyor belt. As products move down the belt there is a small space between each product that has a set time duration. If there is no time duration during which the light beam is broken that is equal to the size of the product, the sensor will shutdown the conveyor because the conveyor is blocked for some reason. This protects the products, automation equipment and the workers near the conveyor. Production automation sensors are valuable for analysis of parts and the process so that problems in the production process can be deterred automatically.

The contact sensor, as its name implies, requires that the end-effector of a robotic device actually touch the part that is under scrutiny. This sensor can be very simple usually incorporating the use of a limit switch. The limit switch is an open loop, non-servo device which means it does not give feed back to the system about information that it gathers and it runs until the limit switch is turned off. These sensing devices are used mostly to detect motion or movement of parts in the work cell where they are located. More sophisticated contact sensors are closed loop, servo devices that provide feedback to the controller once a contact has been made to a part or surface. The feedback can include such information as shape, size, position, orientation, and other factors about the object encountered. The contact sensor is often used in product processing to determine if a product has arrived at the inspection station. As the product moves down the line it encounters the contact sensor which turns on the inspection operation for that product.

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