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MONITORING OF OIL DETERIORATION Colour sensors detects carbon neutrality

Nov 10, 2022

Manufacturing sites have several issues that impact carbon neutrality. Oil contamination is frequently a cause of failure in industrial machinery and hydraulic equipment. This segment sheds light on how sensor-controlled products can monitor oil deterioration based on colour changes

One of the frequent issues that impacts manufacturing is oil contamination. And it is caused by the frequent failure of industrial machinery and hydraulic equipment. Maintenance personnel is relied upon to conduct a visual check for such contamination, often by performing periodic inspections and part breakdowns based on their intuition, tricks, and experience. Often, production stoppage losses due to sudden equipment labour are caused by inconsistent judgement from the person in charge. In addition, delays in inspection timing have been a longstanding challenge. An increasing need is also being sensed for higher efficiency in maintenance and remote monitoring due to a severe shortage of labour and limited mobility caused by the COVID pandemic. However, the size and cost of additional components have stood in the way of solving the problem.


To address the same, Omron Corporation has announced the global release of its B5WC colour sensor for industrial embedding, which detects slight colour changes and differences. It also monitors real-time oil deterioration in hydraulic equipment using colours to monitor the condition of the oil. Providing maintenance at optimal timing is indispensable for manufacturers. In addition, minimising production losses within a manufacturing site contributes to carbon neutrality. The B5WC offers an innovative solution to these issues.

Omron B5WC sensor can be embedded in the equipment that can quantitatively monitor oil deterioration based on colour changes. The new product can be easily integrated into the equipment because of its compact size (W:40 mm x D:8.4 mm x H:15.9 mm) and communication method (I2C). This sensor helps customers remotely monitor equipment deterioration in real-time, thereby improving the visualisation of the equipment and reducing the number of man-hours required for inspection and maintenance. It also offers solutions to problems faced by the industrial machinery and hydraulic equipment industries through highly efficient and systematic maintenance.

Fundamental role in manufacturing for carbon neutrality

The Oil Hydraulics Division of Daikin Industries supports the automation and energy conservation of industrial machinery, which plays a fundamental role in manufacturing, through hydraulic systems with advanced energy-saving performance that utilise motor and inverter technologies cultivated in the air conditioning business. The hydraulic fluid in the hydraulic system was inspected and changed about once a month by plant maintenance personnel. By combining the knowledge and expertise of the two companies, a solution has been created that visualises the state of oil deterioration in hydraulic equipment and achieves maintenance at the optimum time through unified management in the plant's centralised control system. Furthermore, it contributes to the realisation of carbon neutrality by minimising losses associated with production stoppage and energy consumption due to sudden failures of hydraulic equipment caused by oil deterioration.

Advanced devices and modules

  1. Hydraulic equipment: Equipment used to power machine tools in factories as well as power shovels and tractors. Daikin Industries has achieved energy savings in machine tools with a hybrid hydraulic system that combines motor and inverter technology cultivated in the air conditioning business with hydraulic control technology.

  2. Hybrid hydraulic system Eco-Rich R: Hybrid hydraulic system developed by Daikin Industries, mainly for factory machine tool applications

Field testing

  • Monitoring oil deterioration in hydraulic equipment

  • By installing a colour sensor next to the hydraulic tank of Daikin Industries’ Eco-Rich R hybrid hydraulic system, the oil deterioration status of each piece of equipment can be quantitatively monitored by colour

The hybrid hydraulic system, Eco-Rich R, is installed in each machine in a factory as a power source for industrial machinery, including machine tools. Colour sensors are used to remotely monitor oil deterioration in colour sensor the hydraulic tanks of each machine tool in real-time, and unified management through the factory's centralised control system enables the plant maintenance personnel to replace lubricant at the optimum timing for each machine.

Major applications

  1. Drink dispenser

    Signal output according to the colour detected by the colour sensor allows the configuration of equipment operation based on the colour information of the object. The ability to identify the colour of the cup and serve a set drink contributes to the multi-functionality of the equipment and the automation of operations. It also reduces beverage disposal losses due to wrong button operations. Application in a drink server.

  2. Object detection on the production line

    The presence or absence of an object to detect can be confirmed by using a signal output from a colour sensor for each colour of the detected object. Detecting objects by colour contributes to the stable operation of equipment. Monitoring of lubricant deterioration in arm robots, elevators, etc.

A colour sensor monitors the oil colour of the drive parts, allowing quantitative assessment of oil deterioration for each piece of equipment by colour, contributing to more efficient equipment maintenance.

Colour sensor principle

A colour sensor uses a white LED as its light source to emit light and receive reflected light (the ratio of red, green, and blue is unique to each colour) determined by the colour of the detected object. The colour sensor separates the reflected light received into red, green, and blue, and outputs the red, green, and blue data (RGB data) as voltage values using the I2C communication method.

For example, in the case of red and yellow detected objects, the red, green, and blue output values from the colour sensor are different for red and yellow reflected light by the white LED, allowing differentiation of red and yellow.

Product specifications

The model’s name of the product is B5WC-VB2322-1. It has a sensing distance of 40 mm (white paper) with a white LED light source. The power supply voltage is 5 VDC±5% and its current consumption is 18 mA max. (at 5.25 VDC). The product is supported by the I2C communications method with a sampling period of 1 msec. Also, its I2C output is as follows:

  • Output voltage value for red/green/blue: 0.45 V±20% (Grey reference plate, at a sensing distance of 40 mm)

  • Output saturation voltage: Typ 2.75 V (output voltage range: 0 to 2.75 V)

  • SCL/SDA input H voltage: 2.54 to 5.4 V

  • Input L voltage: 0.9 V max

  • SDA output L voltage: 0.44 V max. (at output current of 3 mA)

The data refresh period and ambient temperature range are – sampling period (1 msec) x Average count (1 to 50 times) and Operating: -10 to +70°C, Storage: -25 to +80°C (with no icing or condensation), respectively.

Omron Automation

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