Today, the buzz of the town is intelligent sensors for the fourth industrial revolution, commonly known as Industry 4.0. Intelligent sensors are the fundamental building blocks of modern smart factories. The future now looks towards IO-Link, the feature which makes sensors intelligent. They enable sensors-supported production resources (machines, robots, etc) to configure, control, manage and optimise themselves. Precise, reliable sensor data is now more essential than ever. As the first standardised IO technology worldwide (IEC 61131-9) for communication with sensors and actuators, IO-Link is crucial to the fourth industrial revolution.
Sensors of all types are common in automotive factories around the globe. Highly automated plants with demanding conformity requirements rely heavily on sensor technology in order to maintain world-class quality standards, particularly where harsh processes, such as, welding, metal finishing and high-temperature coating, are required. Manufacturing engineers working for automotive manufacturers and for first- and second- tier suppliers expect robust, reliable sensors that deliver accurate, repeatable results with minimal downtime.
Machine tools being another important area in the manufacturing industry impose harsh operating conditions on the sensors needed to control cutting, forming and joining processes that run continuously in many metalworking factories. Common hazards including cutting fluid, cooling sprays, swarf particles, and electromagnetic interference make sensor selection particularly difficult where world-class performance is essential. Size is another key factor, as modern tool-holders allow only limited space for the sensors needed to identify and position individual tools during rapid tool-changing. The intelligent sensors contribute to efficient production, without interruption or error.
Also, on the journey from the manufacturer to customer, packaging protects all types of products, including foods, pharmaceuticals, white goods and cosmetics. Although packaging helps bring competitive products to target markets in the best possible condition, costs are often significant and automation helps minimise the impact. The packaging industry is highly innovative while using sensors in order to identify, select and position packaging of all types. Reducing manufacturing costs and ensuring environmental sustainability are key objectives, and intelligent sensors for packaging machines are chosen to maximise efficiency while ensuring reliable and repeatable operation.
Whatever the logistics system, choosing the right sensors is crucial to achieving the six “rights” of logistics: Ensuring that the right goods, in the right quantities, in the right condition, are delivered to the right place, at the right time, for the right cost. From large-scale containerised shipping to everyday internal logistics, engineers select the right sensor technology for each container, conveyor, palletiser or robot, ensuring reliable, repeatable detection and identification, together with trouble-free operation.