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24 August, 2019

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Metal proximity sensors boast ‘world’s longest sensing range’

29 July, 2019

Omron claims to have set a new world record for the sensing distances possible when using full metal proximity sensors. It says that its new E2EW series sensors achieve sensing ranges about twice as long as previous sensors when sensing steel objects, and six times as long when detecting aluminium components.

In addition, the sensors are available with “unique” coatings designed to prevent abrasion, resulting in welding spatter resistance that is said to be 60 times longer than with previous devices.

The new sensors are expected to be particularly attractive for automotive industry applications where aluminium components are being used increasingly in the same production processes as steel components to reduce vehicle weights – especially for electric vehicles.

Full metal proximity sensors are used mainly in harsh welding processes. However, previous sensors of this type have had short sensing distances. In particular, the sensing distance for aluminium objects has been shorter than for steel. Therefore, higher accuracy has been needed when installing aluminium-sensing devices, complicating the design, start-up, and maintenance of production lines. With skilled labour shortages becoming more severe, there is a growing demand to maintain and enhance facilities without relying on human expertise.

The new sensors with their tough bodies and long sensing distances are designed to increase sensor installation flexibility, and to enhance productivity while reducing the skills needed for start-up, operation and maintenance. The long sensing distances enable common designs for position detection in production lines that use both iron and aluminium components. The long sensing distances also result in less false detection, resulting in fewer production stoppages.

The sensing distances for shielded versions of Omron's new metal proximity sensors (shown in blue), compared to those for previous aluminium sensors (silver) and steel (gold)

The optional fluoro-resin coatings, for applications where welding spatter could be a problem, are said to offer abrasion resistance 60 times better than previous models, reducing the deterioration of the coatings after maintenance for spatter clean-ups. The sensors will need to be replaced less frequently.

Versions of the proximity sensors equipped with IO-Link can provide real-time data on detection levels and temperature changes at a central location. This could be used, for example, to assess spatter accumulation that may not be visible to the naked eye, allowing users to plan their cleaning activities more effectively.

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