White Paper: Sensors/Data Acquisition

Discrete Sensors for Industrial Applications


There are many types of object detection sensors available on the market. Some of them, such as limit switches, require direct contact with the object. Others, such as proximity sensors, need to be in close physical range but do not make contact with the object. Still others can detect objects from much further distances; for example, photoelectric, laser, and ultrasonic sensors. There are many factors that will determine the “best” sensor to use for a given application. Experience is the best teacher when it comes to selecting sensors.

With careful review of the specifications for the different sensor technologies, it will be clear that there is much overlap in sensor applications; however, some technologies work better for particular applications. If the target is metal, such as on a pneumatic or motor-driven actuator, start with an inductive proximity sensor. Photoelectric sensors are a good starting place when detecting pallets and boxes on a conveyor and other part sensing applications. To monitor tank levels, capacitive proximity sensors or ultrasonic sensors are usually the best bet.

Criteria that often are overlooked include color for a diffuse photoelectric sensor, mounting considerations for a through-beam photoelectric sensor, if the metal object you are detecting is made of a ferrous metal, etc. It’s not just about specifying sensing distance as there are many other options to consider, all of which can affect performance and reliability.

This Practical Guide to Discrete Sensors for Industrial Applications is an eBook for users who wish to advance their sensors knowledge. It covers a wide range of topics such as limit switches, proximity sensors, photoelectric sensors, common terms, specialty sensors, and sensors with analog output as well as determining what type of sensor is needed based on what is being detected, what type of mounting options are available, and much more.

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