The Importance of Sensors in Manufacturing – What is a sensor? Well, let’s start with us, and consider that our eyes, ears, noses, and touch and taste receptors all have important jobs to do to keep our bodies operating smoothly, reacting intelligently and performing independently. With their help, we can even maintain our balance, sense temperatures, and even stay in touch with human systems as complex and sensitive as monitoring blood acidity levels.
Like a ultrasonic sensor “sees” using sonar-like technology, or a micro-electro-mechanical sensor turns a signal from mechanical to electrical, the almost endless range and scope of manufacturing sensors play a similar role in reacting to physical inputs like light, motion, heat, pressure, vibration, moisture and a huge range of other stimuli. The reactions to those phenomena are typically converted into a signal and often made either readable to us or transmittable for the purposes of automation.
As our impressive 21st century races on, sensor technology is becoming so impressive and ever-evolving and the range on the market accessible through companies such as RS Components is vast. Because of this, manufacturers have increasingly unprecedented levels of knowledge at their disposal about what’s going on with their systems, which drives greater efficiency, increased production and boosted profits.
As this technology drives onwards and upwards, so too does the exponential number of crucial data points they can deliver to manufacturers. While earlier sensor technology may have provided a single value reading at a localised point, today’s advances are driving innovation and efficiency by monitoring machines and systems exponentially better thanks to an almost endless number of data points.
Modern manufacturing sensors:
* Identify failures, errors, & tolerance levels
* Record & report functionality
* Monitor system calibration & predict faults
* Supply data to be fed into integrated systems in order to minimise losses and ensure quality.
In other words, sensors turn ‘dumb’ machines into intelligent and independent devices that can automate processes, vastly improve efficiency and make any manufacturing operation more competitive.
Efficient manufacturing operations make data-based decisions that minimise waste and production process variability and improve product quality. With the help of sensors, operating systems are connected so they can communicate with one another and even make automated and intelligent decisions.
Keeping operations and maintenance at full tilt can eat away at a manufacturer’s competitiveness and profitability, but the smart use of sensors to keep tabs on machinery and system issues can minimise failures and required maintenance, downtime and the turnover of parts.
As the 21st century races on, “big data” is increasingly the buzzword – and sensors do all the hard collection work. But more efficiently collating, processing and interpreting that data allows for ever more complex systems of sensors and analytics to streamline and automate processes across the entire supply chain.
From photoelectric sensors that count movements, vibration sensors to monitor machine health, current sensors to provide the right power and so many more types also on the market and being newly developed each and every day, sensors create almost endless possibilities for the world of manufacturing.
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