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Dual-output proximity sensor saves time

18 March, 2020

Japan’s Azbil Corporation – previously known as Yamatake – has developed an adjustable proximity sensor with two outputs that allows operators to configure and check settings remotely from a computer, thus saving the time usually needed to set up multiple sensors.

Proximity sensors are used in applications such as machining where they act as switches that output on/off signals based on whether they detect metal within their sensing area.

Conventional proximity sensors have fixed operating points and output a single on/off signal. Azbil’s new Model H3C device contains two sensors with different operating points, each of which can output a signal. By combining the on/off logic of each output, it can sense four areas. The operating points are configured automatically, based on the movement of the workpiece.

Until now, some processes – such as automatic changing in machine tools – have needed two proximity sensors to detect whether a tool is present and whether the attachment position is correct. The new sensor achieves the same results with just one device.

Conventional proximity sensors typically have a sensing distance of 1–10mm, and require a considerable amount of work to set them up in a stable position for sensing. Moreover, there are often differences in how individual installers set up the sensor, which can result in a lack of stability. The new sensor’s dedicated configuration utility allows users to set its operating points easily and automatically from a computer, regardless of its position. This allows stable sensing to be achieved quickly, says Azbil.

Azbil's dual-output proximity sensors can be configured and monitored from a computer and can cut set-up times

Proximity sensors usually incorporate LEDs to indicate their operating status, but because they are often installed within machinery, checking their status can be tricky. With the new sensor, operators can monitor the status and the relative positioning of the operating points and workpiece from a computer. The configuration utility’s monitoring screen can also be used to visualise the sensing safety margin.

Azbil is hoping to sell around 4,500 of the new proximity sensors in the first year, rising to 45,000 after five years.

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