Rugged and Intelligent Sensing: Inductive Proximity Sensors with IO-Link Capabilities

March 21, 2023 by Shawn Dietrich

Carlo Gavazzi has released a new family of full-metal inductive proximity sensors with an IP69K rating and standard IO-Link capabilities to suit any automation application.

For more than 90 years, Carlo Gavazzi has been supplying the industrial automation industry with products now available worldwide. Carlo Gavazzi's product lines range from sensors to switches for control cabinets and control devices, such as transformers or digital panel meters. Recently, Carlo Gavazzi released a line of innovative proximity sensors. 


Carlo Gavazzi ICF Full-metal inductive sensors

Carlo Gavazzi's family of ICF full-metal inductive proximity sensors. Image used courtesy of Carlo Gavazzi


What Is a Proximity Sensor?

A proximity sensor detects objects without contacting the object by detecting eddy currents or the magnetic field within the object. Proximity sensors are commonly found in factories for their ability to detect a wide range of different materials as long as they are conductive.

Some proximity sensors consist of a detecting head that protrudes past the sensor's body. This head is sensitive to shock, temperature, and harsh environments and can detect objects from the side and the face of the sensor. Other proximity sensors will have a flush head, meaning the head doesn't protrude past the body but are still susceptible to harsh environments and will only detect objects directly in front of the sensor. 


ICF Full-metal Inductive Sensors

The new ICF proximity sensors from Carlo Gavazzi are full-metal sensors, meaning a metal housing encases the sensors to protect them from their environment. These sensors still come in flush or non-flush so that objects can be detected from the sensor's side and the sensor's face. With complete metal housing, the ICF sensors are very durable and have an IP68 and IP69K rating, making them great for wash-down environments found in the food and beverage industries.

The ICF has a temperature rating of -40 to 85 ℃, with short exposures of up to 100 ℃. Shock and pressure can destroy sensors very quickly, but with a metal housing, the M12 model of ICF sensors can take up to 260 bar of pressure. This makes the ICF an acceptable sensor to use in pressured environments and reduces the number of needed replacements when used in pressing applications. 

The ICF Series Sensors come standard with IO-Link communications

The ICF Series of sensors come standard with IO-Link communications. Image used courtesy of Carlo Gavazzi


IO-Link and Discrete Outputs

All of the variations of the ICF sensor come standard with IO-Link communications. This allows maintenance and machine builders the highest flexibility when integrating the sensors into an application.

Some of the configuration settings that can be made when the sensors are connected to an IO-Link master are adjustable switching distance, adjustable hysteresis, diverter function (similar to a counter function), switch-on delay, switch-off delay, temperature error, temperature over-run, and sensor indicator function. These settings can only be altered over IO-Link—standard proximity sensors do not have this amount of flexibility. A great feature of IO-Link is that it can still be used as a standard discrete output without the IO-Link master. 

Proximity sensors see use all over the factory floor, including part present detection on a conveyor

Proximity sensors see use all over the factory floor, including part present detection on a conveyor. Image used courtesy of Adobe Stock


ICF Series Applications

Proximity sensors are used all over the factory floor and in many applications. A popular use is for part present detection on a conveyor. Before machinery can start to work on components, the control system needs to know that the parts are present. This is typically done with a proximity sensor. Standard proximity sensors can be difficult to set the distance so that you are only detecting the part and not the equipment. With IO-Link functionality, Carlo Gavazzi's new family of sensors can reduce the sensing range from the PLC, reducing the chances of sensing the equipment and not the part.