What’s New? SICK Adds Sensor and Encoder Products to Catalog
SICK has released a new time-of-flight (TOF) safety vision sensor and a new contactless linear encoder to the product catalog, intended to impact new automation systems in mobile and linear motion designs.
SICK has announced that two new sensors will be available in the near future. The first is a state-of-the-art time-of-flight (TOF) sensor, and the second is a new linear encoder, both of which are predicted to find uses in new automation systems or to retrofit existing ones. The safeVisionary2 TOF sensor will likely see use in robot movement and safety controls, while the DAX linear encoder will be primarily used for positioning items during packaging operations.
SICK’s safeVisionary2 Time-of-Flight (TOF) Sensor
TOF sensors are used to measure the distance between the sensor and an object. They can be used for product positioning during processing steps to ensure accurate product delivery and metering. A TOF sensor can be used, for example, during filling operations to ensure that a jar is properly placed, limiting spills. This particular sensor creates a 3D point cloud, allowing not only the distance to an object in the center of the field of view, but a more comprehensive picture of the nearby environment.
SICK’s safeVisionary2 safety vision camera sensor. Image used courtesy of SICK
Because of the combined benefits of safety capabilities as well as surrounding distance measurements, TOF sensors are becoming the go-to solution in the spaces of automated mobile robots (AMR) and automated guided vehicles (AGV). TOF sensors, with their quick refresh rates and reaction times, can be used to prevent collisions between robots and stationary or moving objects. This allows the simultaneous operation of both collision avoidance and mapping with one sensor.
While vision systems have existed for many years, SICK’s safeVisionary2 TOF sensor aims to solve that very important safety task: prevent collisions. It boasts a Performance Level (PL) c that can detect obstacles in three dimensions. With a 2-meter range and fast object detection, this sensor intends to make motion from AMRs, AGVs, and cobots much safer.
AMRs may stand to benefit from a SICK TOF sensor to enhance safety on mobile applications. Image used courtesy of Wikipedia Commons
SICK’s DAX Linear Encoder
At first glance, another linear encoder on the market doesn’t seem like an important breakthrough. However, SICK’s DAX line of linear encoders puts a whole new spin on the device, if you pardon the pun. Designed to benefit the precision positioning of hydraulic cylinders and pistons, the DAX line makes tightly controlled motions possible with an absolute positioning system and built-in condition monitoring for better predictive maintenance capabilities.
Besides accurate positioning, the DAX sensors also provide contactless measurements. This is a key advantage, as the sensor does not add drag to the system’s motion. Contact measurements add drag, which often increases with time due to dirt and contamination, which can affect measurements and add to controller complexity. Contactless measurements mean repeatable, predictable machine movements.
SICK’s new DAX linear encoder for hydraulic and electric actuator systems. Image used courtesy of SICK
The DAX encoders can also be paired with a CAN interface for diagnostics and data recording purposes. This speeds up troubleshooting operations and can help determine when preventative maintenance of the hydraulic cylinders may be required.
Furthermore, the DAX sensors come in several mounting styles and sizes. They can measure movements up to 2500 mm and down to 1 mm, depending on the specific model, and can be mounted as a slide, or a flat type, where block magnet positions are adjusted to fit the individual application.
Sensors in Industrial Automation
An automation system is only as good as its weakest sensor. It makes little sense to combine advanced control systems, AI and ML algorithms, and other new technology when the data for these feedback loops comes from antiquated or low-accuracy sensors. SICK has made several new sensors available that can tighten up these control loops, resulting in less time spent in rework and less waste due to out-of-control manufacturing processes.