Force Sensors With IO Link

| Information and Communication Technology

Transducers for compressive or tensile force measurements with IO-Link outputs

HBK miniature U9C and C9C force sensors have gone digital and now feature IO-Link communication technology

With the advancement of Industry 4.0 and its focus on automation, the Internet of Things (IoT) and smart factories where everything is connected, manufacturers and system integrators are under continuous pressure to improve manufacturing efficiency, optimise production processes and increase productivity.

With a standardised interface to any PLC, HBK’s newly released, digital, compact, robust and ready to go force sensors are well suited to industrial environments and for measuring fast processes. And although digitisation is high on everyone’s agenda, it not only has challenges but also takes time and investment to implement. It is, therefore, fitting that the U9C and C9C with IO-Link have identical mechanical dimensions and threads to that of their analogue counterparts, making it easy to upgrade existing setups to the new technology when the time is right. This allows the planning and execution of digital transformation to be carried out at a pace suitable for or convenient to the user.

By opting for HBK miniature force sensors with IO-Link, users can expect all the benefits of digital signal processing. They have the capability to detect and identify instances where technical limits, such as maximum usage forces or peak-to-peak values, are exceeded, and subsequently issue appropriate warnings. In addition, predictive maintenance helps to streamline and optimise machine maintenance schedules, reducing costs and decreasing disruption. Further cost savings are possible due to ease of installation and the use of standard cables, eliminating the need for the special cables required by analogue sensors.

More resistant to EMC (electromagnetic compatibility) interferences than their analogue predecessors, U9C and C9C with IO-Link provide accurate and consistently reliable data, only delivering the data requested, thereby increasing data efficiency and reducing the volume of data to be processed.

According to Product Manager Thomas Kleckers,, the sensors are built with high-quality technology and expertise at HBK.

“These intelligent miniature sensors not only enable successful digital transformation but also herald the start of a new chapter in force measurement technology,” he says.

The C9C is a miniature force transducer for compressive force measurement and the U9C is for measuring tensile and compressive forces. In both cases, due to their high fundamental frequency, they are suitable for very fast measurements. Like all strain gauge-based transducers, the U9C sensors also allow for static forces to be measured reliably and with long-term stability. They ensure both robustness and high load-bearing capacity due to their welded design from stainless steel.

Both have capacities of 50N to 50kN with output options of 0-10V, 4-20mA analogue or digital IO-Link with a permanently connected in-line amplifier.

Discussing current trends in digitisation earlier this year, Michael Guckes, product manager for industrial amplifiers and software at HBK said that companies want to take advantage of the increased quality of the processes that digital measurements can provide and that the first step in transitioning from analog to digital is investing in smart sensors.

“HBK has expanded its portfolio in industrial force, strain and torque-sensors as well as in industrial amplifiers that offer high accuracy, smart functions, and modern real-time interfaces,” he says.

The company will continue to develop measurement technologies with smarter sensors and amplifiers, investing in smaller and more cost effective sensor and amplifier designs.

“The amplifier systems will, over time, become even more digitised by reducing the analogue components. We are also spending more time and effort in implementing intelligent algorithms to simplify the controlling of parameters for the end user,” he concludes.

Jonathan Newell
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