Versatile sensors detect objects any colour, even at high speed

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Versatile sensors detect objects any colour, even at high speedSick says its new PowerProx sensors set a technology milestone in sensing capability for factory automation, offering 'unprecedented versatility to detect any object on a high-speed production line with just one range of sensors.'

This innovative new PowerProx sensor benefits from laser Time-of-Flight (ToF) technology in a compact housing to deliver high-performance distance sensing, proximity and object detection.

According to Sick, a sensor in the PowerProx range can replace most distance and proximity sensors in a production plant. Engineers can choose from a family of just four sensors to achieve highly accurate results over a wide distance range of between 50mm and 3.8m.

David Hannaby, Sick UK's Product Manager for Presence Detection, states: "Nothing gets by the Sick PowerProx. It has overtaken other market offerings to deliver a multi-tasking series of sensors with outstanding performance at a competitive price, achieving consistent results where a number of different specialised sensors would otherwise need to be used.

"With PowerProx, even objects being conveyed at high speed, small and flat objects, and products with jet-black or shiny finishes can now be reliably detected over its extensive sensing distances. So a production engineer is offered the potential to replace most distance and proximity sensors in a store with a single range of sensors.

Furthermore, these 'smart' sensors offer additional benefits. Hannaby continues: "The PowerProx is ready for use in the Industry 4.0 Smart Factory. The sensors can communicate their signals and results to a centralised factory network or be monitored, re-set or taught to perform new sensing tasks across a whole range of applications."

Time of Flight laser technology

The precision of ToF laser technology, when combined with Sick's Advanced Background Suppression, also mean the PowerProx sensors offer a high degree of angular tolerance and are not affected by the ambient light or by dust, spray and particles. PowerProx operates according to the scanning principle, so there is no need for reflectors or receivers.

Sick's PowerProx is also very easy to teach; the multitask sensor is adjusted via a potentiometer or teach-in button. There are versions available with either one or two separately adjustable switching thresholds, depending on the application.

Using IO-Link, up to eight switching points can be remotely taught and a 'window mode' can be taught using a laser spot, ranged and set on the desired object. IO-Link also enables high-accuracy measurements to be output from the ToF sensor signal for determining range, position, height or size. Eye safety is assured with a class one laser and the VISTAL housing ensures the device is sufficiently rugged. Installation is simple with a wide choice of mounting option accessories.


PowerProx will find applications in machining and component production, with its capability to detect extremely small parts thanks to its low hysteresis and minimum colour shift. PowerProx's ability to detect small and flat objects too, no matter what the surface finish, will be useful in handling and assembly - for example, in the automotive industry for reliable checking a robot's gripping points.

In packaging, warehousing and logistics applications, the PowerProx's two adjustable switching points make it possible to set distance quickly and easily, and the angular tolerance and background suppression will enable reliable recognition and sorting of different sized packages and boxes.

PowerProx family

A choice of three PowerProx sensor options is available in the same compact housing for distance, high-speed and high-precision options. A fourth, the PowerProx Small (pictured right), at 46x34x17.6mm, is thought to be the smallest sensor currently available at its performance level.

The PowerProx Distance benefits from an extended sensing range of up to 3.8m, and has two separately adjustable switching points, so Sick says it is suitable for storage, handling, warehousing and logistics applications, such as for occupied bay and clearance detection, automated pallet handling, and collision protection in storage and conveyor applications. An extended sensing range is also useful for protecting doors and gates where it is inconvenient or undesirable to install a separate transmitter and detector on either side of the opening.

With quick response times, high switching frequencies and reliable object detections at ranges up to 2.5m, the PowerProx Speed is an excellent choice for packaging and component collation applications, or for any top-speed application such as high-speed counting. The quick response time also facilitates accurate edge detection - for example, on crowded conveyor belts.

PowerProx Precision is said to be the best option for detecting small objects from a distance up to 1.8m. Suitable for applications in the automotive and components industry, it is for quality control, automated handling and assembly applications.

With PowerProx Small, Sick believes it has implemented Time of Flight technology in the world's smallest housing, with sensing ranges up to 2.5m and high switching frequencies up to 1000Hz for high-speed applications. With versatile connection options, it offers flexibility of use across a wide range of different fields.

Follow the link for more information about the Sick PowerProx Time of Flight sensors.

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