A smart sensor combines the measurement (capture of measurement data) with a pre-processing and / or forwarding of the data to a central system. That is not, in itself, new. What is new, however, are the technological possibilities offered by such sensors.
Today’s technology not only allows temperatures and pressures, but also complex optical signals, 3D data from long term measurements, contactless inductive performance measurements and much, much more to be realized in a device the size of a cigarette box – a cigarette box, albeit, that’s able to connect with all the relevant systems of the site network: by cable, or via Bluetooth or WiFi (WLAN). Even the implementation of complex tasks is possible using this technology. In doing so, the sensor logic’s data preprocessing can range from simple streaming of the information to specialized data compression algorithms. A broad spectrum of hardware – from elementary embedded solutions to onboard computers such as the Raspberry Pi – is used accordingly.
Besides performance and compact design, other challenges, such as the power supply, also have to be overcome. The two currently available variants standalone (button cell, power bench) and cable-connected (bus powered) each have inherent benefits and disadvantages, depending on scenario in which they are deployed. The environment also poses challenges: robustness against interfering factors (vibrations, dirt, temperature) also have to be considered in the design.
Integrating and programming smart sensors is one of APE Engineering’s main focuses of development. They are one of the fundamental cornerstones of the “factory of the future” and provide the foundation / data basis for intelligent process control. Associated with this are hardware assembly and the development of software solutions which, in the context, with business intelligence and global optimization procedures, activate efficiency improvements in the manufacturing processes.