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Pepperl+Fuchs Blog

Patricia Stafford

Recent Posts

Retroreflective Mode: When Ultrasonic Sensors Rise to the Highest Challenges

Posted by Patricia Stafford on Fri, Aug 07, 2015

What is the principle behind ultrasonic retroreflective mode sensors?  How do they work?

Retroreflective mode uses the same type of design as diffuse mode sensors, such that a single housing contains both the transducer and the evaluation electronics, allowing one sensor to operate as both an emitter and receiver. Much like diffuse mode sensors, retroreflective sensors emit a three-dimensional sound cone which creates a beam angle that defines the sensing range. However, instead of calculating the distance to a target object, retroreflective sensors are set to a specific constant value based on an  unchanging distance to a reflective surface like a wall, plate, or conveyor belt. This distance between the sensor and the surface serves as a reference. The sensor measures the amount of time between the emission of a sound pulse and its return echo from the reflective surface. If there is a change in the amount of time or if the echo disappears entirely, this indicates that a target object is present.

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Topics: Ultrasonic Sensors

The Differences Between Absolute and Incremental Rotary Encoders

Posted by Patricia Stafford on Thu, Jul 30, 2015

What are the differences between absolute and incremental rotary encoders? Which one do I use when? These questions come up all the time. Our customers want to know.

Rotary encoders in general connect to a shaft and output pulses as the shaft rotates. You can determine the speed of an object based on how many pulses there are per revolution. The number of pulses that make up one full turn of the shaft determines the resolution. Incremental encoders have a resolution of up to 50,000 pulses per revolution (ppr) while absolute encoders have a resolution of up to 16 bits or 65,536 ppr.

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Topics: Rotary Encoders

WirelessHART Is Networking Made Smart

Posted by Patricia Stafford on Fri, Jul 17, 2015

What is WirelessHART?

WirelessHART is a wireless communication network designed especially for sensors used in process automation. It connects individual sensors to a distributed control system (DCS) or asset management system.

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Topics: HART

Photoelectric Sensors: A Contrasting View

Posted by Patricia Stafford on Thu, Jul 09, 2015

What is a contrast sensor?

Contrast sensors have the ability to reliably distinguish between two different colors. They are also called print mark or registration mark sensors. These sensors are good for applications such as verifying the presence of a weld seam, confirming that a label has been placed on a package, and detecting registration marks. Basically, these sensors indicate whether a contrast between two taught-in colors is seen or not seen.

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Topics: Photoelectric Sensors

Diffuse Use – Ultrasonic Diffuse Mode Sensors Are Everywhere

Posted by Patricia Stafford on Thu, Jun 04, 2015

What are ultrasonic diffuse mode sensors?

Diffuse mode is the most common way to operate an ultrasonic sensor. In this mode, the transducer is contained in the same housing as the evaluation electronics and acts as both an emitter and receiver. Because of this design, this type of ultrasonic sensor works by continuously switching between transmission and reception modes and waiting for echo signals.

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Topics: Ultrasonic Sensors

Remote I/O—Getting on Board the Bus to Better Communication

Posted by Patricia Stafford on Wed, Apr 08, 2015

What is remote I/O?

Remote I/O refers to a remote input/output system that transfers data from analog to digital form so that field devices can communicate with a network.

Types of remote I/O include LB and FB. Both LB and FB perform the same function. The difference between them is the type of hazardous environment and methods of protection each one is rated for. LB remote I/O is rated for mounting in Zone 2 and 22, Div. 2 with intrinsic safety protection methods Ex ia, Ex ib, and Ex ic. FB remote I/O is rated for mounting in Zone 1 and 21 with intrinsic safety protection methods Ex ia and Ex ib.

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Topics: Remote I/O

Industry 4.0 Comes to Hannover Fair 2015

Posted by Patricia Stafford on Wed, Apr 01, 2015

The Internet of Things is an up-and-coming technology which is set to transform the way we live. Simply put, it allows machines to communicate directly with each other over the Internet. This connection between machines will lead to greater convenience and efficiency based on a more rapid exchange of information. Everyday examples might include a car telling a garage door when to open or close, a stove turning itself on to boil a pot of tea that will be ready for you when you come home from work, a timer setting thermostats, and your refrigerator letting you know when you’re running low on groceries.

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Topics: Terminology, Ultrasonic Sensors, HART, Photoelectric Sensors, Hazardous Area Enclosures/ Equipment, RFID

4 Types of Surge Protection Barriers—Keeping Your Signal Strong

Posted by Patricia Stafford on Thu, Jan 08, 2015

Whether you’re controlling a manufacturing process with a computer, distributed control system (DCS), programmable logic controller (PLC), or field device—surge protection barriers reduce or eliminate the risk to your equipment from lightning strikes and other harmful transient voltage or surge currents.

Below are four types of surge protection solutions, designed for a variety of applications. The common pattern you will see is that for field devices, you need to combine two different types of modules to provide protection. In contrast, a computer, DLC, or PLC requires only a surge protector.

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Topics: Intrinsic Safety

Ultrasonic Thru-Beam Sensors: Cutting through the Haze

Posted by Patricia Stafford on Thu, Oct 30, 2014

What are ultrasonic thru-beam sensors?

Ultrasonic thru-beam sensors always come in pairs consisting of a dedicated emitter and a dedicated receiver. The evaluation and switching output electronics are located in the receiver. Using Teach-in or a potentiometer, you can adjust the receiver sensitivity for different distances between the emitter and receiver, or for different object sizes.

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Topics: Ultrasonic Sensors

Inclination Sensors Explained: My Slant on Things

Posted by Patricia Stafford on Thu, Sep 11, 2014

What is an inclination sensor?

Inclination sensors provide a simple way to measure and monitor the angles of stationary and moving objects. They are also called tilt sensors or inclinometers.


Different types of inclination sensors include “fixed range” and “programmable range.” An example of a fixed range sensor with fixed end points is one that has a range between ± 15°. Fixed range sensors are also known as fixed-point sensors. Programmable sensors may have an adjustable range of up to 360°. With a programmable sensor, you can adjust the range between different points by setting the endpoints for the output range. You can use 4 mA ... 20 mA for a 360° angle, a 180° angle, or some other finite angle of your choosing.

Inclination sensors can be single axis or dual axis. A single-axis sensor measures in only one axis, while a dual-axis sensor can measure in two axes of orientation.

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Topics: Inclination Sensors

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