Inductive sensors that are made to sense metal provide an extremely important capability in today’s automotive plants. These sensors come in all shapes and sizes and can be found on cylinders, clamps, robots, conveyors, tooling, and weld cells.
The majority of inductive proximity sensors in the automotive industry are shielded, or flush-mount. This means you can embed the sensor in metal right up to the sensing face, eliminating the chance of shearing off the sensor or sensing unintended targets from the side.
We have begun to see alternative metals used in engines, transmissions, and car bodies, namely aluminum. This change is due to the ever-increasing CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) standards that the government imposes on the automotive industry. In order to meet the fuel economy standards of the future, vehicles need to be lighter, which is why the use of aluminum is increasing.
Sensing aluminum with inductive sensors brings new challenges. Inductive sensors have a published rated sensing distance, but this is for steel with a high ferrous content. Aluminum has less ferrous content; therefore the sensing distance with a standard inductive proximity sensor is less, usually 60% less. Thankfully, our industry has a line of sensors called the “all metals” or “Reduction Factor 1” Series of inductive sensors. These sensors sense steel, aluminum, and other metals at the same distance. An extra added bonus is that these sensors have a longer sensing range than standard inductive sensors while maintaining their flush-mount capability.
With this technology, the same assembly line can run aluminum or steel parts using the same inductive sensors. You can also take it one step further with a ferrous/ non-ferrous 2 output sensor to tell you which metal you are running today. With plant space at a premium, these inductive sensors eliminate the need for duplicate machines and spare parts.