This episode of Ask an Expert for industrial sensors examines and provides answers to interesting sensing questions we've received from customers just like you. We explore and answer these questions:
1. I'm looking for an ultrasonic distance sensor to beam a signal to the top of a heavy steel column on an elevator (6 meters height). The column base might have some slack jerk. Can fog, gas, vapor, or loud noises affect the ultrasonic sensor?
2. I need updated software to program UC3000 ultrasonic sensors. Is there an update that will allow us to set up these sensors in a Windows 7 program?
3. I would like an ultrasonic sensor that can reliably detect falling objects in a harsh environment (mining operation). We are trying to set off an alarm when there is rock-fall.
4. I have an RFID controller IC-KP-B17-AIDA1 with 4 read heads. We are hooking them up to a 24 VDC power supply and need to know what size/type of fuse to put on the incoming side?
Feel free to ask us your sensing questions, and we'll do our best to reply with the whys and hows of a particular solution.
John: Welcome to Ask an Expert! Hi, this is John Appleson, Marketing Manager with Pepperl+Fuchs. Today, I'm joined by Zach Steck. Zach works as an Application Engineer here at Pepperl+Fuchs. So welcome, Zach, and thanks for being here!
Zach: Hi John, thanks for asking me.
John: The first question asks about an ultrasonic sensor that will transmit a sound wave to the top of a heavy steel column on an elevator. The customer states that there may be some slack jerk when the elevator starts and stops, but less slack during travel. The slack might also cause the sensor to tilt to a small degree. The sensor is going to be used in a Class I, Division 2 environment. Zach, what are your thoughts on this, and what environmental impact do fog, gas vapor, or a heavy metal clanking sound have on an ultrasonic sensor?
Zach: Since this is being installed in a Class I, Division 2 area, I would recommend a hazardous location ultrasonic sensor such as model UC4000-30GM-IU-V1-HA. This sensor is UL and CSA approved for Class I, Division 2 environments. Wide sensing fields of an ultrasonic sensor would accommodate the slight variations in the mounting angle caused by the slack. This sensor has a specified range of only four meters, but depending on the target, it can detect further. You can see this represented on the characteristic response curve provided on the data sheet. Four meters is, however, the longest range option that we offer for ultrasonic sensors in hazardous locations. As for the other environmental conditions, fog, vapors, and loud acoustic noises will not affect the output of an ultrasonic sensor.
John: Here's a question where the customer needs to update the software to program their UC3000 series ultrasonic sensor, and they want to know if there is a new program that will allow them to set up these sensors in a Windows 7 program. Zach, do we have this available?
Zach: The UC3000 ultrasonic sensors are programmed using the Ultra 3000 software. Ultra 3000 would be compatible with Windows 7. The latest version is available for download, cost-free, at our website.
John: Sticking with the ultrasonic sensors, this customer wants to set off an alarm in a mining application, which is a harsh environment, when rocks are falling. Zach, what can you suggest here?
Zach: Ultrasonic sensors are a common choice for the harsh environments found in mining applications. Dirt or dust particles in the air would have no effect on the sensor output. Since ultrasonic sensors create a wide sensing field, a single sensor can cover a decent-sized area. This area can be even larger using multiple ultrasonic sensors tied together by a synchronization input. Based on the environment in the application description, I would recommend an ultrasonic solution.
John: OK, moving right along, this customer has an RFID controller with four read heads coming off of each port. And, they are hooking the controllers up to a 24 VDC power supply, and need to know what size and type of fuse to have on the incoming side. Zach, can you share your thoughts on this?
Zach: Suggested fuse size would be double the total current consumption of the controller and read heads together. In this case, the controller and four read heads consume about 8 A, so they would want a fuse that is at least 16 A.
John: Well, that concludes this segment of Ask an Expert. I'd like to thank Zach for joining me today, and thank our audience as well.