Factors to Consider in Selecting a Sensor
The implementation success of sensors in any industrial application depends on many factors. Selecting the right sensor for the intended use is a job that needs to be taken quite seriously by the engineer. In any assembly, there is a chance that several types of sensors are suitable for the application. But, the key is ensuring that the cost is economical while also considering how the working environment will impact the sensor’s performance.
External factors affecting how the sensor performs
Sensors have performance parameters and characteristics that define their performance. Although these parameters are considered the primary consideration for choosing a sensor, it is equally important to take into account all external factors that may cause a significant impact on the sensor.
- Environmental conditions. There are many applications that naturally expose sensors to harsh working conditions. For example, a submersible sensor will be subject to high pressure and moisture, as well as microorganisms that may cause corrosion and decay. As such, submersible sensors are generally manufactured using materials that can withstand these conditions.
- Sudden temperature changes. It is also possible for temperature to reach extremes depending on the location. Engineers also need to factor this in when selecting a sensor.
- Dust, vibration, and shock. Not all types of sensors are suitable for industrial applications. In the mining industry, safety regulations specifically require sensors to be inherently safe for these applications. If the use is subject to high vibration and shock, engineers typically choose non-contact sensors that are less susceptible to wear and tear.
In many ways, the working condition is a significant factor that impacts the selection process. If these factors were not taken into account, there is a danger of damage and subpar performance which could have easily been avoided if the right sensor were chosen.
Sensor characteristics and qualities
Characteristics such as the measurement range, accuracy, reliability, repeatability, and frequency range are inherent characteristics of each sensor. Apart from these qualities, it is also crucial to consider the following:
- When using a sensor, it is possible for the application to change its requirements. Replacing all parts of an assembly is not economical, and in selecting a sensor, the flexibility of the product to adapt to changing conditions needs to be considered as well.
- Technology that matches the working condition. There are different types of sensor technologies to choose from. Each of these technologies has advantages and disadvantages. For example, inductive sensors are more robust and reliable and suitable for harsh applications, but inductive sensors have low sensitivity which does not make these the best choice for other uses.
- Output type. A digital output is considered more advanced because it is compatible with computer programs. However, this type of output may not work for applications that do not rely on computer programs to interpret data.
In conclusion, many elements and factors could positively or negatively impact sensor selection. Choosing a sensor is a detailed and comprehensive process with particular focus on data, test results, and information. Engineers understand that making a mistake in selecting the right sensor could lead to costly replacement or repairs.