SICK Powers into Industry 4.0 with the All-seeing PowerProx Sensor

11th February 2016
Posted By : Jacqueline Regnier
SICK Powers into Industry 4.0 with the All-seeing PowerProx Sensor

SICK has set a technology milestone in sensing capability for factory automation with the new PowerProx, offering unprecedented versatility to detect any object on a high-speed production line with just one range of sensors.

SICK has achieved a step change in sensing performance and value by packing the benefits of laser Time-of-Flight (ToF) technology into PowerProx’s compact housing to deliver high-performance distance sensing, proximity and object detection. 

A sensor in the PowerProx range can be used to replace most distance and proximity sensors in a production plant.  Engineers can choose from a range of just four sensors to achieve highly accurate results over a wide distance range between 50mm and 3.8m.

“Nothing gets by the SICK PowerProx,” states David Hannaby, SICK UK’s Product Manager for Presence Detection.  “It has overtaken other market offerings to deliver a multi-tasking series of sensors with outstanding performance at a competitive price, achieving consistent results where a number of different specialised sensors would otherwise need to be used.

“With PowerProx, even objects being conveyed at high speed, small and flat objects and products with jet-black or shiny finishes can now be reliably detected over its extensive sensing distances.   So a production engineer is offered the potential to replace most distance and proximity sensors in a store with a single range of sensors.

“The PowerProx is ready for use in the Industry 4.0 Smart Factory.   The sensors can communicate their signals and results to a centralised factory network or be monitored, re-set or taught to perform new sensing tasks across a whole range of applications.”

Time of Flight

The precision of ToF laser technology, when combined with SICK’s Advanced Background Suppression, also mean the PowerProx sensors offer a high degree of angular tolerance and are not affected by the ambient light or by dust, spray and particles.  PowerProx operates according to the scanning principle, so there is no need for reflectors or receivers.

The SICK PowerProx® is very easy to teach.  The multitask sensor is adjusted via a potentiometer or teach-in button.  There are versions available with either one or two separately adjustable switching thresholds depending on the application.  

Using IO-Link, up to eight switching points can be remotely taught and a “window mode” to be taught using a laser spot, ranged and set on the desired object.  IO-Link also enables high-accuracy measurements to be output from the ToF sensor signal for determining range, position, height or size.  Eye safety is assured with a class one laser and the VISTAL housing ensures the device is sufficiently rugged. Installation is simple with a wide choice of mounting option accessories.

Applications

PowerProx will find applications in machining and components production, with its capability to detect extremely small parts thanks to its low hysteresis and minimum colour shift. PowerProx’s ability to detect small and flat objects too, no matter what the surface finish, will be useful in handling and assembly, for example in the automotive industry for reliable checking of a robot's gripping points.

In packaging, warehousing and logistics applications, the PowerProx’s two adjustable switching points make it possible to set distance quickly and easily, and the angular tolerance and background suppression will enable reliable recognition and sorting of different sized packages and boxes.

A choice of three PowerProx sensor options is available in the same compact housing for distance, high-speed and high-precision options.  The fourth, the PowerProx Small, at 46 x 34 x 17.6 mm is probably the smallest sensor currently available at its performance level. 

PowerProx Distance 

With an extended sensing range up to 3.8m and two separately adjustable switching points, the PowerProx Distance is ideal for storage, handling, warehousing and logistics applications, for example for occupied bay and clearance detection, automated pallet handling and collision protection in storage and conveyor technology.  An extended sensing range is also essential for protecting doors and gates.


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