classic | mobile


SA Instrumentation & Control Buyers' Guide


From the editor's desk: Smart sensors, contactless energy transfer and a memorable event
October 2017, News

If analytics are the ‘brains’ behind Industrie 4.0 then smart sensors are the heart and lungs. They are the lifeblood of a modern smart factory; the dataflow that keeps it operating at optimal efficiency. But what differentiates a smart sensor from the common or garden variety? Well, it’s the ability that current solid state technology has given us to integrate multiple devices of different functionality onto the same substrate or wafer.

This technique of combined technologies brings multiple benefits. For instance, a mix of analog and digital circuitry allows the sensing functionality, data processing, diagnostic information, as well as configuration capabilities to coexist on a single device. Not only that, but the communication functionality can also be integrated, and this could even be a wireless transmitter if that is what the situation requires.

Having all this functionality built into the device at the substrate level gives smart sensors the power to adapt their behaviour to changing conditions. Self calibration is an example. All sensors experience some degree of drift over time due to the ageing effect on components. Smart sensors are able to self compensate for this on a continuous basis, which gives more accurate data over the lifetime of the device, and in fact, extends the lifetime of the device as well.

Self calibration aside, it is the adaptive nature of smart sensors that gives manufacturers the ability to respond to the emerging trend of customised orders. The power of the Internet gives consumers the ability to order products in a variety of colours, finishes and styles, while expecting delivery times comparable to ordering from stock. The only way for manufacturers to respond is by producing in lot sizes of one. To do this efficiently requires them to reconfigure production lines quickly, which places an extra burden on the sensors as they must be able to self-adapt to this environment of continuously changing parameters.

Specialist sensor supplier SICK Automation has taken up the challenge. The company vision is to equip future machines with a generation of sensors that can be automatically parameterised by the machine controller. When the customer order arrives, the machine is configured quickly and without intervention to produce a personalised one-off piece at the cost of a mass produced item. See ‘Smart sensors for smart factories’ for more.

Contactless energy transfer untangles a mess

Non-contact energy transfer enables the supply of energy through an air gap, which eliminates the need for supply cables to the device receiving the power. This type of inductive power transfer, now quite common in rechargeable consumer products like electric toothbrushes, is used in industrial applications to power sensors and automated guided vehicles.

In the AGV application, the big advantage is that those cumbersome drag chain systems, traditionally used to carry the power cables to the vehicle, are no longer necessary. Instead, a powered inductive loop (or series of loops) is installed along the path of the AGV which is equipped with pick-up plates that are energised in the magnetic field. The current generated is then rectified on the vehicle and converted back to an AC voltage of the amplitude and frequency required by the vehicle’s drive motors.

SEW-Eurodrive has perfected such a system under the brand name Movitrans and we feature an interesting local application story in this issue. Sasol Wax has installed a Movitrans system to power the pallet transfer trolleys that transport the wax to the exit conveyors, and ultimately the pallet wrapping machines. Getting rid of the existing messy drag chain system provided many benefits in this situation. See ‘Contactless energy transfer system at Sasol Wax’ for details.

SAIMC expands its horizons

In closure this month, congratulations to the organisers of the SAIMC gala dinner held this time at Montecasino. It was a slickly arranged affair and the dancing afterwards proved the perfect foil to an evening of automation technology and awards. For those of you who could not be there, you can read more about it on ‘SAIMC expands its horizons’.

Steven Meyer

Editor: SA Instrumentation & Control

Supplied By: Technews Publishing (SA Instrumentation & Control)
Tel: +27 11 543 5800
Fax: +27 11 787 8052
Share via email     Share via LinkedIn   Print this page

Further reading:

  • From the Editor's desk: New threat to plant safety emerges
    February 2018, Technews Publishing (SA Instrumentation & Control), News
    Since the Stuxnet strike hit the headlines back in 2010, the security of industrial control systems has been called into question. Motivation for an attack can range from the relatively unsophisticated ...
  • Yokogawa wins order for first flue gas desulphurisation system in the West Balkans
    February 2018, Yokogawa South Africa, News
    Yokogawa Electric Corporation has announced that it will deliver a control system for a flue gas desulphurisation system that is to be installed at the Ugljevik coal-fired power plant in northeastern ...
  • North American automation market breaking records in 2017
    February 2018, News
    The North American automation market set new records through the first nine months of 2017, according to the Association for Advancing Automation (A3), a global advocate for the benefits of automating. ...
  • Integro partners with SICK to enhance vision integration solutions
    February 2018, News
    Integro Technologies announced it has become a SICK Authorized Vision Integration partner serving the United States. As an Authorized Integration Partner, Integro Technologies’ staff is trained on SICK ...
  • BMG and NSK strengthen distribution agreement
    February 2018, Bearing Man Group t/a BMG, News
    BMG and NSK have consolidated a long-standing partnership, with the recent signing of a new distribution agreement that enhances the original contract and augers well for the companies, stakeholders and ...
  • Define your game plan for digital transformation at X-Change 2018
    February 2018, Wonderware Southern Africa, News
    Wonderware Southern Africa’s 26th annual User Conference, X-Change 2018, will return to the picturesque Champagne Sports Resort, from 15-18 April 2018. X-Change has been a success for a quarter of a century ...
  • RJ Connect raise a glass in celebration of their new offices
    February 2018, RJ Connect, News
    After 20 years growing from strength to strength in Ferndale, RJ Connect has moved to an A-Class building in Bromhof, Randburg. The new building has ample space for the growing team, and is focused on ...
  • SICK Automation upgrades luggage ID scanners at OR Tambo International Airport
    February 2018, SICK Automation Southern Africa, News
    SICK Automation recently upgraded luggage identification scanners at OR Tambo International Airport, the largest and busiest airport in Africa. The upgrade included replacing SICK’s recently discontinued ...
  • Emerson named Industrial IoT Company of the Year by IoT Breakthrough
    February 2018, Emerson Automation Solutions, News
    Emerson has been named the Industrial IoT Company of the Year by IoT Breakthrough. The award recognises Emerson’s extensive innovation and leadership in driving IIoT technologies and strategies for customers ...
  • Afrivalve achieves level 2 BEE compliance
    February 2018, eDART Slurry Valves, News
    Afrivalve, the trading name for eDART Slurry Valves, has announced that it has increased its BEE compliance to level 2. In order to meet customer requirements, particularly those in the mining sector, ...
  • Information from Siemens: new publications on updates to standards
    February 2018, Siemens Digital Factory & Process Indust. & Drives, News
    Siemens has published two technical texts to provide customers with the latest information on the application of European directives and international standards. The reference work ‘Control Panels Compliant ...
  • Police take down plagiarism ­warehouse in Vietnam
    February 2018, WIKA Instruments, News
    Asian product pirates are as creative as they are unscrupulous with copies of known brand names. WIKA is also affected, which is why the company has taken legal action against the perpetrators. This requires ...

Technews Publishing (Pty) Ltd
1st Floor, Stabilitas House
265 Kent Ave, Randburg, 2194
South Africa
Publications by Technews
Dataweek Electronics & Communications Technology
Electronic Buyers Guide (EBG)

Hi-Tech Security Solutions
Hi-Tech Security Business Directory

Motion Control in Southern Africa
Motion Control Buyers’ Guide (MCBG)

South African Instrumentation & Control
South African Instrumentation & Control Buyers’ Guide (IBG)
Terms & conditions of use, including privacy policy
PAIA Manual


    classic | mobile

Copyright © Technews Publishing (Pty) Ltd. All rights reserved.