Sensors & Transducers


New generation of photoelectric distance sensors

October 2023 Sensors & Transducers

Thanks to innovative photonic mixer device (PMD) technology, the OGD photoelectric distance sensor from ifm electronic detects objects with extreme precision up to a range of 2 metres. With this powerful on-chip time-of-flight measurement system, it is possible to detect the presence of objects, or their correct installation, with maximum accuracy. Typical applications include detection in rapid succession and at high speed, for example in the field of conveying or materials handling. Together with a high excess gain, the excellent reflection resistance and background suppression of PMD enable reliable detection.

The PMD technology is vastly superior to conventional diffuse reflection laser sensors or red light sensors. As their range is angle and colour independent, even difficult objects such as shiny metallic surfaces can be detected. The reflectivity is displayed as an output in addition to the distance value. This not only allows identification of objects, but also conclusions about their material properties. Measuring the distance value and reflectivity simultaneously enables material differentiation, while also increasing process reliability.

With its M18 thread, this compact laser sensor is easy to install. The setting is made directly on the device or alternatively via IO-Link using convenient three-button operation. Visualisation is achieved with the integrated eight-segment, two-colour display on the sensor.

Two-stage conveyor belt stop function

Background suppression is another advantage of the OGD. This feature comes in handy when implementing a stop function at the end of a conveyor belt. Reflections from the metallic rollers do not affect the sensor. The OGD also reliably detects objects of different colours. In this application, the first switch point triggers a reduction in belt speed. When the object reaches the second switch point, the belt is stopped.

The advantage is that by replacing the two devices that are typically required for a light barrier, the OGD helps to reduce the purchase, installation and wiring costs. In addition, it can be used in almost any mounting situation as it can be aligned to the belt at an oblique angle.

Quality assurance during production

The OGD performs precise and reliable inline quality checks to monitor the correct position and orientation of small shiny components or those with low reflectance, such as O-rings or toothed wheels. Assembly errors such as missing O-rings of 5 mm thickness or more are detected. This error proofing process during production and before final quality checks minimises the risk of costly consequential damage such as plant downtime or batch failures. At the same time, the inline quality check contributes to long-term and efficient quality assurance. The earlier errors are discovered, the lower the consequential costs are, and the sooner improvements can be made. With increasingly oblique angles the reflected light diminishes, causing the reflectance value precision to deteriorate.

Object detection in product handling

The OGD reliably detects objects even in unfavourable lighting conditions. It does not skip reflective materials or those with ragged surfaces such as foils, which often come in colourful or dark designs. The sensor detects dirt on the lens through the reflectance value via IO-Link, and alerts the operator when cleaning is necessary. This reduces faulty measurements and increases process reliability.


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