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Smart Sensors In The Future Of Manufacturing

Smart Sensor System Malaysia

With the advancement of technology and the acceleration of digitalization in many industries, smart sensors are widely used in the production process to monitor the operation and provide us an efficient and safe working environment. Smart sensor plays an important role in industry 4.0 during this new era of manufacturing intelligence along with the increasing of the complex manufacturing process. The development of smart sensors represents the evolution towards interconnectivity, machine learning, automation, and decision making based on real-data acquisition. In this article, we will summaries the common types and functions of smart sensor used in the current manufacturing industry and the benefits that bring to the manufacturing process. Before that, we need to understand the difference between a Base Sensor and a Smart Sensor. A base sensor is a device that can sense certain things. It can detect and input data from the physical environment or properties and then provide an electrical output with respect to a specific situation. With the development of digital technology and the emergence of the Internet of Things (IoT), a smart sensor is created for performing a variety of functions such as data collection, data conversion, data processing for further study and analysis, it also has internet connection capability to other devices and the Cloud. Generally, a smart sensor has a base sensor, a microprocessor, and onboard intelligence that make it able to communicate via a digital network. It can perform several tasks with its multiple sensing capabilities such as measuring the pressure, humidity, temperature, gas flow, etc. It is also able to detect the issues with self-assessment and self-calibration.

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Why Using Smart Sensors?

The sensor is used to detect and provide input data from different sources such as light, pressure, temperature, and motion. The smart sensor will generate valuable output information, connect it to the network and share the data to the connected management systems and devices for better communication, analysis, and management. The data collected by the sensor will be processed and analyzed to allow the business owner to gain insight into the crucial trends and make an evidence-based decision that helps to improve the sales and operation. Smart sensor also collect many key performance figures such as energy consumption, hours of operation, temperature, maintenance, humidity, and production line output which can be used for generating reports to prove the compliance of the industry-related regulation and standards required in the manufacturing plants. These reports including the historical data, logs, and records are collected and stored in the smart sensor system.

The smart sensor can detect and notify us of any potential problems in the equipment or machinery. It allows us to perform predictive maintenance and avoid unexpected or unnecessary downtime. Timely detection of operational issues will greatly reduce the costs associated with the machinery breakdown. In addition, storing complex data has become more manageable and the algorithms have made it easier to predict potential issues and set corrective action. We use the sensor and data collected to improve manufacturing assets and products.

The smart sensor also can track the location of assets, inventory, vehicles, and even people. We can have better control over the shipping and transportation status. The data collected by the sensor can predict the arrival and departing time of the inventory in the warehouse, distribution center, and retail shop. It helps us to ensure a smooth and efficient supply chain that involves different internal and external parties.

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Types of Smart Sensor

Sensors are available in a variety of types, shapes, and sizes for a wide range of purposes and applications. Some are containing many built-in individual sensors that can monitor and measure many sources of data. Here we will introduce the five main types of smart sensors used in the industrial environment.

Temperature sensor - it is one of the most common types of sensor to be used in industrial settings that detect the temperature changes and then convert these changes into data. It is useful for those manufacturing industries that have requirements to keep the temperature at a certain level during their operation. The smart sensor is attached to the machinery or equipment and connected to the IoT Cloud computing system, it provides an alert when the equipment is overheating or requires maintenance or shut down.

Pressure sensor - Pressure sensor is commonly used in detecting the pressure of gases and liquids in the water and pipeline system. It will send an alert to the computing system if there is a drop in pressure which is mostly caused by leaking or irregularities.

Infrared sensor - It possesses multipurpose functions and is widely used in different industries. The infrared smart sensor can sense the characteristics in its surroundings by detecting or emitting infrared radiation. It can be used for tracking and monitoring biological functions such as blood flow, body temperature, and blood pressure in the healthcare industry. We also use infrared sensors in the engineering and construction industry to monitor heat leaks in the building and industrial facilities.

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Level sensor- A level sensor is used to detect the volume of space has taken up in a container, tank, or bin. The measurement target including different types of substances such as liquid, granular materials, powders. It is widely used in oil manufacturing, food & beverage factory, water treatment, waste management to measure the level of substances in a container.

Humidity sensor- This type of sensor is used to measure the water vapor in the atmosphere of gases or air. It is commonly found in the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system for both industrial and residential buildings.

Digitalization and industry 4.0 are changing the landscape of all product-based industries and transform the company into more efficient, more transparent, and greater quality in products and services. By using the smart sensor system and Cloud computing algorithms, we can solve many problems that existed in the traditional manufacturing models. It is important for manufacturing to start integrating smart sensor systems in their operation, it may generate some investment costs at the beginning of the implementation but we will surely benefit more in the future from these advancements of technology and smart sensor.

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Photo credit: uscybersecurity, abb, metrology, realpars, rockwellautomation

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