Sensors: The technology that makes IoT possible

Sensorik: Die Technologie, die IoT möglich macht

Internet of Things, Industrial Internet of Things, Industry 4.0, the Digital Factory: megatrends that could not be realized without a certain amount of detail - sensor technology. Sensors are the interfaces to the outside world that make IoT possible in the first place. Modern industrial plants, smart home or mobility of the future? Unthinkable without sensors, because they play an often inconspicuous, but all the more important role: they collect data and thus information, the analysis of which makes products, services or entire industrial sectors "smart" or intelligent and digital. In our current blog article, we explain how sensors work and what role they play in different application areas.


Sensor technology - definition and functionality

Sensor technology usually refers to the use of sensors to measure various physical or chemical properties. First of all, a sensor is a technical component that records a measured value in its actual state at a suitable measuring point. This data is then forwarded to a data processing system. It is thus the interface between the data processing and the outside world of a complete application system. A sensor is normally also always part of a so-called control loop, which independently takes action if an actual value deviates too much from a target value - for example, compensation, alarm or even shutdown. In our everyday life we are already constantly surrounded by sensors: Smoke detectors, automatic doors, in automobiles, in smartphones: There are numerous types and functions of sensor technology.


Different types of sensors

In the world of sensor technology there is a suitable sensor for almost every physical condition:

  • Force measurement: strain sensors, weight force sensors

  • Volume: Filling level

  • Light: Light intensity, image sharpness, opacity

  • Speed: rotational speed, airspeed, acceleration

  • Magnetism: Proximity Sensors

  • Electromagnetism: Locating radio signals

  • Acoustics: Sound sensors

  • Position: Inclination, position

  • Climate: humidity, pressure, temperature


Use of sensors: Example Automotive

Sophisticated sensor technology is now available in almost all electrotechnical constructions. The variety of sensors used in a normal automobile shows how important sensor technology has become for the optimal functioning of a complex technical system:

  • Speed sensor

  • Speed sensor

  • Level sensor (fuel)

  • Charge sensor battery

  • Air mass sensor in the intake system

  • Weight sensors

  • Inclinometers

  • Temperature sensor

  • Distance sensors

The sensor technology takes over the role of a powerful immune system to protect and optimally operate the main system. It prevents damage and wear, increases efficiency, reduces the consumption of fuels and raw materials and maintains reliable operation. And this is exactly what the appropriate sensors do in IoT projects. 


Finding suitable sensors for IIoT: the application determines the selection

The biggest challenge in selecting the appropriate sensor technology is always the complexity of the overall system and the sensitivity of the individual sensors. The more measured values have to be processed in a central system, the more demanding and important this step becomes. The sensors themselves are the interface to the outside world. Their direct contact to other assemblies, to outside air and weather or other physical variables always contributes to their wear and tear. That is why the necessary monitoring and the expected replacement of sensitive components is an essential part of the selection of the appropriate sensor technology. 

A short example to illustrate this: If the sensor technology is to contribute to the improvement of the plant efficiency by determining the position, path or relative positions of moving machine parts, the choice of the appropriate measured variable is decisive for success. For example, in the case of level measurement, it depends primarily on the material of the container filling which sensor and thus which measuring method is ultimately chosen. 

Particularly in the area of Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), the harsh operating environment often dictates which sensor selection is capable of reliably fulfilling its function for many years - if possible without much maintenance. For production lines and industrial plants, for example, only robust sensor designs suitable for industrial use are considered whose design is suitable for installation at the respective location. Environmental conditions within the application scenario such as dust, dirt, oil, humidity and temperature also have a major influence. In the end, the decisive factor in selecting the right sensors for IIoT applications is their connectivity, i.e. the interface to higher-level systems. If, for example, existing industrial plants are to be made fit for IIoT applications, the connectivity properties of the respective sensors must not only match the data volume of the sensor in question, but also the existing system infrastructure within the plant. 


Sensors for IoT projects: Selection and ROBIOTIC in-house developments

The special "IoT sensor" is not available. This is because, in principle, all types of sensor can be connected to the cloud to analyze the data collected. The key question is rather: Which sensors do I need for which IoT applications? ROBIOTIC advises customers to find the right sensor for their individual IoT project on the market in order to validly determine and analyze the right data. The sensors can come from the customer himself or from other manufacturers such as the ROBIOTIC partner company Hoffmann+Krippner (H+K). 

H+K offers a wide range of so-called foil and polymer potentiometers, which are ideal solutions especially for displacement and angle measurements. The printed resistor track provides precise measurement results and convinces with a long service life and flat design. Whether linear, circular or individually shaped - almost any customer requirement can be realized easily and quickly. The technology convinces with a lifetime of up to 20 million movements at operating temperatures of up to 105°C - for industrial applications, medical technology and many other industries.


Conclusion: Successful IoT projects through suitable sensor technology

with ROBIOTIC as general contractor

The right choice of sensor in an IoT project always depends on the planned individual application. In some projects, it is important to find sensors with the lowest possible power consumption in order to achieve the longest possible lifetime. Customers also attach great importance to short-term availability as well as long-term availability of components and devices, either in large or small quantities depending on scaling.

As an experienced IoT service provider, ROBIOTIC relieves the customer of this work and finds the right sensor technology for him. With the know-how combined within the partner network, ROBIOTIC works like a general contractor and provides all the necessary services from a single source: from the right choice of sensors, suitable I/O and control systems to the necessary cloud connections and network technology.

veröffentlicht am : 2020-11-18 10:00