Author: CMA/Flodyne/Hydradyne

5 HYDRAULICS MYTHS

Guest Contributor: Dr. Steffen Haack, Bosch Rexroth

br_hydrolicmyths_hero_dec19.jpgNo drive technology is more efficient, compact and robust than hydraulics when dealing with forces in excess of 600 kN. So why is it that the importance of hydraulics is often overlooked in the training and development of our young engineers?

In the modern manufacturing setting, movement is everything along with the resulting data. Little thought is given to hydraulic technology, that is until drive physics comes into play. This is when hydraulic technology comes into its own in managing large forces and delivering robust performance.

Here’s a connected hydraulics ‘Myth Buster’ that demonstrates how the latest smart hydraulics are more versatile and cost-effective than you ever imagined.

THE MYTH: Installation is complex

BUSTED: Designers are no longer required to develop an in-depth knowledge of fluid mechanics and technology and increasingly look for plug & produce modules. These ready-to-install modules simply need an electrical current and a connection to the control communication.

THE MYTH: Commissioning takes time

BUSTED: Our smart, connected hydraulics are now commissioned with the same engineering tools as electric drives and control systems. Functions previously carried out hydromechanically are handled by the latest drive software. There are even software assistants available to guide technicians through the commissioning process and suggest suitable parameters.

THE MYTH: Hydraulics waste energy

BUSTED: There’s a preconception that hydraulics are more energy-intensive than other technologies, but things have changed dramatically. Variable-speed pump drives generate the flow in line with demand and reduce speeds accordingly under partial load conditions. Compared to constantly driven pumps, they reduce power consumption by up to 80 percent – a level consistent with that of electric drives of the same size.

THE MYTH: Hydraulics aren’t IoT ready

BUSTED: Smart hydraulics are a well-established part of IoT in production. Analog valves can be made digitally visible cost-effectively thanks to IO-Link and exchange data available through the control system. Smart valves, with their own control electronics and state of the art field bus connection, are as convenient to use as electric drives.

THE MYTH: Hydraulics are high maintenance

BUSTED: Hydraulics offer a distinct advantage when monitoring operating states and deducing possible wear and expected life cycle. With a few pieces of sensor data, such as pressure differential, oil temperature, optically measured contamination or pressure increase over time, software can assess the health of the system.

This myth busting technology is included in our latest generation of hydraulic power units, allowing young designers and businesses to benefit from all the advantages of our modern, connected innovations.

 

CMA/Flodyne/Hydradyne is an authorized Bosch Rexroth distributor in Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa and Northern Indiana.

In addition to distribution, we design and fabricate complete engineered systems, including hydraulic power units, electrical control panels, pneumatic panels & aluminum framing. Our advanced components and system solutions are found in a wide variety of industrial applications such as wind energy, solar energy, process control and more.

240% MORE PRODUCTIVITY IN THE SAME SPACE WITH ACTIVEMOVER

Guest Contributor: Jeroen Brands, Bosch Rexroth

Many customers aim to increase productivity in short-cycle applications, but the space available for the planned systems is limited and often set in stone. That means that our challenge is to potentially double the quantities being produced, whilst using as little space as possible.

Sounds impossible? Actually, it isn’t.

In North America, we’ve already achieved the impossible for one of our customers. The decisive solution that made all the difference was our highly flexible ActiveMover transfer system. It has enabled the customer to consolidate two stations into one, reduce the footprint by 44% per line and produce almost two and a half times the quantity in the same amount of time over virtually the same surface area.

Increasing capacity in limited spaces.

The customer was faced with unexpectedly high demand for a complex product, which required a rapid increase in production. As the plant only had limited space for new systems the customer was forced to connect two machines with different cycle times via a classic conveyor belt with a limited buffer capacity.

The system occupied a space measuring around 80 m². Three multi-stations in the system covered longer processes in order to shorten lead times. The entire process involved a total of nine work steps.

The engineers knew that this current set-up was never going to manage more than 50 products a minute and any planned capacity increase would require the basic layout to be changed.

That’s where we stepped in.

Our team suggested using the ActiveMover transfer system as the central element to the operation. It is composed of straight sections and curved units, with vertically installed, low-wear linear motors, which form a closed oval shape. Workpiece pallets travel across the entire section to precisely specified positions independently of each other. They can even approach several positions within one station, one after the other, and change their direction of travel. The individual processing stations are installed on the ActiveMover’s oval shape from outside which make them easily accessible.

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240% more productive with the same surface area.

The engineers were able to integrate all the stations in the ActiveMover in two steps. This allowed them to decouple processing stations with different cycle times and save on a range of multi-stations. The result: as opposed to the original system’s footprint of 80 m², the customer now needs less than 45 m². That corresponds to a space saving of 44%. At the same time, the output per system has increased by 20%. The customer has more or less installed two machines with increased productivity in the original space available, thereby increasing productivity by 240%.

 

CMA/Flodyne/Hydradyne is an authorized Bosch Rexroth distributor in Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa and Northern Indiana.

In addition to distribution, we design and fabricate complete engineered systems, including hydraulic power units, electrical control panels, pneumatic panels & aluminum framing. Our advanced components and system solutions are found in a wide variety of industrial applications such as wind energy, solar energy, process control and more.

Why RFID is the VIP of 2019

The “most popular” annual lists don’t usually come out until the end of the year, but I think it is worth mentioning now three applications that have gained substantial momentum this year. With the Smart Factory concept being driven around the globe, RFID has emerged from the shadows and taken its place in the spotlight. The demand for a larger amount of data, more security, and increased visibility into the production process has launched RFID into a leading role when it comes to automation.

Machine Access Control

When considering RFID being utilized for access control, they think about readers located near doorways either outside the building or within the plant. While those readers operate much like the industrial readers, they typically cannot communicate over an industrial communication protocol like Ethernet/IP, Profinet, or IO-Link.  With an industrial access control reader one can limit access to HMIs, PLCs, and various control systems by verifying the user and allowing access to the appropriate controls.  This extra layer of security also ensures operator accountability by identifying the user.

Machine Tool ID

RFID has been used in machining centers for decades. However, it was used mostly in larger scale operations where there were acres of machines and hundreds of tools. Today it’s being used in shops with as few as one machine. The ROI is dependent on the number of tool changes in a shift; not necessarily just the number of machines and the number of tools in the building. The greater the number of tool changes, the greater the risk of data input errors, tool breakage, and even a crash.

Content verification

Since RFID is capable of reading through cardboard and plastic, it is commonly used to verify the contents of a container. Tags are fixed to the critical items in the box, like a battery pack or bag of hardware, and passed through a reader to verify their presence. If, in this case, two tags are not read at the final station then the box can be opened and supplied with the missing part before it ships. This prevents an overload on aftersales support and ensures customers get what they ordered.

While RFID is still widely used to address Work in Process (WIP), asset tracking, and logistics applications, the number of alternative applications involving RFID has skyrocketed due to an increase in demand for actionable data.  Manufacturing organizations around the world have standardized on RFID as a solution in cases where accountability, reliability and quality are critical.

 

cropped-cmafh-logo-with-tagline-caps.pngCMA/Flodyne/Hydradyne is an authorized  Balluff distributor in Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa and Northern Indiana.

In addition to distribution, we design and fabricate complete engineered systems, including hydraulic power units, electrical control panels, pneumatic panels & aluminum framing. Our advanced components and system solutions are found in a wide variety of industrial applications such as wind energy, solar energy, process control and more.

Hydraulic Valves Will Benefit From Connectivity

Guest contributor, Jeroen Brands, Bosch Rexroth

Hydraulic valves: Directional valve with integrated digital axis controller

Hydraulic valves: Directional valve with integrated digital axis controller

What are the current market requirements for hydraulic valves?

We are currently experiencing a transition from classic, analogous hydraulics to connectable digital fluid technology. European machine manufacturers in particular are increasingly digitizing their machine designs and expect that hydraulics can be seamlessly embedded into these connected environments. This means that regarding the level of automation, hydraulics are on a par with electromechanical drives. One of the decisive features in this respect is the seamless integration of intelligent hydraulic valves into different automation topologies via open standards such as multiple Ethernet interfaces.

Which new technical possibilities are available to meet these requirements?

Smart single-axis controllers are already remotely regulating hydraulic motions in a closed control loop. In addition, a powerful motion control is integrated into the on-board electronics of the valve. It performs the target-actual comparison on site and regulates accurately to a few micrometers. The control quality of the system is exclusively determined by the resolution of the measurement systems. These motion controls without control cabinet are increasingly used in saw lines, paper mills and machine tools. In addition, there are smart variable speed pump drives and smart pump controls. They provide completely new possibilities of replacing the throttle controls, which were predominantly used up to now, by more energy-efficient displacement controls. In this way, functions which were previously executed by valves are relocated to the software.

What about the integration of sensor technology into hydraulic valves?

The mass production of sensors for the automotive or the consumer products industry has significantly reduced the costs. Now, sensors are increasingly used in hydraulics. In our opinion, the integration of sensor technology of this kind into existing valve housings is the next step. Regarding condition monitoring, sensors could collect information on fluid quality, temperature, vibrations and performed switching cycles. Via deep learning algorithms, users can then detect wear before it causes malfunction.

Which other possibilities of mechanization does a valve provide?

The degree of freedom regarding connection geometries is already limited by standard requirements. The hydraulics industry discussed the topic of digital hydraulics in great depth some time ago. The idea was and is to control flows in a “stepped” or “clocked” way using single- or multi-bit strategies. In certain applications, this can constitute an advantage compared to continuously variable technology.

Which other innovations in hydraulic valves are relevant in your company?

It is no longer a question whether hydraulic valve technology will benefit from connectivity or not. The only question is when. The current discussions around Industry 4.0 clearly show how important it is to define all required functions and functionalities. Only if mechanisms and sensor technology are standardized across different manufacturers will active connectivity and communication be possible. Even in the future, not every hydraulic-mechanical pressure valve will have digital electronics on board or be connected to a control system or other valves. An imprinted QR code with information on the manufacturer’s settings, functional descriptions or information on replacement seals are a first step towards connectivity. In the area of new materials and production technologies, Rexroth has many innovations in the pipeline. 3D printing of cores for cast housings or direct printing considerably lowers energy consumption during the operation of valves. While the divisibility of the core mold had to be taken into account in the design of the core, this is no longer necessary today thanks to core printing. This means that we can use other channel designs which allow for lower pressure losses and improve energy consumption. For a valve with a flow of 10,000 l/min, the reduction of flow resistance by 10 to 20 percent significantly reduces the operating expenses.

Pressure transducer for hydraulic applications

How do these trends affect your products?

With the IAC (integrated axis controller) valves, Bosch Rexroth offers motion control without control cabinet which is completely integrated into valve electronics. It can be fully connected via open interfaces. The same applies to servo-hydraulic axes with their own fluid circuit. In these ready-to-mount axes, pump, valves and cylinders form an assembly to which the machine manufacturer only has to connect power supply and control communication. They use the same commissioning tools and user interfaces which means that all drive technologies provide the same look and feel. Classic servo valves, however, can also be improved further. New plug-in amplifiers with pulse width modulation for on/off valves by Rexroth reduce the surface temperature of the connectors by more than 80 degrees to only 50 degrees. This is particularly interesting for saw lines where easily inflammable sawdust constitutes an explosion hazard.

Outlook: How will valve technology change in the next 10 years?

In 10 years, valves will allow for easier project planning, more comfortable commissioning and more efficient operation and will provide more information before a service case. If service is required, the valve may already have ordered its spare parts.

 

cropped-cmafh-logo-with-tagline-caps.pngCMA/Flodyne/Hydradyne is an authorized Bosch Rexroth distributor in Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa and Northern Indiana.

In addition to distribution, we design and fabricate complete engineered systems, including hydraulic power units, electrical control panels, pneumatic panels & aluminum framing. Our advanced components and system solutions are found in a wide variety of industrial applications such as wind energy, solar energy, process control and more.

Hydraulics Meets Internet of Things: Avoiding Machine Downtime the Intelligent Way

Guest Contributor: Luisa Franz, Bosch Rexroth

 

IoT-capable hydraulic power unit ensures efficient production

With the newly developed, intelligent CytroBox unit, Rexroth combines the benefits of hydraulics with low energy consumption and software-based functions. The integrated CytroConnect IoT service ensures higher availability and avoids unplanned downtimes. With this IoT service, operators can monitor operating statuses and plan maintenance in a cost-effective manner. As a result, fluid technology has taken a further step towards the factory of the future.

The digitalization of mechanical and plant engineering means more than decentralized intelligence, integrated sensors and connectivity. This applies to hydraulics too. With its power density and immunity to impacts and vibrations, hydraulics plays a central role as an important drive technology in Industry 4.0 too. The compact CytroBox unit is revolutionizing hydraulic pressure supply. CytroBox is a modular hydraulic power unit for the medium performance range from 7.5 kW to 30 kW. It comprises optimally tailored, impressively compact components. Compared to previous units, considerable amounts of space can be saved.

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75% less oil

One of CytroBox’s unique selling points is it compactness. This is possible because the hydraulic power unit can be integrated into a factory like a control cabinet, i.e. upright. The tank no longer supports all other components – Rexroth developed a special supporting structure for this purpose. In addition, a degassing flow-optimized tank is used. On the basis of extensive CFD simulations, the developers improved the tank geometry so skillfully that the new unit needs only a quarter of the oil required by classic designs: instead of 600 liters, 150 liters are now enough – with at least the same service life. The drive unit – a component which usually takes up a large amount of space in hydraulic power units – is equally compact. The asynchronous servo motor has been replaced by a synchronous servo motor. This is the most efficient motor design, producing the same torque even though it is 80 to 90% smaller. The manifold too was redesigned: thanks to 3D printed sand cores, the block including the internal flow geometry is now cast. As a result of this flow-optimized inner structure, less material and space are required. Thanks to all these measures, the CytroBox has a footprint of just 0.5 square meters instead of one and a half to two square meters. This represents a saving of up to 75%. On top of this, there are energy savings of up to 80% as well as a 10 dB(A) reduction in noise emissions. As a result, noise emissions are lower than 75 dB(A).

Connected for the factory of the future

In the CytroBox, machine manufacturers will find a ready-configured drive controller with numerous integrated functions. Various sensors provide information on the current filter, oil or drive status. The collected sensor data are bundled via IO-LinkMaster and pre-processed by the drive controller so that they can be integrated flexibly into modern machine designs. This means that the CytroBox is IoT-ready.

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CytroConnect Monitor

With the CytroConnect digital service, operators have all information regarding the CytroBox at their fingertips at all times – whether it be information regarding the standardized visualization of the component and operating status or chargeable IoT services such as forthcoming maintenance work and predictive maintenance analyses using Rexroth’s Online Diagnostics Network (ODiN).

The data collected are transferred to the browser-based CytroConnect Monitor web dashboard via Multi-Ethernet or 4G-LTE. As a result, operators can be kept up to date regarding the current operating status and key status indicators on any end device (tablet, smartphone, PC). This plug and play service is free of charge and can be used without additional installation work. CytroConnect is implemented in the CytroBox as standard.

Greater availability thanks to additional analysis functions

In addition to the CytroBox’s automatic status monitoring, maintenance personnel and maintenance managers can add extra solutions for various applications as add-ons. These pay-per-use payment models include additional IoT analysis tools and can be subscribed to on a monthly basis.

For optimizing maintenance processes, the CytroConnect Maintain module offers access to historical sensor data as well as messages if maintenance is required or in the event of critical operating statuses. Pre-defined and custom rules allow customers to improve their maintenance strategy on an ongoing basis. Customers benefit from scalable software solutions from the Bosch IoT portfolio such as the Nexeed Production Performance Manager and the integrated know-how of the Rexroth domain specialists. The Nexeed Production Performance Manager is a condition monitoring software solution for systematic production optimization.

CytroConnect_Addons.jpg

CytroConnect Maintain

With CytroConnect Maintain, data concerning the most important components for reliability and operating life (the hydraulic oil and the drive unit) are assessed. Comprehensive insights into the correlation between the speed of the servo motor and the flow allow the monitoring of system leakage, while correlations between motor data and the operating pressure allow conclusions regarding drive behavior. The leakage sensor, temperature and level sensor, particle sensor, water sensor and oxygen sensor are additional data sources which can be used to make a status diagnosis.

Planning predictive maintenance efficiently

A further add-on, CytroConnect Predict, uses the machine learning algorithms of the Rexroth Online Diagnostics Network (ODiN) for a predictive analysis of the system. With this IoT service, the power curves for a wide range of components are recorded for data analysis purposes. In the event of deviations, the system automatically calculates the expected remaining operating life of the relevant component and informs the operator immediately via a push message. As a result, predictive maintenance application cases can be taken into account predictively in the operator’s maintenance plans, thus ensuring maximum availability.

Conclusion

This new form of hydraulics is energy-efficient, quiet, space-saving and intelligent. With the integrated CytroConnect IoT service, the CytroBox offers anything from transparent, efficient machine monitoring to intelligent predictive maintenance measures. Thanks to the CytroBox, fluid technology is now one step closer to the factory of the future.

www.cytroconnect.com

www.boschrexroth.com/cytro

 

cropped-cmafh-logo-with-tagline-caps.pngCMA/Flodyne/Hydradyne is an authorized Bosch Rexroth distributor in Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa and Northern Indiana.

In addition to distribution, we design and fabricate complete engineered systems, including hydraulic power units, electrical control panels, pneumatic panels & aluminum framing. Our advanced components and system solutions are found in a wide variety of industrial applications such as wind energy, solar energy, process control and more.

TIME IS MONEY: ENGINEERING FOR LARGE POWER UNITS REDUCED TO FIVE DAYS

Time and cost savings through standardization and proven designs

Faster, simpler, more productive and cost-effective: Rexroth’s new modular system called ABMAXX speeds up the engineering and commissioning of large hydraulic power units in projects designed to modernize existing systems or construct new ones. The hydraulics specialists are able to create a quote complete with a hydraulic circuit diagram, a parts list, a 3D model and dimensions all within a maximum of five working days. As such, system manufacturers and end users can reduce engineering lead times alone by 80 %. The pre-configured ABMAXX modules are composed of highly available standard components. The modular approach reduces costs by up to 35 % and increases operational availability.

When constructing new or modernizing existing steelworks and rolling mills, large-scale presses and test systems or the central media supply of factories, hydraulics is and will continue to be the key drive technology both now and in the future on account of its high power density, robustness and durability. Thanks to the wide range of components available, there is plenty of scope for designing tailored solutions. In the past, system manufacturers and major end users defined their own standards which they implemented with their own resources in development. In light of ever increasing cost pressure and a global shortage of qualified specialists, these days they are increasingly scrutinizing that approach. Their main goal is to achieve pressure and quantity as cost-effectively as possible.

This is where Bosch Rexroth’s modular system ABMAXX comes in. The company is the first hydraulics manufacturer to come up with a modular solution with which system manufacturers and end users can significantly reduce the complexity of engineering large power units for 24/7 operations. On the one hand, it enables them to take advantage of all the economic benefits of cross-manufacturer standardization yet, on the other hand, the modular design provides ample opportunity for coming up with application-specific solutions.

Three pressure ratings and five modules

The concept initially covers tank sizes ranging from 2,000 to 12,500 l. With its three pressure ratings, namely 160, 210 and 315 bar, the concept satisfies the trend for higher operating pressures, thus ensuring it will be fit for the future. Achievable flows currently range from 345 l/min to 2,160 l/min. These basic conditions meet the typical requirements of numerous large plants.

In order to transform the benefits of standardization into shorter project lead times, Rexroth has defined five modules: tank, pump block, circulation unit, cooling and filter unit, and safety controls. Each module is based on proven constructions with a tried-and-tested design. As such, Rexroth is able to considerably reduce the risk of initial errors in the construction.

Simplify the design – Up to 80 % time savings in engineering: Offer in a maximum of five working days

The benefits of standardization and modularization are clear to see at the project planning phase. These days, depending on the level of complexity involved, planning customized individual power units in line with relevant company standards can take four to eight weeks. Rexroth is able to whittle this phase down to a maximum of five working days with its modular system ABMAXX. Rexroth is able to provide 3D models complete with dimensions and parts lists as well as the hydraulic circuit diagram and a quote all based on the customer’s specifications within just one week. This shortens the engineering effort by up to 80 %. This enables designers to save valuable time, which they can use on their projects, and enables system manufacturers to shorten the quote phase.

Streamline the installation – Up to 35 % lower costs through standardization

In comparison to using completely newly designed large power units each time, system manufacturers and end users achieve between up to 35 % direct cost savings on account of modularization and standardization. Internal costs are also reduced thanks to shorter project lead times and shorter time to market for system manufacturers. End users can also use individual ABMAXX modules such as the pump block in order to modernize their systems step by step and improve energy efficiency, for example. The wide range of Sytronix variable-speed pump drives is also able to unlock considerable potential here for reducing power consumption based on demand. Tried-and-tested safety controls help designers to comply with corresponding safety regulations and documentation requirements in line with standards. The choice of standard components also reduces delivery times and cuts costs.

Through its global production network, Rexroth also ensures high local added value and a quick response to customer requirements. Competence centers for power units construction in Europe, Asia and the Americas cover all major regions with short distances.

Maximize the productivity – Latest technology for maximum efficiency

At ABMAXX, Rexroth uses latest technology for all components and the hydraulic design. The components set standards in terms of dynamics and life time. Proven design principles increase productivity through high repeat accuracy and energy efficiency. The wide range of variable-speed pump drives in the Sytronix family opens up considerable potential for reducing energy consumption as required. This reduces life cycle costs sustainably.

With the three pressure stages up to 315 bar, the concept meets the current state of the art, but already reflects the trend towards higher working pressures.

Minimize the downtime – User and maintenance friendliness increases availability

The modules have been designed so as to ensure optimum component accessibility. What’s more, standardization reduces the required maintenance and servicing over the entire life cycle as the standard components used are available at short notice and will be part of the product range over the long term. The modules are composed of highly available Rexroth standard components. They are designed to deal with harsh environmental conditions including humidity, heat, dust, contamination and vibration.

The components are designed to work equally well with mineral oil as with water-based media such as (HFC) and synthetic water-free fluids (HFD). As such, Rexroth’s axial piston pumps achieve the same service life regardless of the media involved.

The pump block and the circulation unit are fundamentally equipped with stand-by units in order to guarantee maximum availability.  The pump block and the circulation unit are always equipped with stand-by units for uninterrupted 24/7 operation.

First power units already in use

Bosch Rexroth has already made several ABMAXX as complete power units and individual modules for modernization projects. System manufacturers for metallurgical plants and operators of steelworks and rolling mills are among the first users. However, potential applications exist across all sectors of industry as well as in large-scale projects.

 

cropped-cmafh-logo-with-tagline-caps.pngCMA/Flodyne/Hydradyne is an authorized Bosch Rexroth distributor in Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa and Northern Indiana.

In addition to distribution, we design and fabricate complete engineered systems, including hydraulic power units, electrical control panels, pneumatic panels & aluminum framing. Our advanced components and system solutions are found in a wide variety of industrial applications such as wind energy, solar energy, process control and more.

Using Photoelectric Sensors in High Ambient Temperatures

Photoelectric sensors with laser and red-light are widely used in all areas of industrial automation. A clean, dust-free and dry environment is usually essential for the proper operation of photoeyes, however, they can be the best choice in many dirty and harsh applications. Examples of this are raw steel production in steel mills and further metallurgical processes down to casting and hot-rolling.

Cutting of billets at casting – Photo: M.Münzl
Cutting of billets at casting – Photo: M.Münzl

Photoelectric sensors are especially useful in these environments thanks to their long sensing distance and their ability to detect objects independent of their material.

Most photoelectric sensors are approved to work in ambient temperatures of 55 to 60 °C. The maximum temperature range of these sensors is most often limited by the specifications of the optical components of the sensor, like the laser-diodes, but by taking certain precautions photoelectric sensors can provide optimal use in much hotter applications.

Maximize the distance
In steel production many parts of the process are accompanied by high ambient temperatures. Liquid steel and iron have temperatures from 1400 to 1536 °C. Material temperature during continuous casting and hot-rolling are lower but still between 650 and 1250°C.

The impact of heat emission on the sensors can be reduced significantly by placing the sensor as far from the target object as possible, something you can’t do with inductive sensors which have a short range. Very often the remote mounting will allow the sensor to operate at room temperature.

If you intend to detect quite small objects with high precision, the maximum distance for the installation might be limited. For this purpose chemical resistant glass fibers are suitable and can handle temperatures up to 250 °C. These pre-fabricated fiber optic assemblies can be easily attached to the sensor. The sensor itself can be mounted on a cooler and protected place.

Detect Glowing Metals
If you want to reliably detect red-hot or white glowing steel parts with temperatures beyond 700 °C, you won’t be able to use standard laser or red-light sensors. Red-hot steel emits light at the same wavelength that it is used by photoelectric sensors. This can interfere with the function of the sensor. In such applications you need to use sensors which operate based on infrared light.

Add Protection

Sensor enclosure and protective cable sleeve
Sensor enclosure and protective cable sleeve

At many locations in the steel production process, the extensive heat is only temporary. In a hot rolling mill, a slab runs through a rougher mill multiple times before it continues to a multi-stage finishing mill stand to be rolled to the final thickness. After that the metal strip runs into the coiler to be winded up.
This process runs in sequence, and the glowing material is only present at each stage of production for a short time. Until a new slab runs out of the reheating furnace, temperatures normalize.

Standard sensors can work in these conditions, but you do run the risk of even temporary temperature hikes causing sensor failure and then dreaded downtime. To protect photoelectric sensors against temporary overheating, you can use a protective enclosure. These can provide mechanical and thermal protection to the sensors which often have plastic bodies. Additional protection can be achieved when a heat resistant sleeve is used around the cable.

Photoelectric sensors do have their limits and are not suitable for all applications, even when precautions are taken. Ask yourself these questions when deciding if they can be the right solution for your high temperature applications.

  • Which distance between the hot object and sensor can be realized?
  • What is the maximum temperature at this location?
  • How long will the sensor be exposed to the highest heat levels during normal operation and at breakdown?