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Smart sensors ensuring efficient machine communication in Industry 4.0

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article image SICK’s smart sensors ensure they provide exactly the right level of performance for every application
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Networked production and control processes in complex machine environments, enabled by smart sensors, represent a critical component of Industry 4.0. Smart sensors already support dynamic, real-time-optimised, and self-organised industry processes by recording real operational statuses, turning these into digital data, and sharing the data automatically with the process controller.

The data and information generated by smart sensors go beyond conventional switching signals or measured process parameters. The sensors share the data with the controller using technologies such as IO-Link, and in turn, receive commands and parameter data directly from the controller, allowing them to adapt constantly to new requirements.

Smart sensors, therefore, are able to positively impact efficiency, increase flexibility, and enable better planning security for preventative system maintenance.

The added value of sensor communication depends significantly on the quality and stability of the delivered data. To create the best-possible basis for a future-ready automation system, SICK has equipped its smart sensors with special properties, ensuring they provide exactly the right level of performance for every application.

‘Enhanced sensing’ delivers reliable detection and measurement results, directly impacting system throughput. For the ‘efficient communication’ feature, smart sensors can communicate with higher-level control systems via IO-Link, making dynamic configuration changes as well as plug-and-play device replacements in plants a reality.

The ‘Diagnostics’ functions encompass automated sensor self-monitoring and process parameter monitoring for preventative device and system maintenance. ‘Smart tasks’ offer intelligent additional sensor functions as well as direct networking of multiple sensors to manage partial applications faster, more efficiently, and more cost-effectively.

From smart sensors to smart application solutions

Smart sensors are designed for gradual increases in efficiency in existing tasks, such as parameter downloading for fast retooling as well as simple device replacement, configuration management, and condition monitoring, helping open up new potential incrementally. The integrated additional functions and the option of relocating processing power from the automation system to field devices, represent a future-proof approach to making automation networks more efficient and helping them deliver better performance.

It is now possible to generate new, higher-quality information that goes beyond object detection, accommodating the application in question. Where necessary, this information can be generated in combination with another sensor and provided for higher-level systems (PLC, ERP, and cloud systems).

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