Smart sensors ensuring efficient machine communication in Industry 4.0

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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