Process Automation Using ToF Smart Distance Sensors

Reliable sensors are required when automation is used in industrial processes. Previously, ToF (Time-of-flight) technology required complicated and lengthy integration processes, but now, ToF sensors come with an array of benefits.

Terabee has launched its first ToF distance sensor for industry in order to meet the needs of their customers, providing tremendous versatility in a compact, easy to install, and cost-effective package.

Automation is the future, with it getting smarter and more available. Sensors are utilized to monitor stock, detect, count, and sort objects and are an important component of industrial automation.1,2

Although margins are decreasing, companies are searching for ways to be more efficient and decrease costs. Businesses are now rapidly investigating how to automate their processes while side-stepping high set up costs and complicated systems.

A downfall is that many sensors are big and heavy, using up valuable space in facilities and creating a complex installation process. Additionally, several commercially available sensors are costly, ranging from €300-600 or higher. Most sensors have very defined applications, so many different sensors may be required to automate various parts of one process. 

ToF Sensors and Process Automation

Nowadays, automation is a well-established and popular practice in industry. Therefore, a fast and easy way to install sensors is required, which does not need extra support for integration in the existing environment.

Terabee has launched its first off-the-shelf ToF distance sensor with industrial communication protocols. The Terabee IND-TOF-1 smart distance sensor is easy to install and can meet the requirements of several automated industrial processes.5

Possible applications of the Terabee IND-TOF-1.

Figure 1. Possible applications of the Terabee IND-TOF-1. 

Six-in-one Smart Sensor For Modular Environments

The Terabee IND-TOF-1 has a rigorous in-house product testing process and therefore offers a simple, uncomplicated setup. It is Terabee’s first ToF distance sensor that uses industrial communication protocols with an M12 connector for reliable data communication utilizing an RS485 (Modbus) interface.5 

The Terabee IND-TOF-1 sensor.

Figure 2. The Terabee IND-TOF-1 sensor.

The sensor has six inbuilt operating modes. These modes have distance thresholds that can be programmed and set using teach-in buttons for fast and easy set-up. The inbuilt modes can be used to set specific trigger zones for proximity notification, object counting, movement detection, and several more uses.

Proximity notifications use a traditional NO/NC (0/24 V) switching output. Visual confirmation of distance threshold breaches, sensor power, and live data flow, is achieved through multi-colored LEDs which simplifies sensor configuration.5

The sensor is highly adaptable due to its fast setup time and six operating modes. It can meet the users’ needs throughout the process in a series of detection, monitoring, and distance sensing applications. The result of this is that the same sensor can be used for numerous applications within the same manufacture environment and it’s possible to change its role on demand when the workspace is reconfigured. Therefore, numerous different specialized sensors are no longer needed.5

Terabee IND-TOF-1
 

Terabee IND-TOF-1

 

Install Almost Anywhere

At 12.5 m, the Terabee IND-TOF-1 has a much longer range when compared to other sensors for indoor applications. It is remarkably compact in comparison to other sensors and has the ability to be installed in small spaces or complex environments. At a weight of 99 g, users do not have any problems positioning it precisely where it is needed. Additionally, it has robust IP65 rated casing which is water-resistant and dust-proof meaning it can be used outdoors and in applications that require washdowns.5

Similar to all other Terabee ToF solutions, the Terabee IND-TOF-1 includes eye-safe infrared light levels, so it can be used in different positions and angles without the worry of damage to anyone’s eyesight. Installation of the sensor can be completed vertically, horizontally, or at angles using a mounting bracket accessory for ideal flexibility.5

Intelligence in a Cost-Effective Package

On the 17th of October 2019, Terabee IND-TOF-1 was launched on the company website and throughout the reseller network. The sensor is extremely cost-effective and offers numerous features for extra versatility. A single unit is €180, a competitive price when compared with much simpler photoelectric sensors, but with the added benefit of providing added intelligence, including calibrated distance data. 

Terabee IND-TOF-1

 

References and Further Reading

  1. ‘The Internet of Things in the Industrial Sector’ — Mahmood Z, Springer, 2019
  2. ‘Industrial Automation and Robotics: An Introduction’ — Gupta AK, Arora SK, Riescher Westcott J, Mercury Learning & Information, 2016.
  3. Time-of-Flight Cameras: Principles, Methods and Applications’ — M. Hansard, S. Lee, O. Choi, R.P. Horaud, Springer, 2013.
  4. ‘Time of Flight Principle’
  5. https://www.terabee.com/time-of-flight-principle/
  6. ‘Terabee IND-TOF-1 - ToF distance sensor’
  7. https://www.terabee.com/shop/lidar-tof-range-finders/terabee-ind-tof-1/

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Terabee.

For more information on this source, please visit Terabee.

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