Learn about what kinds of ultrasonic sensors are available and which is best for your application.
Ultrasonic sensors are cost-effective and reliable way to both detect object presence and measure distance to objects. They fit this sweet spot between proximity sensors, which are inexpensive, but limited to a couple inches and laser distance sensors which cover a huge range but cost more. Ultrasonics fit right between these two and cover ranges up to three and a half meters. Ultrasonic sensors work in environments with smoke dust, fog, and steam things that can be difficult for optical sensors and laser distance sensors. This makes them ideal for applications, like when you have items coming down a conveyor that are different colors and textures. While optical sensors can give different answers for different colored items; Ultrasonics don't care what color the object is. This is especially true if the item is transparent like a stack of sheets of glass for example, ultrasonic sensors have no trouble measuring the height of the stack. While optical sensors can pass right through the transparent material. Ultrasonics work well for measuring the diameter of rolls of material and if the feed rate of that roll needs to maintain a certain amount of slack into the next machine ultrasonics are great for monitoring that to. Ultrasonics work well for fluid and bulk material level measurements. There's a whole special class of ultrasonic sensors designed specifically for fluid level measurement, that subject is covered in a separate set of videos dedicated to fluid level measurement. So the key benefits of ultrasonics are they detect small objects over long distances typically 50 millimetres to three and half meters, they're independent of target surface and texture. They were great with solid materials like metal, glass, wood, plastic, paper, cork, tissue, texels, bulk goods, sugar, flour, potatoes, liquids, water, oil, juices, etc. They're independent of target color, they're independent of noise things like changing light levels and temperature swings. They're independent of things like steam, fog, dust, high humidity. Things that can trip up an optical sensor ultrasonic sensors are solid-state so they have an almost unlimited and maintenance-free life span. In fact, if you look at the website you'll see they have a lifetime warranty and the best part is they fill that cost versus distance hole between proximity and laser distance sensors. Ultrasonic sensors can be broken up into three groups; One group that only does object detection so they only have discreet on/off outputs and you have a second group that does distance measuring so they only have an analog output. And then, of course you have a third group that has both the good news is there's only about a 15% difference in price between a sensor that does both and the least expensive minimal sensor. Selecting an ultrasonic sensor can be a little overwhelming with all the options, but the parametric search on the AutomationDirect website makes it easy. If I click on sensors, then ultrasonic sensors looks like there are almost 300 options today. If I narrow the results by clicking on ultrasonic sensors here, picking a sensing distance, and output type and that I want a quick disconnect and an NPN output. Then all of a sudden, I'm down to just one sensor. This parametric search makes selecting an ultrasonic sensor super easy and don't forget to order mounting brackets for these they're only around $,1 which saves you time and expense of making your own. Well that ought to be enough to get you up and running with ultrasonic sensors. Check out the videos that show you step-by-step, how to connect these to a PLC and how to program a PLC to use them.