Stainless-steel photoelectric sensors with Smart Task functions

Nov 14, 2019

Tough on the outside, smart on the inside: The W4 Inox Smart Sensor is the optimal choice in all situations where objects have to be detected under harsh conditions, sensors have to be as small as possible and extremely robust, and the user attaches importance to the use of components which are both intelligent and able to communicate – thus forming a future-proof automation concept. The result: highest material durability and remote sensor intelligence in the wet area of processing plants, filling lines and packaging machines within the food and pharmaceuticals industries.

Systematically designed for the harshest cleaning cycles and greatly exceeding the IP69k requirements, the photoelectric sensors of this product family W4 Inox feature intelligent logic and control functions with which the sensors can independently trigger process-oriented automation tasks such as counting parts, thoroughly checking sealing caps and pack sizes, and activating actuators. Owing to its demonstrable best-in-class detection capabilities, the W4 Inox Smart Sensor with red light LED provides the highest level of reliability in a harsh environment. It achieves this, among other reasons, due to its unique ambient light immunity, its suitability for shiny, transparent and jet black objects, and – when it comes to the photoelectric proximity sensors – due to its three-dimensional blanking of interference signals from the detection background.



Smart Tasks – Added value features ensure future-proof sensor solutions 


The sensors of the Smart Sensor portfolio from SICK – including the W4 Inox Smart Sensor – not only detect objects but also gather and process data related to objects and processes, as well as machine-related status, process and diagnostics data. They convert this data into information and exchange it with automation systems and high-ranking control levels and applications via IO-Link. At the same time, the SICK smart sensors are able to utilize their remote intelligence directly for additional Smart Task functions. The logic functions integrated in the sensors make it possible to carry out defined tasks autonomously and remotely, meaning that automation systems and networks of processing plants, filling lines, and packaging machines in the food and pharmaceuticals industries can be relieved effectively in terms of edge computing.


The remote computing power of Smart Sensors, combined with their flexible programmability, lays the foundation for Smart Tasks. The W4 Inox Smart Sensor is thus able to detect and measure objects and gaps, for example in a flow of bottles or a packaging line, directly in the sensor using the “object and gap monitor”. The Smart Sensor sends corresponding signals to the control if there are deviations from set target values – otherwise, there will be “radio silence” that protects the network between the sensor and the automation system. At the same time, the connectivity of the intelligent sensor offers the option to directly control an actuator using its signal delay and buffering functions and thereby to manage the removal process autonomously – without having to go via the control and the network. With the “speed and length measurement”, sensors of the W4 Inox Smart Sensor product family can detect, independently classify, sort, and control an actuator to release object speeds and formats. The “counting and debouncing” Smart Task enables a quick and simple completeness check – without incorrect counting as can be caused by the cycle time of the control in bottle transport systems and other high-speed processes.




Equipped for extreme challenges


With its high material resistance, absolute imperviousness, and structural design, the W4 Inox Smart Sensor perfectly meets the requirements of the most challenging application conditions. The housing is made of extremely resistant stainless steel 14435 / AISI 316L, and its miniaturized construction enables the sensors to be integrated into space-critical machine environments. The materials is suitable for contact with food as well as being extremely durable and resistant to media. The housing is manufactured in a powder metallurgical injection molding process which enables a continuous, unibody housing structure to be made with integrated plug connectors. In addition, an optimized sealing technology – which SICK continuously develops – is used to enable operation in wet areas for the foods, beverages and pharmaceutical sector. The LED, the operating element – integrated into the housing in the form of a flexible stainless-steel membrane – and the specially coated front screen are also integrated in the housing in a flush, largely seamless and absolutely watertight manner. As a result, the tightness requirements according to IP67, IP68, and even IP69k are greatly exceeded. 


Photoelectric sensors in wash-down design


The photoelectric sensors and accessories of the W4 Inox Smart Sensor product family feature a wash-down design. The smooth all-round surface of the W4 Inox Smart Sensor has no edges, corners or areas where dirt or bacteria could accumulate, making them easy to clean without residues. However, cleaning agents run down slowly, allowing them to develop their full effect on the sensor surface.
Regardless of whether you are dealing with a CIP process (cleaning in place) or manual exterior cleaning such as in a filling line, sterilizing pharmaceutical sterile boxes with hydrogen peroxide H2O2, or using caustic sprays and vapors in wet chemical processes for the production of solar cells – the sensors of the W4 Inox Smart Sensor product family ensure reliable function over many years of use.