Apr 28, 2020

The SICK W4 Inox is SICK’s first stainless steel photoelectric Inox sensor with on-board Smart Tasks that can be used even in the harshest hygienic Sterilise-in-Place (SIP) and Clean-in-Place (CIP) environments.

The miniature photoelectric sensor combines stainless steel-shielded durability with in-built remote sensor intelligence for the wet area of processing plants, filling lines and packaging machines in the food, beverage and pharmaceuticals industries.

The IP69K-rated W4 Inox brings the latest advances in on-board sensor processing power, called ‘Smart Tasks’, to fully-hygienic environments. Smart Tasks are intelligent logic functions with which the sensors can autonomously control process oriented automation tasks such as counting products, checking sealing caps and pack sizes, and switching actuators. David Hannaby, SICK’s UK Product Manager for Presence Detection explains:

“The SICK W4 Inox offers all the long-life durability you would expect from a high-class SICK Inox sensor. With a housing made from extremely resistant stainless steel, the SICK W4 Inox is designed to be completely impervious to water ingress or aggressive cleaning media, even in the most challenging conditions.

“Regardless of whether you are dealing with a CIP or SIP processes, manual exterior cleaning such as in a filling line, or sterilizing pharmaceutical sterile boxes with hydrogen peroxide, the W4 can be relied on to keep on performing during a long life, as can the all-important connectors and accessories. 

“Part of the trend towards ‘edge computing’ capability, Smart Tasks remove processing time and load from PLCs or other higher-level controls. The W4 Inox’s ability to operate defined tasks autonomously and remotely will therefore be particularly attractive in high-speed food processing plants, filling and packaging lines. It offers a chance to improve production efficiency and enable greater process responsiveness including more frequent product changeovers.”

Smart Tasks operate logic functions that process the detection and measurement signals from the sensor, linking them with additional binary switching signals from an external sensor, where necessary. The Smart Task then uses this data to generate and output process signals from the sensor needed for the task in hand. 

For example, the SICK W4 Inox Smart Sensor can detect and measure objects and gaps in a flow of bottles on a filling line, or goods to be multi-packed on a secondary packaging line, directly in the sensor using the “object and gap monitor” Smart Task. Rather than the evaluation being completed in the PLC, W4 Inox alerts the control only if there are deviations from pre-set measurement values, while at the same time directly controlling the process autonomously e.g. to operate a diverter gate for quality-control rejects.

The W4 Inox’s “counting and debouncing” Smart Task enables a quick and simple completeness check, which can be an extra protection against errors that can result from PLC cycling time, for example while controlling bottle transport systems and during other high-speed processes. Smart Tasks for common processes are available as standard for the W4 Inox and more will become available during 2020, as well as being available on request from SICK.

The W4 Inox Smart Sensor with red light LED achieves highly reliably best-in-class performance in harsh environments. Immune to ambient light, and with excellent background suppression, it detects reflective, transparent, and jet-black objects with ease.

The SICK W4 Inox’s housing is made from 14435 / AISI 316L stainless steel and is manufactured using specialist injection-moulding techniques to ensure a continuous unibody housing structure and integrated plug connectors, together with optimized sealing for a flush, seamless and watertight construction. As a result, the tightness requirements according to IP67, IP68, and even IP69K are greatly exceeded.