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Smart sensors in the food industry

30 September 2020

The food industry often presents challenging environments for components and, in particular, for the sensors used in process control applications.

In addition, users’ expectations of sensor technology are continually increasing. These considerations mean that the future belongs to smart sensors that not only offer outstanding performance and reliability but also deliver substantial added value, says Andy Walker of ifm electronic.

Automation systems in the food manufacturing and processing sector rely on data from a huge number of sensors. The most important parameters monitored by these sensors include pressure, temperature, flow and level. Many of the specifications for these sensors are the same as those in any other process industry, but, in the food sector, hygienic design is often an additional and critical requirement. In some cases, the sensors must also be suitable for use in hazardous areas.

Sensors with added value

Many sensor products are now available in hygienic versions designed specifically for food industry applications, and manufacturers of these sensors are increasingly focusing their development efforts on applying innovative technology to provide added value for users of their products.

A good example of these innovations is a new generation of level sensors that operate on the guided wave radar (GWR) principle. GWR sensors are installed vertically at the top of a tank and emit high-frequency electromagnetic pulses that are guided downwards along a stainless steel rod. These pulses are then reflected from the surface of the medium, back towards the sensor. The transit time of the pulses is used to evaluate the distance to the surface and thus, the level in the tank. 

Read the full article in the October issue of DPA

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