Technical report

Jack of all trades in a miniature format

New light barriers and diffuse reflective sensors from di-soric with IO-Link, meeting high expectations where space is limited

The optical diffuse reflective sensors and light barriers from the O-21 Miniature IO-Link series from di-soric really show off their strengths in places where it is especially tight and installation space is limited. These robust sensors can detect the location and position of small and quickly moving objects. They are primarily used in automation applications in robotics, packaging, assembly and handling technology, as well as laboratory automation applications. Process-reliable and practical regardless of the surface quality and with the highest functional reserve. 

di-soric Serie O-21 – Einweglichtschranke OS21-OE21

"Size counts!" is used in many areas of the consumer goods industry as a promotional marketing argument. More and more machine and equipment manufacturers are now demanding compact solutions: Floorspace and storage areas cost money. Intelligent system designs are characterized, among other things, by the fact that all functions, including storage and feeds, are housed on a reduced footprint in a manner that is as efficient and space-saving as possible. 

It is frequently the case that there is limited space available for the sensor technology when planning systems and designing automation solutions. In many cases, the main features of the system have already been designed before the engineers give any thought to where and at what location sensors can be used to monitor the material flow as well as the presence of components and objects. Over the last few decades, sensor manufacturers have been gradually adapting their products to fit into the increasingly narrow space and installation dimensions in these machines. That is why Urbach-based company di-soric has been offering a wide range of very small, high-performance and IO-Link-capable sensors that can operate reliably in very tight spaces for many years now. 

With the new O-21 Miniature IO-Link series, equipment manufacturers can choose from diffuse reflective sensors and light barriers with four functional principles. They ensure the process-reliable handling of location, assembly, and material flow control tasks. These miniature sensors can be used in restricted spaces and for installation conditions in which conventional sensors simply cannot be integrated. These optical miniature sensors with a red light LED are robust with dimensions of just 28 x 8 x 14 millimeters (HWD). They can detect small objects, positions, and minimal differences in height practically independent of the surface. Thanks to the integrated IO-Link interface, setting and monitoring sensor functions is easy, creating the ideal conditions for integration into efficient Industry 4.0 designs. 

The presence and correct location of injection-molded parts need to be monitored on a line robot equipped with several pneumatic grippers: For this purpose, each gripper is equipped with a OH21 retroreflective diffuse sensor from the O-21 Miniature series. It can even determine the precise location of dark parts with its high-performance background suppression. This ensures that it can meet the high demands regarding cycle times as well as downtime-free process flows. The desired scan widths can be quickly and easily set in millimeter increments between 10-80 mm via IO-Link. Because of its small design, this sensor can be quickly attached in the gripper in a space-saving manner via a stable metal fastening.

The OR21 retroreflective sensor stands for the highest precision and short response times where pharmaceutical or cosmetic items need to be labeled at high cycle rates: The sensor detects the edges of the respective container, controls the switch signal for the labeling process, and ensures consistent high-quality labeling. The OR21 retroreflective sensor is ideal for installation in narrow conveyor sections because it has a minimal reflector distance of merely 20 mm and can be operated with very small reflectors. Thanks to IO-Link, sensitivity can be set very easily in percentage increments. 

When perforated materials such as stamped contacts or objects with cut-outs are fed through automatic assembly machines, a continual material flow must also be ensured in these cases. The OT21 energetic retroreflective sensor has an expanded light spot (Ø 18 mm at 180 mm distance): It suppresses holes or breaks, but still ensures a reliable feed. 

In laboratory automation, vessels pass through narrow conveyor sections as well as various stations and analysis units. More and more, they are being moved by handling applications, and the containers must be positioned exactly at the respective interfaces. This is a job for the OS21 and OE21 Miniature through-beam sensors: These sensors are especially space-saving and can be integrated into guide rails. The pair of light barriers make sure that vessels are always positioned exactly even in cramped spaces. 

Equipment manufacturers, fitters, and operators all profit from the superb utility of these IO-Link-equipped, optical diffuse reflective sensors and light barriers from the di-soric O-21 Miniature series. IO-Link supports the identification, configuration, and diagnostics of O-21 series sensors. Using a configuration matched to the application case, the productivity of sensors in machines and systems can be optimized. Thanks to IO-Link, O-21 series sensors can be set easily via the control system without manual operation. The operator always has an overview of the status and functional safety of the senors being used due to the IO-Link diagnostics functions as well as the easy to read status LEDs on the sensor.