The switch as an all-rounder
News 03.04.2019: A new generation of switches, which can also function as sensors and output devices, are changing industrial manufacturing in many areas.
CAPTRON’s two-hand control safeCAP is a concrete application of a switch like this, which supplies additional data to the machine control in the area of predictive maintenance.
The safeCAP is predestined for applications in industrial automation such as those where workers are exposed to a high risk of injury when working with presses and punches.
For safety reasons, these will only start operating when two switches are actuated simultaneously. It is self-evident how important it is for both switches to function flawlessly to ensure workers’ safety. This is where an intelligent, new-generation switch proves its superiority, and automatically reports minor faults as well, which means a reduction in down time.
The latest-generation of switches also allow for operating patterns that have so far only been seen on smartphones, but are now proving their value in industry as well. This means a different function can be activated in each case, depending on whether the user presses the switch once or twice in quick succession, or holds the switch down for longer period. Modern switches are also capable of learning certain sensitivities.
Given these characteristics, a large number of sectors can benefit from the potential of intelligent switches. In the area of transport, for instance, multiple aspects such as contamination and water detection, transmission of different communication protocols, as well as switching due to ice conditions are extremely relevant. The same applies for use in commercial and special-purpose vehicles, and in public and private buildings. Highly robust solutions that can also function reliably where high levels of contamination are present are often required in these instances.
The benefits of modern switches in the form of intelligent IoT devices are tangible in sectors such as industrial automation, plants and machinery, as well as in the foods and beverages industry. Large projects are already running in the logistics, e-commerce and warehouse management sectors, in which the switch not only delivers operating and status information to downstream IT systems but also provides operating instructions and notifications via its own mini display.
The potential of an intelligent switch can be fully utilized wherever it is completely integrated into downstream solutions that deal with production, that is, ERP or MES systems. A number of bus systems can be used, such as RS232, I/O link, CAN bus, Profinet, and TCP/IP.