Upgrading facilities to Industry 4.0 standards is one of the most significant trends in the manufacturing industry today. To do this, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) are pushing hard to renovate their facilities with connected, automated devices and machines to create greater efficiency and cost savings. Smarter devices can ease the transition.
For example, force measurement sensors play a critical role in a large amount of equipment found on a manufacturing floor. For Industry 4.0, force measurement solutions providers are integrating actuators that move and control a mechanism or system with load cells to create fully automated force test systems. With the integrated sensor/actuator, a force measurement system not only creates the force to conduct the test but can be designed to do so automatically within a test cell on a production line.
An example of force measurement testing automation in practice is in the mobile phone and tablet industry. Manufacturers can use a force sensor like an Interface ConvexBT miniature–sized load button load cell to test the pressure sensitivity of a touch screen. By using an actuator, phone manufacturers can set up an automated test line with an integrated actuator/load button load cell to test each screen as they go across the line. This combination helps the manufacturer quickly and automatically conduct the test, while personnel can be devoted to monitoring and analyzing data or used in other areas on the production floor, rather than having to initiate and oversee the test.
The relationship between force sensors and actuators can also be flipped in Industry 4.0 facilities. Using force sensors placed around the production line to measure pressure can detect when a product has moved to a different point in the process. These force sensors can then send a signal to the actuator to carry out a task such as raising or lowering a conveyor or even self-correct a container handling material as a load shifts.
In either case, the combination of smart force sensors and actuators can help users to achieve the goal of complete autonomy.