SICK, Inc. has recently released an update to their inductive proximity line with the family of IMC (SICK IMC)  “smart” sensors.  The IMC sensor adds intelligent functionality by leveraging an IO-Link v1.1 interface. This allows for a variety of configurable options not seen in previous inductive sensors. The new features expand the range of applications that can be solved with what is usually considered a “simple sensor.”

The IMC sensor has two configurable outputs that can be used as two teachable switching points. It can also communicate the state of four “outputs” via IO-Link.  Beyond simple presence detection, the multiple switching points can help you determine if an object is closer or farther from the sensor than desired. This effectively replaces the work of up to four standard sensors. Previously, it would have required precise manual positioning to achieve the same effect.

Increased Diagnostic Capabilities

Sensors with IO-Link help you improve your machine’s diagnostic capabilities, including sensor self-diagnosis.  Multiple alarms can be configured to be sent to the machine-level control. It indicates internal malfunctions and even sensor temperature. If the IMC is embedded in part of the machine (for example, a motor housing) this temperature measurement could be trended. It can even help detect a failing component beyond the sensor itself.  Machine downtime is costly, so detecting faults before they happen is crucial.

Integrated Logic for Enhanced Machine Automation

Built into the IMC is one user-configurable multi-function input.  This external signal can come from another sensor, enabling with it additional binary logic within the IMC in the form of  an AND, OR or XOR logic gate.

Through the use of SICK’s SOPAS software, a user can also configure timers and counters to further enhance logic capabilities of the IMC. By placing simple logic right in the sensor, on the machine, the IMC helps to reduce the amount of information required to be sent to and processed in the machine-level controller. This also reduces the amount of cabling required.

Example Applications

The images below illustrate a few example applications that can be solved with the IMC. Previously, multiple “standard” proximity sensors may have been required. Find more information on the SICK IMC sensor at SICK’s website, here.


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