Sick: Manufacturers demand more intelligence on their sensors

By Jenny Eagle contact

- Last updated on GMT

Sick sensors LMS511 Bulkscan laser scanner
Sick has re-released its LMS511 Bulkscan laser scanner with more accessories for easier maintenance.

The German based manufacturer makes sensors for industrial applications and has added a selection of interfaces including six configurable digital outputs, two digital inputs, analogue inputs/outputs and Ethernet interfaces.



Product manager, Darren Pratt has worked for Sick for 11 years. He told FoodProductionDaily the challenge is keeping people up to speed with changes and technology on the market.

It’s a continuous process as manufacturers are looking for more efficient means of improving their production​,” he said.

The laser scanner is only one part of the business as we cover all sensory technology in factory automation. It is evolving all the time​.

As an organisation 9-10% of what we make goes back into R&D. We invest heavily into this to stay ahead of our competitors. The biggest trend we see is integrating more intelligence to the sensors to provide the end user with more information about how it is performing, where it is within its life cycle and more diagnostic data for preventative maintenance before a failure occurs​.”

The LMS Bulkscan looks at the volume and mass throughput of grain, potato, root crops, vegetable and fruit. 

Fixed above the conveyor it can track the profile of the materials without any contact and provide data in less than 15 millisecond increments. It works in temperatures from -30o​C and +50o​C.

Belt weighers

Pratt said the LMS Bulkscan is a low-maintenance alternative to mechanical belt weighers because it is wear free and does not need regular calibration. 

The technology was launched18 months ago on the market but certain accessories weren’t available then for the end user​,” he added.

Accessories allow for easier integration into existing plants and the bulk scan unit itself has an Ethernet interface which will enable users to connect analogue signals to the bulk scan both input and output, which means signals are more compatible with existing plant equipment​.

The bulk scanner doesn’t differentiate between potatoes or vegetable going down the conveyor or construction materials such as sand, gravel, cement or mining materials. Its application is quite broad.

Mechanical wires

"It is more or less the only technology on the market to gather volume metric flow information in a wear free way – for example, there are no mechanical parts in contact with the process, whereas traditional types of systems for volumetric flow are a belt weigher which is subject to mechanical wires​.”

The system uses Sick's LMS infra-red laser scanning technology. The Bulkscan compares the material profile with the reference scan of the empty conveyor and the resulting cross-sectional area of the material is computed.

The use of a Class 1 laser means it is safe for operatives without the need for safety enclosures. The Sick LMS511 Bulkscan is in a compact (155x155x159mm) IP67, weather proof, vibration-resistant housing, with an in-built heater which switches on automatically when the temperature drops below 5°C .

Related topics: Regulation and safety

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