How Contrast Sensors Improve Product Quality and Process Speed

Friday, September 25, 2020

There’s More to Contrast Sensors Than Meets the Eye

If you’re in one of the many industries where contrast sensors are needed to differentiate between two varying conditions, you’re also likely looking for solutions that help to improve this process altogether. Whether it’s to become more efficient, produce more accurate data, eliminate manual verification processes, or reduce operating costs, using contrast sensors that not only perform this important function but also add value to your processes has never been more paramount to success. 

While multiple industries slowed down during the pandemic, production is once again beginning to ramp up. Companies in the labeling industry are producing more products for their customers’ personal care and healthcare needs. The packaging industry is facing similar production increases as well, as retail sales are beginning to pick back up and online sales continue to increase — both which rely on strong packaging. And while consumer spending on various goods appears to be slowing, ensuring product quality is a key to success once demand begins to return.

In all of these industries and many others, contrast sensors play a pivotal role — not only in ensuring product quality but also in improving production efficiency and reducing waste and costs. Label manufacturers must ensure products have appropriate date codes and registration marks, packaging companies need to be able to detect products in-line that vary in opacity, and consumer goods producers (and even the automotive industry) need contrast sensors to detect surface sheens and conditions. 

There are countless applications for contrast sensors to make an impact on production and the bottom line. Let’s explore several ways that contrast sensors can truly become part of an advanced, streamlined quality assurance and process improvement program.

How Contrast Sensors Fit into a Greater Production Improvement Program

Sensor Variability Ensures Production Flexibility

There are a wide range of contrast sensors available in today’s market. But rather than use multiple sensors from different manufacturers for different products and sensing needs, it’s important to look for a manufacturer that produces a full line of contrast sensors for different applications and sample sizes. This ensures that you get the sensor you need for the product, material, or surface being scanned and those devices have similar functionality and output. The reason for this is to avoid variations across multiple sensors. While their scanning purposes vary, differences in device construction, function, and output can create problems elsewhere in your production line, such as in your control system.

Rapid Response Times Keep You Moving Forward

The last thing you need is a contrast sensor with a slow response time. If your sensors can’t keep up with your production demand, they’ll cause hiccups in production, trigger errors or inaccurate data, and even lead to quality issues. It’s critical that you use a sensor that provides lightning-fast response times. That, and the sensor should provide this rate of response regardless of the color or contrast of the target. If your process involves multiple different products, being able to sense contrast rapidly helps to prevent downtime, production delays, and the cost challenges associated with these problems.

Auto-Teach and Manual Adjustment for Application Precision

Depending on your environment and targets, you may need to adjust your contrast sensors so they continue providing accurate data and trigger the next step of production. But using one-size-fits-all sensors in a dynamic environment will only lead to inaccurate data and eventual quality problems. The ideal contrast sensor should provide you with options: manual adjustment for periodic calibration needs, or an auto-teach function for faster calibration. This keeps your production process flexible to changing conditions.

Adjustable Light Sources and Gain for Changing Surfaces

Similar to changing target types, the ability to adjust your contrast sensors to continue performing reliably against different color backgrounds is critical. If your products or materials being scanned change color using a sensor with a broad-spectrum LED light source means this variation will pose no challenges to your production process. It’ll be able to easily keep up with your high-speed production needs and continue providing accurate outputs that inform the next phase of operations.

Spot Size Options for Scanning Accuracy

Depending on your products or materials, you might only need a portion of the surface to be sensed. For example, in addition to sensing contrast, this type of sensor is also ideal for product counting purposes. Often, this can be achieved by sensing color only. A larger spot size may not be needed in this application. Rather than investing in a more expensive contrast sensor, you can choose a sensor with a smaller spot size — even as small as 0.5mm — to provide quick and accurate product detection. For other applications, you can choose a sensor that provides a larger spot size so more surface area is scanned.

See the Difference with the CNTX Sensor from EMX

Wherever contrast detection or product counting is needed, the CNTX sensor line has the sensor you’re looking for. Whether you’re looking to detect registration marks, confirm the presence of date codes, detect glossy surfaces, or sort products by color, CNTX offers high-resolution, high-speed detection speed your production line needs to meet growing demands with confidence.

A full portfolio of CNTX sensors are available with spot sizes ranging from 0.5mm to 3mm, various display options, sensitivity ranges, and gain selections — all with discrete NPN/PNP output. Easily integrated into your line to work with PLC systems, the CNTX contrast sensor provides the flexibility you need to consistently deliver quality, improve manufacturing processes, and make a positive impact on your bottom line.

Get in touch with us today to learn more about the CNTX sensor line. Want to know if it’ll work in your application? Request a free sample test here.