Flexible Production Lines Require Flexible Tooling

Also called an end effector, end of arm tooling (EOAT) systems are devices that are attached to the end of a robotic arm to enable it to interact with its environment or take the required action on a production line. These devices are common in industrial automation environments where robotics handle repetitive tasks that require precision and accuracy — giving employees time to handle higher-value work and tasks.

In addition to end of arm tooling like grippers, welding torches, vacuums, and magnetic systems, sensors can also be used for a variety of automation needs. Typically, these sensors are integrated into production lines in a fixed position so that the beam they emit can pass through objects on a conveyor belt or other system with consistency and accuracy. However, not every need or environment is the same.

Your organization may have unique and changing products moving on a line frequently, thereby preventing the ability for equipment to be changed out easily. Perhaps the environment is such that changing conditions require the sensors to change positions at different times or as circumstances change. Or, you might need to take measurements or capture readings at different positions for the same product.

Regardless of the situation, it doesn’t change the need for sensors in your end of arm tooling. What matters most here is the following:

  • Finding the right type of sensor
  • Ensuring it integrates with EOAT
  • Ensuring it’s accurate and reliable
  • Capturing the data you need

Let’s explore each of these needs and how the industrial automation sensors at EMX Industries deliver success in virtually every application.

Identifying Sensor Type

First and foremost, what are you sensing? Are you trying to detect and verify color? Do you need to measure or validate contrast? Do you need to measure luminescence or identify markings? The application will naturally govern the sensor type you use. At EMX Industries, we offer a variety of industrial sensor types to meet your needs.

  • ColorMax (color) — Our ColorMax line of sensors is designed to identify colors and measure color intensity. With lightning-fast sample speed, various spot sizes, and adjustable operating ranges, as well as two options depending on the material, the ColorMax line is a proven industry leader in reliable color verification for multiple industries. Explore our ColorMax models here.

  • UVX (luminescence) — The UVX luminescence sensor line can validate the presence of virtually any material that contains a luminescent tracer. Whether you need to verify markings, identify adhesives or inks, or even detect luminescent threads, the UVX sensor line features various models with high-speed detection, operating ranges greater than any competing sensors, and auto and manual teaching modes for simple or fine configuration. Learn more about UVX here.

  • CNTX (contrast) — One of our fastest sensors, the CNTX contrast line of sensors features a small spot size and industry-leading 40kHz switching speeds. The sensor provides a numerical display of 50 grayscale levels, allowing you to accurately detect colors, registration marks, surface finishes, and more with unparalleled speed and precision. Various models are available depending on your application. Learn more about the CNTX line of sensors here.

Integrating Into Production Lines

As mentioned earlier, every production line has its unique processes, equipment, setup, control systems, software, and other aspects that govern how materials and products move through it. So when it comes to integrating sensors on end of arm tooling, ensuring you have the right components is essential. That’s why each of the above sensors — the ColorMax, UVX, and CNTX — comes with a variety of accessories designed to make installation fast and simple.

These include steel brackets that are black powder-coated for long-term performance against corrosion, abrasion, and other harsh production environment conditions. Various cabling is available in different lengths and connections to ensure no matter the length of the robotics system and its sphere of movement, your sensor will always remain connected and perform efficiently.

In the case of the ColorMax sensor, a complete kit is available consisting of a mounting bracket, the hardware required to set up the sensor, the required power supply, an I/O board with status indicators, and the application software that allows quick-and-easy configuration. If these accessories and hardware won’t work in your environment, our application engineers will also provide additional support for any sensor to ensure it’s properly integrated and configured for your production goals.

Ensuring Accuracy & Capturing Data

Depending on your setup, slight adjustments may be required for your sensor — especially since it will be moving as part of a robotics assembly. With the ColorMax sensor, a white balance adjustment feature allows you to modify sensor readings for the specific values of a known target or if multiple sensors will be in use.

The UVX sensor features several calibration features to make integration fine-tuned for your line. These include auto-teach for low-skill operators as well as manual calibration for more precise adjustments. Adjustable UV light projection and high resolution also enable small spot-size detection for specific areas on a material or product.

The CNTX contrast sensor is no stranger to customization, either. With a built-in calibration feature, three light source intensity settings, and a simple operator adjustable threshold, you can get the grayscale or color readings you need quickly and with extreme precision.

Get the Right Sensor for Your End of Arm Tooling

EMX Industries has been designing, engineering, manufacturing, and supporting sensors for end of arm tooling for decades. Our sensors are in use in countless industries across the country, where their unmatched accuracy, ease of integration, and cost-effectiveness have enabled companies large and small to achieve greater automation capabilities, product quality, and more.

If you’ve been looking for an end of arm tooling solution, our team is here to help. And to help you find the right sensor for your needs, you can submit a sample material for testing. Our application engineers will test the material under the recommended sensor and provide a complete report with images and readings to show you how the sensor will perform in your environment — and it’s completely free.