You may have heard about pressure sensors, switches and transducers. You may even understand they’re all in a technology category that enables industries and organisations to measure, monitor and utilise as output signals highly accurate pressure readings, especially for increasingly automated processes. The range of pressure sensor applications, thanks to the incredibly diverse modern product range, is therefore correspondingly vast – and even effectively infinite. Organisations just like yours are dreaming up new and innovative operations in the automotive, life-saving medical, building automation and life-enhancing consumer sectors. It’s helping them ramp up safety, minimise and eliminate mistakes, achieve greater control, and implement smarter, more eco-friendly and more profitable operations, goods and products.
But knowing all that, and even gaining an understanding of how the working processes function as pressure sensors collect and manage the accurate flow of real-time data, there are still a lot of questions to be answered. So as Industry 4.0 takes hold and you put your operational intelligence in overdrive, we’ve taken the time to put together simple answers to all the most common questions about next-gen pressure sensors. Remember, smarter manufacturing and operations relies not only on technology but on knowledge, so here are the answers to the questions you need and want to know:
- What do pressure sensors have in common?
Whether they’re monitoring oxygen levels, controlling robotics or just a part in a coffee machine, every pressure sensor type comprises a pressure-sensitive part that detects the pressure of a liquid or gas and is able to turn that information into a proportional output signal.
- What are the main pressure sensor types?
You can’t drive in a nail with a drill, so it’s crucial to match your highly specific application with a highly specific pressure sensor. Most pressure sensors fall into a couple of handfuls of categories, but there are really three catch-all measurement modes that encapsulate and divide them all even more fundamentally.
Absolute: In this type, the reference point is zero – or a vacuum. It works by having one side of the sensor vacuum sealed, and the other exposed to what is being measured.
Gauge: The gauge sensor uses relative atmospheric pressure to do its measuring, meaning one side is connected to the system and the other is vented to the normal atmosphere.
Differential: This sensor features two ports, with the measuring done on the basis of the differential pressure between them.
- What can be measured?
We’ve mentioned that all pressure sensors measure either liquids or gases, but which ones specifically? The answer: if it’s the pressure-sensitive medium in your application, rest assured there is a sensor to cover it. The long list includes not just air and water, but hydraulic and pneumatic media, corrosive media including acids and alkalis, and more. Depending on the media, different materials, measures and seals will be built into the specific sensor.
- How do I select the right pressure sensor?
This is a tricky question to answer – because the match has to be just right and the sensor range is enormous. For instance, measurement ranges can differ from general industrial applications of 0-50 bar, while some applications will require measurement capability up to 5000 bar – and beyond. Additionally, many settings will require medically-safe sensors for exposure to vulnerable patients, there are various mounting configurations, and much more.
Rest assured, with so many fundamentally and more subtly-diverse pressure sensor products on the market today, your specific application will be in safe hands. Have some more questions that require even more specialised answers? Always consult with an expert before proceeding.