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Growing importance of sensors in construction

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TRADITIONALLY, modern construction machinery is controlled and moved predominantly by hydraulic systems, which means that electronics and control technologies have played only a minor role in many applications. This is changing with safety-relevant aspects and driver-assist functions now setting the stage.

That’s according to Gerry Bryant, Managing Director of sensor specialist Countapulse Controls, who added that it has become obvious over time that the role of sensor technology will become increasingly important in construction equipment.

“Machinery deployed in these industry sectors are subjected to harsh operating conditions including varying climatic conditions, long working hours and exposure to dust, dirt and liquids. This means the demand on sensors is often extreme requiring robustness and a high degree of protection,” Bryant said.

Commenting on typical applications, he said encoders are used for positioning, angular, speed and length measurements in construction machinery applications, and assume tasks that facilitate the driver’s work and enhance productivity.

Examples include straight-to-the-point positioning of loads for hoisting equipment or restricting work zones in order to protect against collisions. Another classic example is where the devices are used in safety-relevant functions such as providing warning signals to the driver as soon as the machine enters a critical situation. A classic example of this would be where excessive loads could cause hoisting equipment (hoisting cranes, excavators) to tilt.

Agricultural and forestry machine applications use encoders to facilitate automation of many applications, making work significantly easier and increasing productivity. This could include speed-controlled sowing in agriculture right through to automated measuring of tree trunks. Automated processes that increase productivity in agriculture are becoming more and more sophisticated using satellite-controlled systems.

Bryant said encoders used in construction equipment prove their capabilities under extremely harsh conditions by providing reliable feedback on the positioning, excursion angles or speeds.

As an example, he cited the Hengstler range of robust encoders, available from Countapulse Controls.

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