Encoders are motion sensors currently used in all types of manufacturing. There are different types of encoders and each one reads a specific type of motion (for example there are rotary and linear encoders) and, since they are a fundamental part of machine movement, their use is widely spread in many fields. In short, machinery, as they are designed and produced today, could not exist without encoders. There are actually very few aspects of mankind's technology that do not include encoders one way or another. If you want to know more about them, you can read our complete guide to buying encoders at this link.
In this article, we are going to talk about their applications in the following fields: maritime, food & beverage, robotics, printing, and medicine.
In the maritime industry, encoders are used for building boats, for other off-shore machines such as cranes and on-deck motors. These encoders are usually designed with very resilient materials, to withstand the aggressive saline environment and other factors, like wind and constant outdoor exposure. They are therefore designed to have a long-life and to have a great resistance to corrosion. Many encoders are used here in correlation to shafts, often of large dimensions, that need to rotate to fulfill the needed movement. For marine and offshore applications, we would like to mention Baumer’s rotary encoders; built for heavy-duty operations and extreme weather conditions, they are a great example for this particular industry. You can read more about Baumer and their products on our supplier page at SourceMe at this link.
The majority of the food and beverage production of the world is currently automatized in some shape or form. This means that different types of robotic machines are needed in order to produce and package food and drinks for sales purposes and worldwide distribution. Some of these processes are related to the food itself: for example, when machines execute “filling” operations, when the food or liquid gets placed inside its containers. Afterward, the bottles or boxes need to be labeled, handled, and registered. Many, if not the totality, of these operations, are now completed by or with the aid of robotics machines, in which functionality and construction are possible thanks to various types of encoders.
If we think about something absolutely fundamental for the food processing industry, like a conveyor belt, it is clear how encoders ensure that speed, distance, and product movements (just to name a few factors) are in place and working as they should.
Possibly one of the most futuristic and in expansion sectors of human technology, robots have been studied and developed in the past years more than ever. If you have ever wondered how these autonomous machines are able to move by themselves in a said environment, the answer is simply one: encoders. With the help of different tools like cameras, robots can analyze the surrounding space, and thanks to the use of encoders they can move and operate safely. It would not be possible for robotics arms and legs to rotate or lift objects without encoders giving them the right information about distances, traveled distances and angles. Another branch of robotics includes collaborative robots, or cobots, of which we have spoken in length in our other article at this link. Although less independent than their robot “cousins”, cobots are also developed thanks to encoders and they are actually invaluable in the manufacturing sector.
All types of printing, from the simple portable machines in our homes to the industrial ones needed for large-scale productions, involve the use of encoders. A clear example of this would be the magazines and newspaper industries, which print millions of copies every day all over the world. Some operations that are required and executed by these machines are:
Feeding the paper at the correct times;
Jet inking while translating the digital information into physical ones;
Ensure that the sheets are perfectly aligned;
All the previous actions need to be coordinated during motion.
Rotary encoders once again are very useful for these applications. Printers are usually set to measure distances by two factors: dots per inch (DPI) or pixels per inch (PPI). The encoders used in printers and their rotations are then connected to the same system of measurement (DPI or PPI) in order to be coordinated with the digital documents: that is how it is possible to have all the printing process smooth and completely run by these machines. Moreover, another interesting feature for encoders in connection to printers is that they need to withstand constant vibrations since they need to operate in such an environment.
Medicine is a field where high precision is needed; a precision that often needs to be to the mm or microscopical distances. What’s better than a machine to evaluate such infinitesimal measurements, thanks to the use of encoders?
The majority of the new robotic appliances used in surgical operations are possibles thanks to the advancements in the precisions of machines; where the human eye could commit mistakes or the hand tremble, nothing of sort should happen when to perform the actions are robots, guided by the human lead.
Other aspects of medicine, such as analysis in laboratories, have greatly benefitted from the use of machines. For example, the pipette samples need a smooth motion sometimes for more than 24 hours, without overheating or having liquid spills. Worth of mention the HEIDENHAIN encoders, with a margin of error at +/- 1 nanometer, they have ensured precision and speed control to an extreme level. Have a look at Heidenhain encoders at the following link.
Last example for the medical sector; radiation machines. Unfortunately used all over the world due to the spread of different cancers, their radiation can have negative impacts on the human body. Therefore it is necessary that they are directed exclusively toward the parts of the body that are in need of the treatments and no more.
Such accuracy is once again reached thanks to the use of encoders, which makes it possible for radiation machines to fulfill their use in the safest way possible for the patients.
If you are interested to discover another supplier which encoders are widely used in medicine, we recommend Netzer Precision Motion Sensor, an authority on the matter at this link.
As we just wrote in our article, the uses of encoders are the most diverse and they impact our world and daily life in a lot of ways. From the newspaper that we read in the morning, to the car that we drive or the food we buy at the supermarket, almost everything has been touched by an encoder during its production process. We at SourceMe hope that this research has been informative and educational: if you are in need of source encoders from trusted suppliers, don't forget to check out our platform and request a quote if you find what you need. Check rotary, linear encoders, as well as distance sensors at this link. We are looking forward to talking with all of you about it on our socials!
Article by Eleonora Cugurullo