Buyers’ guide to sensor evolution

Sager Electronics’ VP supplier marketing and product manager, Craig Sanderson

Sager Electronics’ VP supplier marketing and product manager, Craig Sanderson, explains how new sensors can reduce costs by combining multiple technologies in one device

Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) are expanding sensor usage. Over the past decade, sensors have become a mainstream method for improving the effectiveness and utility of equipment and products. Proliferation of sensors in our personal lives via mobile devices, home security, automobiles, appliances, etc, is paving the way for a similar expansion in OEM applications.

Growing sensor use is impacting engineering and procurement. For engineering, sensor technology defines the capability, features and differentiation of equipment, while adding an element of safety in many applications. Procurement management is concerned with unit and total cost.

Cost is improved as sensors become more feature-rich. OEMs can reduce costs by combining multiple sensor technologies in a single device. A reduction in BoM size, handling, procurement, inspection, assembly and manufacturing costs are made possible by sensor developments.

In most applications, new generation sensors offer similar feature-rich specifications at a significantly lower cost. For example, Honeywell’s MicroForce sensors, are feature rich, in smaller form-factor packaging, at a cost that wasn’t available in the past.

Another area that continues to impact sensor use in customer applications is safety. This significantly impacts the total cost in applications where safety requirements are critical such as: heating, ventilating, air conditioning and refrigeration (HVAC-R); and electric vehicle charging.

In HVAC-R the elimination of global warming chemicals has been mandated for several years but is only now impacting equipment manufacturers as they replace refrigerants containing these ozone-depleting chemicals. The newly approved refrigerants contain gases, the use of which in an HVAC-R system by itself is a clean process. However, these refrigerants are mildly flammable (A2L), causing concerns around leaks. The need for a safety device to ensure a leak or escape of refrigerant is detected is a proven and cost-effective measure to ensure compliance and safety.

Gas sensors exist but their technology may not be as reliable as the newest digital technologies. One such sensor is in advanced stages of development by Sensata. Due for release in Q2 2023, Sensata’s 1GDT2 Resonix sensor addresses the critical safety needs for the HVAC-R refrigerant mandate and offers cost enhancing features that will appeal to procurement.

With the world moving from internal combustion engines to electric vehicles, charging the battery systems is a critical need. These charging stations require a sensor device to ensure the safety of the vehicle, user and location. What types of sensors are targeted for these EV chargers? Current transducers and sensors are being used in all three types of EV charging: AC destination chargers, DC destination chargers and DC fast chargers.

LEM offers current sensors that address charging requirements. Their CDSR and CDT sensors detect leakage current for safety and efficiency. LEM also offers a plug-and-play meter coupled with a sensor unit to provide a single purchase order solution rather than the cost of all of the associated components, manufacturing, etc.