Measuring the height of concrete blocks during manufacture

24 May 2011

German company, R&W Industrieautomation, has developed an automated system for measuring the height of concrete blocks.

The in-process inspection system records the height of concrete blocks during the production process without the need for any additional hardware. All that is needed is a network interface and a power supply. The sensor can be operated within the entire network or can communicate with other systems. The user interface is intuitive, so no special skills are required to use it.

R&W’s height measurement system includes Micro-Epsilon’s optoNCDT 1700-500 laser displacement sensors. The measurement system is placed as close as possible behind the concrete block making machine, above the transport conveyor for the baseboards. The concrete blocks running below the device are scanned by the non-contact laser sensor and measured to an accuracy of +/- 0.5mm. At the same time, the blocks’ baseboards represent the reference distance.

The optoNCDT sensor has been customised for use in this application with a double width enclosure. R&W integrates a micro-controller with an Ethernet interface into the sensor, as well as digital I/Os.

The system enables complex evaluations of sensor data, communication with master control devices, as well as graphical data visualisation via web servers.

For this application, the sensor measuring range required was up to 500mm, with resolution down to 30mm. The sensor also had to be robust enough to withstand the harsh, dusty manufacturing environment. Very good suppression of extraneous light was also an important factor in sensor selection.

The optoNCDT 1700 is a non-contact laser displacement sensor that not incorporates patented ‘Real Time Surface Compensation’ (RTSC) technology and remote software programming. For poor reflecting targets, the measuring rate can be reduced to enable a longer exposure time. The set measurement rate always remains constant so that with closed-loop control the system response time is always the same.

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