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sensors, actuators and Peakboard.

Carla Märkl

Carla Märkl

Sensors and actuators collect electrical signals and convert them. But they can only close the gap between the real and the virtual world if these signals are subsequently evaluated and visualized in a comprehensible way.

what exactly are sensors and actuators?

Sensors are devices that can measure a specific property. They are designed in various ways, which means they can be used in numerous different areas. Some temperature sensors, for example, use a hot conductor that decreases in resistance as the temperature rises. The resistance is eventually converted into voltage and read by a microcontroller. A motion detector, on the other hand, as its name suggests, makes it possible to detect movement. It is usually used to detect whether an object is moving inside or outside the sensor range.

In short, sensors convert physical variables such as temperature, pressure, speed, level, etc. into electrical signals and pass them on to a control unit. Here, a distinction is made between active and passive sensors. Active sensors are measuring sensors with internal components that amplify or shape the signal and generate an electronic output signal. Passive sensors, on the other hand, contain components such as coils, resistors or capacitors and output signals in the form of analog voltage. Another difference between active and passive sensors is also that active sensors require external power, while passive sensors can be operated without an external power supply from, for example, a battery or the wall socket.

One thing that all sensors have in common, however, is the ability to take input and pass it on in the form of data. This information is then processed by a control unit and sent out via an actuator. Actuators convert the control unit’s commands, which are available in digital or analog form, into mechanical movements or other physical variables, such as pressure or temperature. 

but what happens with the collected data?

Sensors can provide two types of data. On the one hand, data that is constantly measured, such as temperature or pressure. This data is provided in the form of an uninterrupted data stream. On the other hand, data that is only determined at certain events, for example when an object moves past a motion detector. This data is called event data. 

The collected data is stored in a database, from which it can either be analyzed or further processed. The database serves as a central point of contact for all those who need the sensor data to perform their tasks.

To communicate the data in a comprehensible and targeted manner, the right solution is required, like for example Peakboard. Peakboard is designed to process data from a wide variety of data sources, including databases. The data at this point could also come from an MES or ERP system. Data from SAP, Microsoft Azure, Dynamics NAV, or Oracle can be easily connected and displayed on monitors exactly where it is needed. Our overview of data connections shows exactly which interfaces can be displayed with Peakboard. As an IoT solution, Peakboard can be used in automation to visualize data from sensors. Information about path lengths, distances, pressure, temperature, position, force, and much more can be measured and displayed individually in the form of a dashboard. 

the benefit of data visualization on dashboards 

The great advantage of a dashboard in production is obvious: Thanks to visualizing data and making it available in real time, workflows can be made more efficient, effective, and safe. In addition, the data is made available exactly where it is needed. Directly at the machine, and directly usable by the employee. On our website, we show exactly which areas of application Peakboard covers in automation. Here is an example of how it can be implemented in practical terms.

In order to keep an eye on the performance of a filling line at all times and to easily track the progress of production, Peakboard Edge can be used in combination with Peakboard Enterprise. A standard light barrier with a relay output serves as the sensor. With our template, the collected data can be used and communicated in a target/actual comparison. With Peakboard, data from other sources can also be connected and visualized in real time. You can find more use cases at our templates.

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