To many, the biggest challenge in an industrial environment is logistical. Or what is the best way to move materials, components, packaging, and products around to ensure that the production equipment and machinery are operating as efficiently as possible. This is indeed a challenge; however, the most significant challenge for today’s industry 4.0 facilities is most often data management.
More and more, advanced industrial production is based on integrated automation, where equipment and processes are controlled by software. This type of automation requires data management and control. There are many levels to automated production and at each, there are electronics dedicated to acquiring or receiving inputs, processing them and generating outputs for the next level. And the quality and accuracy of the data at all higher levels are dependent upon the precision of industrial encoders that capture and convert the source information from the equipment. Let’s take a look at these essential devices and how to develop PCBAs to optimize their performance.
Industrial Encoder Applications
For many years, most production lines were fixed automation systems. Fixed here means that the equipment performed an invariant process or a set of tasks that were not adaptable. Although this type of production was a major advancement from more manual operations, it came with several drawbacks. One of the most significant was that any time a change was required in the product being made it required a shutdown of the line and reconfiguration or new setup. These changeovers could take hours or sometimes days depending upon the extent and leave employees twiddling their thumbs or perhaps sweeping the warehouse for the umpteenth time.
The solution to this inefficiency is advanced automation where machinery is programmable and equipment parameters can be modified by software. Certainly more efficient, this type of automation relies upon devices to measure and monitor operations to ensure production adhered to specifications. The device that is critical to the success of this type of advanced industrial processing is the encoder. Encoders can be found in virtually all industrial manufacturing equipment today and this is especially true for the more advanced and agile production operations.
Industrial encoders can typically be classified as either rotary, linear or angle. Rotary encoders measure rotary or shaft motion; for example, the speed of a motor. Linear encoders track straight-line motion or distance. And angle encoders keep track of precise movements. An example would be the azimuth of a robot arm. Although encoders are generally used to monitor and control mechanical motion, they are controlled by electronics and PCBAs. And in order to provide this control, circuit boards must be able to read and process the data obtained or acquired, as well as generate the appropriate signal for the mechanical system being controlled.
Building Boards for Different Types of Industrial Encoders
Industrial processing operations vary and factory floors are designed to optimize production for specific items. Production lines also are customized based on function. In fact, customization is an aspect of industrial facilities that is pervasive throughout. Industrial encoders are also custom-designed to meet the specific requirements of industrial manufacturers. This reality makes it impossible to put forth a comprehensive and detailed paradigm for PCBA development of all industrial encoder boards. Nevertheless, for encoders that are used in advanced industry 4.0 factories, it is possible to define a likely set of attributes for the encoders and the boards that perform the data management and control for them as listed in the table below.
|Requirements for Developing Boards for Advanced Types of Industrial Encoders|
|Industrial Encoder Attributes||PCBA Development Requirements|
|Custom size and shape||Capable of building various form factor PCBAs|
|Precise movement*||Very good structural integrity and solder connections|
|May be unsealed||Must employ good moisture protection|
|Long transmission lines||Good high-speed signal integrity properties**|
|May be near radiators in the system||Must be designed and built for electromagnetic compatibility with the environment|
* More applicable to rotary encoders.
** At a distance, signal integrity effects are similar to short transmission at high speed.
The requirements listed above can be broadly applied to most advanced industrial encoders. It may also be required that your boards are utilized as IoT PCBs, as the advanced industrial operation is typically industry 4.0.
|Tempo's Industry 4.0 Custom PCB Manufacturing Services
By following well-defined guidelines for industrial PCB production and partnering with an experienced industry leader like Tempo Automation, you can be assured that your board’s manufacture will meet the requirements for advanced types of industrial encoders.
And to help you get started on the best path, we furnish information for your DFM checks and enable you to easily view and download DRC files. If you’re an Altium Designer or Cadence Allegro user, you can simply add these files to your PCB design software. For Mentor Pads or other design packages, we furnish DRC information in other CAD formats and Excel.
If you are ready to have your design manufactured, try our quote tool to upload your CAD and BOM files. If you want more information on the types of industrial encoders and how to design for their best performance, contact us.