Smart sensors are the key to new mill technology
SOMETHING AS CHEAP AS A $50 SENSOR could well be the key to enabling sawmillers and wood processors to take advantage of new technologies that make their plants more productive.
The cost of sensors has tumbled considerably in recent years and they are now so affordable they are being included in almost every facet of manufacturing and supply chain management.
Sean Carter, Product Manager, Identification & Measurement for SICK Australia, a leading supplier of electronic sensors, told the WoodTECH 2018 conference in Rotorua last month that these simple devices are a key component in driving Industry 4.0 – the next industrial revolution.
But rather than just dumb sensors that only record things, we’ll see more use of smart sensors in mills in the years to come.
In their simplest form, he says a sensor mounted onto the rear of a log stacker could reduce or even eliminate collisions with structures or other equipment and is something that should be more widely adopted by the industry.
Sensors can also provide accurate measurement of log packets as they arrive at the mill, then deliver a full 3D measurement of the log before it enters the saw line and as the wood progresses, sensors will assist with accurate cutting and placement. And it can do all these tasks at speed.
New sensors are being introduced that inspect the quality of products and measure whether they are the right dimensions.
There’s even a sensor that can scan and measure the volume of bulk chip as it flows along a conveyor system.