Glossary of Sensors, Switches & Automation Terms

Thanks to the Sensor, Switch, Smart Camera, and Machine Vision device OEM's who've helped us compile our listing here.

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Factory Automation
The "FA" segment consists of machinery and systems used to assemble and or control component parts; examples include a machine or assembly line that produce automobile parts, vehicles or household appliances. Other systems use equipment to move people around within amusement parks or on stages within theaters, or to handle shipping containers in ports and rail yards. Factory Automation and sometimes called "Discrete Automation". Another way to think about discrete "manufacturing" is that such companies measure output in number of parts produced. Also traditionally switches and sensors used in their control systems had only two modes, "On" or "Off". Thus discrete sensors/switches only report if an object is present, and not on its condition (temperature, color, etc.). See Process Automation

Factory Mutual Research (FM) - Organization that tests and approves products for use in hazardous areas.

False pulse - Unwanted change of state of the output usually occurring during power on or power down action.

False pulse protection - Circuitry designed to avoid false pulses during power on or power down action or to disable the output of a sensor or sensing system until the power supply circuit has time to stabilize at the proper voltage level.

Ferrous - Composed of and/or containing iron, material that exhibits magnetic characteristics.

Ferrule - Tip of a fiber optic cable.

FET (Field Effect Transistor) - Semiconductors used as an output based on their ability to switch either AC or DC, their low on-state voltage drop, and their low off-state leakage current. Not tolerant of inrush current typical of inductive loads.

Fiber-optics - Transparent fibers of glass or plastic used for conducting and guiding light energy. Used in photoelectrics as “light pipes” to conduct sensing light into and out of a sensing area.

Field device - Industry term for products and components designed to be used or installed outside a cabinet or enclosure; as in a remote device, or sensor, placed at a distance away from the main controller. Can also describe a wiring connector that's for use "out in the field", on a job site.

Field of view - The region that the light source illuminates and that the receiver sees. This refers to the area of response of a photoelectric sensor (receiver). Field of View is expressed in degrees but is three dimensional, represented as a conical shape.

Filter - Optical filters that let through light waves in particular wavelength ranges and block other wavelength ranges.

Fixed focus sensing mode - A special variation of diffuse mode photoelectric sensing that uses additional optics to create a small, intense, and well defined image at a fixed distance from the front surface of the sensor lens. Fixed focus sensing is the first choice for photoelectric sensing of small objects that remain within the sensor’s depth of field.

Flexible Sensor Mount - Fixed sensors can be easily damaged by impact, this shuts-down machinery and ends production. Sensor damage is a main reason for lost productivity and lost profit. SoftNoze offers Flexible Sensor Mount for proximity sensors, saving manufacturers large sums of money and keeps production running.

Flush mounting - See Shielded sensor

Flux, magnetic - The lines of force in a magnetic field generated by an inductive coil, as shown in figure here:

Foot-pounds (Ft-lb) - A unit of measure work/energy, read more here < href="">Foot-pounds (Ft-lb). Often used to specify the amount of force (or torque) to use when tightening nuts and bolted joints. If under the limit, joints can loosen, if over-torqued a component's threads and or a product can be damaged.

Framing, structural - Metal profiles used to build machinery frames, as shown below. Automation sensors are often connected to machine frames made of these materials. A well-known brand is Unistrut®, often called "strut" (A). SoftNoze offers the BMS (Block Mounting System) that ships with our without framing, as well as one or more sensor brackets. Additionally, many styles and brands of extruded aluminum often called "t-slot" (B). SoftNoze Clamp-style Universal Brackets™ (CUB™ Brackets) are unmatched for their ability to mount and position sensors; photoelectric, fiber-optic or ultrasonics, as well as machine vision components; t-slot sensor brackets.

Free zone - The area around the proximity switch which must be kept free from any damping material, such as metal that will adversely effect sensor’s reliable target detections.

Ft-lb - See "Foot-pounds (Ft-lb)" entry above.

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