What is a Workstation Activity Sensor?
Workstation activity sensors are an integral part of the Ecogate system. We have a variety of options to fit the need of any machine. These sensors, when installed properly, detect when a workstation requires ventilation and relay this information to the Ecogate it is connected to. The Ecogate then relays this information to the greenBOX control unit which opens/closes the gate and adjusts the ventilation system’s fan to deliver the required airflow.
The greenBOX also always maintains minimum transport velocities required throughout the ducting and ensures optimized suction at active workstations while keeping inactive workstation gates closed to avoid using excessive energy. Properly installed sensors at each workstation ensure gates open automatically when the operator needs them to and shut down when they no longer need exhaust to maintain the most efficient, optimized system possible.
Ecogate Sensor Options
Ecogate offers multiple sensor options to ensure we can meet the demand of any workstation. Customers can choose from a mix of AC VOLT sensors, AC-DC VOLT sensors, current sensors, and industrial wind-up timers. Other sensors are optional.
AC Volt Sensor
One of the most popular options is our 110-690 V AC Sensor. Ecogate AC VOLT sensors come with input/output LED indicators and are input protected from overcurrent and overvoltage peaks. These voltage sensors can be used for industrial machines that use 120V, 230V, 460V, or 575 V AC power. Since these sensors read voltage, please make sure an electrician installs these to ensure it’s installed on the correct circuit of the machine to determine when ventilation is required. The output of the sensor is connected to the Ecogate gate. The AC VOLT sensor will give an active signal if its input wires read voltage coming from the machine in the range of 110V to 690V AC. Typically this sensor is installed, for example, in parallel with an arm that is holding material in place on the CNC machine - this circuit will be active be from when machine starts cutting.
AC-DC Volt Sensor
The Ecogate AC-DC VOLT sensor is similar to AC VOLT sensor. The difference is that the AC-DC VOLT sensor can use both, for direct current (DC) or alternating current (AC) in the range 24 V to 230 V. This sensor can be used almost anywhere (output of PLC, in parallel with contactor coil, in parallel with AC or DC motor, etc.). The Ecogate AC-DC VOLT sensor comes with input/output LED indicators and input is protected from overcurrent and overvoltage peaks just like its higher voltage sibling. We definitely recommend a qualified electrician installing these for you.
We also offer Hawkeye current sensors. The biggest advantage of the current sensor is that it is not connected to the workstation - installation is done by opening a current clamp, putting single-phase wire inside, and closing the clamp (important note is that you cannot put a complete 3-phase cable inside, it must be just one phase wire). The Hawkeye sensor output is closed if AC/DC current is between 0.5 to 175A in the conductor that is passing through it. The big range is both an advantage and a disadvantage: the advantage is that the sensor can be used on a wide range of machines. The disadvantage is that the installer must adjust the sensor sensitivity using a multi-turn potentiometer. The current sensor output is connected to the Ecogate gate. We recommend using the current sensors if you do not like to connect anything to the workstation, or if a machine is equipped with an internal VFD (the current sensor can be connected to the output of the VFD).
The Intermatic industrial wind-up timer allows the operator to simply turn the knob and the gate will open for that specific amount of time. These sensors are often used in welding and fume extraction booths where there aren’t any electrical panels to wire a volt or current sensor into. The wind-up timer can also be connected in parallel with a VOLT, current, or another sensor: it is often used for after shift machine cleaning.
The Omron Proximity Sensor is one of 4 premium sensors that we offer… This sensor is mainly used on a conveyor line to sense when material is passing through a certain point before it reaches inside the machine where the cutting happens. This is our shortest range proximity sensor sensing material passing by at a maximum of 0.3”. This eliminates the possibility of it picking up an unwanted signal (such as from someone passing by the workstation) and ensures the Ecogate only opens right before exhaust is required.
The Keyence Laser Sensor is our newest premium sensor and has the widest detection range. The laser can sense the operator/material 2.5” to 196” from the sensor. Programming your desired range is simple. Because of how versatile this sensor’s range is, it can be used on a number of different machines ranging from CNCs, edgebanders, welding booths, wide belt sanders, sanding tables, polishers and more. It can detect material entering the workstation or presence of the operator. This sensor comes with instructions on how to wire and setup.
The Pepperl + Fuchs Occupancy Sensor is similar to our other two occupancy sensors but with a different programmable range. The Occupancy sensor has a range of 3” to 22”. The typical installations for this sensor would be polishers, sanding tables, and welding booths. There are many mounting areas to install this sensor within the allowable ranges. We provide instructions how to wire and set up this sensor.
The Safety Contact Mat is an alternative to ultrasonic or laser sensors - it reads the presence of the operator. We recommend using it only if an ultrasonic or laser sensor is not a good option. The mat is particularly useful when you have a machine that doesn’t have an electrical panel (for use with a pneumatically operated hand tool for example). This sensor is reading operator presence….oh and don’t worry about stepping off of the mat too soon…. the Ecogate can also be programmed to stay open for a period of time after the signal is no longer active.
In addition to the 8 workstation activity sensors that we offer - our system is compatible with all industrial sensors with 24V DC power supply and NO dry contact output. So if you prefer to use another type of industrial sensor you can, or if your workstation has a dry contact that is closed if the machine needs dust collecting.
How Do I Choose the Right Sensor?
Choosing the right sensor for each machine is a very important step in ensuring your Ecogate system works properly. Don’t worry if you aren’t sure which option is best... chances are, multiple options will work great for your machines, and our team is always here to help make recommendations.
Check out this blog post, it covers different activity sensor solutions.
If you want to learn more about the different sensors we offer or have any other questions, please reach out to us.
Author: Daniela Petrescu