Dependable, continuous angle measurement is essential for the control, safety and use of machinery and even static structures. However, vibrations and shocks arising from normal operation can contaminate the reported angle with irrelevant spikes. The usual remedy is to add filtering algorithms and/or additional sensors, but this also increases the complexity and cost. We are developing a newly-developed dynamic inclinometer that provides a far more cost-effective option for the control and monitoring of machines and structures under dynamic conditions.
The geometry of any machine, be it a crane, forklift truck, excavator or cherry-picker, is not static. All parts of the machine are constantly in motion due to operator commands or external factors. Ideally, the control system continuously receives perfectly clean and reliable angle information in real time, in order to determine the exact geometry at any moment. With this information, the control system can interpret operator movement commands, ensure safe operation, and even calculate achieved production (e.g. excavated volume).
The preferred technology is typically an inclinometer (1, 2 or 3-axis) that incorporates an accelerometer to measure g-force accelerations relative to gravity as a universal direction reference, both when the sensor is moving, and when it is stationary.
However, when used on an object that is subject to sudden, intermittent shocks or vibrations – such as on the arm of a mobile excavator, for example – these non-functional accelerations generate numerous spikes in the angle signal sent to the control system. These jitters therefore need to be smoothed out by filtering algorithms in the control system. Inertial sensors such as gyroscopes can also provide angle information, but only on a moving object. Additional gyroscopic measurement can therefore be used to compensate an inclinometer angle reading affected by vibration or shocks. But this all has a downside: every extra sensor and filter causes an increase in the overall latency in the control system, as well as in the costs of production and service.
The advent of affordable MEMS (Micro-Electrical-Mechanical Systems) technology and smart software algorithms now makes it possible to eliminate these issues with a single sensor module: the dynamic inclinometer.
As a leading sensor producer in the global market, DIS Sensors has seized on this breakthrough to develop an entirely new hardware platform based on an advanced MEMS chip, combining both accelerometer and inertial angle measurement on three axes simultaneously, in the same form factor as the popular DIS QG65 range. The powerful integrated controller is externally customizable, and handles all input and output signal processing. The angle passed to the control system as a separate CANopen/J1939 object per axis is already gyro-compensated, and therefore clean and free of the influence of spurious accelerations and shocks.
To ease the task of customization, predefined application profiles are available, as well as a user-friendly configuration tool.
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