There are many varied uses for industrial encoders, here we have listed just a few practical examples.
Motor Speed / RPM readout.
The encoder is mounted directly to the end of a motor via a shaft. The critical measurement parameter is motor speed, whereby the encoder provides feedback to a drive. The drive can then verify that the speed and direction are correct, ensuring that whatever the motor drives run safely and smoothly. In applications where a precise speed is paramount, rotary encoders provide that equipment does not run out of control or behave erratically.
Web Speed / Tension Control
An application in which an encoder is mounted to a motor and a tension roller. Unevenness in the rotating speed of the tension roller is fed to a controller, which sends a signal to the drive motor to maintain an even tension proportion between the web roller and the drive motor. Maintaining optimal web tensioning is critical in assembly and conveyor applications or roll tensioning applications designed to prevent tearing, backlash or other potential injuries to machine operators.
Linear Measurement / Cut-to-Length.
An encoder is mounted on a lead screw or measuring wheel to prevent a user from physically having to measure a length before cutting, usually done by using a tape measure or inaccurate hand mark or eye estimate. Since an encoder delivers a fixed number of pulses in a revolution, a device can be scaled to increment at a designated length per pulse. This device may be a preset counter or PLC with a relay output that can operate when the desired size is reached to ensure a precise and accurate cut every time.
Incremental or absolute encoders must be accurate high-resolution devices used in various automated applications in manufacturing and research. Radar antennae, robotic arms or satellite dish rotation are good examples of this application.
Position Measurement / Backstop, Gauging
Position measurement applications are similar to a cut to length applications whereby the encoder ensures that the unit, typically a machine tool, does not exceed a preset position or direction of travel. This is often combined with determining the travel speed of the table, tool head, or similar components to ensure that the machine does not overtravel a limit. Although limit switches are used in backstop applications, encoders are more shock resistant and tend to last longer.
Position Measurement / Conveying
Another common industry application where encoders are widely used is to monitor and control conveyor speed and position. Like a motor feedback application, encoders are attached to a motor, intermediate axle shafts, or both. The critical parameters of measurement are motor speed and incremental movement. In this case, the encoder can control the conveyor’s speed and position.
Position Measurement / Spooling
Another application where encoders are ideally suited. The encoders are mounted to the shaft of a spool; the connected controller keeps track of the length and speed of the take-up material spooled based on feedback from the encoder.