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 parameter of measurement 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 is driving runs safely and smoothly. Applications where a precise speed is paramount, rotary encoders ensure 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 as well as 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 drive motor. Maintaining optimal web tensioning is critical in assembly and conveyor applications or in 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, normally 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 that in turn has a relay output that can be set to operate when the desired length is reached to ensure a precise and accurate cut every time.
Achieved using incremental or absolute encoders. They need to be accurate high-resolution devices used in a variety of automated applications in manufacturing and research. Radar antenna, robotic arms or satellite dish rotation are good examples of this type of application.
Position Measurement / Backstop, Gauging
Position measurement applications are similar to a cut to length applications whereby the encoder is used to make sure that the unit, typically a machine tool, so it does not exceed a preset position or direction of travel. Very often this is combined with a determination of the speed of travel of the table, tool head, or similar component to ensure that the machine does not over travel 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 to monitor and control conveyor speed and position. Similar to 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 both the conveyor speed and position.
Position Measurement / Spooling
Another application where encoders are ideally suited. The encoders 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.