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Shedding light on increased productivity and safety

Shedding light on increased productivity and safety We may view them as commodity products, but there is significant innovation going on in the field of machine indication technology.

Ask who invented the light bulb, and probably we'd all reply Thomas Edison. But in fact in 1840 British astronomer and chemist, Warren de la Rue, enclosed a platinum coil in a vacuum tube and passed an electric current through it, thus creating the world's first light bulb - a full 40 years before Thomas Edison was issued a patent for creating it. So perhaps the true measure of success is the ability to commercialise the invention.

LEDs first appeared as a practical electronic component in 1962 but had a very low intensity output. By 1970 photoelectric sensor manufacturers were starting to use LEDs as an alternative to the incandescent light bulb, mainly due to their long life and physical robustness, but they still had only about 1% of the light intensity. Then photoelectric sensor designers discovered that the LED had a benefit far more profound than its long life; unlike their incandescent equivalents, LEDs can be turned on and off at high frequency, typically several kilohertz. This modulating of the LED meant that the receiver could be tuned, like a radio, to the frequency of the LED emitter.

A small number of engineers pioneered modulation methods and applied these to industrial photoelectric controls. Among those was Robert W Fayfield, the founder and CEO of Banner Engineering Corp. In 1974 Banner introduced the first self-contained, modulated, visible LED sensor and by 1978 Banner was revolutionising the photoelectric control industry with its Multi-Beam range of sensors. Today Banner continues to innovate and lead the way forward in Photoelectric controls. Using its expertise in LED technology and high IP rated enclosures Banner has developed a pioneering Lighting and Indicators division.

No enclosure required
An important range of products from this division, available in the UK from Turck Banner, is the EZ-Light, including dome lights, signal towers, multi-segment wall mount displays and machine mountable indicators. The newest addition to the range is Banner's S18L S18L general-purpose indicators provide a simple and cost-effective indication solution. The indicator is capable for stand-alone use on a machine or enclosed in a panel, with no enclosure required. The S18L features up to three independent colours in one unit and multiple colours to choose from for custom-coloured indication.

The S18L indicators are available for mounting with a variety of brackets. Offering an operating range of -40°C to +50°C and a durable, IP69K-rated housing, the S18L can be used in diverse applications, including harsh wash-down environments. The multi-coloured S18L indicators are available in green, red, yellow, blue, white, orange, turquoise, violet, sky blue and magenta. Daylight visible models are also available. To avoid false indication, the indicators face appears grey when off.

Two key features are common to all Banner indicators and part verification devices. The first is that, unlike traditional beacons and lights, when an indicator is off it will appear grey, making the indication obvious even at a distance and in bright conditions. The second is that they are all designed to fit directly on the machine, they do not require an extra panel or enclosure and Banner have a complete line of brackets including ones designed to fit common racking profiles.
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