Wireless and wired sensor systems for machine control

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Updated: September 19, 2018

Comparing a wireless sensor system to a wired sensor system can be confusing.

Cody Corp aims to compare the most important differences from a user’s perspective.

Wireless sensor systems have no cables to break – The most common fault on machine systems is cable breakage and more often than not, it is the cable from the stick to the bucket. This cable goes through the most movement and is at the working face of the job.

Wireless sensors are easily replaced – If the user was unlucky enough to destroy a sensor, another sensor can simply be slipped into the holder, the serial number of the new sensor registered and the system is operational. This process usually takes no more than 10 minutes and is especially handy in remote situations or if the user wants to save a callout fee. Please bear in mind, not all wireless systems have this ability.

Wireless sensors are transferable – Unlike most wired sensors, the wireless sensors are part of the transferred kit if the system is shared over multiple machines. This saves thousands of dollars if used in this way.

Wireless sensors require charging – Every 2-3 weeks wireless sensors require charging. This process is completed within 6 hours – to get you out of trouble, a half-hour charge typically gives 8 hours of digging time. Wired sensors do not require charging– Useful on 24-hour sites when there is no planned downtime for the machine. Wired sensors work underwater – As long as the sensors are rated for underwater use (IP69 rating), the wired sensors work just as well underwater as above water – most brands of wireless sensors are waterproof but as radio waves do not transmit well through water, you cannot expect much of the wireless sensors below water in this application.

The ability to filter the performance for high frequency vibrations is the same for wired and wireless sensors and is performed electronically. Be wary of companies quoting sensor resolutions as good as 0.01 because it equates to nothing in operation. The only relevant figure is the accuracy at the bucket tip in operation. Good accuracy is achieved with meticulous calibration.

As anyone that has used wired sensors on a machine will testify, the sensor cables are the most vulnerable part of the system. Eliminating the sensor cables is a huge step forward in the machine control industry.

There are a large number of systems available on the market so keep reading Cody Corp’s articles and they will hopefully help you make the right decision on your next machine control system purchase.