Different Types of Position Sensors Used in Industrial Processing and Automation


Since the industrial revolution, many sectors of society have not stopped in finding more efficient ways to automate and speed up processes. There is always a need to produce results with high levels of accuracy while maintaining the highest output quality. Some of the sensor technologies preferred in industrial automation are non-contact sensors and optical sensors. Optical sensors are typically used in measurement devices as well as in inspection processes. Non-contact sensors, on the other hand, provide optimum measurement reliability when subject to rugged conditions.


A displacement transducer or position sensor is any device which detects the movement of an object. These are a few concrete examples of displacement transducers that play vital roles in the manufacturing industry.

  1. Confocal displacement transducers. This type of position sensor is compact and suitable for high-precision measurement requirements. One example of its application is in the manufacturing of flat screens, glass, solar cells, and the like. In manufacturing these items, it is essential to achieve a precise thickness that is only possible with the use of a displacement transducer like a confocal sensor.
  2. Eddy-current sensor. An eddy-current sensor can perform accurately and reliably even when subjected to extreme temperatures, high pressure, and other harsh environmental elements. Large industrial plants often have hydraulic machines which receive a continuous supply of lubricant in a pressurised environment so as such, an eddy-current sensor is a perfect solution to match the sensor needs of hydraulic machines.
  3. Laser triangulation sensor. This type of displacement sensor also provides high-precision measurements while at the same time being compact and providing a fast measurement rate. In industrial settings, there are many applications for laser triangulation sensors. In a factory production line, for example, a laser triangulation sensor monitors the position of specific components.
  4. Non-contact capacitive displacement sensor. Many research facilities around the world make use of non-contact capacitive position transducers for automation and process control. Non-contact sensors have the advantage of high resistance to wear and tear as well as measurement stability, accuracy, and infinite cycle repeatability.

Overall, non-contact sensors prove to be the most superior sensor technology suitable for industrial applications. Non-contact sensors are relatively compact and low-cost which means that engineers can keep installation and maintenance costs down while appreciating the performance quality that non-contact sensors provide.

Different working principles govern each kind of non-contact sensor. In choosing the right type of sensor for a particular application, there are many factors to take into account. For example, the varying characteristics of each type of sensor will determine whether it will suit the intended application.

To further illustrate, sensors differ concerning resolution, accuracy, repeatability, and measurement range. Process control engineers and industrial buyers need to ensure that when they are sourcing sensors from a manufacturer, specifications are outlined accurately and carefully. But there are instances when a manufacturer may also offer customisation when the applications call for it. In conclusion, sensors are widely available from manufacturers in a variety of specifications but finding the precise device needed for the use depends on the planned installation determined by the process engineer.