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Smart sensors enhance performance

Posted: 01 Sep 2006 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Brett Burger? National Instruments? NI? smart sensor? transducer electronic data sheet?

Burger: Smart sensor technology shifts the balance of system intelligence from the operator and instrumentation to the sensors, helping create systems with increased ease-of-use and enhanced capabilities.

Transducer electronic data sheet (teds) or smart-sensor technology is shifting the balance of system intelligence from the operator and instrumentation to the sensors. This creates systems with increased ease-of-use and enhanced capabilities. Unlike standard systems requiring extensive sensor knowledge for configuration, systems incorporating the IEEE 1451(TEDS) standard benefit from all necessary sensor information being preloaded and built into the measurement devices.

This intrinsic sensor knowledge helps system builders drastically reduce setup time while adding enhanced flexibility through a user-defined area of the TEDS chip. This area can store any data deemed necessary by the designer, such as ID numbers, the operator's name who last calibrated the sensor or even location in a test structure.

Since all sensor information is stored electronically on the smart sensors, the simplicity of TEDS extends beyond setup to documentation. There is no longer a need for entire hard-copy chapters recording sensor characteristics or collections of data sheets for field deployment. Similarly, with the growing adoption of TEDS technology, searching a manufacturer's Website for data sheets for a sensor from an old box has become obsolete. Furthermore, the electronic TEDS format is a robust solution for backing up data, should a programming error wipe out on-board information.

Easier calibration
Smart sensor technology also eases a more highly automated calibration process on a per-sensor basis. Engineers can pre-program a TEDS chip to compensate for known system errors resulting from scale, offset, temperature drift or gain, and from those that would affect accuracy. Calibration software simply scans through a list of sensors and finishes the process by uploading the final output equation to the TEDS chip located on the calibrated sensor. With the elimination of calibration sheet creation, storage and tracking, operators can calibrate more sensors more often, resulting in a more consistent and accurate test or control system. Improper data-sheet transcription and decimal-point misplacement are mistakes that don't exist in a properly implemented TEDS system.

Instrumentation flexibility
Adding support of the 1451 standard to a system also greatly enhances instrumentation flexibility, since systems can be designed to work with multiple sensor types without reconfiguration. A single display can measure strain, force, load, torque or pressure without the operator touching a data sheet.

One of the main benefits of TEDS technology is that at no time can all use cases be quantified. The flexibility and simplicity of this standard will ensure that new applications will continue to appear as the technology is further adopted by the sensor world.

- Brett Burger
Product Marketing Engineer
National Instruments Corp.




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