Sensors Midwest 2018: Absolute Positioning Ensures Safe Operations

In a wide range of industries, position tracking is a critical task throughout the production cycle. In a factory, for example, positional tracking detects the exact position of products and other devices being manufactured. In the case of virtual reality devices, absolute positioning systems detect position by recording movement.


In most applications, pinpointing position and orientation of an object in space is done with sensors that record a signal from an object of interest when it moves. The signal is sent to a computer and software does the analytical work. Sounds pretty simple, does it not? This is where the buzzer goes off and a voice bellows the word, “NOT”!

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Absolute positioning can be performed using any one of a variety of solutions, all of which seem feasible. But not all are optimal for every task even though the principle — keep your eye on the object of interest at all times — is the same. With a bit of research, trial and error, sweat, and frustration, one can find the optimal solution, but why hassle it out? There is hope on the horizon (and it does not involve soap).


On Wednesday, October 17, 2018 from 11:10 am to 12 pm at Sensors Expo Midwest 2018 in Rosemont, IL, you can get some deep insights into solving absolute positioning challenges by attending the “Need to Track Absolute Positioning Safely? Think SIL3 / PL e” educational session. The session will be presented by Pepperl+Fuchs’ Advanced Positioning Product Manager, Gerry Paci,


In the past, absolute positioning has been an application solved by many technologies in many ways. Tracking absolute position is critical for several reasons, primarily the need to ensure that product is transferred from one place to the next with reliability and constant feedback.


As this application expanded into more markets, i.e., automotive, warehousing, packaging, and entertainment, the need for simple absolute position changed. The requirement to have safety in these applications evolved. The solution for safe absolute position commonly included two non-safe sensors creatively combined.


While that solution is satisfactory, one of the many downsides is the work required behind the scenes to satisfy the safe requirements. This typically includes a safety application function block in the PLC, 2 separate installations and of course the certification by the safety governing body.


Today, the technology is available to remove many of the hurdles with tracking absolute position “safely.” The common question with this is, what is safely? The easy answer is SIL3 / PL e rated Absolute Position. Typically, this high level of safety (Safety Integrity Level) cannot be achieved when using 2 non-safe sensors. This, along with the ability to only have only one sensor, is why the technology is so useful and of course revolutionary.


Gerry Paci is Product Manager for Advanced Positioning Systems at Pepperl+Fuchs, Inc., a noted manufacturer of solutions for industrial automation. His product portfolio includes vision sensors and absolute positioning sensors. With a design engineering background, he has extensive application experience. Gerry holds a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering.



Okay, if you are ready to get absolutely positioned for more insights, you need to do but two simple things:

  1. Register for Sensors Midwest 2018.
  2. Attend the “Need to Track Absolute Positioning Safely? Think SIL3 / PL e” session, Wednesday, October 17, 2018 from 11:10 am to 12 pm.

Also, checkout the conference schedule for related sessions and the exhibitor lineup for presentations of the latest sensors and sensor-related products plus a plethora of other technologies.



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