Pass the fork sensor, please

Fork sensors like this photoelectric fork sensor from Sick are helping power IoT. (Allied Electronics)

The global market for fork sensors is growing at an annual rate of more than 8% and should reach $590 million by 2026, according to ResearchMoz Global.

Fork sensors are growing along with other smart sensors as part of the Internet of Things trend, the research firm said in a recent updated report.

There are thousands of varieties of fork sensors, which are used mainly in manufacturing, packaging and labeling, wood processing and printing.

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A fork sensor is broadly defined as a sensor with a transmitter and receiver in one housing. The housing might look like a tuning fork with a transmitter on one prong and the receiver on the other. There are optical fork sensors, ultrasonic fork sensors and vibrating tuning fork sensors. Optical fork sensors, meanwhile, come  with one of three different light sources: red, infrared and laser. As an object passes between the prongs of the fork, it can be detected.

ResearchMoz said growth in optical fork sensors will be especially high because of cost effective LED sensors and the high accuracy of laser-based optical fork sensors.

A fork sensor might be used to count items in an assembly line or to detect irregularities in the assembly line. Fork sensor providers Sick AG, Omron Corp., and Leuze Electronic GmbH are expected to focus on optical because of its adaptability in manufacturing, packaging, labeling and printing. Other players include ROHM Semiconductor and Pepperl+Fuchs GmbH.

An example of a photoelectric fork sensor is a model made by Sick, priced at about $275 for one unit on the Allied Electronics website.

Europe is expected to see higher adoption of fork sensors because of advancements by makers in the region, including Pepperl+Fuchs GmbH, which partnered with SAP in 2018 to strengthen its IoT offerings in the process industry.

Asia Pacific will be the leader of fork sensor growth into 2026, growing at a rate of 10% annually, Research Moz predicted.

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