Inductive Proximity Sensors – the Smart Factory’s Friend

Industry applications are becoming more and more dependant on tracking, monitoring, measuring and communication and of course, that vital data is required instantly. To be a truly effective smart manufacturing environment, modern industrial relies heavily on the information and data that numerous sensory devices supply to the control system, ideally in fractions of a second. The sensors you choose are the key to effective system integration as the data they supply is only as good as the device can allow, make a poor sensor choice and the entire process could be inefficient, costly and not very reliable.

Most of the proximity sensors that you will find will be non-contact variants, with mechanical limit switches being the exception and today you will find a wide variety of proximity sensors available in the market such as capacitive, photo-electric, ultrasonic and vision. However, by far the most popular sensor you will find within industry and in commercial applications is the inductive proximity sensor which has been utilised in millions of applications worldwide.

SICK Inductive Proximity Sensor performing a counting function

Inductive Proximity Sensors, what are they?

Inductive Proximity Sensors are, not surprisingly, devices that detect the proximity of ferrous and non-ferrous metallic objects by utilising an electromagnetic field created by a current flowing through a coil located in the sensors face.  When a conductive or magnetically permeable target approaches this electromagnetic field, it changes the coil’s impedance, acting as a signal that an object is near. Conversely, when the object moves away from the sensory face the sensor returns to its normal state.

SICK IMB Inductive Proximity Sensor in action

Inductive proximity sensors are commonly used where a more traditional switch might prove problematic or impossible to use, such as in an application where lots of water and dirt may be present. Typical examples would be a cars ABS system, an advanced CNC machine or a conveyor line in a food and beverage environment and multiple uses in the gas & oil industry.

The output from an inductive proximity sensor can be interfaced with a variety of devices such as control valves, sounder and beacons, relays, PLCs, computers, etc. and it’s here where the sensor can provide real-time monitoring of process applications.

A selection of Omron Inductive Proximity Sensors

Detecting All Areas

Proximity Sensors are available with multiple IP ratings, suitable for clean environments and those which feature washdown conditions or extreme temperature fluctuations. With the many sizes, mounting options and housing types available, proximity sensors can provide a great deal of versatility and application flexibility which ultimately explains their popularity.

Inductive Proximity Sensors Benefits:

  • Robust construction – withstand shock and vibration
  • Available with high IP ratings typically IP69K
  • Ideal for harsh industrial environments (IP specific)
  • Capable of operating in high temperatures
  • Not affected by oil, dirt, water and non-metallic particles
  • Object surface irregularities and colours have no effect
  • Available in cylindrical and block formats


SICK SAM Inductive Proximity Sensor in Action

Countless Applications

With the ability to detect both ferrous and non-ferrous metallic objects Inductive proximity sensors can be used to detect the presence or absence of component parts, to monitoring product process speed and count objects, but typically they are used in positioning applications. Inductive proximity sensors are often used as an alternative to the more traditional limit switches, being solid-state they can operate at higher speeds with greater reliability than their mechanical counterparts.

A selection of SICK Inductive Proximity Sensors

Whether you are considering new build or overhaul, switching to inductive proximity sensor technology is certainly worth serious consideration with the industrial environment growing ever-smarter and more demanding when it comes to accurate dependable process data. With the vast array of possible applications, it stands to reason that there is an equally vast offering of sensors to choose from. That’s where Kempston Controls, as a supplier of premium brand inductive proximity sensors such as those from Omron, SICK and Panasonic, comes in, we are bound to have the perfect solution for all your sensory requirements and even if we don’t currently stock the items you require, we can certainly get them for you.

Click here to see more Inductive Proximity Sensors

Call us on +44 (0) 01933 411411 to discuss your Inductive Proximity Sensor requirements

Kempston Controls is committed to finding you the ideal solution for your application. Call us today on +44 (0) 1933 411 411, email us at, or alternatively contact us here, we will be happy to help.

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