Mobile machinery OEMs seek smart components that increase equipment efficiency, productivity and safety. Manufacturers are responding by developing more compact, integrated parts that fulfill multiple requirements. ATAM is using new technology to solve age-old problems and help OEMs build better machines.
At Hannover Messe 2023, the Milan-based company presented an innovative system of microsensors — four sensors and one antenna — incorporated inside its Form A connectors. Such connectors represent a consolidated market standard and one of the most widespread types. Their dimensions can house sensors — the latest generation microcontrollers used in consumer electronics — capable of measuring and transmitting physical factors such as temperature, humidity, vibrations, and electrical voltage in real time.
“Due to the sensor’s very small dimension, we can introduce the new technology in standard products for new applications,” said Antonio Cantoni, sales and marketing director at ATAM. “Our customers can continue using their current designs with this new connector for higher performance.”
Integrating sensors onboard the connector enables real-time monitoring of physical parameters that influence the solenoid valve’s behavior in its operational environment. Currently, some physical quantities that strongly influence a machine’s functionality are detected and measured indirectly via remote controllers — not on board the valve — which does not provide information on the solenoid valve itself.
For example, harsh applications and extreme environmental conditions can lead to temperature, humidity, vibrations, and electrical voltage values well beyond foreseen conditions, damaging the solenoid valve and the entire system. Therefore, instantaneous monitoring affords more time for intervention to avoid potential damage.
“Our idea is that this new sensor can be used in off-highway machines for predictive maintenance and to avoid completely stopping machines, which is very expensive,” said Cantoni. “Also, it allows the operator to decide when to work on the machine and provides an opportunity to work in better ambient conditions, which is linked to safety.”
The ATAM Form A connectors with integrated sensors also incorporate LEDs. Different colors and flashing functions with variable frequencies give operators immediate visual feedback on values recorded outside the optimal range.
“The customer can view the data remotely without going to the operator or site. But we also have a visual system with LEDs so that the operator can visually check if the connector exceeds the parameter tolerances,” said Cantoni.
During the Hannover demo, ATAM showed how sensor-measured data is continuously transmitted to a mobile device to monitor machinery constantly. This proximity communication — the same type used for making mobile payments — is a transceiver technology that provides two-way wireless contact connectivity. The platform allows OEMs to insert an interface card to communicate with the machine’s serial protocol.
“We can write software with parameters that the connector and sensor have to monitor, such as temperature, humidity, and voltage tolerances, so that the connector can communicate directly in the language of the customer’s machine,” said Cantoni. “It’s not necessary to create a custom app. From a technical point of view, it’s better and more useful for the machine to speak directly with our connector in its own language.”
The Form A connectors with onboard sensors benefit various applications, including off-highway machines and stationary industrial machinery. The innovation provides timely diagnostics and improved predictive maintenance for any application in which breakdown, downtime, and repair costs are high and in applications that require high accuracy and regulation.
With its latest-generation test laboratory, ATAM simulated the technical synergy between coils and industrial connectors in various conditions and applications that use solenoid valves.
Filed Under: Components Oil Coolers, Mobile Hydraulic Tips, Technologies, Valves & Valve Manifolds