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Sensors don't just make your system smarter, they can also mess you up

Mar 01, 2019

When sensors work as expected, they are barely noticed, and people think about what advantages the system would not be able to achieve without them.But sensors can still fail at times, when customers feel their investment has been wasted and they lose faith in their suppliers and their brands.Here are five common sensor failures that can occur, and how to fix and eliminate them.

     

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1. Reading error due to improper installation


Many people go through a trial and error cycle trying to make sure the sensor works.They do this because they often assume that the failure of repeated tests to make the sensors work is due to problems with the sensors themselves, such as wiring problems within the sensors.


However, improper installation may also result in an abnormal reading.For example, a sensor that detects the presence of a metal cannot be attached to the metal being tested, and a space must be separated between the sensor and the metal surface it is trying to identify, which could lead to a reading error.The simplest solution to this problem is to change the location of the sensor.


2. Calibration drift in the pressure sensor


Food and beverage companies often use pressure sensors in their factories to ensure that the production environment is compliant with regulations and quality standards.However, if condensation occurs on the pressure sensor, it may cause the intended calibration to fail, or "calibration drift".When this happens, workers operating production equipment based on pressure sensor data may not know that a fault has occurred.In some cases, calibration failure or failure to perform calibration can cause disruption to the production process.


In environments where instrument calibration must be performed and calibration effectiveness must be ensured, many customers choose pressure sensors where calibration drift is unlikely to occur.In addition, engineers can prevent condensation by deploying ventilation systems that promote the flow of air.


3. Problems of printed circuit board (PCB)


The printed circuit board (PCB) is an essential component of many popular electronic products such as smart phones and Internet of things devices.However, if PCB manufacturers and designers do not pay attention to the PCB and any sensors around it, it is likely to cause product failure.First, for most PCBS, it is best to avoid wiring at a 90-degree Angle, as this wiring method tends to increase electromagnetic interference, and excessive electromagnetic interference can lead to product defects.


In addition, the use of manufacturability design (DFM) helps PCB manufacturers avoid problems that may arise during production.Conduct manufacturability design checks on PCBS to see if the device layout on the PCB is likely to disrupt the manufacturing and assembly process.For example, when you use more than one sensor in an iot device, remember that you need to check the hot area of the PCB and assess the possible temperature changes and whether the temperature rise will damage the sensor.


4. Failures caused by network security vulnerabilities


In consumer electronics, iot devices are the most common category of products that use sensors.Families are quickly getting used to having multiple iot devices deployed in their homes, but there is an important issue here that iot devices often have no or a serious lack of security.


A number of research reports from cyber security agencies indicate that iot devices will face more attacks in 2019.An Avast publication predicts that the evolution of iot malware will make it more complex than the malware that has appeared in computers and smartphones in the past.


In addition, a nokia study found that iot botnet activity accounted for 78 percent of total malware operator network activity in 2018.Researchers are also concerned about hackers breaking into smart city sensors and wreaking havoc on entire communities, rather than just looking at consumer devices.A survey of three leading suppliers of smart city sensors found 17 cybersecurity flaws, with up to eight key vulnerabilities.


The findings suggest that sensor companies and customers have a number of previously unknown cybersecurity issues that are growing in risk and need to be fully managed in the coming years.Engineers building iot devices need to make network security a priority throughout the design and production of sensors and other components to help reduce the impact of network security failures on devices.


5. The oxygen sensor of the car has problems due to low fuel quality or improper maintenance


Today's cars are equipped with a range of sensors, and the variety and number of sensors is even greater when these vehicles are equipped with some self-driving related functions, such as lane sensing or obstacle avoidance.In addition, there is a common tire temperature and pressure sensor, which will tell people when they need to adjust the tire pressure when the tire pressure is too high or too low to drive safely.However, there are some sensors that people are not familiar with, such as oxygen sensors.Oxygen sensors can monitor the amount of oxygen in the exhaust.The sensor communicates the results to the car's computer in the form of a voltage signal. Then, if necessary, the on-board computer adjusts the mix ratio of the fuel/oxygen mixture delivered to the engine.


When the ratio of fuel to oxygen is not appropriate, resulting in a mixture that is too thin or too thick, the car will not run smoothly, or not reach the ideal fuel efficiency, resulting in an increase in fuel consumption of 100 kilometers.In addition, over time, oxygen sensors may be caked by combustion by-products such as fuel additives and putty.Oxygen sensors can be problematic if they are not maintained regularly, especially if spark plugs and air filters are not replaced regularly as required by the manual.These devices are designed to help promote complete combustion of fuel, and incomplete combustion can lead to waste accumulation in the discharge system.


If the driver USES unrecommended or substandard gasoline, the life of the oxygen sensor may also be lower than the expected average life.Automobile manufacturers will provide information such as precautions for the use of oxygen sensors in vehicle manuals to help car owners avoid oxygen sensor failures.For example, it is generally recommended that an oxygen sensor be replaced for 60, 000 to 90, 000 miles on a vehicle that is less than 15 years old.


Proactive, proactive prevention can reduce sensor failures


This article describes sensor problems that may occur during production or work.When sensor manufacturers and customers consider what faults may occur in advance and take preventive measures, sensor failures can be avoided and the products of customers can be properly served.


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