Basics of Automation > Fundamentals of Automation > Switching versus measuring sensors

How switching and measuring sensors differ

Sensors and systems with a variety of effective principles open up wide-ranging applications. Regardless of the operating principle there are – with respect to the output signal – two basic types: switching and measuring sensors.

Application examples

Maximum and minimum level detection using switching sensors
Maximum and minimum level detection using switching sensors
Continuous level detection
Continuous level detection using measuring sensors

In some applications all you need to do is detect two positions: the start and end point. In others, position detection over the entire travel is important. Depending on which information you require you will select switching or measuring sensors.

Switching sensors detect whether an object is present or not present. The advantages: Simple technology means low cost, easy startup, normally no media contact.

Analog sensors make continuous measuring value output possible. The advantages: Greater position and distance accuracy, continuous dynamic measurement, more flexible to use than switching sensors.

Output types

Output type – switching principle
Switching principle for checking whether an object is present or not.
Output type – analog principle
Analog principle for continuous measurement value output
Output type – IO-Link as bus-neutral technology
IO-Link a bus-neutral technology for communicating in the sensor surroundings
Output type – Ethernet as technology for data exchange
Ethernet as a technology for data exchange in a bus system

In addition to devices with switching and analog output signal, there are also for example devices that use IO-Link and Ethernet technology. Both technologies can output both switching signals and measuring values. In addition these technologies allow you to exchange other data information such as product name or values for condition monitoring synchronous to the process data.