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Capacitive switches provide many benefits in control systems for industrial automation and process engineering as described in a previous article.  But the
biggest challenge today is when switches in-situ perform only the specific functions they are designed for and can’t easily be adapted when a production line needs to be repurposed or modified in order to respond to variable market demands.

What’s really needed is a switch that can have multiple or even unlimited configuration options. In other words, an element of programmability through a convenient interface.

This is the reason CAPTRON developed the series10 programmable capacitive touch sensor switch, featuring an IO-Link connection enabling it to be seamlessly integrated into a networked plant. Almost all operating and electrical parameters of the switch can be freely and easily configured via the industry standard IO-Link (IEC 61131-9) point-to-point communications interface for sensors and actuators. That means being able to set scanning sensitivity; the type of activation – for example dynamic, static or toggle; the adjustable interfaces – such as PNP, NPN, NO and NC) via IO-Link; fluorescent color on activation; and parameters such as static or flashing illumination.

With this ability, the fully customizable series10 provides significant advantages for human machine interface (HMI) applications in industrial automation, mechanical engineering, robotics, food and beverage, as well as building technology industries. Being able to program the switches using a standard industry interface means it is possible to change the action of the switch if market demands change or environmental conditions change.

Hence if there is a change in requirement that requires the output of the capacitive switch that is currently PNP-NO (positive negative positive – normally open) to change to NPN-NC (negative positive negative – normally closed) then this can easily be done via the IO-Link interface. Or, if there is suddenly a change of environment, the switch can be reprogrammed to prevent false triggers due to the new conditions.

This versatility is important as many capacitive sensor switches currently available must be ordered for specific parameters which then can’t be changed once deployed. The series10 switches are different in that they can be customized via the communications interface, though if required they can also be ordered with pre-configured options.

More than just a smart programmable sensor switch

The IO-Link is just one of the innovations in the series10 capacitive sensor switches. Based on sensor fusion technology and other design features, the switches enable further individuality, visibility, and robustness.

For individuality and visibility, the switches feature an innovative lighting concept with 16 million fluorescent colors and customized symbols and pictograms to choose from. The incorporation of four lateral spotlights make the switches appear bigger as well as provide 360° visibility. Additionally, adaptive brightness via an integrated light sensor means the switch brightness can automatically adjust to
ambient light, although it can also be adjusted manually. This function is useful when necessary to ensure intense, readily discernible illumination in sunlight while also preventing glare effects at night.

The series10 switches are designed with a soft grip ring and minimal installation depth, making for ergonomic and compact integration.

Robustness is a key feature of all CAPTRON capacitive sensor switches, with the series10 following that tradition. In other words, they are 100% waterproof, oil-proof and vandal-proof with IP69K protection and IK08 shock-resistance. This means the switches won’t be activated by splashes or cleaning water, but only through intentional contact; and they cannot be destroyed by heavy impact or vandalism – for example from severe blows or even lighter flames.

Three different versions of the series10 switches address different applications and requirements: the series10 standard (touch), the series10 touch stainless steel, and the series10 touch hygienic. The difference is mainly in the housing – the standard version has a soft grip ring made of TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane), while the other two are housed in stainless steel.

The series10 touch hygienic version differs in that it is specifically designed to meet food safety and hygiene standards, with FDA approval, EU regulation 10/2011, DIN EN 1672-2, and also has in process EHEDG Hygiene Certification (see previous article here). These standards are aimed at protecting consumers in the food and beverage industry, by guaranteeing protection against contamination and also ensuring the switch can be reliably cleaned of viruses and impurities and sterilized.

In summary, the CAPTRON series10 capacitive touch sensor switches complement the existing CHT series capacitive switches. The CHT series already provide a wide variety of different models, materials, connection types, fitting types, installation depths and specific standards and requirements, making them versatile and suited for many different uses. In addition to the reliability, robustness and durability offering over 100 million switching cycles, the series10 adds a layer of versatility and sophisticated human machine interface, with the ability to be customized exactly according to the needs of an application.

The benefits significantly improve the industrial automation market where they can seamlessly integrate into networked environments and be customized for any demands and conditions, including the visual interfaces. In addition, the hygienic versions of series10 support the food and beverage industry, and the innovative design with four lateral spotlights enabling high switch visibility are ideal to support building technologies too.