Sensor Mounting Part 1: Introduction to Sensors and Sensor Mounting

At its simplest definition, a sensor is a device with the ability to detect physical occurrences and changes in the environment, process them as inputs, and then generate an output signal. Sensors play a significant part in the manufacturing industry where they help control the speed and position of various actuators on automated machines. To accurately detect changes such as speed, location or the presence of objects, sensors must be appropriately positioned and mounted.

What are the different kinds of sensors?

Analogue and Digital sensors are the two main kinds of sensors that are available. Analogue sensors produce a continuous output signal or voltage which is proportional to the effect being detected. Sensors that fall under the analogue category include temperature sensors, pressure sensors, position sensors and accelerometers. A digital sensor, on the other hand, outputs a digital signal after the process of converting analogue signals to digital signals has taken place. Pictures of these sensors can be seen below.


Left: A 3 axis accelerometer Right: Temperature sensor provided in a Lego NXT kit

Where would you place a sensor?

A sensor should be placed in an area where:

  • Signals can be detected with high stability
  • Functionality can be assured over long term operation
  • Linearity of the sensor output range can be assured

Position Sensors

The passages above listed out different kinds of sensors that are used in Industry. A very important sensor in the operation of machines and actuators is the position sensor. This sensor is responsible for providing positional feedback on the location of an object which means it is usually referenced to a fixed point on the machine.

There are different kinds of position sensors that are able to be used in the operation of machines and actuators. One of these position sensors is known as a Limit switch. These devices are simple electromechanical devices that involve an actuator connected to a set of contacts.  Other kinds of position detectors make use of different methods to detect distance such as the optical sensors (through beam and reflected beam type), magnetic type sensors ( Magnetostrictive Linear Position Sensor and Hall Effect based Magnetic Position Sensors) or resistance based  sensors (Potentiometric Position sensors).

Mounting a position detector on a single axis linear motion system

On a motion system such as this, an end of travel limit switch will be placed at the location of the end of the stroke and a home position limit switch will be used to help detect position. The two images below show how they are typically mounted.


Within motion systems, a range of sensors can be utilized to control the program and position within the system. Part 2 of our series on sensors will take a further look at proximity sensors and mounting options for linear motion systems.


Share this Story
Load More Related Articles
Load More By Carlicia Layosa
Load More In General Interest


  1. Adrian Haber

    July 14, 2016 at 2:14 pm

    This article seems unfinished. For example the pictures refereed to at the end of the article do not exist, and there is no conclusion to the article.


    • mark_proulx

      July 14, 2016 at 10:29 pm

      I thought the very same thing….



      July 15, 2016 at 10:27 am

      Hi Adrian,
      Not sure what happened there, but we’ve put the pictures in where they belong. Thanks for pointing that out!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Check Also

The Amazing History of Bearings with Koyo Bearings

This blog post was provided by the team ...

Subscribe to the Mech Lab!

Like us on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter @usa_misumi

Subscribe to our Channel