Banner Engineering: safety, vision, photoelectric sensors, online

While the Control Engineering Buyer's Guide provides a reference of what companies offer what kinds of products, I always appreciate a technology review to confirm trends, update what's new, and explore future directions.

By Control Engineering Staff March 25, 2004
EZ-Screen is believed to be the lowest cost system of its kind, beginning at $1,025 for an emitter and receiver pair, says Banner Engineering. Logic is embedded.

While the Control Engineering Buyer’s Guide provides a reference of what companies offer what kinds of products, I always appreciate a technology review to confirm trends, update what’s new, and explore future directions. Seeing people in person also can provide added perspective. I visited Banner Engineering recently about machine safety, vision, photoelectric sensors, and other technologies. Here’s a smattering of what I learned.

Machine safety’s huge and growing quickly, suggests Mike Carlson, Banner safety product marketing manager. Banner Engineering safety-related products include safety light screens, safety interlock switches, and e-stop and two-hand control safety modules. Some products are embedding intelligence, which can avoid the need for an external PLC. EZ-Screen and EZ-Screen Grid/Point light curtains (photo) require no controller: a complete system has an emitter and receiver; options include interface modules, mounting options, and enclosures. Resolutions include 14 and 30 mm and 2-, 3-, & 4- beam systems. Redundant and self-checking design qualifies as a type-4 device as defined by IEC 61496, Carlson says; all models have a fast output response time that ranges 9-40 milliseconds. With the EZ-Screen models, easy-to-read LEDs and seven-segment displays tell where the faults are (or were) for “easy” operation and diagnostics. “There’s no perfect light curtain, but these are darn close,” Carlson contends. For more on safety, see Control Engineering ‘s November 2003 article, ” Reach for Machine Safety .”

QC50, with a powerful microprocessor and refined sensing optics, outperforms competitive sensors in functionality and is $439, according to Banner Engineering.

Joseph Dolinsky, technical marketing manager, touts the rugged, robust nature of Banner sensors. “We use our products to test our products,” he says, while poking through a boxful of sensors. Picking one and turning it over in his hand, Dolinsky explains that the QC50 (photo), an easy-to-use, compact true color sensor, uses modulated white light with red, green, and blue (R, G, B) electronic filters to scan for the presence of one, two, or three colors. Its compact size (50 x 25 mm) allows it to be mounted almost anywhere. Configuration options include programming mode for color detection parameters and setup mode for selecting an adjustable output off-delay, when needed, he adds. It’s fast, he says, with a 335-microsecond sensing response time, and is economical, compared to comparable alternatives.

In the vision area, Dan Holste, manager of product development for vision, says Banner started offering vision in the late 1990s, after initial players took some lumps. “Our three objectives with vision, based on our observations, are ease of use, price, and performance,” Holste says, reviewing the marketplace. The Banner PresencePlus Pro captures and analyzes images using one or more vision tools to generate results, similar to larger, more complex and expensive vision systems. Setup is easy and PC-based set-up software is free, Holste says. “We have very friendly software,” he maintains. If needed, training is also free. Price is about $2,295 for the sensor, $2,695 for the kit with everything needed. For more on the topic from Control Engineering , see “

Vision system-turned-sensor simplifies inspections


Quick, readily available information needs to be available online. The Banner site , is divided into photoelectrics, measurement and inspection, machine safety, accessories and fibers, with “mouse-over” subcategories. In addition, recently introduced iSelect tool allows users to quickly mouse over and then drill into characteristics of each photoelectric sensor offering. Similarly, iKnow offers online training for photoelectrics, with several hundred application examples.

—Mark Hoske, Editor-in-Chief, Control Engineering,