Using Non-Contact Ultrasonic Sensors for Distance Ranging Applications

Senix ToughSonic® Ultrasonic Sensors measure the distance to target materials or objects through the air utilizing “non-contact” technology. As the name suggests, this technology permits the operator to avoid touching and/or damaging the target. The sensors are dependable and simple to operate and are utilized in numerous applications and across all industries around the world. For liquid level measurement, refer to Senix’s Tank Level Applications or Water Monitoring Applications.

Senix Sensors Control Position in Metal Looping Pits

Senix Sensors Control Position in Metal Looping Pits

Industries and Applications

  • Converting
  • Factory Automation
  • Government
  • Marine
  • Metals
  • Transportation
  • Robotics
  • Material Handling
  • Printing
  • Paper, Foil, Film


  • Height
  • Sorting
  • Distance
  • Diameter
  • Positioning
  • Dimensioning

The Sensors

Whether utilized inside or outside, ToughSonic® sensors can endure a substantial amount of abuse. Solid-state electronic components are epoxy potted into stainless steel housings, while there are also no mechanical parts that can be broken.

Moreover, IEC-compliant electrical interfaces are shielded from over-voltages and reversed connections. These distance measurement sensors can be connected with all regular categories of automation and telemetry equipment. Applications span straightforward analog connections to complex multi-sensor data networks. Senix’s sensors are cost-efficient because flexible connectivity is embedded within their software – power that can be unlocked using the SenixVIEW PC software supplied with each sensor. Push-button “teach” is also supplied with several models.


  • Type 316 stainless steel housings
  • Sealed epoxy potted construction
  • Ruggedized piezoelectric ultrasonic transducers
  • Liquid-tight IP68 immersion rating
  • IEC compliant electrical interface protection
  • Toughened ToughSonic internal electronics
  • UV-resistant, potted-in cable
  • CE compliant


  • Multiple simultaneous outputs: analog, serial and switch data
  • Modify, optimize and manage configurations using SenixVIEW PC software
  • Remote connectivity, enabling the operator to work safely with the sensors embedded in an application
  • Filters, initialization, lost target and timing properties for optimizing performance
  • RS-232 or RS-485 serial data options
  • RS-485 multi-drop addressable networks
  • Multi-sensor synchronization prevents cross-talk
  • Rapid sensor duplication without re-calibrating
  • Push-button “teachable”


A broad array of materials, encompassing hard to soft, colored to transparent and flat to curved, can undergo measurement. Maximum range is dependent on orientation, shape sound absorption and target size.

Factory and Machinery Applications

Industries: Foil and Film, Converting, Metals, Printing, Pulp and Paper.

Roll Diameter

Roll Diameter undergoes measurement during the unwinding and re-winding of material rolls, which can be aluminum, paper plastics or steel. Analog and switch outputs send signals to motor drives, brakes, clutches or controllers to manage web motion during production. ToughSonic sensors comprise synchronization properties which can inhibit cross-talk from multiple sensors in close proximity. A standard converting slitter-rewinder is presented to the right.

Web Loop Control

Loop Control is utilized for synchronizing cables, material webs or tubing moving between divergent machines. For instance, an extruder might constitute a hose which is subsequently wound onto a take-up reel. The ToughSonic sensor quantifies the loop’s vertical position from below or above to control either the feed or take-up machine. Continuous analog output is capable of providing a feedback signal to a machine controller or motor drive, ensuring that a constant loop position is maintained. This prevents the material from either reaching the floor, which can cause damage, or breaking (tight loop).

Web Break

Web Break detection is utilized in converting machines and printing as a means of shutting down the process as rapidly as possible. Doing so can reduce jamming and avert machine damage in the event of the web breaking. ToughSonic sensor measurements, which can be taken as rapidly as 5 milliseconds, are also user configured with SenixVIEW setup software. This yields precise control over the range of detection timing, filtering and distance, parameters, thus providing fast and accurately timed shut-down commands.

Industries: Material Handling, Robotics


Objects on a conveyor can be dimensioned, selected or rejected in accordance with their height, length or width, provided the object has been correctly positioned. Using only three sensors, roller conveyors are able to align rectangular boxes in order to determine their cubic volume while in motion. These measurements can be utilized for calculating dimensional weight, enabling an accurate decision regarding the most economical shipper.

Stack Height

ToughSonic sensors quantify the Stack Height of material as a means of detecting full or empty conditions, and/or providing an estimate of stacked items. Materials can undergo manual or robotic stacking, with feedback supplied either electrically or by audible/visual alarms. Materials range from paper in a feeder to boxes or construction materials being assembled for shipment.


Positioning of objects is another typical application for ToughSonic ultrasonic sensors. The quantified distance can be utilized for displaying, verifying and/or controlling an object’s orientation in real-time. The sensors are implemented in vehicle positioning and material handling applications, including vehicles on a car wash, loading dock or scale. Objects can be differentiated by height, such as the size of a truck at a loading dock. Applications are capable of detecting presence and absence and can set off an alarm based on time delays.


The width of objects can be determined in open air by utilizing two sensors, provided the object has been correctly aligned. One such application is the measurement of roll width to establish proper size while loading a converting machine or press. It is also possible to measure width (or any dimension) using a singular sensor, provided the object is consistently positioned against a “zero” reference surface such as a conveyor belt, during height measurements.

Sensor Outputs and Interfaces

SenixVIEW Software

SenixVIEW Software

The ToughSonic General Purpose and ToughSonic CHEM product lines all possess multiple analog and switch outputs which are compatible with most of the industrial equipment, in addition to a serial data communications interface for SenixVIEW software setup or user applications.

Analog outputs can be configured in proportion to tank level or volume. Switch outputs can control valves and pumps or indicate high or low alarm conditions. Simple level controls can be generated with only a sensor and an external relay option. Outputs are user-configured with SenixVIEW setup software. Setups are permanently saved in the sensor but can also be saved and duplicated in additional sensors without the need to re-calibrate. Certain models possess five simultaneous outputs while others possess two SenixVIEW selected outputs. Every sensor includes a serial data interface, and each output operates concurrently.

Outputs, ToughSonic 30, 50 and CHEM products

Outputs, ToughSonic 30, 50 and CHEM products

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Senix Corporation.

For more information on this source, please visit Senix Corporation.


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