Sensors enjoy energy boost, says Omron Europe chief
Rain clouds have an economic silver lining, says Mark Jones chief operating officer Omron Electronics Europe
The environmental climate seems as tough as the economic climate at the moment – I write at the tail of the UK’s the most intense September storm in 30 years.
It is notoriously difficult to draw a line between weather patterns and climate change, but there is no doubt that there is an ever stronger focus on reducing energy consumption amongst customers.
This is being achieved both by reducing the ‘active’ power consumption of systems when they are in use, and by ensuring that they are switched off when not required.
Sensor and switching component manufacturers have a key role to play in this. Sensors are the most common way of detecting when a system is not required and can be switched off, and there is always room for improvement.
For example, the pyroelectric sensors commonly used to detect room occupancy have a tendency to switch off the lights when the occupants sit still, but a MEMS infrared sensor uses thermal means to avoid this issue.
Electro-mechanical relays are still one of the best ways of ensuring that systems or sub-systems are fully powered down when they are not required. There is still plenty of room for innovation here too, especially in reducing size and weight.
A further interesting, and encouraging trend is the tendency for products incorporating these technologies to be designed and manufactured close to the local market. Increasing energy costs are having a growing impact on the cost of logistics, and the inflexibility of long supply chains is now widely recognised.
Labour costs are rising in Asia. We invested in its manufacturing site in Alatri, Italy in 2012. Europe is one of the world’s biggest end-user markets for electronics and the economics in favour of manufacturing here are steadily improving.