The ever-increasing capabilities of flow and level sensors offer strong potential for OEMs to take advantage of both off-the-shelf and custom built solutions, says Mike Powers, Product Marketing Director for Gems Sensors and Controls.

Flow and level sensors have proved beyond doubt their benefits in managing and optimising engineering systems across a wide variety of industries. The current market leaders in sensor technology have now developed such a depth and breadth of experience that they are able to solve an ever increasing number of challenges faced by engineers involved in the design and development of fluid control systems.  

The technological expertise offered by the designers and developers of today’s sensors offers great advantages to OEMs in the construction of custom, engineered fluid systems and, while personal attention and technical support is available to produce bespoke systems to customers’ individual requirements, it is also true to say that, in many cases, sensor manufacturers have now considered so many problems that they may already have a product solution available off the shelf, saving further time and money. 

A strong example of the latter arrived this year, courtesy of Gems Sensors & Controls, in the form of a new compact, durable and low cost Electro-Optic Level Sensor (ELS) for liquid level sensor applications.  The ELS 950M will benefit OEMs and end users in a wide range of industries as its brass housing, over-moulded electronics insert, TPE insulated wires and fluorocarbon O-ring seal create an air- and watertight resistant assembly that offers reliable performance even in harsh environments.  This sensor can also maintain integrity in temperatures ranging from -40°C to +110°C, making it the Electro-Optic Liquid Level Sensor with the greatest resistance to high temperature in the entire Gems catalogue.

The range of options offered by recent developments in flow and level measurement is impressive, as is illustrated when you look at two entirely unrelated industries for which these sensors have provided powerful solutions.  In off-highway vehicles, for example, the ever present need to optimise and increase efficiency while also meeting environmental standards has led to changes in the type of coolant used, rendering some existing sensors less effective and subsequently driving the development of new components that can remain unaffected.  For example, where a capacitance sensor can become coated by new types of coolant, the substitution of a new, solid-state liquid level sensor with no moving parts can perform the same task and provide impressive levels of durability.  With the potential to operate within extreme temperatures ranging between -40C and +125C, and ingress protection ratings of IP66 and upwards in casings no more than 3” long, this new generation of level sensors is proving to be valuable, especially in applications that must withstand extreme environmental conditions.

Sensors of an entirely different kind have revolutionised engineering in medical markets.  The performance of dialysis machines, which provide a critical service to patients who have lost kidney function by purifying the blood and preventing over hydration, has been streamlined via the use of advanced flow sensors.  Owing to the extremely high temperatures required during sterilisation cycles, the slow reaction times of some sensors within these machines has triggered equipment shut down, an often unnecessary safety measure that has brought inconvenience, delay and disappointment to waiting patients.  This problem has now been addressed by the designers and engineers of flow sensors, resulting in the manufacture of ultra-compact flow switches that are not adversely affected by high temperatures.  These sensors are equipped with a magnetic piston that is displaced by liquid flow to magnetically actuate a hermetically-sealed reed switch isolated within the unit.

As OEMs discover the array of solutions now available for sensing level and flow, the designers and engineers of these systems are constantly discovering new ways to provide simple solutions to common problems.  One of Gems’ award-winning designs was the ExOsense™ liquid level sensor, which can be attached to the outside surface of a plastic tank or container and detects the presence or absence of fluid opposite the sensors.  This instant method of non-contact sensing is achieved quickly and easily by the end user, who simply peels the backing from the self-adhesive disc attached to the sensor and sticks it to the container.  ExOsense™ eliminates the possibility of fluid contamination, offering another simple and effective way to benefit OEM liquid level applications.

Offering compact size, durability and low cost, the new generation of flow and level sensors are ideal for a variety of sensing operations in many applications, offering OEMs the opportunity to enhance and optimise their operations with measurable, positive results.


For more information on Gems Sensors please contact:

Gems Sensors and Controls, Lennox Road, Basingstoke, Hampshire, RG22 4AW. 

Tel: +44 (0) 1256 320244.  Email: