What is displacement and how can it be measured?

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Put simply, displacement is change - change in the position of an object from its original point. Displacement measurement is the measurement of this change.

Monitoring and measuring change using displacement sensor technology is vital to society and industry, whether it’s in relation to manufacturing processes, product quality, the integrity and safety of civil structures, or farming and the impact of climate change.

Change, in the many and varied ways that it occurs, is measured by a wide range of displacement sensors and probes, which are often designed for specific environments.

Examples of displacement measurement in society

How climate change is affecting the natural environment is one of today’s most pressing issues and displacement measurement is integral to mapping its impact.

Linear sensors are used to measure the impact of changes in climate on biodiversity, including the growth of trees and fruit crops. Other agricultural sector applications include the measurement and monitoring of climate, land and soil for the purpose of optimising farming practices and ensuring worker safety.

Sensors are also used to capture seismic activity, providing invaluable insight into this type of activity, including its scale and impact.

With regard to civil engineering structures, such as bridges and roadways, displacement sensors are used to survey the mechanical properties of soil and rock conditions of sites prior to construction, to gauge how structures are affecting their immediate environment (i.e., in relation to noise) and to monitor how changes in conditions are impacting structures (i.e., in relation to damage).

Examples of displacement measurement in industry

In today’s global marketplace, manufacturers need to comply with stringent regulations and to ensure that the parts and products that they manufacture are built to the highest standard and deliver a consistently high level of performance.

To achieve this assurance and compliance, companies use displacement sensors to monitor and measure the performance of their manufacturing equipment and the standard of the parts and products that they produce.

For example, manufacturers producing mechanical testing instruments and welding machines use miniature displacement transducers to gather data on equipment performance – the probes measure physical displacement and the density of hard metals.

Displacement probes are also used in the fast-growing electric vehicle industry, including to check the flatness of batteries after they have been loaded into their frames.

Customisation and environment-specific sensors

A wide range of displacement sensors are used to measure displacement by companies and organisations across the industry spectrum and society, with the customisation of displacement measurement technology a common requirement.

Notably, many sensors need to be able to take highly accurate measurements in extreme environments. For example, gauges used to monitor rail movement need to do so in high-temperature conditions, while probes used to measure the angle change in antennas at observatories situated close to Antarctica must do so in temperatures as low as -40°C.

In addition, the monitoring of underwater structures requires probes made from special marine-grade steel that is made to withstand salt-water corrosion.

The importance of the right displacement sensor supplier

Displacement measurement is a complex field and extracting highly accurate data is incredibly important. This is why it is essential that you choose the right displacement sensor supplier.

The ability of sensor technology to take highly precise measurements, capture this information digitally and store it for analysis, which can be used to make decisions on quality and safety, is paramount.

The right displacement sensor supplier will help make sure that you choose the displacement sensor technology best suited to your requirements and that it provides the functionality that helps you achieve the performance and assurance that you need.




To find out more about what Solartron Metrology can do for your business, contact us on +44 (0)1243 833333 or sales.solartronmetrology@ametek.com.