Depending on the encoder, resolution is one of the most important calculations to understand. Accurate print landing, accurate conveyor speed, accurate satellite positioning, accurate elevator control all hinge on the resolution and type of encoder.

Considerations for Choosing the Right Encoder for Your Application

Q&A with Tim Kelley, Technical Sales & Marketing Manager | Encoder

Tell us about yourself and your role with Encoder.

My name is Tim Kelley and I’m the Technical Sales & Marketing Manager at Encoder Products Company.  I head up Marketing here at Encoder Products Company and am responsible for the planning, execution, and management of all ads, events, digital content, lead generation, and branding.  We have six marketing team members who cover everything from website development, digital marketing, trade show management, lead management and graphic design including video and animation.  We have a great team of whom half began at EPC less than 6 months ago!  

I have 30 years of sensor/encoder sales & marketing experienced in automation, packaging, printing/marking/coding, labeling, and material handling.  I have an MBA and a two year electronic engineering technical degree, which started all this wonderful fun.

What are some of the common issues you find when somebody is looking to purchase an encoder?

The model numbers are long, for one thing.  There are a lot of parameters to configuring an encoder; both mechanical and electrical.  Not to mention that locating and deciphering which accessories like cabling/wiring, connectors, bracket options, etc. to use can be quite cumbersome.  Walking the customer through the process of picking the right encoder for a new application requires tech support and, at times, engineering assistance.  We do have a step by step process on our website for configuring some of our encoders.  

But a lot of our encoders can’t be configured this way.  It’s just way too complex and requires technical assistance.

Additionally, a lot of customers call us for drop in replacements for a long lead time competitor’s encoder, or an obsolete model.  Similar to the cell phone idea, not all encoders are built the same.  Many are purposefully differentiated.  So, when there’s a delivery or supply chain issue, or the product is no longer available from the manufacturer, they usually call us.  We have a very extensive list of drop-in replacements or direct replacements to choose from. 

Some are found here on our website:  Direct Replacement Encoders | Accu-Coder® Replacement Encoder

Some we can possibly develop for the customer in a timely manner. Many times we’ve been able to make a sample and ship it out for testing within 3-4 weeks.  A very well known elevator customer asked us for a solution this past summer and they said they were “very impressed with how accessible and knowledgeable our engineering team members were and that they were genuinely surprised at how quickly we provided their sample.”  Stories like this are very common for Encoder Products Company.

Now, there are some offerings out on the market that are proprietary, patented or just not possible for us to accommodate without extensive engineering effort.  But these are not all that common and customers are very understanding in these.

What are your tips for selecting the correct wheel size for measuring encoder applications?

We make it easy to select the right wheeled encoder for any application. We have a step-by-step process for guiding  our customers to determine the correct wheel sizes based on their specific need.  We think this link will help!

How do you calculate Frequency to interface properly with your control?

Encoder Products Company has always done its best to provide adequate training and answer for FAQs like this. We always want to help customers with all technical aspects to ensure they choose and order the encoder that is best for their application. We have an easy Frequency Calculator on our website and also encourage people to reach out to our fantastic team of technical experts who are always ready to help.

How do you accurately determine your resolution requirements for your encoder application?

Depending on the encoder, resolution is one of the most important calculations to understand.  Accurate print landing, accurate conveyor speed, accurate satellite positioning, accurate elevator control all hinge on the resolution and type of encoder.  Whether the need is for absolute or incremental also plays into this requirement.  Please see below for more information concerning the difference.  So, the bottom line is, your application, your control, your automation process will ultimately determine your resolution requirements.

For instance, if the application is to add a label to a box.  How big is the box and how big is the label?  Can the label generally be within ½ inch of center to be good enough?  Or must it be placed in the exact center.  If the box is 2ft X 2ft X 2ft box, and the label is 2-inch X 2-inch, then most likely the accuracy is not all that important, but this too depends on the application requirement.  Change that box to a 2-inch box, that would now  require very accurate placement.  Additionally, how fast is that box coming past the label machine?  Printing is the same.  Large character box printers may not need high resolution encoders, but very customized branded boxes are a different story.  These are the questions our tech support group would ask the customer as we work through the resolution requirement.  

I love our tech support group.  They offer the kind of care and patience required to work through these issues and deliver the right product the first time.  Like a Crime Scene Investigator, our techs and engineers are trained to get to the bottom of the issue and investigate down to the very last detail to ensure maximum customer satisfaction is acquired.

What communication Protocol options are available for encoders?

More and more customers are requiring communication on their encoders, and there are many different types on the market.  We have managed to provide a great deal of the many types available, with very few exceptions.  With Industry 4.0 and IIoT moving rapidly through factories around the world, Encoder Products Company does our part to provide the customers what they demand.  We will continue to develop our offerings according to customer needs.  Please see here for our list of communication encoders.

When do you choose an Absolute encoder vs. an Incremental encoder?

To simplify the answer, if the application requirement is to know the exact position of movement,  like steering an airplane, then you need an Absolute encoder.  If you just need to know the speed of a moving conveyor, motor, turret, etc., then an Incremental should work.  We have an article on our website that explains this in much more detail.


You will be at Automate 2024, what can a visitor expect to see and learn at the Encoder booth?

A little bit of leftover fanfare from Cinco de Mayo!  Ariba!!  Our newest releases of encoders; A36R Model A36R Absolute Encoder | SSI Interface Encoder | Absolute Encoder and our Ethernet/IP Model A58SE Multi-Turn 58 mm Ethernet Absolute Shaft Encoder

Also, our dedicated sales staff and application engineers who can answer all your application questions.  You’ll also receive the warmest welcome from our Idaho culture and hospitality.  This is truly a family company.  Owned by the same family who founded the company 55 years ago.  This company cares about their customers, employees, suppliers, shareholders, and community.  Without any one of these important corporate components satisfied, the wheel doesn’t turn very smoothly.  Come check out the Encoder Products Company/Family at AUTOMATE in Chicago this year.  You’ll be glad you did!

The content & opinions in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent the views of ManufacturingTomorrow
Encoder Products Company

Encoder Products Company

At Encoder Products Company, we specialize in the encoders that provide you with motion feedback. EPC has been a leading designer and manufacturer of motion sensing devices for more than 50 years, we understand that each industrial automation application is different, and you need encoders that fit the needs of your applications. Our encoders are highly configurable, offer an array of shaft or bore sizes, output types, connector types, mounting options, and resolutions as high as 65,536 CPR.

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