Technical Blog

What is a Position Sensor?

Position sensors are used throughout many industries for applications in motorsport, agriculture, industrial application etc and are also used in devices which surround us such as elevators and moving ramps. Position sensors are even used in the special effects department of films. 

Different types of Position Sensor

There are different types of position sensor; the main types come under the type of movement they measure; linear or rotary.

Linear position sensors convert linear movements or measurements into output signals for processing. Linear position sensors are all around us. Linear position sensors use different types of technology to ensure they are taking measurements in the best way for the application in hand. 

They can be either contacting or non-contacting; non-contacting linear position sensors are wear-free and therefore offer a longer life but typically are higher in cost.

Rotary position sensors convert rotary movements into output signals. Like linear position sensors, rotary position sensors can also be contacting or non-contacting

Rotary position sensors can also be single turn or multi-turn so depending on the degree of rotation or number of turns, one type will be better suited.

Position Sensor Technology

Each different type of position sensor uses a different type of technology. Some of the more popular and well-known ones are;

Potentiometer - a contacting technology used in both linear and rotary sensors.

Hall effect - more popular with rotary sensors but can also be used in linear sensors, non-contacting technology.

Inductive - non-contacting technology using alternating currents to measure linear position. 

LVDT - non-contacting linear sensors - linear variable differential transformer

RVDT - non-contacting rotary sensors - rotary variable differential transformer

Eddy Current - inductive non-contacting measuring method for linear and rotary movements

Positek PIPS - one of our sister companies; non-contacting technology for either linear or rotary measurements.


For more details on any of the above technologies take a look at our previous blog posts

LVDT vs Linear Potentiometer

Non-Contacting sensors  

What is a position sensor used for?

Position sensors are used in many applications, they are used across industries such as; automotive, motorsport, medical, agriculture, robotics, industrial processing, mobile vehicle, test and lab applications, food & beverage, packaging, machine tool, wrapping and many more.

Some example applications using position sensors are;

  • Steering systems on agricultural machinery
  • Electric cart throttle control
  • Conveyor speed measurement
  • Printing process control
  • Labelling control
  • Ramp and bridge positioning 
  • Ticket barrier opening angles 
  • Used on Segway’s 
  • Measuring the thickness of dough in baking machines 
  • MRI machines 
  • CCTV camera positioning 

Find out more about Position sensor applications in our blog post.  

Position sensors from Variohm  

We have a comprehensive range of position sensors; take a look at our categories on our website;

Article published on: 07/04/2020