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City Technology celebrates 25 years of gas sensing innovation

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Hydrocarbon Engineering,

Honeywell company, City Technology, is celebrating the 25th anniversary of its specialist gas sensing range, Sensoric. The Sensoric range, manufactured in Bonn, Germany, provides one of the most comprehensive specialist gas sensing portfolio available on the market. More than 180 000 sensors, which detect toxic and exotic gases such as ammonia, hydrides, fluorine, chlorine and ozone, are manufactured at the facility each year.

One of the keys to Sensoric’s sustained success over the 25 years is the ability to meet complex application needs and create niche solutions. “We excel at solving difficult operational challenges through the application of highly specialised technologies that increase accuracy, reliability and sensitivity, removing the obstacles faced by many challenging applications,” said City Technology’s Bonn Site Leader, Dr Andreas Koenig.

Specialist sensing

“The specialist gas sensing market is diverse in nature and has grown considerably since we began as an organisation,” Koenig continued. “Besides the growing use of ammonia for refrigeration, the macro trends of increasing safety standards and evolving chemical regulations have led to a need for the more exotic gases like phosphine, diborane and hydrogen chloride. Applications and exact processes vary, creating their own challenges and this means that bespoke gas sensing solutions are often required to provide an exact fit. Since the early 1990s we put a key focus on designing niche products and today we offer 40 sensors detecting 20 different toxic and exotic gases, 60 variations of those cells and expert application support. Bespoke engineering has proved to be a real differentiator for us and this, combined with our advanced technology, has helped us maintain a strong and consistent double digit year on year growth.”

Continued innovation and the development of small profile sensing technologies that set the benchmark for performance are key features of the Sensoric range, achieved through consistent investment and the application of best practice manufacturing processes. After the range was introduced in 1990, Sensoric sensors became popular with the semiconductor industry through their ability to offer small profile, trace level monitoring with enhanced reliability. This early success led to an expansion into the industrial safety market, and the development of drop in sensor adaptations for existing instruments. Growth and market expansion soon sparked interest from major gas sensing player First Technology, which acquired the brand in 2004.

Investment and acquisition

In 2006 First Technology was acquired by Honeywell. Each acquisition brought with it investment and processes that helped evolve Sensoric into a market leader. “Our initial success in the semiconductor industry enabled a quick expansion into industrial safety markets and customised sensor designs,” said Koenig. “This success and the acquisition by First Technology allowed us to grow and invest in areas like Lean manufacturing and automated sensor manufacture, ensuring we could meet market needs for smaller, more ergonomic sensors with increased sensitivity and reliability.”

“Our integration into Honeywell provided further infrastructural support through enhanced sales, marketing, research & development and the application of Velocity Product Development (VPD) techniques,” Koenig explained. “These developments strengthened our technological offering, infrastructure, in house expertise and reach, as we continued to expand into new markets and regions. This investment has helped us create very strong scientific expertise; today we have several PhD level scientists in our organisation.”

Enhanced performance

Sensoric sensors serve a wide variety of specialist industries from ammonia refrigeration, gold and coal mining, biogas, emissions, hi tech laboratories, semiconductor and photovoltaics to water treatment, pulp and paper processing and the chemical industry.

City Technology will continue to shape the global gas sensing industry through the introduction of revolutionary smart technologies. “It’s a very interesting time for the gas sensing market,” said Dr Stefan Degen, City Technology’s Research and Development Manager for Specialist Gas Sensors, speaking at the Sensor + Test 2015 exhibition. “As highlighted in my innovation speaker session at Sensor + Test, we are developing smaller and smarter sensors, that will offer enhanced in built intelligence, greater PPE integration potential and increased reliability, sensitivity and longevity. We are pioneering these technologies that will have a big impact on the global safety industry, providing users with increased safety, ease of use and added value.”

“Back when we began in specialised gas sensing, we produced the industry’s smallest profile toxic gas sensor, which was used in the MSTox portable gas detector,” Degen continued. “This groundbreaking device was incredibly popular in light of its small, ergonomic design and sensitive high performance monitoring capability. Our technology, especially the highly selective IP protected ammonia (US6248224B1) and hydrogen fluoride (US6423209B1) SE sensors, have been a key aspect of MSTox’s success and our latest developments will no doubt allow instrument manufacturers to achieve similar success and differentiation in the future. I feel confident we will not only maintain the degree of success we have enjoyed over the last 25 years, but we will also build on it, creating a greater legacy of innovation that will continue to shape the gas sensing industry.”

Adapted from press release by Rosalie Starling

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