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A Great Force for Crane and Hoist Solutions

In June 2023, Interface announced our acquisition of UK-based LCM Systems, broadening our international reach, significantly improving our capacity, and adding critical expertise to Interface for specialized measurement solutions designed for cranes and hoist equipment.

Interface and LCM offer our customers robust and diverse measurement devices for hoisting, winching, lifting, subsea, infrastructure, and industrial manufacturing applications.

The LCM-made products in Interface’s 35,000-plus catalog include Load Pins, Tension Links, and Shackles. This includes options for standard products, engineered-to-order, completely custom, ATEX, submersibles, and wireless solutions.

Sample of Interface Load Pins, Tension Links, and Shackles

 

ILMP Stainless Steel Load Monitoring Load Pin

LP Stainless Steel Load Pin

WTSLP Wireless Stainless Steel Load Pin

ITL Tension Link Load Cell

WTSTL Wireless Tension Link Load Cell

WTSATL Lightweight Aluminum Wireless Tension Link

WTSATL-JR Aluminum Compact Wireless Tension Link

ISHK-B Bow Type Crosby™ Cabled Load Shackle

ISHK-D ‘D’ Type Crosby™ Cabled Load Shackle

WTSSHK-B Wireless Crosby™ Bow Load Shackle

WTSSHK-B-HL Wireless Bow Load Shackle

WTSSHK-B-JR Wireless Crosby™ Bow Load Shackle

WTSSHK-D Wireless Crosby™ Load Shackle

TIP:  Use the Interface Load Pin Configuration Submission to get started in defining your exact pin requirements.

Recently, Ken Bishop, Interace’s senior director of custom solutions, had the opportunity to discuss our acquisition of LCM Systems with Overhead Crane and Hoist (OCH) magazine, specifically focusing on our industry-leading lineup of solutions for this industry courtesy of our expert team at LCM. Included below is a brief preview of the article. To read it thoroughly, please visit OCH’s digital magazine Interface Reveals Motivation Behind Acquisition of Long-Time Partner LCM SystemsHoist Magazine’s Overhead Crane and Hoist Winter 2023.

Highlights from the article in Overhead and Hoist Feature Article

In a move that should provide synergistic growth opportunities for both companies, Interface Inc., a US-based leader in force measurement product technology, design, and manufacturing, has recently acquired UK-based LCM Systems – a company it had already partnered with for the past ten years. In fact, Interface has been LCM’s exclusive distributor in the US market since 2018.

“Interface is a very diverse,” Ken Bishop, Interface’s senior director of custom solutions, declared, noting that it has a very strong reputation for producing high-quality load cells, load pins, load shackles, torque transducers, multi-axis sensors, and related measurement solutions for a variety of market sectors including aerospace, automotive, energy, factory automation, and subsea marine. “Given our ability to make high-precision products that our customers can count on, we have been able to grow our business over the years.”

Bishop said it was when certain new customer requirements emerged, for which Interface didn’t have other options to meet, that it decided to reach out to LCM: “At first, such opportunities came up now and then, but over time, we started to do more business with them as it became more and more apparent that there was a nice fit between the products and services that LCM offers and those offered by Interface.”

LCM was founded in 1984 to provide the yachting industry with precision load cell and readout systems but has expanded to also provide those products, as well as engineering and design services, to such other market sectors as energy, civil engineering, maritime, aerospace, heavy lifting and process engineering, including load cell products suitable for Zone 1 and 2 hazardous area applications…read more.

Load pin, Tension link, and Load Shackle App Note Catalog

High Temperature Load Cells 101

The temperature rating of a strain gage type load cell is primarily dependent upon the materials selected for its construction. While the load bearing element is normally good for a wide temperature range, the non-metallic materials in a load cell are quite sensitive to temperature extremes and must be carefully selected to ensure they can withstand high or low temperatures.

Considerations in designing the right solution for high temperatures includes understanding requirements for the strain gage materials, adhesives, and insulations. With any set of materials, performance at temperature extremes is frequently compromised, relative to performance at nominal temperatures.

Most Interface standard load cell models are rated for an upper operating temperature limit of 200°F. Special models can be engineered to operate as high as 500°F by request for customization. We also carry a line of intrinsically safe load cells that are designed and used in harsh environments.

Interface offers a range of high temperature load cells in different form factors, from miniature to jumbo, including:

Compensated temperature range is the range of temperature over which the load cell is compensated to maintain output and zero balance within specified limits. Operating temperature range is the extremes of ambient temperature within which the load cell will operate without permanent adverse change to any of its performance characteristics.

There are four parameters to consider when examining temperature performance of high temperature load cells.

  • Temperature Effect on Zero: The change in zero balance that is due to a change in ambient temperature. It is normally expressed as the slope of a chord spanning the compensated temperature range.
  • Temperature Effect on Output: The change in output that is due to a change in ambient temperature. It is normally expressed as the slope of a chord spanning the compensated temperature range. Note that output is defined as a net value, as the zero-load signal is always subtracted from the loaded signal.
  • Creep: The change in load cell signal that occurs with time while under load, and with all environmental conditions and other variables remaining constant. It is normally expressed in units of % of applied load over a specified time interval.
  • Zero Return: The degree to which the initial zero balance is maintained after application and release of a load, while environmental conditions and other variables remain constant.

Interface load cells are temperature compensated for zero balance. By compensating for zero balance, we can flatten the curve in the relationship between temperature and zero balance. An uncompensated load cell has a much more severe curve, which impacts the accuracy and overall performance. Read more in Understanding Load Cell Temperature Compensation.

Another consideration for utilizing load cells in high temperature environments or exposing load cells to high temperatures is the use of cables. Since cable resistance is a function of temperature, the cable response to temperature change affects the thermal span characteristics of a load cell cable system.  Interface recommends consulting with your application engineer to see if a 6-wire system can eliminate concerns. Also, for non-standard cable lengths, there will be an effect on thermal span performance. For long cable runs or high accuracy applications, this can be a significant factor.

Additional Resources

Hazardous Environment Solutions from Interface

Ruggedized Test and Measurement Solutions Webinar Recap

Coil Tubing Load Cells

Load Pins, Tension Links, & Shackles

 

Hazardous Environment Solutions from Interface

There are hundreds of thousands of engineers and manufacturers that spend their days working in hazardous environments. Whether its operating inside of facilities with large machines with intricate moving parts, working hundreds of feet in the air repairing a bridge, or deep within a mine shaft, these professionals put themselves in danger every day by the nature of their work. As engineers and manufacturers, many of us are also tasked to solve for safety challenges and keep these professionals protected in any environment.

At Interface, one of the ways we contribute to industrial safety is with the development of our Interface Ex Rated Load Cells, also known as Interface Intrinsically Safe Products. These specialized load cells and force measurement solutions are designed and manufactured so that the materials and electronic components are safe for use in hazardous gas and dust environments when installed per applicable installation instructions. These components play an integral role in the safety of the men and women working in dangerous environments in particular industries like oil and gas, mining, aerospace, automotive and more.

These hazardous environments are categorized by the amount of explosive risk that is present in the environment. These levels include:

  • Zone Zero – explosive presence is always there
  • Zone One – explosive presence is close and is sometimes there
  • Zone Two – explosive presence is nearby, but is rarely present other than in some type of leak or other catastrophes

In order for force measurement products to operate safely in these environments, companies must design the devices in accordance with a regulatory body. These products must also be inspected for approval and then it is marked with the certification code that displays the zone and temperatures it’s safe to operate in. In addition, the manufacturing process needs to be highly controlled. Manufacturers must keep documentation for each product, which includes how the product was made and where it went. And they are required to keep that documentation for 10 years in case of a product recall.

There are a number of different regulatory bodies focused on product safety throughout the world, and each has different specifications for explosiveness that need to be met based on the area in which the product is sold. Locations in which Interface can sell its Ex Rated products include countries in North America, Europe, Asia, and Brazil in South America.

The regulatory bodies that develop the specifications and approve products include:

  • International Electrotechnical Commission Explosive Atmospheres (IECEx) is given after a manufacturer proves compliance through a quality assessment report (QAR).
  • ATmospheres EXplosible or ATEX is a European Union(EU) examination certification. In order to receive ATEX certification, the manufacturer must obtain a quality assurance notification (QAN) to sell products in certain EU areas.

Interface develops a host of Ex Rated force measurement products that are certified by both IECEx and ATEX. These products have been used in a wide variety of applications within the energy and automotive industries. Included below are a few examples of the products we sell and the applications using our Ex products

ATEX 3400 Series Load Cells

The 3400 series of load cells are rated for Zone 1 and include the 3416 and 3430 Coil Tubing Intrinsically Safe Load Cells, the 3420 Coil Tubing Intrinsically Safe Load Cell and the 3410 Intrinsically Safe LowProfile® Load Cell. These products are hermetically sealed and have been used in the oil and gas industry to measure the force of coil tubing as it goes down an oil well. The 3400 Series is used in the space industry to help develop hydrogen-powered vehicles because of the threat of explosion with hydrogen power. The 3400 Series Load Cells have also been used in a distillery for a custom whiskey-making application.

ATEX, IECEx, ETL, Inmetro 1923 Series

The 1923 Series Load Cell is used in the oil and gas industry. These load cells include designs rated for both Zone 0 and Zone 2 applications. This load cell measures the force in which the pump jack is operating to avoid allowing the pump to go too fast and interrupt the capillary flow of oil. We also recently developed and released the 1923 Wireless Series load cell. Our 1923 Wireless Series innovation provides the same accurate, real-time data readings with little to no fuss over wires, which can create more hazards for the user.

ATEX SSMH Sealed Hazardous Environment Intrinsically Safe S-Type Load Cell

Our Zone 1 rated SSMH S-Type Load Cell is our only load cell that is certified for dust, so it is most often used in mining operations. This product is a tension and compression load cell that is environmentally sealed at an IP65 rating. It also has a high-temperature rating of up to 290° F for dust environments.

ATEX IECEx Bow Type Crosby™ Cabled Load Shackle

The Interface range of ATEX IECEx load shackles is designed for lifting and weighing in rugged or harsh environments, and also meet the requirements for operation in Zone 1 and 2 hazardous areas. The shackle pins are forged from high tensile stainless steel and are machined to an exacting specification. This range of load shackles is proof loaded to 150% of the normal rated load and is available in a range from 3.25 to 400 MT (7.17K to 882K lbf). The product is internally gaged and the whole instrumented area is sealed to IP67 to protect it in service.

When operating in explosive environments, our customers need to know that their products are safe and reliable. Here at Interface, we stand by the quality of our work and the safety of our Ex Rated products. For more information on Interface’s Intrinsically Safe and Ex Rated products, please visit /product-category/intrinsically-safe/.

Contributor:  Ken Vining, Chief Engineer at Interface

IoT Solution That Monitors Rigging and Lifting in Real-Time Showcased at OTC50

Interface, the world’s trusted leader in technology, design, and manufacturing of force measurement solutions is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) by exhibiting at the global event.

In coordination with the event theme, The Next 50 Years of Offshore Developments, Interface will be highlighting their latest innovations that are advancing force measurement solutions specifically for the oil and gas industry. We will be gathering input from participants in our next-generation of downhole load cell and strain gage technology.

During OTC 2019, Interface is showcasing its proprietary wireless telemetry system (WTS) that measures force capacity in heavy machinery used by oil and gas support service. This innovation connects to software on a PC to handle enormous amounts of weight, preventing damage to both humans and equipment.

Interface’s solution is part of the most exclusive line of integrated wireless products on the market.” Ken Bishop, Director, Sales Engineering

Interface will also be discussing its line of ATEX approved products for use in extremely harsh environments, including its most popular product, the Interface LowProfile® load cell.  The company’s products are customizable to meet any customer specification.

Interface force measurement solutions are used in every facet of energy production from research and exploration to monitoring equipment. You can read more about Interface innovation in dry load cell technology here.  This advancement in force measurement provides unparalleled accuracy in a ruggedized package that will stand up to the harsh environments of a deep oil well. These design iterations increase product lifespans, with cost savings and consistency of using a single force measurement solution.

Attendees of OTC 2019 can find Interface team members at booth #7551, Hall C at NRG Park in Houston, May 6-8 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and May 9 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. CST.