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New Interface White Paper Highlights Turning an Active Component into a Sensor

The most common uses of force measurement in OEM (original equipment manufacturer) applications are when a force sensor is designed into a product that will be produced at mid to high volumes and provides real-time force feedback on certain product functions in use. Utilizing sensors as a feature enables data acquisition over time to monitor forces and understand how those forces effect product efficiency, safety, quality or all of these performance metrics. This ultimately is used to design a better product, in the current state and for future enhancements or to know when a product is performing best or risks breaking down.

Did you know that there is another application of force sensors in OEM applications that is playing a large role in the factory of the future? This is when we turn an active component into a sensor and use that data to create automated actions. This solution is used when there is a desire to take a moving component within a system and make it smarter, ultimately allowing it to make data-based decisions on its own.

For example, the manufacturing industry is using force sensors on machines within a production line that are responsible for picking components up for visual inspection. The sensor is integrated into the grabbing component and can tell the machine the exact force to use when picking up the component as not to damage it. This is a critical capability when dealing with expensive and delicate components that can break under too much force. In the past, a force measurement sensor would have been used only to test this functionality. When the sensor is designed directly into the machine, the user can both test beforehand and monitor and automate processes in real-time.

The need for this type of capability is growing rapidly amongst manufacturers across a wide variety of industry including aerospace and defense, industrial, medical, automotive, industrial automation, assembly and more. To further outline the potential for these types of solutions, Interface developed a new white paper that details  how sensor solutions for OEMs work with specific examples of the benefit of turning an active component into a sensor.

Included below is a brief intro to the recently released white paper. Get your copy by clicking on the link here. Additionally, if you’re interested in learning more about Interface solutions for OEM applications go here, or call us to speak to our OEM application experts at 480-948-5555. Ready to get started, let us know how we can help here.

WHITE PAPER EXCERPT

OEM SOLUTIONS: TURNING AN ACTIVE COMPONENT INTO A SENSOR

The age of industrial automation and big data is upon us. Manufacturers that fall behind in equipping their facilities and products with innovation that allows for automated processes, remote monitoring and better efficiency through technology, will quickly fall behind. This is due to the fact that automation helps to significantly improve process quality because it eliminates human error. It also creates long-term cost savings by speeding up several processes, or by helping to monitor products in use and in real-time to optimize performance and stability over time through better data collection.

Get your copy of the white paper to read more.

Special note, contributors to the white paper are Interface and sensor engineering experts, Brian Peters and Rob Fuge.

Additional Resources for OEM

Interface is a Critical Solutions Provider for OEMs

Making the Case for Custom Solutions Webinar Recap

 

Force Measurement Solutions for Advanced Manufacturing Robotics

One of the most significant trends in advancing manufacturing is the use of robotics for smart factory automation. These types of machines are designed and coded to perform a variety of mundane and repetitive tasks on a manufacturing line or within an industrial facility. This allows humans to utilize their skills to work on more complex and productive tasks.

These activities are often characterized as picking, assembly, labeling, packaging, finishing work and inspection. Integrating robotics into manufacturing has many benefits including improved workplace safety, increasing productivity, and reducing material waste and costs. Interface uses robotics in our advanced manufacturing efforts in the assembly and building of world-class sensor technologies that are used around the world.

As with all points within a factory, there are many tasks that are very simple, while others can be very intricate requiring precision. As tasks become more difficult, the accuracy of the robot’s functionality is incredibly important. This is when sensors and precision measurement become instrumental to automation.

To ensure supreme accuracy, force measurement sensors are being used to improve processes as well as designed into robotic systems for monitoring performance data in real time. Force measurement sensors help manufacturers optimize the activities and tasks assigned to automated functions.

Popular types or robots used in advanced manufacturing environments using Interface load cells and our force measurement solutions include:

  1. Articulated – Often used in assembly, these robots have rotary joints to allow for a range of motion. Sensors such as mini or load button load cells are used in the testing and actual embedded in the joints to measure force and pressure.
  2. Gantry – These robots have three linear joints that move in different axes The X, Y, Z measurements are often tested with multi-axis load cells as this cartesian robot requires accuracy and precision.
  3. Cylindrical – This type of single robotic arm moves up and down, often stabilized by a cylindrical rod. They often are used in assemblies, welding, and handling of materials. These are tested with load cells for their ability to articulate the movement with exactness.

Interface products are playing a big role in manufacturing automation, especially in the design and development of robotics that use measurement in performance. They are used in all types of industries including automotive, medical, agriculture, and of course general manufacturing.

We supply a wide variety of sensors that measure force, torque, pressure, pulling force and more. We also are well-known worldwide for the accuracy and reliability of our products, making us the perfect fit for high-precision robotics applications.

Here are a few application examples where force measurement provides enormous value in testing and using robotics to advance manufacturing.

Industrial ArmIndustrial Robotic Arm in Production Line

Robotic arm solutions are becoming commonly used on production lines. When a manufacturer of a robot arm needed to measure force and torque when the arm picks up and places objects, Interface supplied a Model 6A40A 6-Axis Load Cell with Model BX8-HD44 Data Acquisition and Amplifier. The 6A40-6 Axis Load Cell was able to measure all forces and torques (Fx, Fʏ, Fz, Mx, Mʏ, Mz) and the BXB-HD44 Data Acquisition Amplifier was able to log, display, and graph these measurements while sending scaled analog output signals for these axes to the robot’s control system. This helped the customer optimize the multiple forces on the robot needed for moving objects on the production line. Read more about this solution here.

Robotic ArmRobotic Arm

This customer needed to lift and move delicate objects, like a glass bottle, in an automated environment with a robotic arm without causing damage to the objects that are being lifted and moved. Delicacy was the key here. Two ConvexBT Load Button Load Cells were used in the grips of the robotic arm to measure the amount of pressure being applied to the object it is lifting and moving. The DMA2 DIN Rail Mount Signal Conditioner converts the signal received from the 2 ConvexBT Load Button Load Cells from mV/V to volts to the PLC Controller which tells the robotic arm to stop clamping pressure when a specified amount of pressure is applied to the object. The two ConvexBT Load Button Load Cells accurately measured the amount of pressure applied to the object the robotic arm was lifting and moving without causing any harm or damage to the object. Watch Robotic Arm Application Note and read more here.

More robotic applications are being tested every day. Interface is proud to be able to supply the necessary technology to enhance production lines, improve shipping and logistics operations and speed up repetitive processes with robotics so workforces can thrive and develop skills that advance manufacturing overall.

Additional Resources

OEM Industrial Robotic Arm App Note

Automation and Robotics Demands Absolute Precision

Robotics in Play with New Animated Application Using ConvexBT

Interface Solutions for Robotics and Industrial Automation

Force Measurement for Efficiency in Food Processing and Packaging

Interface provides the food processing and packaging industry with sensor technologies that increase efficiency and reduce waste. Like many industrial facilities, organizations are pushing hard to integrate new technology and automation that makes processes faster, more adaptable, and smart.

One of the factors critical to creating a smarter factory is by utilizing force measurement sensors that are designed for collecting data in each production phase, as well as monitoring equipment in use for performance optimization.

Interface has a wide variety of precision-based accurate and reliable sensors used for various applications in food processing and packaging. Our customers are using miniature load cells within the production line to apply the exact force needed to delicately press a logo onto a edible product. We have others using multi-axis sensors from Interface to verify accuracy of intricately machined parts while moving through the manufacturing process.

We’ve provided sensors for industrial automation solutions to thousands of customers using in-stock as well as custom application-specific sensors for OEM equipment. Read our Force Measurement is Reducing Waste and Automating the Consumer Packaging Industry OEM case study to learn more.

Below are additional examples that highlight uses case of actual applications in food processing and packaging.  You can see additional industrial application highlights in our solutions overview by clicking here.

Commercial Food Processing

A food processing plant wanted accurate results of their in-motion check weigher when food is weighed and processed while moving down the belt.  A check weigher is an automated machine for checking the weight of packaged commodities. This included ensuring production line efficiency and food quality, real-time results of their food being weighed, and a load cell that can endure the food industry’s soiled environment.

Interface offered a solution using multiple SPI High-Capacity Platform Scale Load Cells that could be installed in the customer’s equipment that is sued through the production line where product is weighed on the conveyor. The SPI High-Capacity Platform Scale Load Cells delivers precise weighing data. When connected to the 920i Programmable Weight Indicator and Controller, the solution provides the customer real-time results of the weight of the food. The 920i Programmable Weight Indicator and Controller can also read up to four scale channels in real-time. The processing gains in efficiency were visualized and managed during the weighing process to optimize control and production. 

Water Bottle Dispensing and Weighing

A beverage bottle manufacturer wanted to dispense the right amount of fluid into their bottles, and then weigh their bottles to ensure it is at the labeled weight on their product packaging. This is both to minimize waste, but also to meet the standard requirements noted on the packaging. Interface suggested using the MBP Miniature Beam Load Cell, and attaching it under a plate or platform the water bottle is placed on while it is being filled with fluids. The force weight is measured by the MBP Miniature Beam Load Cell, and connected to the 9870 High-Speed High-Performance TEDS Ready Indicator where results are captured, displayed, and recorded by the customer utilizing their water bottle assembly machinery. With this solution, the water bottle manufacturer received highly accurate results of each water bottle being weighed in real-time, using the accuracy to reduce waste and speed processing time.

Snack Weighing and Packaging Machine                     

A snack manufacturing brand wanted to weigh the amount of consumable food product automatically dispersed into the bags during the packaging process. In this case, they needed to weigh their potato chips being packaged and ensure the potato chips are at the exact weight needed due to regulatory standards. Interface’s solution was to use multiple SPI Platform Scale Load Cells and install it to the potato multi-head weigher and packaging machine. The SPI Platform Scale Load cells were installed inside of the mount that attaches the head weigher to the packaging machine. Force results from the potato chips bag fill are read by the load cells and sent to the ISG Isolated DIN Rail Mount Signal Conditioner, where the customer was able to control the automated production from their command center.

The customer was able to determine the weight of the potato chips being distributed into their bags with highly accurate results. They also were able to control the automated production process with the provided instrumentation. They will use this same weighing method for other snacks that need to be packaged.

To learn more about Interface solutions designed for the modern factory, or specifically the food and beverage industry, contact our expert application engineers.

Additional Packaging Application Note:

Candy Stamp Force Testing

Testing for Commercial Drones and Parcel Delivery

Drone parcel delivery, and the use of drones in general, has expanded rapidly throughout the world. A technology that was once relegated to science fiction and imagination is becoming a real-world asset and making a huge impact on many commercial use applications in military and defense, consumer goods, logistics and inventory management, industrial automation, construction, security, agriculture, healthcare, imaging and surveying, as well as shipping and fulfillment.

To give you an idea of the impact of drones, take a look at recent numbers published by the FAA on registered drones in the U.S.:

  • 1,710,159 Drones Registered
  • 495,909 Commercial Drones Registered
  • 1,210,751 Recreational Drones Registered
  • 195,346 Remote Pilots Certified

There is a significant role for test and measurement as well as embedded sensors in this growing industry, which is expected to reach of $6B in size in the next few years. Load cells play a huge part in the design and development of this specialized aircraft technology and ongoing monitoring while in flight. Drones are classified as unmanned aerial vehicles. Basically, an aircraft without a human pilot. Successful operation of a UAV is dependent on a system, including the vehicle, a ground-based controller, and communications components, all of which must pass rigorous performance testing standards and constant data feedback.

The knowledge and tools we apply to test and measure airplanes and spacecraft performance can be transferred at a smaller scale to drones. Drone OEMs need to collect data points on thrust and velocity in test, and they also need to collect real-time sensor data on drones in-use. In fact, a large variety of sensor types are used for drone applications, including: force sensors, gyroscopes, barometers, and accelerometers.

Most recreational drones have passed significant testing during the engineering and design phase to ensure safety for anyone on the ground. Early applications and adoption sparked immediate regulation and safety requirements. We are now seeing the fastest expansion of this technology into commercial use. The future of drone technology for wide-scale business use has several of the world’s largest companies engaged in expansive development and deployment in use of UAVs for package delivery, including Alphabet (Google), Amazon, UPS, CVS and Walmart.

Commercial applications require substantially more rigorous testing in all use cases, in particular for transportation of objects. Most developed countries have defined commercial use requirements and regulations, such as the FAA in the U.S. Not only is the safety of those on the ground important critical, so is protecting the value of the goods in transport.

In demonstrating how force measurement solutions are used with drone technology, Interface created animated application note showcasing how a force solution is necessary for real-time monitoring of drones used in the shipping and fulfillment markets. Testing beyond flight, there is a level of complexity present when you introduce the weight of a package to a drone.

DRONE TESTING USE CASE

Customer Challenge:

A customer approached Interface to deliver a force solution capable of weighing a “payload” and using that data in real-time to tell the propeller motors to compensate for weight shifting or uneven weight distribution. The purpose of the force solution was to help the drone lift the payload and fly normally to reach its destination.

Interface Force Measurement Solution:

To solve this challenge, Interface supplied four WMC Sealed Stainless Steel Miniature Load Cells, which were used to measure the weight of the payload and detect weight shifting and distribution in flight. As shifting and uneven distribution occurred, the load cells send a signal to the necessary propeller motors to compensate.

How it Works:

The four miniature load cells are connected independently to each of the four landing gear legs. The load cells are then connected to the drone’s processor, which allows the load cell to communicate the weight of the payload and store the information. As the drone flies and weight shifts, the load cell can then relay the information to the processor in real-time so that the individual motors increase in RPM to balance the shifting weight.

Subscribe to Interface’s YouTube Channel to see our latest animated application notes. This new series of animated application notes give viewers a better sense of how force measurement products are applied to real-world challenges to collect and analyze data. So far, we have produced three animated application notes, which we have linked below:

 

Interface Solutions for Robotics and Industrial Automation

As the manufacturing world continues to push towards the 4.0 Industrial Revolution, critical technology is necessary to ensure facilities are running as efficiently as possible. With advancements toward fully or semi-autonomous factories and robotics, manufacturers need to have total trust in their hardware and software to perform with precision in the assigned tasks. This requires collecting accurate and real-time data to constantly monitor every aspect of the facility’s technology and production.

In the development of robotics used in industrial automation, our Interface Multi-Axis Sensors are often used to test the multi-directional movement and force of robotics arms. Whether it’s a fully automated or semi-automated robotic system, manufacturers need to be able to ensure the complex movements and actions of the robotics arm are optimized to take on very precise jobs. These types of robotics are often used for projects that are too precise for the human hand.

Industrial automation and robotics are creating a more efficient manufacturing process, which will help to churn products out more quickly and lower costs. However, to optimize these processes, it’s critical that we trust the hardware to operate autonomously and that we have systems in-place to identify malfunctions quickly.

Interface plays a critical role in robotics and industrial automation by providing our customers with highly accurate load cells and torque transducers to measure and collect data on the force and torque that these machines are exerting. Interface force measurement solutions and products are involved in the testing of the machines before they hit the production line, and in some cases, our products are also installed directly on the machine to allow users to monitor the force in real-time.

One industry that has a high demand for our products is the consumer packaging industry. Many of the processes involved in the production line of a consumer packaging plant have utilized automation for a long time.

For instance, beverage companies that sell bottles of water or soda utilize machines that cap the product all day long. Hundreds of thousands of bottles go through the capping process on the production line daily. If there are any issues with the torque applied in the capping process, the beverage company could see heavy losses because the bottle could be damaged from over torquing the cap, or the beverage could leak during the shipping process if the caps are under torqued. To avoid these loses, the machines are optimized using a torque transducer.

Torque transducers provide data during the testing process to help the machine manufacturer get the force exactly right for the capping process. The torque transducer can also stay installed on the machine so that the beverage company can continuously monitor the torque of the machine and stop production before damages occur if there is an issue.

Interface offers nearly 50 types of reaction (static) torque transducers and rotary (dynamic) torque transducers. All of our torque transducers are precision-machined and use our proprietary torque sensors for the most accurate data possible.

Another common automation use for force and torque measurement products is in the automotive industry. Automation in this industry has been used for some time increase production of cars.

Two examples of how Interface load cells and torque transducers play a role in the automobile production line is with seat durability testing and bolt fastening.

For seat testing, we had a customer use an Interface Multi-Axis Model 6A68C 6-Axis Load Cell to identify previously unknown bending forcing that could negatively influence their testing process. This allowed the customer to redesign their testing fixture to eliminate the bending moment and more accurately perform the durability testing.

For bolt fastening, we installed an Interface Model LWCF Clamping Force Load Washers along with Interface Instrumentation to monitor the force being applied during bolt tightening. This helped the customer avoid over tightening bolts, which could damage the product in the process.

For a more in-depth overview of both applications, please check out our application notes:

Force measurement products are a critical technology in the testing and monitoring of automation equipment. To learn more about the various products and instrumentation Interface supplies to facilitate industrial automation and support advancements in robotics, contact our applications experts here.  We also have a number of application notes focused on industrial automation here.

Contributor: Ken Bishop, Sr Sales Director, Custom Solutions and Services

 

Load Button Load Cells 101

Manufactured devices, technology advancements and product designs are getting smaller and smaller as innovations demand less space to do more for their consumers. As engineers are designing products with miniaturized components, they also need high quality test and measurement solutions that produce accurate results within these smaller testing spaces.

Interface has created a series Load Button Load Cells to meet these exact requirements. These load buttons are designed and manufactured to specifically fit into small and confined spaces, providing the precision-based measurements as expected from larger load cells.

Interface Load Button Load Cells are compact strain gauge-based sensors used in a wide variety of applications, including test and measurement and for general measurement applications. Interface standard LBM and LBS Load Button Load Cells can fulfill the need for compression force measurements at a very respectable precision level for most applications.

Product diameters range from 1 inch to 3 inches, with heights from 0.39 inch to 1.5 inches. The shaped load button load cell has a spherical radius to help confine misaligned loads to the primary axis of the cell. And while these products are small, they are capable of measuring compression forces from 10 lbf all the way to 50,000 lbf. The spherical radius of our Load Cell Load Buttons also help to confine misaligned loads to the primary axis of the cell.

Interface Load Button Load Cells 

Interface’s Custom Solutions Team and Product Engineers can also help to design a specific size and capacity to fit our customer’s exact requirements. Let us know what you need by contacting us here.

Load Button Load Cells Functionality and Proper Use

Applications that use compression loads on load button load cells requires an understanding of the distribution of forces between surfaces of various shapes and finishes.

The first and most important rule is to always avoid applying a compression load flat-to-flat from a plate to the top surface of a load button hub. The reason for this is simple, it’s impossible to maintain two surfaces parallel enough to guarantee that the force will end up being centered on the primary axis of the load button load cell. Any slight misalignment, even by a few micro-inches, could move the contact point off to one edge of a hub, thus inducing a large moment into the measurement.

Minor misalignments merely shift the contact point slightly off the centerline. In addition to compensating for misalignment, the use of a load button load cell of the correct spherical radius is necessary to confine the stresses at the contact point within the limits of the materials. Generally, load button load cells and bearing plates are made from hardened tool steel, and the contacting surfaces are ground to a finish of 32µ inch RMS. If you use too small of a radius it will cause a failure of the material at the contact point, and a rough finish will result in galling and wear of the loading surfaces.

Interface Load Button Load Cells in the Real World 

The evolving world of technology and product design has created a high demand for these types of small and accurate testing equipment. Innovative industries are looking at new ways to fit more capabilities into a single device that is the same size or even smaller. OEM applications that require this type of testing equipment include medical devices, drones, industrial automation, packaging and robotics.

We have highlighted a few examples of how Interface Load Button Load Cells have been used in the medical industry to solve complex challenges related to measuring compression force in confined spaces.

Measuring Vascular Clamp Force

A customer in the medical industry wanted to test various types of vascular clamps to see which type would generate the best clamping force for surgery. Using a Model LBS Load Cell, the clamps were secured onto the compression button. A Model 9330 High Speed Data Logging Indicator provided compression force measurements and allowed the customer to determine the most appropriate clamp type. Read the full application use case here.

Optimizing Surgical Stapler Force

Another customer needed to optimize the design of their surgical stapler to make it easier and more efficient for a medical professional to use. The original equipment manufacturer mounted the surgical stapler onto a test rig to enable force verification, and then connected a Model LBMU Compression Load Cell Button to a Model 9890 Load Cell Indicator. The indicator would collect compression force data from the stapler, and that data was then analyzed to allow the OEM to determine the design changes needed to reduce the amount of force applied to use the stapler.  Learn more about this application here.

For more information on our expanding lineup of Load Button Load Cells, see the overview below. In addition, say tuned in to the IQ Blog for an exciting announcement about new Interface Load Button Load Cell technology.  Most standard Load Button Load Cells are available to ship within 2 business days. Contact us for more information or visit our QS48 now.

Click here to see the full line of Load Button Load Cells.  

Applications for Consumer Products and Packaging

When we think about force measurement and its relation to product development, we often consider the aerospace, automotive or industrial industry. However, many of Interface’s customers use load cells and torque transducers to test and develop machinery used for consumer products and in the packaging industry.

In order to meet this demand, customers need force measurement tools that are both accurate and provide the necessary data points to automate and regulate consumer packaging machinery. This consumer packaging case study takes a look at the wide variety of applications of force measurement tools used to create consistency and quality among the products consumer buy and use daily.

BACKGROUND

If you have ever wondered how a pill or piece of candy gets a little logo stamped on it without crushing it or how every bag of chips is nearly filled to the same capacity, chances are a load cell or torque transducer was involved. Interface works with hundreds of customers who manufacture a wide variety of machines used in the consumer packaging industry. These machines serve numerous functions including logo stamping, bag weighing, bottle capping, sealing, and precision cutting.

According to Grandview Research, the use of automation, as well as robotics throughout the packaging lines, has seen tremendous growth in recent years. The aim is to improve productivity, reduce the operating costs and prevent waste, thus improving the overall efficiency of the packaging systems. “Big Data” has also gained popularity with operation managers that collect machine data to regulate the performance of the machinery, undertake preventive maintenance and maximize the up-time.

CHALLENGE

The challenge our customers run into when building these machines is they require a high level of precision to get consistent and repeatable results. If the machines are incorrectly calibrated, it can lead to excessive waste. For instance, if a bottle of soda isn’t capped correctly, it can leak, or if the machine which embosses toilet paper and napkins is too forceful, the paper will be ripped to shreds. Currently, most packaging machines are relying on physical hard stops, clutches, monitoring motor current and laborious tasks to monitor and apply the necessary force and torque. To ensure proper performance and to reduce waste, the most accurate and reliable force measurement tools are required.

SOLUTION

Interface works with hundreds of original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) who develop machines for the consumer packaging industry. Depending on the function of the machine, we manufacture a wide variety of force measurement products to help reduce waste, ensure repeatable results and provide accurate data to help consumer packaging customers automate their processes.

All of our products come with various data communication systems, including analog or digital and Bluetooth®, wireless or Ethernet. This provides customers with flexibility in their data collection methods and the ability to connect systems through the Internet of Things (IoT) functionality. For machines using a precision twisting motion, such as capping machines, we offer nearly 50 types of reaction torque transducers and rotary torque transducers for customers. All of our torque transducers are precision-machined and use our proprietary torque sensors for the most accurate data possible.

For precision weighing or stamping, such as the candy stamping application, we manufacture more than 60 different types of load cells and Interface Mini Load Cells. These load cells have capacities as low as 1 lbf (500 gf) for extreme precision. In our customer’s application highlighting candy stamping, a test apparatus was outfitted with the Interface Model WMC Mini Load Cell and a 9330 Data Logging Indicator to measure the compression force required to imprint the candy without crushing it and collect data to finely tune the process.

For applications using robotics, Interface offers multi-axis sensors to test force and torque measurements simultaneously in three mutually perpendicular axes.

RESULTS

Accuracy in packaging is a game-changer for cost-savings, production efficiency, time-to-market, and product safety. Whether you are measuring, weighing or securing, Interface load cells, mini load cells, torque transducers, and instrumentation can assure you the quality and accuracy you need to protect your brand and customer satisfaction.

Interface is one of the leading force measurement manufacturers for the consumer packaging industries. We work directly with OEM’s and engineering consultants to implement systems and products which help to reduce waste, automate the packaging process and provide accurate, repeatable results. For more information on how Interface can help solve your test and measurement challenges, please contact us to connect with our specialized Application Engineers, click here to locate a local Representative or International Distributor.

READ COMPLETE CASE STUDY HERE

Interface Case Study For Consumer Packaging

Robotics and Automation are Changing Modern Manufacturing at Interface

As the leader in manufacturing force measurement solutions for more than 51 years, the day of carrying out monotonous tasks on the manufacturing line by hand is a history not worth repeating.

Innovation is a core value at Interface. It is essential in helping us advance and grow our production experience and responsiveness to our customer’s advanced application use of our load cells, torque transducers, and thousands of other products that we manufacture.

Continuous Improvement SME Lance Gerdes shares his insight into how a focus on innovation is leading to the introduction of automation tools and robotics onto the manufacturing floor at Interface’s 50,000 square foot headquarters in Arizona.

It is difficult to look back fondly on the days that lacked automation of production line tasks. Line work was straining and tedious during those days, as most technicians would agree. Fast-forward to today, companies who are incorporating new technology are typically experiencing process improvements, increased efficiency, reduced overhead, improved quality output and better run facilities overall.

Results speak for themselves. Manufacturing facilities equipped with automation can significantly reduce time spent on repetitive work, freeing up time for technicians to focus on other areas that advance production and get products to market.

Interface recently invested in a line of collaborative robots to upgrade our facilities. With responsibility for the specialized 1923 Wireless Load Cell product line at Interface, looking back there are many of the typical tasks our technicians used to carry out that involved full days of certain repetitive tasks by hand. The days where my technicians were forced to focus on these tasks represented a significant barrier to peak productivity. Times have changed and so has Interface!

Today with the introduction of automation, we are operating more efficiently than in those dark ages without robotics. We are using collaborative robots to handle tasks, including the application of RTV, which is a silicone sealant used on load cells to protect them from environmental factors. In the past, the technician would be responsible for applying this adhesive in addition to hand-tooling. By automating the adhesive step of this task, those technicians are averaging 50% more efficiency in their workflow.

“Robotics used to facilitate automation is a “must-have” addition to every manufacturing floor.” Lance Gerdes

The return on investment is easily achievable in a year or less. Interface has seen as high as a 15% production increases across the board. As a champion of continuous improvements in our manufacturing, I am excited to see our production results. This success is now leading us to look into more tasks that can be automated using collaborative robotics.

One concern regarding the rise of robotics in the industrial sector we constantly get questions about is the use of robotics as a replacement for our human workforce. This could not be further from the truth at Interface. If anything, robotics will eventually increase the skill set of our current technicians and open up new job openings for Interface as we grow. As we get more advanced collaborative robotics integrated into our work, it improves our capabilities. We will need operators for this automation equipment. And, as we become more efficient and increase profit margins, we’ll have the capacity to grow Interface’s products and services. A win for more jobs, more solutions, and more happy customers!

Robotics and automation are changing the way manufacturing floors operate for the better. At Interface, we look forward to researching and applying new ways that each department can implement automation and robotics technology.

Contributor:  Lance Gerdes, Continuous Improvement SME, Interface

More than half of Interface’s team members work in production. The average tenure for our team is nearly a decade. Our diverse talent in skill and capabilities serve more than 4,500 global customers in various markets each year. For more detailed insights on the inner-working of the Interface manufacturing floor, Interface’s revolutionary products and profiles on our excellent team subscribe to the InterfaceIQ blog at /blog/.

 

Making the Case with Accuracy and Reliability for Ultra HD Testing

Interface is a leader in ultra-accurate and high-reliability force measurement solutions and services for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs)

We recently published a case study on a unique and complex project for a customer specializing in designing and building automated systems to observe and test for color and light performance in Ultra HD displays. It was a great opportunity for Interface to showcase our innovative design expertise. Working with OEMs in partnership allow our team members to collaborate closely to on the project’s specific and delicate nature.

This blog provides an abbreviated version of the case study. You can download the full version here.

Qualifying Ultra HD Resolution

With the rising popularity of Ultra HD and 4K format video monitors, testing for video output quality is critical. These screens have a resolution of 3840×2160.  This is four times the number of pixels in full-high-definition (HD) and eight times as many as standard definition. To put it in perspective, Ultra HD (UHD) is only a slightly lower resolution than the picture displayed on theater movie screens.

Evaluating the Application Requirements

Interface’s customer needed a solution to monitor and control forces during testing. With this technology, inspecting the color and light performance of the screen is much more critical than ever before due to the intensity of perception. Because the hype of this technology is centered around its stellar resolution, testing for output quality is one of the most important steps in the manufacturing process.  The solution had to easily allow for the mounting of sensors into the large glass array handling tool.

The Clear Results

Interface’s solution provided direct force and weight feedback around the periphery on the monitor array panel to allow for precise handling control without fracturing the glass. Because of Interface, the customer was able to test the video output quality long before the completion of the end product.

For more than 51 years, Interface has worked with manufacturers to provide industrial automation solutions for test and measurement that improve products, reduce risks and ultimately foster continuous innovation to do more, better and faster.  For more information on how Interface can help solve your unique challenges, contact our application engineer team today.

READ THE FULL CASE STUDY HERE

Interface Case Study For HD Manufacturer