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Enclosures 101

Individuals in the engineering and manufacturing world know Interface well for the reliability and accuracy of our force measurement products. However, some may not know that we also provide a wide variety of instrumentation and accessories for force measurement systems. One of those accessories that enhance the usability, durability, and ease of accessibility for force measurement products are enclosures.

Enclosures come in a wide variety of form factors and can be used for single or multiple products. Their purpose is to help in protecting devices, as well as facilitate easier mounting capabilities. They can also be used to combine multiple instruments to create a full measurement system for data recording and ongoing analysis.

Interface enclosures protect your sensor and instrumentation investments. They are durable for mobile force measurement solutions and are an easy-to-care for addition to any system.

There are a range of Interface enclosures, including NEMA rated options. NEMA ratings are a convenient system established by the National Electrical Manufacturers Association to rate how well various types of electrical enclosures protect against environmental hazards such as dust and dirt, water ingress (whether hose-directed, precipitation or submersion) and corrosion.

As detailed in our recent Ruggedized Test & Measurement Solutions webinar, here is a quick reference to NEMA ratings.

Single and Dual Instrument Enclosure

NEMA 4 Enclosure provides a convenient way to mount single and dual instruments (1/8 DIN Package) to walls and other vertical structures. Choose between bottom or rear exit cable glands. Both 110V and DC power options available.

Single and Dual Channel Internal Mount Enclosure

The internally mounted plastic NEMA 4 enclosure for 1/8 DIN single and dual instrumentation provides a convenient way to mount to walls and other vertical structures. This enclosure provides a greater degree of protection than other enclosures because the instrument is mounted behind a clear polycarbonate cover. The cover is secured with four screws. Includes bottom exit cable glands.

Interface Enclosure Examples

Special Purpose Wireless Enclosure

NEMA 4 Enclosure for 1 or more instruments (1/8 Din Package) that accommodates WTS Wireless Instrument Model WTS-9812 and related wireless antennas. Compatible with the Wireless Telemetry System (WTS) which includes sensor transmitters, receivers, and displays. High accuracy, high quality measurement is interfaced with simple yet powerful configuration and monitoring software. The WTS gives sensor manufacturers and integrators the complete flexibility to build their own sensor modules around it. The system easily replaces wired systems, reducing installation and maintenance costs. Connect wireless to one or more WTS 1200 Standard Precision LowProfile® Wireless Load Cells.

Single Instrument Enclosure

This NEMA 4 Enclosure provides a convenient way to mount single instrument (1/8 DIN Package) to walls and other vertical structures. Choose between bottom or rear exit cable glands. Both 110V and DC power options available. The instrumentation panel of for this type of instrumentation are available for use with Interface Models 9825 General Purpose Indicator9890 Strain Gage Load Cell, Mv/V Indicator, 9894 Analog Input Process Indicator and others.

Dual Channel Benchtop Enclosure

Designed for benchtop and laboratory use, these enclosures provide an alternative to panel mounting of meters when an instrument panel is not available. Suitable for 1/8 DIN size dual instrumentation. Attractive, no-maintenance, black ABS polycarbonate material. They provide a finished instrument look to what would otherwise be isolated meters on a work bench or shelf. Cooling slits in top and bottom surfaces. Analog output connector option available.

Special Purpose Portable Systems

Custom Enclosure that can be built to accommodate customer requirement for any instrument or load cell type. Features and options available for custom system enclosures include:

  • Environmental Sealed Case with IP67 Rating
  • Custom Cut Foam Inserts
  • Instrumentation
  • Force Sensors – Standard, Engineered-to-Order and Custom
  • Cables and Connectors
  • Internal Battery Pack
  • Onboard Battery Charger
  • Internal
  • DC Power Charging Receptacle
  • AC Power Charging Receptacle
  • AC to DC Switch
  • Internal Cooling Fan

Watch to learn more

Rack Mount

Also available is a mounting rack that accommodates the BX8-HD15 BlueDAQ Series and BX8-HD44 BlueDAQ Series. The mounting rack holds up to five BX8 lab enclosures. Simultaneous acquisition and evaluation of measured values up to 40 channels with key guard and synchronization cable (included in delivery).

Enclosures provide special sealing options to protect instrumentation from harsh or hazardous conditions. They are a perfect pairing with using sealed sensors including Interface’s Load Cells, S-Type Load Cells and Load Beams, Miniature Load Cells and Load Buttons, Coil Tubing Load Cells, Load Washers, Load Pins, Tension Links and Shackles.

To learn more about our enclosure options, please contact our application engineers.

Enclosures Brochure

Faces of Interface Featuring Ashlesa Mohapatra

In today’s Faces of Interface Series, we sat down with our engineering team member that is responsible for innovative and custom force measurement solutions designed and built at Interface headquarters. Design Engineer Ashlesa Mohapatra is a brilliant individual who has lived and breathed the world of engineering since she was young. She is a lifetime learner who shares her knowledge with all who ask and is an outstanding member of the Interface engineering team.

Ashlesa was destined to be an engineer from her early days. Her grandfather was an engineer who served in the Indian Navy and helped to build naval ships. Her father was also an engineer whose passion for the field rubbed off on Ashlesa. He was constantly bringing home books and drawings, or power tools to work around the house. She was also present and absorbed as much knowledge as she could on every subject that interested her father.

She would go on to attend KIIT and receive her undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering, followed by a master’s degree in mechanical engineering with a minor in renewable energy for the University of Massachusetts Lowell. While earning her education, Ashlesa also took on two internships to further her learning and career experience. This included an internship for Larsen & Toubro in Oman and Applied Medical in California. In addition, Ashlesa’s propensity for learning also inspired her to educate her peers. She has five published works covering a wide range of topics related to design and sustainable manufacturing in peer reviewed journals like Scopus and Elsevier.

Prior to joining Interface, Ashlesa took on a role as a quality engineer with H&S technical services. Her role involved reviewing and writing medical manufacturing processes for medical devices related to heart and kidney health according to ISO 13485 and 14971. The role taught her a lot, but she quickly realized it was not her calling. Her true passion was for design and innovation.

This passion led Ashlesa to Interface where she joined as a design engineer. In this role, Ashlesa works on 12 different product lines, helping to customize products to meet customer needs across a variety of industries. She is part of two high-performance teams, leading the team behind the miniature load cells LBS and LBSU ConvexBT Load Button Load Cell product lines, and working with the WMC product line. In addition, she is part of the Interface Navigator’s team where she deploys strategic thinking and thought leadership for process improvement within Interface. She also authors research papers for regional and national conference proceedings s for the company on innovations and trends in force measurement technology.

Ashlesa says that her favorite things about working at Interface are that no two days are the same, her design work is extremely exciting and rewarding and that learning from the role is limitless. Her design work affords her the ability to look at customer challenges every day and try to develop complex and interesting solutions that meet their needs. She loves the challenges and is excited to come in every day.

In her free time, the engineering passion continues to spill over. She is a part of several engineering organizations, Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). Getting more women involved in STEM education and careers is another passion of Ashlesa, so she offers mentorship services to members of SWE to spark a lifelong relationship with engineering. She is also a judge for the design review panel at the EPICS program at ASU. As part of her work with ASME, she is always lending a hand to ASU students by reviewing research papers and lending her advice. However, Ashlesa does take some time to get away and enjoys being outdoors, hiking, camping, and other activities.

Ashlesa is a true champion of innovation and plays such a critical member of our engineering design team. She delights customers with her creative approach and expertise, and we are thrilled to have her on board.

Faces of Interface Featuring Karla Salaz

When you possess the worldly knowledge and the wide range of career experience as our Custom Solutions Procurement Specialist Karla Salaz, you can be successful anywhere. In today’s Faces of Interface, we spoke to Karla about her career experience as well as her travels abroad and throughout the United States.

Karla grew up in Arizona and is a rare third generation Arizonian. Her father worked for the U.S. Forest Service, while her mother was in administrative work. Karla always enjoyed her home state and although her life took her all around to California, Florida, Nevada, Ohio, and Germany, she always knew she would make it back

Karla’s career is defined by her outstanding ability to pick up new skills and roles very quickly. When she moved to Southern California, she started a job in construction as a laborer before moving into an administrative assistant role. Her next stop was in retail where she worked at Walmart. She began as a cashier and rose through the ranks. Seven years later, Karla left Walmart as an assistant manager.

Then, after a few years working in the retail industry, Karla’s former husband, who was in the air force, received Permanent Change of Station orders to Germany, and she went along. In her new home, she began working for a broker for military exchanges.

After a little while and a move back to the states to Texas, she would take on her first role in manufacturing at a sausage manufacturing plant.  She moved into procurement at the plant and realized that she really enjoyed the various aspects of the position that allowed her to nurture and grow supplier relationships, as well as internal relationships. She also really enjoyed the responsibility of forecasting supply because it could make a huge difference in the success of the company.

Then, Karla returned to Arizona and began at Interface. Her experience in overseas brokering and procurement made her a perfect fit for the role as custom solutions procurement specialist. And while she only started in October 2020, her positive impact has certainly been felt by our team and customers. Her day-to-day responsibilities include processing orders, maintaining the correct level of inventory, coordinating logistics with partners locally and abroad, assisting in customs clearance and finding parts and bringing them in at the best price.

She says that what she enjoys most about working at Interface is that the company has such incredible potential, and in her role in custom solutions, she feels she has a big hand in influencing that growth. In addition, her proclivity for relationship building in concert with all of the different suppliers and Interface team member she interacts with, allows her meet knew people and engage all the time. Something she stills really enjoys after all this time after her first procurement job.

In her free time, Karla loves to spend time with family, her daughter is studying medicine at NAU in her junior year, and she gets up to see her as often as possible. She also has two sons and a granddaughter in Texas whom she also gets out to visit as often as she’s able. Finally, she’s a huge sports fan, basketball, baseball, football, and her favorite, hockey. She’s still waiting for the days that the Arizona Coyotes are competitive again.

Karla has a bright future ahead of her at Interface and we are thrilled to have her on board. If you enjoyed Karla’s story and want to meet more of our outstanding staff, check out her fellow ForceLeaders here.

The Role of Actuators in Force Measurement

One of the most common force measurement tests in the engineering and manufacturing world is called cycle testing. Cycle testing involves constant force being applied to a component or product over hours, days and even months. The goal is to test a product to find out how long it will last under the amount of force it will see in use in the real world.

Cycle testing is used throughout different industries. One of the most common applications of a cycle test is on something like airplane wings. The wings of an airplane are exposed to constant push and pull force to guarantee that they will hold up over many flights. Check out the wing fatigue testing application note here.

Another example is simple furniture tests, like a chair, to ensure it can withstand the weight of people of all sizes after years and years of use. These tests are designed to really push the limits on the product so engineers and manufacturers can confirm their designs and ensure safety and durability.

To carry out these tests, actuators are used to generate the force in cycle testing. An actuator is a component responsible for moving and controlling a mechanism or system. Actuators are small components that convert energy in a linear moment. There are a variety of different types of actuators including linear, rotary, hydraulic, pneumatic, and more. Each is designed to create force in different directions and on different axes.

Actuators are very important because force measurement is fed back into a control loop and the actuator allows you to accurately control how much force you’re putting on a test article. As a basic example, if you wanted to measure how much force it takes to close a door, you would use an actuator to provide the door closing force while the load cell measures the amount of force given off by the actuator.

Interface often integrates actuators into load cells for custom solutions to use in rigorous use and cycle testing. These types of custom solutions are used by equipment and product manufacturers, OEMs, as well as product design and testing labs. There is increasing frequency for OEMs to integrate actuators into load cells for testing their automated testing lines or products in use for continuous feedback.

For example, mobile device manufacturers use a miniature–sized load button load cell like the ConvexBT to test the pressure sensitivity of the touch screen. By using an actuator, phone manufacturers can set up an automated test lines with an actuator integrated in the load button load cell to test each screen as they go across a test line. You can read more about ConvexBT in this new white paper.

Another major application for actuators is in calibration machines. To test if a load cell is calibrated correctly, an actuator applies force to the load cell being tested and a calibration grade Gold Standard Load Cell simultaneously. These measurements can tell the user if the load cell needs to be recalibrated or not because the actuator allows the user to create a very precise force measurement. If measurements on the test load cell are not the same as the control load cell, the user knows it is off calibration and it’s time to schedule a calibration service.

From custom solutions to calibration, if actuators are necessary for your next project learn how Interface can work with you to find a solution that meets your precise needs.

Read more about Gold Standard Calibration Systems here.

Learn about how Interface is a preferred provider of OEM solutions here.

Interface All-In-One Custom Test Systems

One of the most enjoyable aspects of being a world-class manufacturer is when we’re able to work with customers on a custom solution that meets their unique and mission-critical needs. Custom solutions can be anything that’s needed from a customized sensor component to a complete custom system. One custom solution that is gaining popularity for its mobility, ease of use and wide variety of application options is what we call, testing systems in a box.

We have developed these unique all-in-one testing systems that combine force measurement sensors, transmitters and data display devices all together in a transportable case. The benefit for customers is that every aspect of this type of mobile test and measurement system is enclosed in the box and can be brought to remote testing locations along with a testing rig and computer. The wide variety of configurations also allow Interface to develop a test system for virtually any mobile requirement. Think of it as on-the-go testing that is flexible and adaptable to the test environment.

MOBILE TESTING CASE

When our customer wanted to perform force tests on a helicopter, we developed a mobile force measurement system that was put together in a ruggedized case to match the environmental conditions of the testing locations. The custom system included Model 9890 Indicators alongside SSM Fatigue Rated Load Cells. The case also featured rechargeable batteries for continuation of testing in remote locations. With this solution, the customer was able to easily perform their force tests while remaining independent of any confined lab or testing facility. They had a testing system that was completely versatile to the mobility requirements of test engineers.

AIRPLANE JACK POINT TESTING 

Interface developed a unique test system for an airplane jack testing solution. Once again, we put together a full system in mobile cases that included our precision LowProfile Load Cells, nearly 20 wireless transmitters, and a graphical display with visual alarms to read the output at each jack point. This allowed the customer to measure the forces at all jack points on a plane from front to tail and both wings. The testing system was created to be portable and provide constant feedback through the hardware and instrumentation via wireless signals.

MULTI-AXIS SPRING TEST SYSTEM

The final custom solution we are highlighting in this post is smaller in design, but just as impactful for the customer. This system included a 3-Axis Load Cell in a compact box with three indicator panels. The system was used to simultaneously measure both force and moment on a spring and provide the data on the indicator screen. The system was compact, easy to use and simply needed to be connected to the test rig to accurately collect data from the spring.

Mobile test systems provide a massive benefit to engineers and product manufacturers who want to be able to collect accurate and reliable data on the go and not be constrained by wires and large heavy solutions. Test systems enclosed within a box are a great solution for many of these remote challenges, as they protect the equipment and also provide a functional “on-the-go” testing system, anywhere.

As more demands for testing within the actual environment become core to the engineering and design of small and large apparatus, these types of unique solutions from Interface can be customized to capacity and test specifications based on the customer’s needs.

Our experienced engineers and application experts are able to look at specific objectives and present the best components to get the best results. From force and torque measurement sensors to digital instrumentation, wireless and supported by batteries, we can build the custom components to be enclosed in a case that is an all-in-one testing system or design the solution to put into an existing configuration. Taking advantage of our expertise, we work together with our customers to develop the right solution that fits their exact requirements.

Be sure to watch, “Making the Case for Custom Solutions” to get more insights on customization considerations and options when you partner with Interface Custom Solutions.

To learn more about Interface’s custom solutions and explore options and possibilities in building your testing system, go here to contact us to get started.

READ MORE CUSTOM SOLUTION POSTS

What is New in Custom Solutions

Making the Case for Custom Solutions Webinar Recap

Making the Case for Custom Solutions Webinar Recap

Interface application experts and custom solution pros, Ken Bishop and Keith Skidmore provided valuable insights in our latest virtual event as to how, when, and why, you should connect with our team for help in designing, engineering, and building custom sensor solutions.

Making the Case for Custom Solutions, an Interface ForceLeaders hosted webinar, delved into the scope of options across all types of technologies and devices used in test and measurement. The focus of the event highlighted the importance of early engagement in the design and conception process when evaluating whether you needed something beyond a standard product.

Custom Solutions go beyond engineered to order products, where you might need to change a thread adapter, connector, or mounting hole. Interface custom solution can range from single components designed for unique applications to multiple components configured as a system. Custom solutions are most frequently used for OEM products, as embedded pieces.

Interface offers fully designed load cells or load pins to meet the application requirements. Torque transducers‘ options include custom shaft sizes, outputs, temperature ranges, and other configurations to fit the application. Wireless is also a common consideration for custom solutions, giving a wider use for monitoring, reporting, and system support.

If we build it, we can customize it. This also applies to multi-axis sensors and various types of instrumentation. In the webinar, Keith and Ken dive into several systems and use cases that highlight multiple components configured to exact specifications from mobile force testing systems to monitoring bridges seismic activity with special waterproof casings.

Six Custom Solution Design and Specification Recommendations for Getting Started

  1. What do you want to measure?
  2. How will the sensor be used?
  3. Do you need multiple sensors or a single device?
  4. Is this embedded into an OEM application or solely for test and measurement?
  5. Do you have a cost target?
  6. How will you read the results?

The mechanics of getting something custom starts with the scope and determining what needs to be measured. Then our experienced engineers will design the product working with your team. Once designs are approved, the manufacturing process begins. Using our state-of-the-art machine shop world-class assembly and custom solution calibration experts, Interface confidently delivers the products that stand with our seal of quality, accuracy, and performance standards.

Here are the topics discussed in the Making the Case for Custom Solutions event.

  • What is Considered an Interface Custom Solution
  • Differences Between Engineered to Order and Custom
  • Design and Specification Recommendations
  • Customizations Options and Considerations
  • Building Systems
  • Tips for Engaging Custom Solutions Engineers
  • The World of Possibilities
  • FAQs

Watch the entire event here:

The benefits of engaging Interface Custom Solutions Engineers are that we become an extension of your engineering resources along with access to our models, drawings, and assets to help with your project success. Whether we are building solutions with our proprietary strain gages or finding Bluetooth instrumentation for read-outs on custom load cells, we work as your partner with ownership in your project’s success.  It’s what we know, it’s what we do, and we get custom solutions. We’ve been doing custom solutions for force and torque for 52 years.

When you are ready to engage our team, we stand ready to help. We’ve been building small and large volume custom solutions for innovative industry leaders in aerospace, industrial automation, automotive, agriculture, infrastructure, energy, and more.  In Making the Case for Custom Solutions, Keith and Ken Put our experts to the test and let’s explore the possibilities together.

Get started by letting us know what you have in mind.  Request a custom solution here.

Read more in our What’s New in Custom Solutions post.

Additional Events:

Use Cases for Load Pins

Load Cell Basics

 

What is New in Custom Solutions

Here at Interface, we make it a priority to adapt to the needs of our customers in any way possible. Each year we gather vast amounts of data and feedback to address changes in the marketplace and advancements in technology. Often, this comes in the form of new product releases developed specifically with our customer’s most significant needs in mind. However, new product releases take time for development, testing and release. When customers need to address a challenge quickly, we turn to our innovative custom solutions team.

No matter the project, chances are there is a customized force measurement product to fulfill the requirement. We work directly with our customer’s engineering and testing teams to understand the challenge and offer alternative solutions to off-the-shelf products. Our dedicated engineers and measurement experts, along with supporting company resources, and advanced engineering lab give Interface the competitive advantage to make any force measurement application work with what we have to offer.

We provided a brief overview of our custom solutions offerings and process a past blog. Today’s post provides an update on what’s new in custom solutions:

New Custom Solutions Offerings

Among the most significant changes to custom solutions is our growing engineered to order offerings for OEM customers. To best serve these customers and testing engineers with premium and affordable force measurement solutions for use in components or products, Interface now offers engineered to order capabilities for the masses. Engineered to order means Interface can deliver force and torque measurement solutions from our massive catalog that are modified to meet the features, specifications, and cost that our customers require, while still retaining the premium accuracy, quality and reliability Interface is known for across every industry we serve.

Another exciting capability that Interface has recently added is the addition of more digital instrumentation communication options for collecting data from our products. We’ve added Models INF1 and INF4 signal conditioners with field bus capability that include CANopen, DeviceNet, CC-Link, Profibus, Profinet, Modbus, and EtherCAT. By adding this capability, our products can interface with networks that customers already have installed in their facilities.

Custom Solutions Applications

Interface customers continue to turn to our experience Custom Solutions Engineers to build systems that utilize a range of sensor technologies, communication devices and even frames and cases to provide a complete structure.  This includes a growing demand for uniquely pairing force and torque components that work remotely through wireless and Bluetooth technologies as well as delivering entire testing units that re mobile or can be used in the field. The possibilities are unlimited with the amount of products Interface in our catalog, including the possibilities of using new designs.

Every year we engage in a host of unique custom solutions projects with our customers. We would like to share of a few of our favorites with you.

Airplane Maintenance – Wireless Customization

When an airplane comes into the shop, engineers often must jack it up to perform maintenance. When you lift a plane, there is always a risk because you can’t put too much stress on the wings and fuselage. To ensure that the maintenance team members weren’t stressing the plane beyond its limits, Interface developed a solution to measure the lifting force of each individual jack used to lift the plane. The solution included a number of Interface Model 1200 Series Load Cell that would transmit the forces applied back to a base station. However, the customization came in the way data was transmitted to the base station. Typically, wires are used for transmission, but in this case, there were 21 load cells used on the lifting equipment. To avoid having 21 wires get in the way, Interface added custom capabilities to the 1200 series to allow it to communicate with the base station wirelessly.

Crane Application – Custom Programming

Lifting heavy objects can be a dangerous job for onsite workers, not to mention, pushing a large industrial crane too far can result in expensive damages and downtime. Therefore, when an Interface’s industrial customer needed to intelligently monitor a crane in the process of lifting, we helped create a custom program to do so. The custom application included a model 1280 and force measurement activated program. Whenever the crane was nearing a weight that was unsafe, an alert was triggered based on the force measurement reading that could either sound an alarm or shut the system down. This created an automated safety system using force data.

Additional Custom Solution Applications and Use Cases are available here. 

Custom solutions are key to Interface’s broad offerings that we provide when off-the-shelf solutions don’t provide exactly what is required. Our design engineers and manufacturing team is ready to work directly with our customers to provide a solution that is right for your project. To learn more, visit us at /custom-solutions/.

Contributor: Ken Bishop

 

 

Interface Outlook for 2021

Interface CEO Greg Adams shares his outlook for the coming year.

Never in our collective lives have we faced so much uncertainty and turmoil! The year 2020 will make history, that much is certain. Between the COVID-19 pandemic, social unrest, and a year of political strife for the ages, I think we’re all ready to turn the chapter on the start of this decade.

Despite the challenges we’ve faced in 2020, I’m still very optimistic about our future, and for Interface. My optimism is fueled by the amazing people we have here at Interface.

As a family, we’ve gotten through this together and are only growing stronger. I couldn’t be prouder of our people for their resilience and hard work in the past year. We have continued to provide the same excellent service our customers appreciate. In fact, our Net Promoter Score® remained above 60 again in our latest 2020 Customer Satisfaction Survey.

Additionally, product quality is higher than ever and we even had a few major product launches this year, including ConvexBT, our most advanced load button load cell ever, and the G Series, a new international Mini Load Cell product line. And most importantly, we’ve done all of this by ensuring that the health and safety of everyone is our number one priority.

Our ability to remain successful in the past year is a product of how diversified our end markets remain. We continue to serve a wide variety of critical technology-focused industries including aerospace and defense, automotive, medical, industrial, T&M and more. We have benefited from global diversification as well, stepping up our focus on market leaders around the world. It’s also a testament to our engineers who continue to be future focused on innovation. We’ve developed new and groundbreaking ways to serve customers, and we’ve identified trends to keep us at the bleeding edge in our industry and continuously moving forward.

The last point I’ll make on the year 2020 before looking ahead is that we’ve also taken some of the downtime to improve our internal processes and dedicate time to skills training for our team. Not only have we improved our product lines and capabilities, but we’ve also ensured that our skillsets remain strong going into the next year.

And as we finally make the turn to 2021, I’ve spent some time looking ahead to what I believe the next year will hold for our industry and for Interface:

A heightened focus on pre-sale and post-sales service is one thing that we’ve heard from customers in the last year through our semi-annual surveys. We’re upgrading our sales process to ensure our engineering teams are more involved in assisting the customer select and configure the products and systems that are right for their application. Enhancing our after-sales service will include capturing and distributing instructions, guides, and other technical services into a more accessible and easier to find outlets like our robust website.

Another trend we’re seeing requested from our customers is a desire for force measurement providers to migrate from components to systems. World-class components will always be important, but our experience working with customers to provide total system solutions that meet their specific needs is critical. In addition, the demand for higher performance and more customization options continues. One of the biggest improvements Interface has made in the past year is updating our production lines to include more automation capabilities. This allows us to provide high-performance, customized products at high volume while still being able to offer competitive costs. This change is helping us expand our sales with the OEM customers.

Finally, a big trend we’ve been following is miniaturization and the desire to pack more sensor technology into a single load cell or torque transducer. We’ve already begun to address this in some of our products by designing accelerometers into load cells. In industries like automotive, we often use a torque transducer to measure rotation with components like car engines. By adding an accelerometer, we can measure both rotation and acceleration through a single device.

As this desire for more data and less convoluted test systems grows, Interface will continue to find ways to customize our load cells and add more sensor types like temperature and humidity. We’ll also do this by using electronic miniaturization manufacturing methods to improve capability without increasing the overall size of the package.

In conclusion, I’m extremely pleased with the level of talent, the strength of the brand and the depth of our commitment to customer satisfaction. We’ve overcome the challenges presented to us this year and remain stronger than ever. Our renewed focus on the future will also help us identify opportunities for innovation to serve customers in more unique and beneficial ways.

I hope that everyone in our community, from our partners to our customers and employees, has a wonderful holiday season and comes back in the new year refreshed. We’re not out of the woods yet with the pandemic, but there is light ahead and we are speeding to be the Interface you can always rely on.

Setting the Standards in Innovation

Interface continues to advance our business to meet the growing demands and requirements of our expansive line of products. As it pertains to product development, the focus is heavily placed on innovating to enable our customers to depend on Interface solutions for evolving technology trends to design and test next-generation products. This fundamental prioritization at Interface over the past decade is centered on the way we serve our customers and by enhancing our product development process.

How does Interface take a customer challenge or key technology trend from an idea to a scalable product? 

Interface does not follow a standard product development process with a team dedicated to coming up with new ideas. New product development is a culmination of input from every facet of our company, from sales to engineers. We leverage the outstanding talent we have built at Interface across the board to identify what is next in terms of solving force measurement challenges.

New product ideas are mainly identified from three different areas:

  1. Trend Research: We are continually looking at technology trends to determine how we solve problems in an evolving technology world.
  2. Customer Requirements: Many product ideas are born from working face-to-face with customers to discover their precise needs. Occasionally, a custom product built for a specific customer will present a wider market appeal and turn into a larger product line.
  3. Product Gaps: We are always reviewing our core products to try and identify gaps in our ability to solve customer needs.

Once we have identified specific challenges that Interface can solve with a new solution, we begin to look internally to ensure that we have the right talent and expertise to deliver an industry-leading force measurement product.  If not, we may search externally for the right talent or partners to collaborate on the project.  We utilize tools like the SWOT analysis to evaluate our technical, business, and competitive position in the market.

Upon determining that the product is in high demand with our customers or in new markets, we then further define our product concept, as well as the business case for development and going to market. We perform thorough research to determine potential applications and conduct a risk analysis on the product. This is followed by a timeline for development and assigning resources to the development project.

Interface uses either an agile or phase-gate approach depending on the type of project. This allows Interface to make better decisions throughout the development process and quickly adjust when we determine there is a better or more efficient way of doing something.

If the technology we will be working with to develop the new product is something we have never worked with before, we assess the technology readiness level (TRL). This process helps to determine if we are equipped to handle the new technology or if we need to invest in additional R&D and, in some cases, expertise to carry out the project.

Following the detailed development plan, risk analysis, establishing a timeline and allocating resources to the development of the new idea, we begin the concept phase. This involves some discovery and often includes designing and manufacturing a prototype of the product, to begin testing with customers and gaining feedback for additional iterations.

These steps lead us to deciding if a minimum viable product (MVP) or minimum valuable product is the best way to proceed to market. Utilizing this approach, we can quickly develop a fully functioning product with minimal bells and whistles and get it into a customer’s hands. This also freezes the design and allows production to prepare for the product launch.

Concluding the process is a new product introduction (NPI) and lifecycle management. During NPI we are focused on two key aspects – internal planning and external communication. Our internal planning involves setting up manufacturing and educating the sales staff on the final product. External communication is the process of creating a marketing plan, developing content and data sheets, as well as planning events and demonstrations for exhibits.

During the lifecycle management phase, we are taking orders, managing service on the product, and evaluating both the product and the launch. All these initiatives help drive future product development and launch strategies for innovative solutions.

This part of the process is where our technical sales team is critical. These individuals, with strong relationships with our customers, are constantly collecting feedback and reporting back to our design and engineering teams. This helps us determine the best way to proceed in adding additional features and technology to the product.  This in turn, leads to post launch releases and enhancements to the product, which help fuel the product’s growth.

Our product development process is constantly evolving as we continue to add new capabilities and work towards providing our customers with an all-encompassing suite of force measurement solutions to handle the challenges of today and into the future. Interface has thousands of products, standard, modified, and custom.  It is critical in our approach to stay ahead of trends, predict needs, and most importantly listen to our customers to make sure our products are exactly what they need from a leader in force measurement.

To learn more about Interface and our industry-leading lineup of force measurement products providing premium accuracy and reliability contact our Application Engineer experts. Be sure to watch for new product updates by subscribing to our InterfaceIQ blog here: /blog/.

Contributor: Ted Larson, Vice President of Product Management and Marketing

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