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Interface Multi-Axis Sensor Market Research

Recently, Interface commissioned an independent research report on multi-axis sensors demand and use cases. This is a product line that Interface has made significant investments in as more customers require increased load cell functionality and additional source data from their force sensors. The research results confirm that the current demand is in fact expanding worldwide, and the overall users and market size is expected to grow by double digits over the next six years.

Included below is a brief overview of the state of the multi-axis, as well as an explanation of their overall purpose and why the growth of this type of test and measurement device continues to increase in popularity. We will also continue to break out the results of this research paper, so tune into the InterfaceIQ blog for more multi-axis research content. To learn more about these advanced sensors, view our ForceLeaders webinar Dimensions of Multi-Axis Sensors.

Multi-Axis Sensors Market Overview: The rise of IoT and Industry 4.0 had enabled automation. Machines continue to get smarter and can make split-second decisions using real-time data. Force measurement plays a key role in this transformation. Load cells that are tracking performance and reliability have more insights than ever before. They will continue to grow in their accuracy and capabilities. Load cell and sensor technologies are being used to identify precisely when and where something went wrong on a production line. Load cells will be growing in playing a key role in making production lines more efficient, less reliant on human resources and less costly.

There has been increased need for multi-axis sensors that measure and collect data points on up to six axes. Multi-axis sensors were invented because of the increased requirements for data, both in testing and during actual product use. And this is not slowing down anytime soon. Over the next decade, load cells will continue to keep up with the demand to handle more measurement data points. More sensors will need to be packed into a single device to collect more data with less equipment.

Five Key Take-Aways from Interface’s Multi-Axis Market Research:

  1. There is a growing requirement for high-performance sensor fusion of multi-axis sensor systems to enable the newly emerging technologies and highly demanding applications.
  2. Advancements in technology enabling effective components at a lighter and smaller size, such as the swift rise of unmanned vehicles in both the defense and civil applications and the increasing applications based on motion sensing, are the factors driving the multi-axis sensor use cases for testing and to embed into products.
  3. Digitizing force sensors is another trend changing our product innovators and manufacturer’s designs of machines and equipment through advanced measurement data. Many have strongly invested in more advanced digital electronics to efficiently harvest and store more data. Revolutions in industries and technologies is the dominant trend in force measurement, not to mention the entire manufacturing and engineering industry. Harnessing big data enables product users to remotely monitor assets and increase use of analytics.
  4. With network-connected force measurement through sensors and instrumentation, OEMs have greater control over testing and product development. Equipment using multi-axis sensors to track performance and reliability provide valuable data on how equipment is performing and predict when machines need maintenance.
  5. Global machine makers and equipment builders want smaller force sensors they can permanently install in the products. Smaller, wireless sensors are easier and less expensive to install. As more industrial networks are created to share higher-quality data, more and more sensors will be added to these machines.

What: Multi-axis sensors allow the user to measure forces and torques, which occur in more than one spatial direction, as with measurements in x- and y-direction. This allows manufacturers to obtain more data on a wider variety of axes, allowing them to make better design decisions and ultimately improve the product quality. A crucial focus is force measurement in manufacturing, where force transducers are frequently used to determine the force for weight measurement or in the process of production.

Why? Data-driven test and measurement is at the forefront of product development, especially in highly regulated markets like aerospace, automotive, medical, and industrial. One of the most significant applications for multi-axis sensors is seen in manufacturing facilities who want to integrate more autonomy and robotic processes. The goal is to streamline logistics procedures and reduce human errors and workplace accidents. The report also found that there is a great deal interest for last-mile delivery robots, either on the ground, on the sea or drones in the air.

Interface’s Role: Interface multi-axis load cells are ideal for industrial and scientific applications. They are used by engineers and testing labs in various industries and market segments including aerospace, robotics, automotive, advanced manufacturing, for medical devices and research. Our products designed to provide the most comprehensive force and torque data points on advanced machinery. With our industry-leading reliability and accuracy, these multi-axis sensors can provide the data our customers need to ensure performance and safety in their product design.

In fact, their unique capabilities are helping the medical industry optimize prosthetic designs and usability standards with multi-axis sensor testing. The automotive industry is using Interface’s multi-axis products in wind tunnels, and the military is using them to test the center of gravity in aerospace applications.

Here are a few applications use cases that show how multi-axis is advancing products in multiple industries:

Wind Tunnel

Seat Testing Machine

Friction Testing

Industrial Robotic Arm

Ball and Socket Prosthetic

Prosthetic Foot Performance

Syringe Plunger Force Measurement

Research was conducted independently by Search4Research.

Why Machine and Equipment Manufacturers Choose Interface

For innovators in the equipment and components manufacturing industry, data is everything. Quality data can make the difference between average and high-quality products and every bit of information gathered allows OEMs to make improvements that go a long way in performance and accuracy.

This is especially true in the design, test and evaluation of high-volume manufacturing where an increasing number of companies are implementing automation. To ensure consistent and repeatable quality, it’s important that there are capabilities to constantly gather data to monitor automated systems. If a machine is about to break or needs calibration, an automated system should be able to notify them without any human intervention.

How does an organization get more performance measurement data to improve its manufactured products? The answer we know best is with precision sensors. Sensors of all types, sizes, and shapes are being integrated into a wide variety of machines, equipment, and products to gather analytics that improve design and manufacturing. Interface is proud to contribute to this growing wave of big data requirements through our force and torque sensors.

Force sensors can be used in a number of different applications to help enable automation of certain process and systems. Essentially, force sensors are used as part of a controlled feedback loop. When a force is placed on a part within a product, the sensor can tell an electronic system to make something else happen.

As a simple example, force sensors could be placed inside of a large industrial dumpster outside of a manufacturing plant. When the dumpster nears full capacity, a signal could be sent to an automated compactor within the dumpster to make more space. It could also merely notify a waste management company to come and empty the dumpster.

Interface has worked on a number of what we call “OEM Solutions.” This term basically refers to our products that are typically high volume and have Interface sensor technologies integrated into the design and production. We often custom engineer and engineer these solutions to fit the exact requirements of the innovators and product design teams.

As a end-to-end manufacturer, we build to spec, manage the supply chain of sensors, and inventory for our OEM customers. When engineered-to-order requires thousands of products, they can rely on Interface as a trusted partner. Included below are a few examples of products that we provided our products to advance use, performance and quality. Read more about our custom OEM solutions and capabilities here.

Interface OEM Solution Examples

This first example is the design of force sensors in prosthetic limbs. An Interface force transducer provides feedback from a knee or elbow joint and tell an electric motor to move the limb in certain ways. This would allow someone without an arm or leg to have a wider range of movement and enjoy a variety of new capabilities.

Another example is the use of force sensors in the energy industry. Interface sensors can be used to optimize the process of energy production and extraction. In this scenario, a force sensor measures the rate at which the machine removes the source and provides data that tells the operator the most effective rate for getting the most most volume without overloading the mechanics. Not only does this allow for a more efficient process, it also adds another layer of safety to people and the environment. Interface was selected as the top energy solutions provider.

An interesting consumer packaged goods application example we provided a solution for included multiple Interface SPI Platform Scale Load Cells installed on a machine that filled potato chips into a bag. Force results from the potato chips are read by the load cells and sent to an ISG Isolated DIN Rail Mount Signal Conditioner. The supplier is then able to control the automated production from their command center. Using this solution, the manufacturer can determine the weight of the potato chips being distributed into their bags with highly accurate results – meaning every bag of chips is consistent in the amount of chips and total weight.

These are all examples of OEM solutions that turn data into better efficiency or additional capabilities across three industries, while there are countless other applications for OEM solutions from Interface used in consumer goods, robotics and medical devices. From automation to quality control and safety, force measurement helps manufacturers create better products and better production facilities, resulting in a great customer experience.

Interface has invested a great deal of resources into our manufacturing processes and technologies to serve this market. We’ve improved automation in our facilities to lower costs and work directly with our customers to develop the perfect force sensor for every project that can be produced at volume. Not to mention, our propensity for developing the most accurate force sensors on the market mean high quality data and results every time.

To learn more about our OEM solutions, contact our OEM experts and let us know how we can help!
OEM Brochure Web

New Interface Multi-Axis Load Cells

One of the common trends in test and measurement is the growing demands for better, more complete sources of data to provide relevant, accurate and viable information to make smart decisions. A significant step towards empowering our customers with more data capabilities is in the ever expanding 2-axis, 3-axis, 6-axis, and axial torsion multi-axis load cell product lines. These requests frequently come with requirements for reduced physical sizes, in dimensions, while keeping the same level of capacity and capabilities. All in the end goal of securing more measurement data.

The benefit of multi-axis is that they are designed to measure a multitude of forces and moments simultaneously with a single load cell sensor. These sensors provide multiple bridges that precisely measure the applied force from one direction with minimal crosstalk from the other axes. We can measure forces simultaneously in three mutually perpendicular axes, with the 6-axis load cells also measuring torque around those axes. Benefits are compounded when these sensors are paired with our data acquisition and amplifier systems that make graphing, logging and displaying data easy enough for any experience level.

As the demand for these products grow across industries, Interface continues to develop new configurations and total system solutions for new and unique applications. We are continuously adding to this line of products In fact, we recently added a few new series of multi-axis sensors aimed at covering a wider spectrum of product tests and custom measurement applications just this month. Included below is a list of the new products we’ve introduced in July, which provide more options to select a multi-axis solution right for your unique needs.

NEW MULTI-AXIS LOAD CELLS

3A40 3-Axis Load Cell

The Model 3A40 has three independent axes in a small package size. Capacities available are 2N, 10N, 20N, and 50N. The product is made from aluminum alloy so it is very light weight.  The 3A Series 3-Axis Load Cell is ideally suited to many industrial and scientific applications, such as aerospace, robotics, automotive and medical research. The load cell is provided in various capacity ranges and sizes with each of the three axes providing the same capacity.

3AR Series Round 3-Axis Load Cells

The 3AR 3-Axis Load Cell Series features a round construction, compact size and low crosstalk. The load cell is provided in various capacity ranges and sizes with each of the three axes providing the same capacity. We are happy to work with our customers design needs, providing a custom design if warranted for varying capacities (between X, Y, and Z), higher temperature capability, or OEM and private labeling if needed.

6A Series 6-Axis High-Capacity Load Cells

Interface’s 6A Series 6-Axis Load Cell measures forces simultaneously in three mutually perpendicular axes and three simultaneous torques about those same axes. 12 full bridges provide mV/V output on 12 independent channels. A 72-term coefficient matrix is included for calculating the load and torque values in each axis. Interface’s BX8 Amplifiers, which includes BlueDAQ software, greatly simplifies the data acquisition process. The new Models 6A225 and 6A300 are available.

Interface multi-axis load cells are ideally suited to many industrial and scientific applications, such as aerospace, robotics, automotive and medical research such as orthopedics and biomechanical use cases. In fact, their unique capabilities are helping the medical industry optimize prosthetic design via multi-axis testing. The energy industry is using Interface’s multi-axis products in wind tunnels, and the military is using them to test the center of gravity in aerospace and defense systems applications.

Multi-axis is the future of force measurement. More axes of data gives the users a better idea of the whole testing picture, which leads to better, higher quality products. We’re proud to be leading the multi-axis load cell trend and will continue to serve our customers with new products, and custom solutions designed for every need.

ADDITIONAL MULTI-AXIS RESOURCES

Dimensions of Multi-Axis Sensors Virtual Event Recap

Better Data and Performance with Interface Multi-Axis Sensors

Multi-Axis Sensor Applications

To learn more about our multi-axis product lines, check out the product page on our website at www.interfaceforce.com/product-category/multi-axis-sensors/. You can also call one of our application engineers to determine which product is right for your needs at 480-948-5555.

Here is the complete Multi-Axis Solutions brochure

Multi Axis Brochure

Contributor: Keith Skidmore, Custom Solutions Engineer & Sales Director

Understanding Uncertainty in Load Cell Calibration

In force measurement testing, accuracy is the most critical factor in ensuring the data you collect can help to identify challenges, failures and opportunities in the product design and development cycle. Here at Interface, we have mastered the art of load cell accuracy by employing a vertically integrated manufacturing process that allows us to control the development of our products most critical components.

Even the most high-end manufactured load cells and finely tuned components endure accuracy degradation over continued use. Therefore, we have also invested in equipment and talent with deep expertise in load cell recalibration, as well as offering gold and platinum standard calibration systems to customers. Recalibration is recommended on an annual basis, or of course, whenever our customers feel they need to confirm they are getting the right data out of their load cells.

One of the key factors of calibration and recalibration is understanding how to estimate practical uncertainty in load cell calibration. Measurement uncertainty is defined as an estimate of the range of measured values within which the true value lies or, alternatively, the degree of doubt about a measured value. In every application, there will be an uncertainty requirement on the force measurement. The equipment used to make the measurement must be traceable to a realization of the SI unit of force (the newton) within this required uncertainty.

Each application is different in terms of its uncertainty requirement. For instance, an application testing force in the aerospace and defense or medical sector will include a much more stringent uncertainty requirement than something like a commercial scale used to measure someone’s weight or food. It is critical to understand the uncertainty requirement on the application to ensure the force measurement device used is calibrated to handle the project.

How does one go about estimating uncertainty in load cell calibration? The first thing to understand is the GUM, a guide to the expression of uncertainty in measurement. This guide establishes general rules for evaluating and expressing uncertainty in measurement that are intended to be applicable to a broad spectrum of measurements.

Next, we have included a list of different considerations, as we measure uncertainty here at Interface. These factors will help guide you as you determine uncertainty for yourself. This list includes:

  1. Determine what parameter is to be measured and the units of measure.
  2. Identify the components of the calibration process and the accompanying sources of error.
  3. Write an expression for the uncertainty of each source of error.
  4. Determine the probability distribution for each source of error.
  5. Calculate a standard uncertainty for each source of error for the range or value of interest.
  6. Construct an uncertainty budget that lists all the components and their standard uncertainty calculations
  7. Combine the standard uncertainty calculations and apply a coverage factor to obtain the final expanded uncertainty.

It is also important to consider the different methods of load cell calibration. There are three different methods, and each has an approximate feasible expanded uncertainty. The different calibration methods include:

  • Direct dead weight – this method is the best for accuracy at 0.005% uncertainty, but it is slow, and the equipment is space inefficient.
  • Leveraged dead weight – middle of the road for accuracy at 0.01% uncertainty, and slow and space inefficient.
  • Hydraulic force generation comparison – this method has reasonable accuracy at 0.04% uncertainty and is also the fastest and most space-efficient option.

The final point is the sources of error in calibration. Error is defined as the difference between the measured value and the true value. There is a long list of different factors that can cause error and increase uncertainty. These factors may include drift, creep, misalignment, or environmental factors such as temperature. To compensate for this, it is important to understand the various formulas that can be used to find the true value based on the given measurement and the various factors for error.

To learn more about uncertainty and the different ways users can address uncertainty and overcome it, please give us a call at 480-948-5555, or visit our website to contact our Application Engineers.

Contributor:  LaVar Clegg, Interface

Source: NCLSI Measurement Training Summit 2014

The Five Critical Factors of Load Cell Quality

Accurate data and high-quality test and measurement programs have many contributing factors. None are more important than the devices and equipment used on the test line. At Interface, we understand this better than anyone else.

Quality is why our force measurement products are used and known across multiple, highly regulated, and complex industries for providing the most reliable and accurate data anywhere. It is also why Interface is recognized as the preeminent leader in load cell quality.

How do we reach this high standard that we continue to hit with every product that leaves our facility? It is our overriding commitment to quality and consistency. The most important aspect of this is the fact that Interface controls the entire manufacturing process of our load cells. Many providers outsource certain components like that strain gages. We build the strain gages, the load cells, integrate the strain gages into the load cells and we do our own test, calibration, and quality inspection on each device.

Through our development process, which has been created and perfected over 52 years, we have learned what makes a great load cell. To start, Interface Chief Engineer Ken Vining outlines the top factors in load cell quality.

Five Most Critical Factors of Load Cell Quality

#1 Repeatability

Repeatability is first on the list and it is what our customers consider the most important aspect of buying an Interface load cell. Anyone can develop a load cell that is accurate for the first 10 to 15 measurements, but as environmental factors and stress are inflicted upon the load cell it needs to last. Due to our experience in this industry, we understand how certain temperatures, loads and other factors can diminish the accuracy of a load cell. This is one of the reasons we work so closely with our customers. Every application is different, and if we understand the application, we can deliver a custom load cell that withstands the various stressors over time without providing diminishing returns. This ensures that our customers receive the same, high-quality data after 10 years of use that they received on day one.

#2 Longevity

Like repeatable data accuracy over time, the load cell also needs to feature a high-quality and ruggedized build to last physically. Constant application of weight, pressure or torque can diminish the build quality and strength of a load cell if it does not meet the material requirements of the application. This can also reduce accuracy and lead to higher costs if customers must replace their load cells regularly. Interface has worked across a wide variety of industries and we understand the materials necessary for nearly any environment. With proper use, build quality and routine maintenance, load cells should last a very long time. In fact, Interface still has load cells in use in the field from when we started building quality product more than five decades ago.

#3 Accuracy

Data accuracy is affected by a litany of factors in load cells. In fact, we wrote an entire white paper on this very topic called, “Contributing Factors to Load Cell Accuracy.” Once again, the application of the load cell is what determines the conditions that affect accuracy. These conditions include creep, side and eccentric load, temperature, humidity, the mounting process and more. Interface can customize each of our load cells to ensure these conditions are accounted for to maintain premium accuracy.

#4 Sensitivity to Off-Axis Loads

A typical load cell is designed to measure load in one direction. However, nearly any project using force measurement test processes is going to introduce an off-axis load. If the load cell is not designed to adjust for this and compensate for what is called moment, the data output will be skewed. This is another reason that customers need to be extremely specific when discussing the application of the load cell. There are several ways to compensate for moment; however, most of these adjustments are physical and occur in the design and manufacturing process. With a correctly calibrated and designed load cell, off-axis loads will be eliminated and will not affect the accuracy of the data.

Special Note: Our recent release of the new ConvexBT product, the first to market miniature load button load cell that is designed to solve for off-axis (eccentric) loading. Read more here.

#5 Access to Prominent Force Measurement Experts

Every factor of quality listed above is realized and accomplished through a close and transparent relationship between customer and force measurement provider. Every application dictates a different force measurement solution. When we understand the application, we can select the right type of load cell or customize an off the shelf load cell to meet the quality and accuracy needs necessary for any project. This is why a customer’s access to a force measurement expert is an integral part of load cell quality.

Every force test and measurement project can create a different challenge and developing an accurate and reliable load cell to meet those challenges can be tough. Therefore, Interface considers these five factors, and hundreds more, for every product we engineer and build. This is our unwavering commitment to quality and customer satisfaction.

Contributor:  Ken Vining, Chief Engineer and Head of Quality

Advancing Load Button Load Cell Capabilities with ConvexBT

Demands for high precision testing utilized for compact designs and in confined spaces is growing. The requirements for quality, accuracy and most importantly reliability are what has driven the experienced engineers at Interface to create the newly released ConvexBT™ Load Button Load Cell product line.

The revolutionary design of the ConvexBT is a first of its kind load button load cell, providing better temperature resistance and more enhanced eccentric load rejection. Miniature load cells categorized as load buttons have been sensitive to off-axis, eccentric or misaligned loads. This means if the load is not exactly perpendicular to the surface it is resting on, the data could become skewed or inaccurate.

Interface designed the ConvexBT™ Load Button Load Cell to confine misaligned loads to the primary axis of the cell providing superior performance in comparison to similar products on the market in repeatability, better data and reproducible results.

As technology advances, there is a growing demand to make devices and products more compact and convenient. This trend is happening across industries and is especially prevalent in medical, industrial automation and products reliant on advanced communications technology. To design and validate these products, our customers need force-sensing solutions that can fit in confined spaces and provide extremely accurate data. This is the driving force behind the development of ConvexBT, the next generation in force measurement device.” – Ted Larson, VP product management and marketing, Interface.

CONVEXBT FEATURES AND SPECIFICATIONS

The newly released ConvexBT product comes in two different sizes: 3/8-inch, and 1/2-inch, which are all manufactured using 17-4 PH heat treated stainless steel. These options provide a wide measurement range from 10 to 250 lbf, a compensated temperature range of 60° to 160°F, and an operating temperature range of -40° to 175°F.

Additional specifications for ConvexBT include:

  • 2.00 ± 20% mV/V rated output
  • ± 0.25 non-linearity as a percentage of full scale
  • ± 0.25 hysteresis as a percentage of full scale
  • ± 0.50 static error band as a percentage of full scale

Other load cell load buttons designs have also been extremely sensitive to temperature conditions. Interface has redesigned its ConvexBT ultra-precision product line of load buttons to ensure that this is no longer something the user has to account for by taking the sensing technology disrupted by temperature out of the cable, and designing it directly into the load button.

The new available ConvexBT models include the following capacities:

  1. ConvexBT Model LBSU-10 lbs 3/8″
  2. ConvexBT Model LBSU-25 lbs 3/8″
  3. ConvexBT Model LBSU-50 lbs 3/8″
  4. ConvexBT Model LBSU-100 lbs 1/2″
  5. ConvexBT Model LBSU-250 lbs 1/2″

Additional model capacities will be available this year.  You can view the complete product specifications as well as technical guide by visiting the product page here.

ConvexBT was developed through a combination of intense research into growing technology trends in force measurement and actively collaborating with our customers to understand their unique challenges, By introducing the industry’s most advanced and versatile ultra-precision load button load cells, we are solving the test and measurement challenges associated with miniaturization of existing and new technologies.” – Greg Adams, CEO at Interface

The revolutionary ultra-precision line of ConvexBT™ Load Button Load Cells uniquely uses multi-point calibration for testing force on miniaturized products and within confined spaces where accuracy is paramount to success and safety. The requirements are critical to common buyers of miniature load cells, especially for use in medical devices, robotics and in industrial automation applications

In addition to its ability to solve test and measurement challenges with compact devices, another key benefit of ConvexBT is its versatility in that it can be used as a traditional test and measurement solution. It can also be installed into OEM components and devices as an advanced miniature sensing solution to collect accurate real-time force data on the product as it is in use.

ConvexBT is available now under the product family of Interface Mini® Load Cells. The product is part of a growing line of Interface Load Button Load Cells. The new ConvexBT model LBSU specifications are available here: /product-category/load-button-load-cells/.

Read more about Off-Axis Loads and Temperature Sensitive Applications here.

Interface is a Critical Solutions Provider for OEMs

The hardware industry is rapidly making its way into taking advantage of the Industry 4.0 and Big Data eras. The idea that data insight can cut costs, increase efficiency and reduce downtime is spreading like wildfire throughout major OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) across the world. These organizations are adding more and more sensors and other data collection devices to their products to receive deeper analytics on the health and efficiency of various in-action processes.

One of the most important tools in this mix of data tracking and collecting devices are force measurement sensors. Load cells and torque transducers are being added to products across industries to not only optimize individual product processes, but also to ensure that the product remains in proper working conditions.

As an example, the www.interfaceforce.com/solutions/aerospace is putting force sensors all over airplane components. Everything from landing gear to the wings may include a sensor. These force sensors can then be used to constantly collect data on the well-being of these components. If landing gear needs to be fixed or adjusted, you don’t want to find that out while your 30,000 feet in the year. You want data that helps you track performance and potential degradation over time so you can solve problems before it puts lives at risk.

To serve OEMs in automotive, aerospace, robotics, medical and consumer product industries, force measurement companies like Interface must be able to manufacture sensors in high volumes and at affordable price points. Load cells and torque transducers used in test and measurement can be reused over and over, so the demand for higher volumes is lower. However, when the sensor is integrated into the final product, force measurements manufacturers need to be able to deliver a high enough volume to meet the OEM’s demand for production of the specific product the sensor will be integrated into for continuous use.

Interface holds a unique position in the OEM marketplace for custom sensor technologies. Our decades of success has allowed us to make critical investments towards streamlining our own production and manufacturing of industry-leading components to serve OEM customers. Over the last few years, we’ve implemented better, more efficient processes and have added automation to improve consistency, repeatability and time to market. This also benefits our customers by lowering costs for large scale, continuous production to meet the growing demands and use cases in the OEM market.

A huge benefit is that Interface controls the design and development of our load cells and torque transducers. We build everything from the strain gauges to the product packaging. This allows us to rapidly iterate and customize our designs to meet the needs of a wide range of OEM customers. Our engineers work hand-in-hand with our OEM partners to design the exact requirements into our sensor technology.

This is critical to being a top solutions provider serving OEMs because force measurement products must fit the design and specifications of the OEM application, as well as potentially removing unnecessary features to fit a certain price point for volume production. OEM applications can also be exposed to more extreme conditions in industries like aerospace, automotive or medical, so the sensor might need a specific material or treatment to withstand certain environments.

One of the essential benefits we provide our customers in the U.S. is the fact that our products are manufactured in country, and our engineering, sales and support staff is also local. This enables easier communication with our customers, as well as faster shipping times. When a customer needs to adjust the specifications on a device or troubleshoot a challenge, they know that they’ll get the support they need during their own working hours.  We are extending this value globally as we continue to create solutions that meet our demands worldwide.

The demand for big data and automation is growing rapidly among OEMs. It is also one of the most competitive markets in the world. To serve our customers with unique engineered to order designs and solutions, we work every day to stay on top of manufacturing trends and find new ways to optimize production to meet their cost and volume needs.

To learn more about Interface and our custom solution capabilities for the OEM market, please visit us at www.interfaceforce.com.

Contributor:  Brian Peters, Interface Regional Sales Director for the US

Instrumentation Options in Test and Measurement

Force and torque measurement technologies such as load cells and torque transducers are a single part of an overall system often used for test and measurement projects and programs. Instrumentation is also a key component of force and torque measurement systems. Instrumentation tools are functional for visualizing and logging the sensor data.

When considering all the options for your project, product designers and engineers need to evaluate the type of instrumentation required to read and gather the sensor output and display the results.

Common questions to ask in preparing your test and measurement project, building a system or setting up a lab:

  • Where are you going to connect your sensor technology and how?
  • Do you need to store your data?
  • Do you prefer an analog or digital output device?
  • Are you going to plug-in your instrumentation or use hand-held, wireless or Bluetooth connectivity?
  • How will your data output be displayed?
  • How many channels do you need for your project or program?

These are all questions related to instrumentation devices and how they interact with and connect to your test and measurement products. Because of the wide variety of instrumentation options, from transmitters and indicators to data logging, it is critical to carefully review the features, specifications, capacities for each. Engineers and testers should review capabilities for data collection of a device, connectors and adapter requirements, and how the device works with specific types of load cells, torque transducers, multi-axis sensors, and other testing equipment.

A valuable tip is to spend time reviewing the specifications of any instrumentation device you are considering, as well as speak with an experienced application engineer. The critical model and design details are provided in the product datasheet to help in your selection.

Key areas to consider in your review and design of a force and torque measurement systems include:

  • Excitation
  • Outputs
  • Performance standards
  • Environmental performance
  • Power
  • Mechanical definitions
  • Connections
  • Protocols

There are dozens of instrumentation options available through Interface including signal conditionersoutput moduleshigh-speed data loggersportable load cell indicatorsweight indicators, and junction boxes. Here are some of our latest additions and most popular instrumentation products:

Download our Instrumentation Brochure
Download our NEW Digital Instrumentation Brochure

Terms and Definitions

To help get you started on the process of selecting the right instrumentation for your project, we have compiled a list of common terms used for instrumentation and in force measurement and sensor technology product descriptions.

  • Accuracy: The closeness of an indication or reading of a measurement device to the actual value of the quantity being measured. Usually expressed as ± percent of full-scale output or reading.
  • Adapter: A mechanism or device for attaching non-mating parts.
  • Amplifier: A device that draws power from a source other than the input signal and which produces as an output an enlarged reproduction of the essential features of its input.
  • Analog Output: A voltage or current signal that is a continuous function of the measured parameter.
  • Analog-to-Digital Converter (A/D or ADC): A device or circuit that outputs a binary number corresponding to an analog signal level at the input.
  • Bluetooth: A standard for the short-range wireless interconnection of mobile phones, computers, and other electronic devices.
  • Bus Formats: A bus is a common pathway through which information flows from one computer component to another. The common expansion bus types include, Industry Standard Architecture (ISA), Extended Industry Standard Architecture (EISA), Micro Channel Architecture (MCA), Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA), Peripheral Component Interconnect (PCI), PCI Express (PCI-X), Personal Computer Memory Card Industry Association, (PCMIA), Accelerated Graphics Port (AGP), Small Computer Systems Interface (SCSI).
  • Calibration: Process of adjusting an instrument or compiling a deviation chart so that its reading can be correlated to the actual value being measured.
  • Communication: Transmission and reception of data among data processing equipment and related peripherals.
  • Controller: Controllers deliver measurement and control functions that may be used in a wide variety of applications. They feature compact form and versatility in systems that require precise measurement of weight or force combined with processing and storage.
  • Digital Output: An output signal which represents the size of an input in the form of a series of discrete quantities.
  • Environmental Conditions: All conditions in which a transducer may be exposed during shipping, storage, handling, and operation.
  • Frequency: The number of cycles over a specified time period over which an event occurs. The reciprocal is called the period.
  • Indicator: Load cell indicators are often needed where the force, load or weight measurement needs to be displayed to a user visually and displaying the results on a PC is not feasible.
  • Intelligent Indicator: Intelligent Indicators ensure sensor equipment is used for the correct amount of time, thereby helping to safeguard against mistakes or purposeful misuse.
  • Output: The electrical signal which is produced by an applied input to the transducer.
  • Protocol: A formal definition that describes how data is to be exchanged.
  • Range: Those values over which a transducer is intended to measure, specified by its upper and lower limits.
  • Signal Conditioner: A circuit module which offsets, attenuates, amplifies, linearizes and/or filters the signal for input to the A/D converter. The typical output signal conditioner is +2 V dc.
  • Strain Gage: A measuring element for converting force, pressure, or tension into an electrical signal.
  • Transducer Electronic Data Sheet (TEDS): Provides a force or torque transducer with electronic identification, allows sensor instrument to be “Plug & Play Ready” meets IEEE 1451.4
  • Wireless: Broadcasting, computer networking, or other communication using radio signals, microwaves, and other signals.

If you still have questions about load cells, torque transducers, and the instrumentation options please give us a call at 480-948-5555 or visit www.interfaceforce.com.

For some of the key terms, we used an online reference you can find here: Source

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