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How Santa Uses Interface Force Measurement Solutions to Expedite Delivery

It is well known that Jolly Ole Saint Nick leverages a great deal of magic to deliver countless gifts worldwide on Christmas. However, many don’t know that Santa does not do it all with the holiday magic. In fact, the science and engineering that goes into a wide variety of Santa’s many tools for delivering gifts are quite impressive!

With all that engineering, there is a heavy reliance of accuracy proven through rigorous test and measurement. Santa and his team confidently turn to Interface’s precision force measurement products to expedite delivery, maximize operations and packaging, quality test toys, and most importantly ensure he has absolute confidence in flight safety. How is it all possible? Lots of magical ingenuity, belief and of course, using advanced sensor technologies and instrumentation to assist in making it all happen.

Like most of our customers, we often don’t promote our custom solutions out of respect for their proprietary projects capabilities. Due to the magical capabilities that have unknown sourcing for competition, we agreed that we could reveal some of our shared secrets. Fortunately, the big guy gave us the green light to give some insight into our role in the magnificently unique present delivery machine. It should be known, our internal resources have revealed we’ve been working with special technicians in the Santa operations behind the scenes for many years.

As the world population nears 8 billion, Santa is leveraging outside experts and sources to supplement his own team’s abilities beyond reindeers and sleds, such as delivery drones. It’s a fact, Santa only works with the newest innovations. In addition, the reindeer may be magic, but the harnesses holding them to one another, and the sleigh, take careful calculations to ensure a smooth ride all night. Let’s look at a few examples of how Interface helps with all these challenges.

One disclaimer, Santa asked us not to use any real pictures from his workshop to retain the magic of Christmas and not give away trade secrets. We’ll use our app notes illustrations to paint the picture.

WTS Reindeer Bridle Tension System for Faster Performance

Santa came to Interface because he needed to quantify the so-called “poll pressure.” Bits designed to give strong poll pressure using simple pulley lever principles show a much-attenuated transfer of the rein tension through the bit to the poll. The attenuation is readily understood when the reindeer’s mouth is recognized as a “floating” fulcrum degrading the otherwise required fixed pivot point of an ideal lever. We suggested a WTS Reindeer Bridle Tension System, with two SMA Miniature S-Type Load Cells in both the line of the reins and that of the cheekpiece on one side of the reindeer. This is used to study the dynamic response of the cheekpiece tension to rein tension. Utilizing the Wireless Telemetry System (WTS), the valuable data can be displayed and/or recorded in real time using a PC and/or a handheld receiver. The fundamental operation of the bits could in principle be discovered on the laboratory bench. But in practice of course, the reindeer’s mouth is expected to provide the fulcrum. Within the real experimental system comprising Santa’s hands on the reins, the reindeers’ mouth, and the bit, the elasticity of the mouth provides a “floating” fulcrum and a potential source of time-lag and decoherence between the dynamic rein and cheekpiece tensions. Ultimately, this solution was applied across each of the reindeer to ensure Santa understood the pole pressure of each flying reindeer guiding his sleigh as he manned the reins.

Expediting Holiday Gift with Santa Approved Drone Delivery

As mentioned above, Santa needed some help to ensure the growing population received presents on Christmas night, so he started to employ “delivery drones” into his process. To ensure everything went smoothly, Santa needs to weigh the payload of the package being delivered while the propeller motors compensate for weight shifting or uneven weight distribution of the package to lift and fly the package to its destination. Four Interface WMC Sealed Stainless Steel Miniature Load Cells were used to measure the weight of the payload and detect weight shifting or uneven weight distribution of the package which would signal the necessary propeller motors to compensate for an uneven weight load. The four WMC load cells accurately measured the payload weight and maintained stability of the propeller motors to safely deliver the parcel. This information was communicated to the drone’s on-board processor for monitoring and recording this information during flight. This solution has given Santa the extra hands he needs to ensure every boy and girl receives their presents in time!

Production Workshop Toys and Bicycle Load Testing

Santa’s workshop is also full of force sensing solutions for all the individual toys that need to be tested for safety and quality. One of the systems he uses measures bike frame load capacities and vibrations on the frame to ensure the bike’s high quality and frame load durability during the final step of the product testing process for children and adults receiving the bikes. Interface suggested installing Model SSMF Fatigue Rated S-Type Load Cell, connected to the WTS-AM-1E Wireless Strain Bridge, between the bike’s seat and the bike frame. This will measure the vibrations and load forces applied onto the bike frame. The results will be captured by the WTS-AM-1E and transmitted to a PC using the WTS-BS-6 Wireless Telemetry Dongle Base Station. Using this solution, Santa was able to gather highly accurate data to determine that their bikes met performance standards through this final testing.

With new technology and a rising need for fast, safe and reliable delivery of all the gifts around the world, it takes a lot of belief, mixed with magic, advanced engineering and precision test and measurement to meet the demand for Christmas presents every year. And Interface proud to be the load cell of choice for Santa’s workshop.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year to all from everyone at Interface!

Interface Entertainment and Amusement Industry Solutions

The special effects of a movie or the thrills you experience on a roller coaster take a lot of engineering work behind the scenes. Force measurement plays a major role in the design, development, testing, manufacturing, and maintenance of equipment used in creating entertainment and amusement features.

Interface load cells, torque transducers and instrumentation are used when quality, safety, and durability matters. You see our products used in a variety of entertainment and amusement industry solutions. This includes testing gaming simulation devices, monitoring outdoor stage equipment, designing interactive displays, operating lifting equipment, testing film drones and cameras, as well as for designing amusement rides and theme park robotics.

The part engineering plays and use of sensor technologies has grown significantly over the years in the entertainment and amusement industry. The expertise and products propel the machinery that delights audiences, while keeping purveyors, operators, and consumers safe.

Interface offers force measurement products for testing, monitoring, and embedding sensors into products by makers for various equipment used in theatre, film, video gaming, television, theme parks and entertainment venues, as well as creating spectacular multimedia attractions.

With the entertainment industry’s growth into many different submarkets, Interface’s deep range of load cells and other sensor products are used for quality testing and accurate data collection. Beyond our standard products, Interface’s experts often collaborate with specialty engineers to design customizable measurement solutions for unique applications in the entertainment industry. Interface offers highly accurate sensor systems to ensure safety and eliminate risks when building and maintaining equipment used by industry professionals.

In our industry solutions, we’ve outlined how Interface is taking part in the entertainment markets. Learn about the products and application examples that demonstrate how engineers in the entertainment industry take advantage of our robust force measurement catalog.

Entertainment Applications Using Interface Measurement Solutions

  • Display Equipment
  • Cranes and Lifts for Rigging
  • Animatronics
  • Amusement Park Rides
  • Stage Equipment and Design
  • Touch Screens and Monitors
  • Theme Park Robotics
  • Drones for Videography
  • Camera and Multimedia Equipment
  • Outdoor Festival Wind Monitoring
  • Stunt Devices
  • Operating Equipment and Machines
  • Set and Venue Designs
  • Equipment Safety Monitoring

Drone Videography

A videographer team wanted to ensure the propeller motors compensate for weight shifting or uneven weight distribution of the video camera being attached when they film landscapes and other aerial shots. Four Interface WMC Sealed Stainless Steel Miniature Load Cells were installed to the necessary propeller motors to compensate for an uneven weight load. The WMC’s measure the weight of the film camera attached and detect weight shifting or uneven weight distribution of the video camera. The four WMC load cells accurately measured the payload weight and maintained stability of the propeller motors to when the drone was in air with the attached film camera. This information was communicated to the drone’s on-board processor for monitoring and recording this information during flight. More information is available here.

Entertainment LED Screens

A customer constructing a huge venue wanted to weigh their extremely large LED display screens. They also wanted to measure the force of the structure that is supporting the screens, to ensure stability and structural integrity. Interface suggested their LW General Purpose Load Washer Load Cells being assembled within rods that are part of the support structure. The LED screen hangs off the structure, which connects to the rods. The compression forces applied to the rod will be measured by the LW’s installed in between. The load washers are paired with WTS-AM-1E Wireless Strain Bridge Transmitter Modules, where the force results are wirelessly transmitted to both the WTS-BS-1 Wireless Handheld Display for Unlimited Transmitters and the WTS-BS-4 Wireless Base Stations with included Log100 software. Interface’s wireless load washer system successfully weighed the forces of the large LED screen for the customer’s new venue. Learn more.

Gaming Simulation Brake Pedal

A gaming company wanted to switch from the standard racing pedals to a load cell based pedal system for their racing simulation game. Compared to the standard racing simulation pedals, load cell pedals are more advanced and offer more accurate results. They also wanted a wireless system that will measure the strength of the pressure received by the pedals that will detect the perfect amount of braking power. Interface’s BPL Pedal Load Cell was installed onto the gaming brake pedal to measure the force applied when someone puts their foot on it. Forces were measured and recorded using the WTS-AM-1E Wireless Strain Bridge Transmitter Modules, where data is transmitted to the WTS-BS-6 Dongle Base Station when connected to the customer’s PC or laptop. Interface’s BPL Pedal Load Cell measured and recorded the pedal forces applied to their racing gaming brake pedals. In comparison to traditional simulation pedals that measure the distance of the pedals when pressed, Interface’s load cell pedal system provided a more realistic experience for gamers. Read more.

Interface enables incredible innovation across industries and the entertainment world is no different. We’re proud to help customers create incredible experiences and find new ways to captivate audiences. To learn more about our work in the entertainment industry here.

Entertainment-Brochure

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Gaming Hardware Benefits from Force Measurement Solutions

Why Product Design Engineers Choose Interface

Protecting Ultra HD Monitors

Robotic Arm Animated Application Note

 

Force Measurement Solutions for Mobility Markets

One of the tenets in addressing urban mobility is innovation.  As populations grow around the world, addressing how people get from here to there is part of a challenge and opportunity.  Investments are growing in this sector, as experts and designers look to how to increase efficiency and performance in vehicle markets.

Interface has long been a supplier of test and measurement solutions to industries that play a critical role in mobility, from vehicle manufacturers to infrastructure planners and builders. In our latest case study, we look at some of the innovative ways our solutions are being used to advance technologies and capabilities in transportation.

If something moves, it likely needs force and torque testing for reliability, safety and performance. With the evolving trends in urban mobility, Interface is working with makers and builders of all types of transportation solutions for unmanned vehicles like drones and autonomous vehicles, as well as alternatively fueled and electric vehicles.

READ OUR NEW CASE STUDY: INTERFACE’S CRUCIAL ROLE IN VEHICLE AND URBAN MOBILITY MARKETS

Interface customers utilize our standard and custom products in the vehicle and mobility markets to:

  1. Test the force and torque of components for validation or for design improvements
  2. Integration of sensor technology into a component or product for functional real-time performance data

These products include Interface load cells, mini load cells and subminiature load button load cells, rotary and reaction torque transducers, instrumentation, and accessories. For the growing trends for digital requirements in testing and OEM solutions, our wireless and Bluetooth solutions are commonly used in these markets.  Interface is also frequently engaged on specific customer requests for engineer-to-order products and customized solutions.

Here are four use case scenarios of Interface solutions used in the vehicle and mobility markets:

Brake Pedal Testing

Interface’s Brake Pedal Load Cell BPL-300-C was installed on a brake pedal and then connected to a BTS-AM-1 Bluetooth Low Energy Strain Bridge Transmitter Module, which collects and transmits data to our BTS Toolkit Mobile App. This solution allowed the customer to record and review data from a mobile device while out on a test track. READ MORE HERE.

Drone Delivery Systems

Interface supplied four WMC Sealed Stainless Miniature Load Cells to measure the payload weight and  for the detection of in-motion shifting and uneven distribution of the package weight. As the load cells detect this data, it provides a signal to the propeller to increase RPMs on the propellers and adjust balance and weight distribution inflight. WATCH HERE.

Electric Vehicle (EV) Battery Testing

Compression testing performed on EV batteries is critical for performance and safety. As an EV battery is charged and stores more electrons, it swells. If the packaging housing the batteries does not compensate for this swelling in the design, failure is likely. Interface can supply a WMC miniature load cell. The load cell will measure compression force as a battery goes through charge cycles on a test stand to determine the force given off as the battery swells. This allows our customers to design the proper packaging for the batteries. Read more about the future of EV markets and testing here.

Engine Performance Testing

Force and torque sensors are used with a dynamometer, which isolates the engine’s power output to help quantify its overall performance.  In this application, a  precision SSMF Fatigue Rated S-Type Load Cell is attached to a torque arm to “feels” the torque from an engine loading system. The fatigue rating on the load cell allows it to accurately measure performance for extended cycles. A signal conditioner is used to connect out from the load cell to a computer to ensure clear transmission of data to accurately measure torque being produced by the engine. Engineers analyze power transfer through the data output to tune the engine performance. Check out this engine dynamometer application note here.

Contact our experts to learn more about these types of testing applications, use cases and products used in urban mobility projects.

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:

 

Evolving Urban Mobility Sector for Test and Measurement

Every day it seems we are inching closer to the Jetson’s utopia of flying cars, floating cities and robot butlers. Technology is evolving to the point where robotics and computers control most aspects of travel and mobility. That requires a lot of testing and dependency on accurate measurements for what is on the road and what is flying up above.

Interface has been long been working with leading manufacturers and suppliers of all types of vehicles traveling on the ground, across the skies, and into aerospace. As innovations are removing old boundaries, one thing that remains constant is the need for test and measurement programs.

In the urban mobility sector, we are seeing growth related to rigorous T&M projects for everything from autonomous vehicles to manned rockets, as well as unmanned aircrafts and drones. Interface is proud to be a solutions provider to the engineers and innovators of these growing applications and sectors.

Arizona, the home to Interface’s headquarters, is considered a hub for new technologies and inventions in urban mobility, including autonomous automobiles, alternative-fueled vehicles, rockets and unmanned vehicles. There are dozens of companies with testing and research facilities located throughout Arizona, with countless self-driving vehicles testing and mapping streets throughout the state. In fact, the Institute for Automated Mobility (IAM) in partnership with Intel, Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University, University of Arizona, and other public and private organizations, is collaborating on state-of-the-art research in Arizona. The goal of IAM is to advance all aspects of autonomous vehicles from science to safety to policy.

Nearly every company currently testing and innovating autonomous vehicle technology in Arizona is a customer of Interface. We are providing everything from instrumentation to torque transducers, along with a large range of our standard precision load cells for all types of testing projects. Our custom solutions team also has been working with leaders in these markets.

Being on the forefront as a solutions provider for this sector gives us visibility into many of the applications. What we have learned is demand is related to advancing urban mobility to solve for increasing congestion and diminishing inner-city air quality. The 2019 Urban Mobility Report published by The Texas A&M Transportation Institute with cooperation from INRIX notes:

“Connected vehicles “talking” to each other, such as traffic signals and other systems, and providing this information to decision‐makers will provide unprecedented data and insights to identify and fix mobility problems. Newer model vehicles sense and adjust to their surroundings, increasing the safety and efficient movement of goods and people. Other technologies, such as The Internet of Things (IoT), 3D printers, Blockchain, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) will impact transportation systems of the future.”

As technology leads the way in urban mobility, the safety and performance of the vehicle are of utmost importance. There is no room for failure. The point is, the advancement of robotics, sensor technology, and computing power are becoming a driving factor behind a fully autonomous world in terms of how people and products move about the world.

Another area of increased T&M product demand at Interface is coming from the application of our force measurement products for moving objects in unmanned vehicles above ground. The advancement of drone technology for commercial purposes is seen through the adoption across diverse applications such as mapping, logistics, and surveillance. Interface load cell technologies have been used for flight and wing testing, load testing and a variety of force measurement projects. The drone market, for commercial applications,  is expected to grow to more than $7B through 2022.

Interface is well known throughout key global industries as the premier manufacturer of the most accurate and reliable force measurement products on the market. For urban mobility, accuracy is critical to maintaining safe, pilot and driverless, vehicles and with the advancement of high-quality robotics.

Our load cells and torque transducers are used to test and measure key data points such as balance and weight distribution, thrust and lift, and to optimize movement on robotic arms and legs.

Here are a couple of application examples where Interface is providing critical components to advance innovation in urban mobility

Aerospace and Defense

The aerospace and defense industries are among the earliest adopters of urban mobility technology. The defense sector has utilized drones for surveillance, tactical advantage and battle since the advent of the technology. Aerospace manufacturers have also implemented autonomy into many of their commercial and defense planes. Interface has been a longtime partner of the aerospace and defense sector, working with some of the largest OEM’s across the U.S., as well as internationally. Some of the capabilities of our products in the aerospace and defense industry include thrust tests, wing and fuselage balance, weight distribution and fatigue testing, landing gear tests and parcel delivery weight testing for drones.

Automotive

In the automotive industry, autonomous vehicles have been a critical focus for the past 10 years. The technology really exploded onto the scene over the past five years with key players like Google, Tesla, GM, and others making significant investments in the development and testing of autonomous vehicles. Interface products are used by most of the major automobile OEM’s throughout the world. In 2018, we released one of our most advanced products to date, the Axial TQ™, which includes capabilities uniquely designed for autonomous vehicle testing. Our services in automotive include bolt fastening, brake pedal force testing, engine torque testing and more.

Here are a couple of application notes and a case study that outlines how Interface products are used in this sector:

As the urban mobility sector continues to grow, more advanced travel and delivery systems will require precise weight and torque testing to ensure unwavering reliability. The less control humans have over land and air vehicles, the more we need to trust the construction and design of these vehicles using proper force testing. Interface will continue to grow as a key player in the space as more OEM’s turn to our services to optimize the development of drones, autonomous vehicles, and other urban mobility innovations.

Contributor: Kim Williams, Interface Business Development Manager

Finding the Center of Gravity

Even after more than a half-century in the force measurement industry, Interface continues to find new  and innovative use cases for our precision products.

Recently, we were approached by a customer who needed help finding the center of gravity in order to optimize weight distribution and balance for a product in development. Our outstanding team here at Interface put our heads together to develop a unique testing method to help discover this critical data point.

One of the most rewarding experiences in managing our custom solutions is learning about a new customer challenge and developing a novel solution to address it.” Ken Bishop, Director of Sales and Customer Solutions, Interface, Inc.

For this specific use case, the customer had a cylindrical tank filled with material for which they needed to find the center of gravity. Because we were able to calculate the distance of the tank, we were able to understand the weight distribution and create a test to find the center.

The center of gravity of an object is calculated when the weight of the given object is concentrated into the center of the object. This is determined by measuring the weight seen by each of the four legs.  If the weight is distributed evenly, the material is in the center location.  This center location can also be referred to as the origin.

Utilizing a Model 1280 Programmable Weight Indicator and Controller, which is highly customizable instrumentation for any application, we were able to write a program to achieve our goal. We then placed two Model 1211 Standard Precision LowProfile® Load Cells on each end of the rack where the tank resided, using four load cells in total. Because we knew the distance of the object and had load cells to measure the weight at both ends, we were easily able to calculate and identify the origin point on the tank. In this case, the center of gravity.

Ken noted that during his tenured career at Interface, this was the first time he and the team had been tasked with finding the center of gravity in relationship to the distance for an object. As Interface’s team thought about how to develop the custom solution, they also considered additional applications in which this information could be beneficial.

The result of this successful test and measurement application, Interface considers the center of gravity analysis as a beneficial test to optimize flight performance of an airplane. This is important when there is that instant that a plane is not flying at max capacity. There may be open seats all around you, but in order to keep weight distribution in balance, the attendants may need to limit which seats are occupied during a flight. If planes were equipped with this type of sensor technology to calculate center of gravity, they could more evenly distribute weight and ensure optimal performance.  This same type of application can apply to any vehicle that moves on land, air or water with people or cargo.

SEE THE APPLICATION NOTE FOR CENTER OF GRAVITY TESTING

In the growing demands for urban mobility, unmanned vehicles and drone technologies, this type of testing application can help with vehicles, aircraft, space vehicles, boats and more with performance and safety.

Force measurement has a limitless number of applications to improve performance, maximize efficiency and even work in real-time to provide smart decisions. At Interface, we are discovering new ways to redevelop our load cell, torque and multi-axis sensor products for customized solutions to meet the growing demands for innovation.

Interface works with a wide range of industries, including aerospace, automotive, medical, metrology and industrial automation by teaming up to create unique use cases and applications that require our custom force measurement solutions. If you have a unique project that requires a custom solution, please visit the custom solutions page on our site at /custom-solutions/ or contact us at 480-948-5555.

Contributor:  Ken Bishop, Sales and Custom Solutions Director at Interface

Tank-Weighing-and-Center-of-Gravity-1