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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.

Faces of Interface Featuring Jeff Boyd

Interface Regional Sales Director Jeffrey Boyd has a long history in the force measurement industry and is an incredible addition to the Interface sales team. You see, force measurement runs in Jeff’s blood!

Jeff originally got into the industry because he watched and listened to his dad talk about his experience at another force measurement manufacturer, Sensor Development. In fact, his dad actually helped start the company when he joined the owner shortly after the company was founded. You could say that Jeff was somewhat groomed for success in this field.

To prepare for his destined career, Jeff spent a few years at Oakland University. After that, he quickly joined up with his dad at Sensor Development. Jeff started in the calibration department, learning the ins and outs of strain gages, load cells, torque sensors and everything in between. After a few years, he was leading both the calibration services and customer service department. Jeff was in charge of ensuring customer satisfaction when products came in for repair, service or calibration.

After several years getting hands on with the products and developing critical expertise in the various sensors the company sold, Jeff decided it was time to transition into a sales role. He originally began as a sales engineer helping to develop customer quotes and working directly with the engineering department on custom applications. His success in sales lead him to become a regional sales manager in 2014.

From 2014 to 2017, Jeff served as regional sales manager for Sensor Development until it was bought out by HITEC Sensors and was renamed to HITEC Sensors Development. Jeff remained with HITEC for another four years before it was time for exploring new opportunities.

Due to his experience in the industry, Jeff was familiar with the Interface brand and our product’s reputation for quality and accuracy. Right about the time Jeff’s time with HITEC was coming to end, Interface had an opening for a Regional Sales Position due to Keith Skidmore‘s promotion to our specialized Custom Solutions team.

Jeff joined Interface in the Spring of 2021 and is a perfect fit, technically and professionally. Not only because of Jeff’s years of experience, also because he continues to live in Michigan and will be covering Interface’s Central U.S. region working with our manufacturer’s representative firm, Stress Analysis Services. He’ll be working with our sales reps, including John Guy, and our customers to ensure they get exactly what they require from Interface. He knows the area and knows the needs of the industry well.

As for why Jeff chose Interface, he says it’s because of the people. Throughout the interview process and during these first few weeks, Jeff mentioned how supportive and friendly his teammates and the leaders of the company are working to ensure his success. He also sees the trajectory that Interface is currently on and knows that he will have an opportunity to grow and thrive alongside Interface.

When he’s not helping customers find the perfect product or customer solution for their test and measurement needs, Jeff is spending time with his wife and his five grown sons and granddaughter. Living through the cold Michigan winters make vacationing to the warmth a must. Jeff and his wife frequently travel to Las Vegas and Arizona or any other warm state to escape. Though, they also like to spend some of their time cheering on their favorite football teams. Notably, the household is a bit divided when it’s game time. Jeff is also an avid golfer and spends a lot of his down time on the course.

We’re so glad to have Jeff on our team as our new ForceLeaders member and we can’t wait to see what we’ll achieve together in interest of our valued Interface customers.

Couplings 101

One of the biggest challenges in the force measurement is dealing with misaligned loads. Misaligned loads can result in bad data and damaged test equipment. Therefore, it’s important to understand the affect these types of loading conditions can have on a force test and know of the ways to fix or account for it.

For every force test, there is typically a piece of equipment designed to deal with misaligned loads. Whether it’s simply applying the force device properly or if misaligned loads are unavoidable, using the right tools to reject misaligned load. Learning more about couplings is a great place start in knowing how to this power tool is designed to deal with misaligned loads in torque testing.

Couplings are a critical component to be used alongside torque transducer that ensures the isolation of torque loads. A coupling is a mechanical element that connects two shafts together to accurately transmit the power from the drive side to the driven side while absorbing the mounting error of misalignment of the two shafts. Essentially, they allow and compensate for misalignment in a torque test. It is one of the topics we discuss in our online webinar, New Twist on Torque.

For instance, if two shafts are coupled together and the center shafts aren’t aligned, measuring torque without a coupling may ruin the test, affecting the longevity of the parts and the performance of the measurement. With a coupling, the shafts don’t have to be perfectly aligned in length and can still provide an accurate torque test.

There are two main categories of couplings used in force measurement and the biggest difference in the two is the degree of freedom needed for the application. The categories are single-jointed and double-jointed. A single-jointed coupling allows for angular and axial misalignment, while double-jointed coupling allow for an additional radial misalignment. For floating mount installations, Interface recommend single-flex disk couplings. For fixed mount installations, double-flex disk couplings are required.

Couplings should be used in all applications and the selection of the coupling type is based on the speed of the application. For higher speed applications, Interface recommends a high-quality coupling with a flexible, yet sturdy construction made from premium metals.

Interface offers a wide variety of torque transducers and can provide couplings off the shelf or in a custom solution when necessary. One of our most popular torque solutions, which includes a coupling, is the Interface Model T1 Torque Coupling Rotary Torque Transducer. This solution integrates torque measurement with a robust double flex coupling.  The coupling and sensor are completely hollow, allowing the shortest possible distance between the coupled shaft ends. On-board digital electronics provide a ±5V output, low-noise signal. Powered by 12-28V DC, the strain gage based T1 Torque Coupling offers precision rotary torque measurement in a bearing-less, contact-free design. Covering ranges from 50 to 1000 Nm (443 to 8.85K lbf-in), the T1 ships with factory bored hubs to mate precisely with the customer’s shaft ends.  Both smooth and keyed shaft style hubs are available.

Examples of a torque solutions using a coupling in the field can be found in our application notes section of the website. We’ve provided an example of one such application below.

Fuel Pump Optimization – Rotary Torque

A nationally renowned race team was using a flow bench to measure fuel pump performance. They wanted to determine if they could reduce the power consump­tion of the pump by further analyzing the precise torque it produced. An Interface Model T25 High Speed Rotary Torque Transducer was integrated into the pump drive to directly measure the torque required to spin the pump. Interface Shaft Style Torque Transducer Couplings we’re also used to marry the shafts to the T25. Using this data collected from the T25 in conjunction with the pressure and volume measurements of the fuel flow, the race team was able to characterize fuel pump performance versus drive line torque, and then minimize the required drive power while maintaining the needed pressure and flow for efficient fuel delivery.

Couplings are an integral part of any torque test project. To learn more about couplings and their application in a wide variety of projects, reach out to Interface at 480-948-5555 or contact us here. We can suggest a combination of off-the-shelf transducers, couplings and data acquisition devices or work with you to develop a custom solution necessary for your goals.

ADDITIONAL READING: TORQUE TRANSDUCERS 101

Source: Keith Skidmore

Interface Force Measurement Solutions Featured in Quality Magazine

Choosing a force measurement device and getting the most out of it is a tricky process, even for the most seasoned engineers. So, when Quality Magazine asked our Chief Engineer and VP of Quality, Ken Vining, to share his knowledge of force measurement, he decided to put together a guide on what to look for in force measurement equipment and how to use and maintain your equipment properly.

In his Quality Magazine article titled, “Selecting and Using a Force Measurement Device: Everything you need to know,” Vining explains the contributing factors to force measurement device quality and accuracy, as well as a few tips and tricks to make sure you’re getting the best possible accuracy and longevity out of your device.

Included below is a brief introduction from article:

Force measurement devices like load cells, torque transducers and data acquisition devices are used across industries to design and test hardware. They’re a key factor in the product development process because the force, torque and weight data they collect helps to ensure products are accurately constructed, work as intended, are safe for use, and can withstand the test of time. In highly regulated and complex industries like medical and defense, this data becomes even more important because any miscalculation in the design of a product can put lives at risk.

The first thing to understand is every project requiring a load cell or torque transducer has different variables affecting accuracy and quality. And for every situation in product development and testing, there is a load cell to fit your precise need. Therefore, the most important step in ensuring accurate and high-quality data is speaking to a force measurement expert about the details of a project.

There are five key factors you need to know related to data accuracy, and three factors related to force measurement device quality. I’ll explain why each factor can contribute to inaccuracies and what to look for when selecting a device based on material selection, build quality, and environmental factors… READ MORE

Additional Ken Vining feature:

/the-five-critical-factors-of-load-cell-quality/

For additional information on selecting and using your force measurement device, please contact our solutions experts.

How to Choose the Right Load Cell

Load cells are used to test and confirm the design of hardware, components, and fixtures used across industries and by consumers. From the structural integrity of an airplane to the sensitivity of a smartphone touchscreen, there’s a load cell available to measure force. In fact, here at Interface we have over tens of thousands of products used in force measurement, for all types of different applications.

How do engineers and product designers go about choosing the right load cell for a specific application or testing project?

Have no fear, Interface has put together a short guide on choosing the load cell that is right for you. This blog will cover the basic questions to answer when selecting a product, as well the most important factors affecting load cell choice.  Be sure to watch the online video, Load Cell Basics, that highlights key factors of consideration when choosing the right load cell for additional insights.

The basic questions you need to consider when selecting a load cell include:

  • What are the expected loads? What is the minimum and maximum load you’ll be measuring?
  • Is there any potential for higher peak loads than what you intend to measure? What are these expected peak forces?
  • Is it tension, compression, or both?
  • Will there be any off-axis loads? If so, what is their geometry? Do you want to measure them too?
  • Will it be a static, dynamic or fatigue measurement?
  • What is the environment in which you’ll be conducting your test? Will the load cell need to be sealed?
  • How accurate do your measurements need to be? Do they need to be at the highest accuracy of ±0.02-0.05% or within ±0.5-1%?
  • What additional features, accessories and instrumentation does your application require to complete a test?
  • Do you need standard electrical connectors or customized options? What about additional bridges or amplifiers?
  • How are you planning to collect and analyze the data output from the load cell?

Next, these are the most important factors affecting accuracy, which will have a heavy influence over the load cell you choose. It’s important to understand how your application and the load cell will be affected by each of the factors, which include:

  • Mechanical – Dimensions and Mounting
  • Electrical – Output and Excitation
  • Environmental – Temperature and Moisture

One of the most important factors in choosing the right load cell is understanding how it will be mounted for testing or as a component within a design. There are a wide variety of mounting types including threaded connections, inline, through hole or even adhesive. Understanding the mounting type that suits your application is critical to getting the correct data because a poorly mounted load cell will distort the results and can damage the load cell.

The mounting process also requires you to understand which direction the load is coming from, in addition to any extraneous loads that may be present. The load cell mating surface is also an important factor. For example, when using our LowProfile® load cells without a pre-installed base, the best practice is to ensure that the mating surface is clean and flat to within a 0.0002-inch total indicator reading and is of suitable material, thickness, and hardness (Rc 30 or higher). Also make sure that bolts are torqued to the recommended level.

If you’re conducting a fatigue measurement, it’s also important to address the frequency and magnitude of load cycles with your load cell provider. Factors to address include single mode versus reverse cycles, deflection versus output resolution, and material types. Interface offers a wide variety of fatigue-rated load cells that are perfect for these types of applications.

Another consideration in choosing the right load cell is the electrical signal. Load cells work by converting force into an electrical signal. Therefore, it’s important to understand the electrical output type necessary for your application, which could include millivolt, voltage, current or digital output. You can find the excitation voltage data on our website for each of our load cells. Additional considerations include noise immunity, cable length and proper grounding.

The environment is also a critical factor in ensuring accurate performance of your load cell. Interface provides load cells in a variety of material types including aluminum, steel, and stainless steel. Each material has a variety of properties that make them more suitable for different environments. For a more in-depth perspective on the different strengths and weaknesses of materials, please read our blog titled, Considerations for Steel, Stainless Steel and Aluminum Load Cells. For applications where load cells need to be submerged in liquid or enter an explosive environment, we also have a variety of harsh environment and IP rated load cells, in addition to load cells suitable for high humidity or splash resistance. Learn more about our intrinsically safe load cells here.

Learn more about choosing the right load cell in these online resources:

WATCH: Load Cell Basics with Keith Skidmore

WATCH: How to Choose a Load Cell with Design Engineer Carlos Salamanca

READ: Load Cell Field Guide

VISIT: Interface Technical Library

To learn more about choosing the right load cell for any application, connect with our applications engineers about the force measurement needs for your next project at 480-948-5555.

Faces of Interface Featuring Richard Snelson

Richard Snelson, president of Measurements Incorporated, is the leader of our outstanding manufacturers’ representative firm serving the Mid-Atlantic coast of the US. The origin of the company, that supports customers in this region with application solutions for structural, material, and environmental testing, is an intriguing story.

In this new Faces of Interface feature, Richard highlights one of his favorite projects and provides his thoughts on representing the most reliable and accurate force measurement products in the industry from Interface.

Richard grew up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and was brought up hearing all about his ‘old man’ and the incredible work he got to do with customers across the technology landscape. His father and two partners started Measurements Incorporated in 1976. The company had spun out of another company called Micro Measurements. At that time, they sold a limited range of product lines to a wide range of customers. Some of the most memorable customers Richard would hear about from his dad included those that worked with bridges, battle tanks and even cadavers.

After high school, Richard attended Indiana University of Pennsylvania, where he would go on to earn a split degree in business, marketing, and management. During his college years, Richard also received a ton of career experience working multiple jobs. His summers were spent as a technician in the Princeton Plasma Physics Lab, where his role include working on a reactor. He also worked on the Brooklyn Bridge, replacing cables on the massive structure, as well as working for a friend of his dad in the oil and gas industry. These jobs not only put Richard through college, but they also exposed him to hands-on experience working with organizations and on projects like what his dad would talk about at home when he was growing up.

The experiences and incredible stories he was told throughout his youth pushed Richard to accept a role working for his father’s company. He started out selling one product line, XY plotters, to major test labs and facilities across the Mid-Atlantic. After finding a great deal of success, Richard was given the entire state of Delaware to sell every product line in the company’s portfolio. This eventually expanded into Pennsylvania and Maryland.

As he grew his expertise as a sales rep at Measurements Incorporated, Richard also began buying out the other two owners as they retired and eventually retained sole ownership of the company in 2003. Today the company carries an ever-expanding product line of test and measurement equipment and serves some of the most reputable organizations across multiple industries including, aerospace, defense, medical, industrial, and more.

I put myself in the customer’s place and offer a complete solution, sometimes reminding them of things they might not initially think of and the end result is that we are all successful.” Richard Snelson, president of Measurements, Incorporated.

Like his father, Richard has also collected many of his own fun, interesting, and sometimes incredibly nerve-racking stories. Among his favorite are the two times he was asked to head over to One World Trade Center to oversee installation equipment and then later assess a challenge with a sensor on the building’s enormous spire on the very top. Richard and few other men from the company charged with some of the tower’s maintenance and caretaking went up to the top together. During the assessment, Richard and the maintenance company’s president were tasked with repelling up the spire to identify and fix the sensor. Richard enjoyed an unforgettable experience and got a sweat-inducing picture in the process that you can see in his photo above!

Richard has a long-time relationship with Interface that began in 2006. He raves about the quality of the brand and the confidence he and his customers have in the accuracy and reliability of our force measurement sensors. He has great respect for the people he works with regularly, including his Regional Sales Director, Elliot Speidell. Richard often finds himself identifying the signature blue paint job on our load sensors during customer facility tours. He’s proud that he’s able to offer the industry’s leading force measurement solutions to some of the world’s most prominent organizations.

When he’s not dangling off one of the tallest buildings in the world or helping solve key customer challenges with a bevy of critical instrumentation, Richard enjoys time spent with family, his wife of 36 years Tracey, their two children Courtney and Derek, and their grandson Everett. The family loves to spend their time outdoors and can often be found sailing on the Chesapeake Bay.  Richard also enjoys recreational shooting and cruising around on his motorcycle.

We couldn’t have asked for a better partner in Richard and his team at Measurements Incorporated. We are happy to share his story. Looking for more Faces of Interfaces? Go check out our ForceLeaders here.

 

Faces of Interface Featuring Dan McAneny

Our Faces of Interface series provides readers with an inside look at all the brilliant and talented people that work for our 52 year-old company.  There is also a team of experts and experienced individuals that are part of our sales engineering network. These representatives and distributors are integral to the work we do, and they are considered part of the Interface family.

In this post, we are featuring Dan McAneny, co-founder and sales engineer at Tritek Solutions, one of Interface’s sales representatives covering the Pacific Northwest. Dan has been working with Interface for many years, so we have gotten to know him pretty well and are grateful to have him part of our team.

Dan began his career as a design engineer in New York after graduating with a bachelor of science in Electrical Engineering from Lehigh University. He spent a few years in this design engineer role before quickly realizing that he had a passion for being out in the field and working directly with customers, rather than behind a desk.

His search for sales engineering positions took him out west to work for a rep company in Los Angeles, California, that sold electronic test equipment. This position helped Dan develop his proficiency in sales, as well as better understanding of the test solutions critical to the evolution of technology. When the LA company went out of business in 1988, Dan and his good friend and co-worker decided to start Tritek Solutions.

Tritek Solutions is a manufacturers’ representative with sales and administrative staff capable of providing a complete sales and support solution. The company focuses on test instruments, systems, specialized components and board-level products.

The company quickly ascended, growing into Northern California, the Rocky Mountain region, and the Pacific Northwest. And after 28 years in Southern California, Dan and his wife decided to take their talents to Seattle, Washington, where he could focus his work with Tritek in the Pacific Northwest.

Dan learned about the diverse and innovative technology ecosystem in this region and has developed a wide range of experience and expertise on how to serve customers in various industries such as aerospace and defense, medical, industrial, automotive and construction. In fact, this is the aspect of his job that he enjoys the most, working with customers in all of these different technology sectors in Seattle to learn about their challenges in bringing new innovation to market, and offering synergistic solutions available from the many manufacturers he represents.

“In a single day, I could be standing next to a 777X airplane for an hour, and then the next hour, I could be discussing a solution for developing delivery drones or ventilator production. The possibility of learning about and working with customers on hundreds of new technology is something I enjoy every day.”

When Dan began working with us many years ago, he noticed that our presence in the Pacific Northwest was mainly focused on large aerospace OEM’s and knew he could help us break into a larger variety of markets. Dan has been successful in proactively searching for and securing new opportunities for Interface force measurement products across new markets, innovators and advancing technology sectors.

“Working with Interface has been a pleasure. Their more than half-century in business has provided them with a deep understanding for efficiently working with reps like myself, and the quality of their products and engineering talent makes it easier because I know my OEM customers know and trust the Interface brand.”

When he is not making a killing helping original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) find test, engineering and manufacturing solutions for their product development process, Dan enjoys taking advantage of the beautiful outdoors in the Pacific Northwest. Dan’s wife of 30 years and two sons age 23 and 25 enjoy road and mountain biking, hiking and swimming together, as well as exploring the hidden gems the region has to offer.

Stay tuned to our blog for new Faces of Interface ForceLeaders profiles to learn more about our valued network and team members. You can subscribe to receive the blog weekly at www.interfaceforce.com/blog/.

 

Envisioning the Future of Force Measurement

It is estimated that the force measurement sensor industry market, which includes strain gages and load cells, is valued at $2 billion annually. This is a result of the diverse amount of application uses for these types of sensors, whether embedded into an OEM product or for use in test and measurement. With innovations pushing product designers, this segment of the overall sensor market is growing rapidly from the advancements in robotics, semiconductors, automotive, aerospace and defense.

In these areas of growth, Interface continues to focus on the manufacturing and sales of precision force measurement products. For 52 years, Interface remains the leader in accuracy and quality. There are no plans to change that focus. What is changing is the market place and opportunities for using precision sensor technology of all sizes and capacities, whether that be for electronic vehicle testing or industrial automation, launching spacecraft or introducing new robots.

The way we develop force measurement products is continually evolving. It is our responsibility to understand trends in the engineering, testing and manufacturing, as well as identifying customer needs, in order to develop new force measurement innovations for today and into the future.

Technology is moving at a fast pace, and it’s imperative that companies like us rise to meet the demand for new innovations to solve modern and future design and testing challenges. In last week’s blog, we detailed our product development process and our evolution over the years to meet these demands. Product development has grown from a process to something that we engage in every day, especially in the customization of our standard products as well as introduction of new solutions.

The voice of our customer is instrumental in defining this development journey. We learn about new trends and opportunities for expanding our product line by listening to our customers and team members. At Interface, we know that in order to continue building upon our half-century legacy, it’s critical to keep an open mind to new solutions and continually learn how our customer’s industries are evolving too.

Interface recently had the opportunity to contribute article to two different publications that outlined our thoughts on the trends in force measurement. We were able to lean on our entire team to discover what they believe is the future of our industry. It was not only a fun exercise to take a step back and look into the future, but it was also encouraging because we realized that many of these trends are things that Interface has placed a heavy focus on in our strategic plans for the months and years to come.

Included below are links and a quick synopsis of recent articles by Interface ForceLeadersthat were published in Machine Design Magazine and Metrology News.

Machine Design Magazine: 2020 Trends in Force Measurement Sensors

Until about 10 years ago, the force test and measurement industry had been fairly unimaginative. It had developed a standard way of building analog load cells, torque transducers and other devices, and it worked for many years. However, as most of the rest of the technological world advanced and big data changed the way engineers and manufacturers work, this age-old force measurement analog technology stood out with no way to improve data collection or make it more efficient.

The digital revolution has pushed load cell manufacturers to look around and think about how customers develop products and how factories and production lines operate. Here are some of the trends force-measurement companies must get in line with or risk disappearing, as defined by Keith Skidmore, Regional Sales Director at Interface. Click here to read more

Metrology News: The Future of Force Measurement

The rise of the Internet-of-Things (IoT) and “Big Data” has had a tremendous impact on almost every industry, including force measurement. Up until about ten years ago, the industry had remained steady and predictable. There was a standard way of building load cells using analog technology that was widely accepted, and they served their purpose well. In this article Ted Larson, VP Product Management and Marketing at Interface explains the industries recent transition and what lays ahead. Read more here.

Interface will continue to remain future-focused in an effort to serve our clients force measurement needs for now and beyond. If you are interested in learning more about custom solutions or new applications, contact us here.

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

Recent Articles: The Future of Force Measurement, Metrology News