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Force Sensors Advance Industrial Automation

Industrial automation heavily relies upon the use of sensor technologies to advance production and manufacturing. In the next phase of the industrial revolution, also referred to as Industry 4.0, gains in operational efficiencies are often rooted in innovative tools, robotics, and equipment renovations. These types of enhancements require use of interconnectivity, automation, machine learning, and real-time data. Interface is playing a significant role in enabling these advancements with smart force and torque measurement solutions.

Randy Franks at Sensor Tips poses the following question in a recent article: How can force sensing be integrated for Industry 4.0 upgrades?

“Upgrading facilities to industry 4.0 standards is one of the most significant trends in the manufacturing industry today. To do this, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) are pushing hard to renovate their facilities with connected, automated devices and machines to create greater efficiency and cost savings. Smarter devices can ease the transition.”

He continues in his post to note, “For Industry 4.0, force measurement solutions providers are integrating actuators that move and control a mechanism or system with load cells to create fully automated force test systems.”

Illustrating how this work, Randy writes about manufacturers of mobile devices using force measurement testing automation to pressure test touch screens with the new Interface ConvexBT miniature-sized load button load cells

Click here to read the rest of the article.

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

Digital Instrumentation for Force Measurement

The age of IoT (Internet of Things), where almost every vehicle, machine, and piece of equipment is connected and shares information rapidly, is also greatly impacting the world of engineering and manufacturing for the better.  Data is more accessible, which allows for improved decision-making and more efficient product development cycles and design testing.

The demands from customers to go digital is something that Interface has paid close attention too. Digital instruments are becoming more popular because of their advantages over analog devices, such as greater speed, increased accuracy, better resolution, reduction in operator errors and the ability to provide automatic measurements in the system application.

Interface provides a wide range of digital instruments that take load cell and strain bridge input and provides data output in a variety of protocol and bus formats, including many industry standards requirements. This combination allows our customers to transform their test and measurement programs and force measurement applications into the digital age. The results are faster data input and outputs, along with more robust analytics.

In addition to improved efficiency, accuracy and speed, digital instrumentation and more specifically, digital signals, provides a plethora of benefits for test and measurement engineers.

These benefits include:

  • Digital signals are less susceptible to noise
  • Digital signals are more secure
  • Digital signals can travel a long distance
  • Digital signals allow multi-directional transmission simultaneously
  • Digital instrumentation can connect to other devices and networks more easily
  • Digital instrumentation can connect with protocols that they are already using in their facility

Another key reason our customers are demanding digital instrumentation is because of the push for Industry 4.0 facilities. Industry 4.0 involves the process of connecting various machines, smart and conventional, to the cloud with sensors to create a powerful sensor network.

The Industry 4.0 network will be fast and stable enough to relay data to people or other machines in real-time. This data is rapidly turned into insight and the information ultimately allows engineers and manufacturers to automate more processes to create a more efficient factory. The digital instrumentation devices that Interface provides play a significant role in helping our customers create Industry 4.0 manufacturing for OEM products and compete in the fourth industrial revolution using digital technologies.

Some of the most popular digital instrumentation devices that Interface provides include:

  • INF1 Modbus TCP Weight Transmitter Indicator  – The Interface Modbus/TCP indicator has a 6-digit red LED display (8 mm height), space-saving compact design, 4 buttons for the system calibration for a single channel weight transmitter.
  • 480 Bidirectional Weight Indicator480 Bidirectional Weight Indicator – The 480 Bidirectional Weight Indicator comes in a NEMA 4X stainless enclosure. The standard options include 523,000 internal counts, 0.8 in. LED 6-digit display and a measurement rate that goes up to 40 Hz.
  • INF4-Ethernet TCP/IP Weight Transmitter Indicator – This 4-channel weight transmitter instrument works in an Ethernet TCP/IP network and it is accessible via a web browser. It has a 6-digit red LED semi-alphanumeric display (8 mm height) and 7 segments with a compact design, 4 buttons for the system calibration, and a 6 indicator LED.

For more information on Interface’s growing lineup up of digital instrumentation, please visit /product-category/digital-instrumentation/.