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2022 Test and Measurement Industry Trends

Interface continues to experience significant growth in demand and fulfillment of our precision measurement products and services. Despite the ongoing challenges in supply and overall health and economic concerns, our focus has remained steadfast to serve customers with innovative solutions, facilitated requests for specialized engineering and production requests and expeditiously working to meet the delivery schedules aligned to our customers’ requirements.

As the overall T&M industry grew, so did the demand for engineers and manufacturers across all industries to have proven solutions from their test and measurement equipment, expanded capabilities from sensor technologies, as well as explore new ways of optimizing products with real-time, accurate measurement.

As we look ahead to 2022, we are also investing in new and existing trends and exploring how they will shape the overall market next year and beyond. To help prepare our customers, here are our predictions for the new year, along with what is hot and trending in force measurement. The following provides some insights from our experts on how Interface is prepared to address these trends, while continuing to serve our customers at the highest level of satisfaction. Here is Interface’s viewpoint on market trends and predictions for 2022 and beyond.

Big Data Continues to Rule Product Design and Test

Over the last few years, we’ve shared our view on the Industry 4.0 revolution and how Interface customers are demanding more data from their T&M tools to give exactness in accuracy and all-encompassing performance data at the earliest phases of product design. Not only will this continue, but it will expand rapidly. In the force measurement world, Interface has responded by serving our customers with new innovations in multi-axis sensors that provide more force data on more axis. Interface offers a wide variety of multi-axis sensors including 2, 3 and 6-axis sensors. We certainly anticipate a continued growth in demand for multi-axis sensors as our product line expands to meet the requirements.

In addition, Interface is seeing more requests from manufacturers and product designers to embed sensors and measurement capabilities within their products. To enable continuous improvements and advancements in smart manufacturing and product designs, sensors are being used to provide real-time feedback on machines, components, equipment, and consumer products. These sensors are often designed in or embedded into the OEM product to predict the health in each type of use case, as well as notify users when a repair or adjustment is needed for safety, user satisfaction, and controlled maintenance. In the manufacturing applications, this capability significantly reduces facility downtime. To meet this demand, Interface is investing in more automation capabilities within our own manufacturing facilities to produce high volume sensor solutions for OEM customers. This market is growing rapidly, and Interface is working hard to meet the needs of our customers that need our products in volume.

New Advancements in Strain Gages

Another trend that Interface is actively investing in is new strain gage technologies and manufacturing techniques to better serve the high-production and OEM markets. Interface uses proprietary strain gages for all products we manufacture. When OEMs are making high-volume product orders and need sensors that fit their exact needs without breaking their budget, Interface is ready to meet the demand. One of the ways that force sensor manufacturers can meet OEM cost needs is through innovation in strain gages, the heart of any measurement device. Interface deploys a team of resources to design and build custom strain gages when a unique solution is part of the design requirements. Interface has expanded our specialization and expertise in mechanical engineering, chemical engineering, and metallurgy to meet this specific trend and need. We are currently undergoing critical R&D to find new ways to develop these components and working directly with customers to meet their data requirements. Check out this post on strain gages.

Growing Demand for Wireless Solutions

Another trend that is continuing to gain momentum is the growing need for wireless measurement solutions. Wireless systems are helping manufacturers simplify the integration process and create a cleaner safer test environment with far less wiring. Wireless communication is also playing a major role in advanced manufacturing and smart products. By connecting systems wirelessly, users can monitor testing and in OEM applications, review the health of a system, from a central point. This includes for components used in the field, underwater or via remote locations for assembly and test.

These wireless systems also help improve accuracy significantly. Wireless technology has gotten to the point where we can receive more accurate readings when converting from an analog to a digital signal. This is especially important in highly complex and regulated industries like aerospace, energy, or medical. Wireless solutions will continue to grow, and Interface continues to develop new wireless total system solutions for our various product lines.

Faster, More Efficient Calibration Services

One of the most critical facets of working in manufacturing and technology is meeting the demands of our clients in an extremely timely manner. Innovation, advancements and testing demands slows down for no one, and our customers are no exception. This also requires regular maintenance and servicing of our devices. Interface recommends annual calibration services to ensure your force and torque measurement products are performing as designed. We understand they need our products and services fast. As part of our commitment to customers, Interface provides high quality calibration services that are key to long lasting and accurate force sensors. This service has grown rapidly alongside the force measurement industry and we’re receiving more re-calibration orders than ever before. To meet this demand, Interface is investing heavily in both people and technology to further expedite this process and meet our promise of expeditious turnaround times for calibration services. Read more about calibration here.

Complete Systems

Sometimes out-of-the-box meets the exact requirements, sometimes it’s in the box.  Interface continues to expand our product mix to include advanced instrumentation, accessories, sensors and unique housing for full systems due to growing demands. Our team of solution engineers partner with our customers to identify the specifications and understand the application to build completely custom solutions, from single sensors to complete systems. These systems can be used within lab testing environments or as remote testing solutions.  Learn more about the capabilities of our custom solutions team here.

These are just a few of the many trends occurring in test and measurement into 2022 and beyond. Technology is progressing at a rapid pace. Our customers need more data, that’s abundant and accurate. Our sensors are seeing new application and use cases, ranging from testing unmanned space vehicles to smart agriculture components.

Rest assured, Interface is deeply invested in addressing these trends and serving our customers in the new year and beyond with critical innovation. It’s what we’ve been doing since 1968. We see an abundance of opportunities and possibilities in working with our customers to get the best products for their projects, programs, and OEM products. Whether they need our standard, engineered-to-order, and custom solutions, we are here to serve and ready for 2022. How can we help you?

Additional Resources

Interface Multi-Axis Sensor Market Research

Interface All-In-One Custom Test Systems

Additional Interface Calibration Grade Solutions

 

Interface’s Sustaining Role in Arizona and the Global Business Ecosystem During COVID-19

For more than half a century, Interface has had the privilege of serving a wide variety of industries and helping our customers test, design, and manufacture products and infrastructure essential to everyday life. Our purpose at Interface defines our commitment to our customers. It simply says, “We enable innovation that improves people’s lives and keeps them safe.” 

Following our commitment to purpose and in adherence to the Arizona Governor’s Executive Order 2020-18, Interface is open for business as a classified essential business. We are working hard to remain your trusted leader in force measurement solutions during these challenging times. We are building products at our Arizona manufacturing headquarters, supporting our representatives and distributors, and shipping products to our customers every day. We are doing so with safety at the forefront in everything we do.

On March 23, 2020, Arizona’s Governor Doug Ducey issued an executive order outlining essential business services here in the state of Arizona. The list included businesses centered around certain imperative functions such as infrastructure operations, businesses critical to the national supply chain, transportation services and manufacturers. Interface force measurement technologies, tools, and systems touch just about every physical product or system that consumers and businesses use every day. Our products are used to support many of the business operations and products manufactured that are included in this essential services list.

Interface is committed to maintaining our business operations and ensuring our customers continue to receive the highest quality product and service without disruption. Our force measurement solutions are essential to the development of a countless amount of critical hardware across many key industries, from energy to healthcare. We are proud to be an enabler of the products and infrastructure that keeps our global economy running.

The essential market leaders and industries that Interface serves include aerospace, defense, automotive, construction and infrastructure, industrial automation, energy, medical and healthcare. Here is how we are helping some of these industries and why Interface is a key member in the supply chain that keeps these essential businesses operating, designing, engineering, testing, innovating and producing during these challenging times.

Medical:

Interface products play a crucial role in the most highly regulated industry in the world – medical. Our force measurement solutions are used to test devices and instrumentation which keep patients safe and healthy. Interface’s accurate mini load cells are designed to measure medium to small forces. Our torque transducers provide rotary and reactive measurement for movement tracking, blood weighing, robotic surgery, eye surgery, and prosthetic testing. For example, we developed a custom solution that is used to test a prosthetic limb for force and torque capacity. We even provide OEMs with sensor technologies to measure force in use of their medical products. Our load cells are featured in applications used for the heart, as well as implanted devices designed to perform well-beyond the lifespan of the patient. We’ve also engineered and created custom solutions for a wide variety of medtech devices, as well as for leading bio and pharmaceutical companies. All of these applications serve as critical and essential to our existence. We are honored to help our customers with their life sustaining critical applications.

Aerospace & Defense:

Interface load cells and torque transducers are used to test everything from rocket engines to wing strength, flexibility and structural integrity for aircraft. Our product’s industry-leading accuracy and reliability are important to the www.interfaceforce.com/solutions/aerospace because the longevity of our load cells are financially durable and our precision products ensure that measurements are precise. For example, one tiny inaccuracy in the measurement of an airplane wing’s force capacity can cause critical failures and have devastating effects. Innovation is core to this industry segment, from urban mobility to unmanned vehicles. Testing is fundamental in getting these products to market, while protecting all of us. These industries count on us and we continue to supply them with the products they need to keep us safe.

Infrastructure & Construction:

In construction, one of the key considerations in building a skyscraper, hospital or a home is the materials used to keep the structure sturdy in regular use or even a natural disaster. Material testing that uses Interface load cells is common. Our products are used in cycle testing on various metal and wood-based materials to ensure they hold up over time and through the elements. Our load cells can be used on cranes and other construction equipment to prevent overloading and weight testing. We also recently provided the materials for project using custom load pins to measure and monitor standard force from regular traffic and the seismic force of earthquakes.

Vehicle & Automotive:

The most important factor in automotive design and development is the safety of the driver. One of the ways that we serve the automotive industry is through products used in safety tests. One common application that uses Interface force measurement tools is brake pedal testing. Our load cells are used to measure, test, and optimize the force required to depress the brake pedal. Another application use case of Interface’s products helps in the need to increase productivity for automobile wheel installation, while ensuring that the lug nuts are installed to the proper torque values for safety purposes. These measurements need to be performed with the utmost care and accuracy, which is why many of the world’s most prominent automobile manufacturers turn to Interface for their force measurement solutions. These applications are used in testing of vehicles of all sorts and sizes, from large capacity trucks that move our food supply to farming equipment that harvests that supply. They even keep all our high-demand delivery drivers safer on the road. They count on us, as we count on them.

Industrial & Automation: 

Throughout factories across the world, producing everything from furniture to paper products, Interface load cells and torque transducers can be found on machines along the production line. Our products are featured in robotics, consumer packaging equipment, and even the machines that screw the cap on bottles, stamp logos and apply labeling. Force measurement tools are used to ensure the proper force is being used to complete these processes with minimal waste, while ensuring safe and secure packaging for the consumer. We see growing innovative ways to utilize load cells, multi-axis sensors and torque transducers to help accelerate production for vital products that are critical to our everyday life.

We are serving our purpose and mission to be part of supply chain for these industry applications, as a reliable supplier, expert manufacturer and dedicated community member. To learn more about Interface and the various industries and applications we serve, check out our application notes.

We are here to help! Stay safe and stay well.

Our COVID-19 response is here.

 

Interface Most Promising Energy Tech Solution Provider

Interface is proud to be recognized as one of the ‘20 Most Promising Energy Tech Solution Providers” of 2020 by CIO Review Magazine.

As a pioneer of load cell technology, Interface has long been recognized around the world for providing the most accurate and reliable force measurement solutions on the market. Accuracy matters for safety and reliability in test and measurement projects, engineering and product design and in the original equipment manufacturing of products that require precision sensor technology capabilities.

“The key ingredient to our product’s quality is our more than 50 years of experience and the fact that we have vertically integrated the entire manufacturing process from design to production. Because of this, we have a deep understanding of the materials and product capabilities necessary to suit every industry, application and customer need.” Brian Peters, Director US Sales, Interface

One of the industries where our knowledge of force measurement is vertically integrated processes is in the energy industry. The conditions energy professionals work in can be harsh. They’re often in dangerous environments extracting oil and natural gas, wind, or coal to fuel our nation’s need for power. The equipment our energy sector customers use must be ruggedized and provide the most accurate results possible. If the equipment fails, our customers risk steep financial losses and their staff is more exposed to safety hazards.

Interface has a special line of intrinsically safe solutions for harsh environments. These low profile load cells with loop-powered intrinsically safe amplified output are designed for use in the oil field and other hazardous locations. These load cells are specifically designed from Interface models by adding high resistance strain gages for low-current loop power and shielded internal amplifier for extra low emissions and minimal EMI susceptibility. Interface’s S-type load cell provides a suitable force measurement sensor for applications in coal mining and transfer and other heavy industries where explosive dust and environment conditions are potentially explosion-hazard rated.

Often times, our energy customers come to us needing a custom force measurement solution to deal with these unique challenges for all energy types including thermal, radiant, chemical energy, nuclear, electrical, motion, sound, elastic, and gravitational energy. Innovation in the energy is also heavily dependent upon accuracy in performance, whether it is advancing in the capabilities in the extraction of oil or measuring forces in solar and geothermal. Interface is relied upon by the energy industry leaders and OEM solution providers for their vast ranges of standard and customized load cells, torque transducers, digital instrumentation products and expanding wireless technologies. Read more here about our innovative solutions for the energy industry.

Upon selection for this recognition, Interface application expert Brian Peters contributed to an article for CIO Review Magazine detailing our work developing a custom downhole rig solution for an oil and gas customer. He also explains how Interface has evolved to meet the rising challenges of an industry that is addressing the need for more sustainable energy sources. Click this link to be redirected to Brian’s article online to share.  If you would like to speak with Brian or an application engineer about your test and measurement project or requirements for sensor technology, contact us here.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE

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Interface Accelerates Accuracy in Test and Measurement

Since Interface was founded in 1968, we have developed millions of load cells and torque transducers for engineers and designers that require the highest precision force sensors for accurate and reliable data collection in test and measurement (T&M). Our customers represent a wide swath of industries, products, equipment types, tools, and electronics that depend on us for proving accuracy, consistency, and reliability in performance.

The complexity of user applications and testing environments is rapidly expanding as a result of shorter product lifecycles and demands for smaller, lighter, faster-performing innovations. This has created a proliferation of new test and measurement use cases for sensors in almost every sector including technology, energy, and biomedical, as well as industrial, additive manufacturing and automotive verticals.  We are seeing more and more sensor products utilize Bluetooth technology, digital outputs, and direct OEM installations into the product without connectors.

Our products serve a wide variety of these types of test and measurement requirements used for structural and material testing, static and fatigue testing, torsion effects, tension tests and mass and kinetic energy. When experienced users see the Interface brand, they know they can expect the highest-quality results possible from the force measurement industry leaders.

The load cell products we provide T&M customers range from our  Ultra Low Capacity Series, which measures forces in mere grams, to our industry-leading LowProfile™ Load Cells with capacities up to 2 million lbf. For torque testing, Interface supplies a wide variety of torque transducers with ranges as low as 0.005 Nm and as high as 340K Nm. We customers depend on us for various multi-axis sensors, instrumentation products, accessories, tension links, load pins, and shackles. For complex challenges and unique applications, our customers work with our application engineers to create modified and customized solutions.

Test and Measurement Applications

To give you a sense as to the range of test and measurement use cases, here is a small sample of applications that utilize our standard and custom force measurement solutions:

  • Fatigue testing
  • Material testing
  • Suspension testing
  • Shear testing
  • Force testing
  • Tensile testing
  • Pressure testing
  • Friction testing
  • Durability testing
  • Tension testing
  • Device testing
  • Hardware load and fatigue testing
  • Force verification
  • Calibration

Included below are two examples of how our products were used to help our customer’s test and measure “real life” applications.

Harness Durability Testing

A customer came to us needing to test the load and durability factors of harnesses used by workers to carry heavy loads or those used in sports equipment. We developed a drop test apparatus using an Interface Model 1200 Load Cell. The apparatus dropped a humanoid dummy outfitted with the harness from various heights to measure the force generated during sudden stops at maximum cable extension. These tests helped our customer develop harness limits which inform users on unsafe loads.

Figure one: Interface drop test apparatus using the Model 1200 load cell

Prosthetic Load and Fatigue Testing

Medical hardware engineers are among the largest users of T&M equipment because of the stringent regulations in the industry. Interface developed a new solution to test heavy loads on prosthetic limbs to certify them for falls, accidents and athletic movement. These stress tests determine the expected lifespan of prosthetic components under normal usage.  Our solution involves a static load test apparatus with an S-type load cell attached to a hydraulic actuator which applies and measures cyclic loads. These tests help our customers determine whether prosthetic materials and designs will withstand the rigors of daily use and occasional high-load situations.

Figure two: Load test apparatus with an S-type load cell attached to a hydraulic actuator  

What we find most exciting about the T&M industry is continuous innovation, perhaps it is the “engineer” in us.  We like to solve, create, build, imagine and challenge ourselves. There are a wide variety of new applications we see every year, and yet many applications are unique.

Those that are in the test and measurement field help to guarantee product safety, reliability and longevity. Therefore, the tools they use are critical to the confirmation of their work. That’s why Interface builds products that reliably and consistently gather high-quality, accurate data for any application. For more information on our T&M offerings, or to discover more T&M product applications, please visit www.interfaceforce.com/solutions/test-measurement/.

Interface Celebrates Made in the USA

Manufacturing is essential to the U.S. economy, with an estimated $2.38 trillion contribution and accounting for nearly half of all exports. This equals about 11.4% of U.S. economic output. (Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis)

With approximately 250,000 firms in the manufacturing sector in the U.S., Interface is proud to be counted as one of them. Companies with manufacturing operations solely in the U.S. are considered an anomaly today. With a great deal of U.S. production occurring outside the country, there are fewer enterprises that sustain domestic manufacturing success. As we approach Independence Day on July 4th, Interface is reflecting on how honored we are to be a U.S. manufacturer for more than a half-century and counting.

Though our production is domestic, our reach is global. Interface load cells and torque transducers have been used in nearly all industries providing reliable test and accurate measurement capabilities to international market leaders in aerospace, automotive, energy, medical, education, and other top manufacturers. We’re proud to say our products are “Made in the USA.”

We began designing and manufacturing load cells and other force measurement equipment in 1968 when Richard F. Caris started Interface in his garage. Since those early days, we have grown to become one of the most trusted names in the industry. And not once in our history have we considered moving production out of the U.S. We maintain the highest degree of performance by managing the entire process, from design and machining, to strain gage manufacturing and assembly at our headquarters in Scottsdale, Arizona.

One of the most satisfying aspects of having U.S. manufacturing operations is contributing to our country’s economic prosperity and innovation. The National Association of Manufacturing (NAM) presented the following facts on the state of U.S. manufacturing, and Interface is appreciative to be an integral contributor to these milestones.

NAM Facts (Source):

  • U.S. manufacturers perform 64% of all private-sector R&D in the nation, driving more innovation than any other sector.
  • For every $1.00 spent in manufacturing, another $1.82 is added to the economy.
  • There are 12.82 million manufacturing workers in the U.S., approximately 8.5% of the workforce.
  • Over the next decade, 4.6 million manufacturing jobs will likely be needed, and 2.4 million are expected to go unfilled due to the skills gap.
  • Over the past 28 years, U.S. manufactured goods exported have quadrupled.
  • Manufacturers in the U.S. export nearly half of U.S. manufacturing output.
  • Taken alone, manufacturing in the U.S. would be the eighth-largest economy in the world.

Interface is focused on our contributions economically, by supporting innovation and job growth through a robust manufacturing role in the production of the world’s leading force measurement solutions. It’s definitely worthy of a holiday celebration.

Interface Leads Innovation in Oil and Gas Force Measurement

The oil and gas industry is among the most dangerous and expensive industries in the world. There’s also the inherent risk of ecological harm that can be caused by faulty machinery. Because Interface is able to address these challenges, the company’s products have become the heavy favorite among oil and gas companies.

Interface is recognized by oil and gas companies for product reliability, accuracy, and innovative design.

For several years, the oil and gas industry has used “wet” load cells to monitor forces on their downhole load strings. These downhole load strings are equipped with a variety of sensors, and they travel down thousands of feet during exploratory drilling operations. These load cells provide data to the user that measures the forces on the load string to ensure it doesn’t break due to forces greater than th[user_id]e string has been designed to. When one of these strings breaks, it leaves up to a million dollars’ worth of equipment trapped underground until it can be fished out using expensive recovery techniques.

The problem with wet load cells is that they don’t hold up for extended use in wells that extend several thousand feet underground where there are extreme pressures and temperatures in a caustic environment. These wet load cells typically only last about a year or two before they are damaged beyond further use. The turnover rate of these products becomes extremely expensive and can also cause critical inconsistencies in measurements, or the complete loss of measurement feedback.

The reason these wet load cells break down after a year or two is that the sensors on this product are exposed to the harsh underground environment. To address this issue, Interface created a “dry” load cell that protects the sensitive parts with innovative design, reduces the number of sensors required in the customer’s downhole load string, and allows the load cell to last 10 years or more.

“Our dry load cell technology provides Interface’s signature accuracy in a ruggedized package that will stand up to the harsh environments of a deep oil well. These design iterations that allow for longer product lifespans are critical to our customers because of the cost savings and consistency of using a single force measurement solution.” Ken Vining, Chief Engineer at Interface

Interface initially developed this technology as a custom solution to address a customer’s challenge of constantly replacing wet load cells. Based on the positive feedback Interface received, the company has begun development on a standard version of the dry load cell. The standard load cell will be more cost-effective than wet load cells and custom design dry load cells.

For more information on the products that Interface provides for the oil and gas industry, click here.  For details on all Interface solutions, please visit www.interfaceforce.com.

Contributor:  Ken Vining, Chief Engineer at Interface