Posts

Trending at Interface

As in years past, the Interface team looks at trends in what products caught the greatest interest of our customers, along with those that are top sellers throughout the year.

We’ve gathered our key findings based on searches and purchases by industry-leading engineers, product designers, testing labs, manufacturers and T&M pros using Interface solutions. Here is a summary of the trends over the past 12 months.

TRENDING PRODUCT CATEGORES IN 2020

#1 LOAD CELLS – There is no surprise that topping the 2020 list is what we are best known for, our precision load cells. When quality, accuracy, and reliability matter Interface Models 1000, 1100, 1500 and 1600 in various capacities ranked highest in interest. What’s the top seller? The 1200 Standard Precision LowProfile® Load Cell ranks number one, with the 1000 Fatigue Rated Load Cell in second place.

#2 TORQUE TRANSDUCERS – Torque is definitely trending, taking the number two spot. Hot picks are the MRT Miniature Flange Style Reaction Torque Transducer, T8, T25 and our proprietary AxialTQ. Read Torque 101 here.

#3 INSTRUMENTATION – One of the most popular adds to any purchase is instrumentation like the DMA2, SGA, 9320 or 9840.

#4 MULTI-AXIS SENSORS – Watch Dimensions of Multi-Axis Sensors to learn more about why multi-axis is trending, including the popular 3AXX 3-Axis Force Load Cell.

#5 MINIATURE LOAD CELLS – Interface’s expertise for engineering force measurement applies to a wide range of capacities and sizes, including Interface Mini best sellers: SSM and SSM2 Sealed S-Type Load Cells, SM-S Type and SMT Miniature Load Cells followed closely by MB, MBP, WMC Stainless Steel Miniature Load Cell and SMTM models.

#6 CALIBRATION SYSTEMS – These Interface systems are growing in popularity. Read why here.

#7 CALIBRATION SERVICES AND REPAIR ­­­– Our customers can depend on us for our services. Click here to request service today.

#8 DIGITAL INSTRUMENTATION – Interface has expanded our line of digital instrumentation based on growing demands. See what’s hot here, like our BX8.

#9 LOAD PINS, LOAD SHACKLES AND TENSION LINKS – A new entry to the trends list this year based on the high interest for these specialty products including the wireless options.

#10 LOAD BUTTON LOAD CELLS – Robotics, automation and testing in confined and compact spaces has raised greater interest in highly-accurate load button load cells, including our new ConvexBT and our popular LBM and LBS models.

Based on feedback and our analysis of trends, we know that getting exactly what you want is as important as the product category selection. Engineered to order, custom solutions and complete systems are rapidly growing in demand as Interface customers evaluate ways to embed sensor technologies into products or utilize advances sensor technologies, along with wireless and Bluetooth communication capabilities.

Take a look at why Interface Engineered to Order Solutions continue to be in high demand by helping our customers get exactly what they need.

Interface has played an important role in shaping the test and measurement industry and though we know our standard catalog is robust, we are always here to get the exact product for our customer’s exact requirements. How can we help you get what you want in 2021 and beyond?  Reach out and let’s start the conversation now.

Interface Load Cell Indicators

At Interface, our claim to fame is that we offer the most accurate and reliable force measurement devices on the market, from load cells to torque transducers and everything in-between. However, no test is complete without the system used to gather the data to evaluate performance results. That’s why we provide a wide variety of instrumentation solutions that include signal conditionersoutput moduleshigh speed data loggersportable load cell indicators, and weight indicators to complete any testing system.

Among the Interface instrumentation products, the most frequently purchased with a force measurement devices are our load cell indicators in various models including handheld, digital, wireless, multichannel, programmable, output modules, analog and bidirectional.

What is a load cell Indicator?

A load cell indicator is a high-accuracy device connected to the output of a load cell to amplify and display the value of the measured load force and weight. Load cell indicators are often needed where the force, load, or weight measurement needs to be visually displayed for the user and displaying the results on a PC is not feasible or desired in the testing environment. For example, testing in the field or confined spaces can make it impossible to connect directly to a PC. In these situations, indicators are used to quickly review and capture force data in real-time.

A few key benefits of load cell indicators include that they provide stable excitation voltage and converts force measurement sensor signals to a digital display. Commonly available features include analog or digital output, selectable digital filtering, peak and valley monitoring and set-point outputs. Additionally, each load cell indicator can be used to connect to four (or more) digital load cells and can display individual readings or the sum of all connected load cells.

Need a load cell indicator?

Interface offers a wide variety of load cell indicators in multiple configurations. Interface indicators come in single to multi-channel weight transmitters and can be found in handheld and portable designs. Things to consider when selecting an indicator are internal sample rate and update rate of the output. A few of our most popular indicators include:

9890 Strain Gage, Load Cell, & mV/V Indicator

Model 9890 is a powerful multipurpose digital load cell meter ideal for weight and force measurement applications. With a max current of 350 mA at 10 V, it can support up to 12 load cells making it perfect for multipoint weight measurement purposes. The dual-scale capability allows for displays in two different units of measure. See a demonstration video here.

9320 Battery Powered Portable Load Cell Indicator

Model 9320 is a bipolar 7-digit handheld meter featuring two independently scalable ranges, peak and valley monitoring, display hold, mV/V calibration, and a power save feature. Typical battery life exceeds 45 hours of continuous use and 450 in low power mode. IEEE1451.4 TEDS Plug and Play compliant.

482 Battery Powered Bidirectional Weight Indicator

Model 482 is battery powered, bidirectional, and comes in a NEMA 4X stainless enclosure. Standard options include 523,000 internal counts, 0.8-inch LCD 6-digit display and a measurement rate that goes up to 40 Hz. Available options include analog and relay outputs.

1280 Programmable Weight Indicator and Controller

The Interface 1280 Series programmable digital weight indicator with color touchscreen, web server view and multiple protocol types delivers uncompromising speed for today’s operations and expansive options for tomorrow’s requirements.

INF4-Ethernet IP Weight Transmitter and Indicator

The Interface INF4-Ethernet IP weight transmitter and indicator has a six-digit red LED display (8 mm height), space-saving compact design, four buttons for the system calibration, and a six-indicator LED.

See all the indicator options here.

Load Cell Indicator Application Note

The application note below provides an example of the benefit of a load cell indicator in real-world use within the medical industry.

A pharmaceutical tablet producer wanted to monitor the forces applied by the tablet forming machine to understand the relationship between raw material, die set, forming force, and motor-cycle speed. The goal was to improve productivity and efficiency of the tablet forming process while reducing losses, such as cracked tablets or voids, by adding a dimension of feedback that could be used to assign specific press adjustment criteria for given inputs.

An Interface Model WMC Sealed Stainless Steel Mini Load Cell (10K lbf Capacity) was mounted in the section of the downward press bar. The machine was modified to accomplish this. The load cell was then connected to a Model 9320 Portable Load Cell Indicator to collect the needed data.

The indicator was selected as the data collection device because a laptop could have interfered with the test cycle due to space restrictions. The output of the load cell was connected to the 9320 Portable Load Cell Indicator and set aside so that the cable did not interfere with the cycle and no snagging would occur. A cable tie was used to stow aside the cable and to ensure there was enough clearance for the entire cycle.

After analyzing the data, the tablet producer was able to quantify adjustment levels by monitoring which forces produced the most optimal results for a given cycle speed, die set, and raw material. Productivity and efficiency were greatly improved by the enhancement of the data feedback.

To learn more about Interface load cell indicators and for a complete list of products, you can download our instrumentation brochure here. You can also read more about instrumentation options in test and measurement in this post.

Test Stand Applications for Force and Torque

In the world of test and measurement, test stands are essential equipment for manufacturers and testing engineers. The test stand provides a host of different testing products in a single “cabinet-like” structure. These systems have been used for a long time to gather data on various functions of products during the product test phase.

Test stands works like a mobile test lab, hosted by a frame and containing one or more force or torque sensor components, software, and data acquisition instrumentation and accessories. Force stands are typically motorized or manual.  Motorized test stands, also known as mechanical or electrical, have the advantages of controlling performance by applying modes such as speed, cycles, and time into the testing procedure. The more advanced testing stands are frequently used for repetitive high-performance testing requirements, validating accuracy and quality. Manual test stands are used for simple testing protocols and frequently used in education programs.

There are a wide variety of testing devices and sensor products that are used as part of the entire test process. As parts roll off the production line, the test stand will sit at the end of the line where the test engineer can immediately load the product into the test rig. Test stands help to streamline the test process by providing all available test functions in a single, mobile application.

Interface is a supplier of choice for precision components of various capacities and dimensions for test stand configurations requiring precision and accuracy in performance. Interface load cells, torque transducers, and instrumentation equipment are commonly used in numerous product test applications by engineers, metrologists, testing professionals and product designers around the world.

Included below are a few examples of specific test applications and the Interface components used in the different style testing stands.

Linear Test Stand

In this example, an Interface customer wanted to add a crush test to their test stand to measure the force it took to deform a piece of material. Interface provided an Model 1210 Load Cell with an internal amplification of 0-10VDC output.

The load cell was installed into the load string of the customer’s load frame, and the scaled analog output from the load cell was connected to the customer’s test stand instrumentation. When the force levels reached the crushing point, the customer’s software was able to read the output of the amplified load cell and record the value.

See the application note for the Linear Test Stand here.

Motor Test Stand

In the quality control lab at a major automotive manufacturing company, a test engineer needed to test, record, and audit the torque produced by a new motor design under start load. Interface supplied the new AxialTQ® Rotary Torque Transducer that connected between the motor and the differential, on the drive shaft, that could measure and record these torque values.

Based on the data collected using the AxialTQ transducer, along with the AxialTQ Output Module, and a laptop, the test engineer was able to make recommendations to optimize the amount of torque created by the new motor design.

See the application note for the Motor Test Stand here.

Verification Test Stand

In this application, a customer needed a test stand application to verify that its load cell was in good, working order. Interface helped to create a solution that used a load cell to verify the customer’s load cell. The solution involved the customer’s supplied verification load frame and an Interface Model 1210 Precision LowProfile® Load Cell connected with a Model SI-USB 2-Channel PC Interface Module.

The customer was able to install their load cell and Model 1210 Precision LowProfile Load cell into the verification load frame. Applied forces were displayed and recorded by Model SI-USB PC Interface Module for review and record keeping on customer’s computer. This allows the customer to have a proven load cell verification test stand at their disposal to ensure its test load cell is always in working order.

See the application note for the Verification Test Stand here.

These are just a few examples of the different types of test stands that Interface can provide off-the-shelf or custom force measurement solution components. If your project involves a mechanical test stand and you are interested in learning more about adding force sensors, please contact our application engineers.

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 www.interfaceforce.com/solutions/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 App Note
Drone App Note

Instrumentation Options in Test and Measurement

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Download our Instrumentation Brochure
Download our NEW Digital Instrumentation Brochure

Terms and Definitions

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

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

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

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

Faces of Interface Featuring Keith Skidmore

The combination of technical expertise and interpersonal skills is rare in an engineer. Fortunately, these are the outstanding qualities that Regional Sales Director Keith Skidmore brings to the table. Or as we like to call it at Interface, the lab.

Growing up in Cleveland, Ohio, with a dad that worked as a technical salesman, Keith experienced the impressive capabilities of science and technology first-hand, simultaneously learning how to create relationships with customers and sell solutions. Keith also had a passion for finding out how things work at a young age.  As a kid, he was always tinkering with different hardware to figure out how it worked or how to make it better.

This upbringing led Keith to The Ohio State University, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering in 1994. His short professional career in Ohio took him to Sensotec, where he was a Technical Sales Engineer for one year. At this point, Keith’s more than 20 years in the cold, snow and rain were taking its toll. He was ready for a warmer climate.

In 1995, after visiting a friend in the Phoenix area, Keith made the decision to move out West for good. He started his career in Arizona at DH Instruments, a Fluke Company, as a Regional Sales Manager. During his time with the company, he sold pressure calibration equipment. After one year, he started to investigate career opportunities at Interface because he was interested in the mechanical applications of the company’s load cell and sensor technology products.

In October 1996, Keith joined Interface as a senior application engineer. At the time, he became one of the only application engineers on staff and had the opportunity to work in a wide variety of industries across the world. Some of Keith’s customers at the time included Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Airbus, Ford, as well as a lot of smaller companies and labs. He enjoyed working across different industries providing performance load cells and instrumentation because he was able to see all of the unique and innovative ways these companies were developing products with the use of the world’s leading force measurement equipment.

“A lot of the products that Interface makes have an impact on our daily lives. From medical technology to automotive, I enjoy seeing and learning about all the different ways our products are used to test different equipment. Having a genuine interest in the products I’m selling certainly makes it a lot easier to get our customers excited about them.” Keith Skidmore, Regional Sales Director

In 2006, he was promoted to Product Sales Manager at Interface. In this role, Keith became responsible for more product lines and gained more responsibilities, leading sales in Interface’s Specialty Products, including torque transducers, multi-axis sensors, and instrumentation. In fact, Keith recently shared his insights on the growing trends in multi-axis sensors for test and measurement projects. You can read the post here.

Skidmore remained with Interface for 10 years before moving on to take a measurement application engineer position with Measurement Solutions, a representative firm of Interface solutions based in Arizona. Measurement Solutions had been an outside sales representative firm with Interface’s for many years and continues to carry Interface’s line today. Keith experienced what it was like working as a sales representative for his former company and other OEM’s of testing products in the industry. This role provided Keith with a new perspective and helped him grow in his career as a technical salesman. After three years with Measurement Solutions, Keith returned to Interface to take on his current role as the Regional Sales Director work in representatives in Arizona, New Mexico, Kentucky, Indiana, West Virginia, New York, Michigan, Western Pennsylvania and the state where he grew up, Ohio.

He rejoined Interface because he still loves the ability to consult with customers and his outside sales force team on a diverse selection of industries and projects.

In his free time, Keith and his wife can be found mountain biking or taking trips to Flagstaff with their small dog.  He likes to get back to the green scenery and even the snow he grew up with when he lived in Ohio. In reality, he misses it just enough for a day or weekend trip. The heat and sun have won him over.

To learn more about the talented people behind Interface’s industry-leading torque and force measurement products, follow our Faces of Interface series on our blog at /blog/.

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/.

 

Force Measurement Instrumentation 101

There are many types of instrumentation devices used in force measurement applications. Interface provides high-quality instrumentation tools to use with our wide range of load cells and torque transducers.

The variety of instrumentation solutions includes signal conditioners, output modules, high-speed data loggers, portable load cell indicators, weight indicators, and junction boxes.

Depending on the application requirements, Interface has solutions for full-data acquisition as well as wireless technology telemetry systems. Our multi-channel bridge amplifier has 4-channel capability, while the INF-USB2 universal serial has a sensor to USB output converter.  With more than 50 instrumentation products, the solutions range for all types of uses.

To provide you with more insight, here’s an overview of a few of Interface’s instrumentation offerings along with educational video demonstrations to help you.

4 Channel 9840-400-1-T Intelligent Indicator 

The Model 9840 is TEDS plug-and-play ready! It is suitable for use in calibration labs, field service, or anywhere high accuracy is important.  This intelligent digital indicator has auto-setup for multiple load cells with fast, direct analog output.  Features include two interactive 7″ graphical touch screen displays, remote sense, low noise, 24-bit internal resolution. It has a USB port with RS232 communication, mV/V calibration and can store calibrations for up to 25 sensors.  This unit also has self-calibration and is TEDS plug and play ready and IEEE 1451.4 compliant. It is fully compatible with the Gold Standard® Calibration Systems.

9860 High Speed Digital Indicator

Recently updated with new software, Interface’s Model 9860 High Speed Digital Indicator features an internal, high gain, fully differential amplifier with a 16-bit analog-to-digital converter combined to accurately digitize the input signal. The analog input is digitally filtered, with user-selected sample size and filter window (band), allowing optimization for specific operating conditions. With this model, self-calibrating ±10Vdc and 4-20mA analog output signals are standard. This product has an RS232 interface, which gives the instrument the ability to communicate, command, query operating modes and parameters and to continuously read data.

The Interface Transducer Electronic Data Sheet (TEDS) status indicator on the Model 9860 provides the information on the configuration of the input. A front panel RCAL switch provides a convenient calibration feature. Both calibration functions are easily performed via front panel pushbuttons.

Watch this video to learn how to calibrate your 9860 High Speed Digital Indicator and to see some of the product features.

DIG-USB Output Module

Interface’s DIG-USB Module is a compact, high-precision strain gage converter used for converting a strain gage sensor input to a digital output. It connects to a computer via a USB port. This product allows high precision measurements to be communicated directly to a computer and is aimed at applications which require high-accuracy measurement repeatability. With the appropriate drivers installed, the DIG-USB appears as a virtual serial port to the computer.

Simply by plugging the device into a computer, data can be extracted from most strain gage bridge input sensors and acquired by software which allows data manipulation removing the need for amplifiers, filters, and multi-meters.

Watch this video for a getting started demonstration with the DIG-USB Output Module.

9890 Strain Gage Indicator

Our 9890 Strain Gage Indicator is a full-featured multipurpose and easy-to-use digital strain gage and load cell meter ideal for weight and force measurement applications. With a max current of 350 mA at 10 V, it can support up to twelve 350 Ω load cells (minimum load resistance of 28 Ω), making it ideal for multipoint weight measurement applications. It accepts mV input signals up to 300 mV (unipolar) and ± 250 mV (bipolar). The 9890’s powerful dual-scale capability allows the measurement to be displayed in two different units of measure.

This video provides an overview of the 9890 Strain Gage Indicator and how it works.

920i Programmable Weight Indicator/Controller

The Interface 920i instrumentation device is a programmable, multi-channel digital weight indicator and controller. The configuration can be performed using the front panel, with an attached USB-type keyboard (or PS/2 keyboard if using a serial interface), or by using the iRev 4 utility. Model 920i is bidirectional and comes in a NEMA 4X stainless enclosure. Standard options include 8,000,000 internal counts, 4.6 x 3.4-inch LCD 7-digit display and a measurement rate that goes up to 960 Hz. Options are available that allow you to include analog and relay outputs.

This video provides an easy-to-follow getting start guide for the 920i Programmable Weight Indicator/Controller.

These are just a few of the dozens of instrumentation solutions Interface offers, all designed for unique application needs.  For more information on Interface’s instruments, visit our web product page or review our product brochure for detailed specifications on every product.

Instrumentation Brochure

DOWNLOAD

Visit Interface’s YouTube channel for all our indicator and product video demonstrations at https://www.youtube.com/interfaceforce and be sure to subscribe to stay current with our new releases.