Posts

New Interface Case Study Exams Weighing and Scales

Test and measurement are used in the development and monitoring of manufactured goods across all industries. With a history of producing force measurement solutions for more than five decades, Interface has supplied a myriad of sensor devices for hundreds of thousands of different use cases and applications.

From the scales we use in packaging centers to the enormous weigh check equipment used in transportation, weighing and scale measurement solutions are instrumental in the successful design, engineering, launch, and maintenance of products and components.

Many of the earliest force sensors were designed for the purpose of weighing objects, and they continue to be a large part of test and measurement today. As products evolve and new inventions enter the market, sensors must maintain their durability, quality, and accuracy for large and miniaturized uses. Therefore, you see inventors and innovators turn to Interface today for sensors that are designed for use in robotics, IoT, and factory automation equipment used for weighing.

Historically, the only difference between now and then is that Interface has perfected accuracy in measurement across with an extensive range of force sensors models, configurations, sizes, capacities, and specification requirements that can measure weight at “jumbo” scale, as well precisely measure exceedingly small, minute forces as an embedded sensor.

Determining accurate weight is a key data point manufacturers need throughout a product lifecycle. Whether they need the information for transporting an object, lifting the object, or just creating a specification sheet, accurate data for weight measurements is fundamental for safety and function. This includes weighing single and combined parts in early design, weighing the manufactured equipment during assembly and production, using scales for weighing output with exact measure, as well as obtaining real-time weight in distribution and transport.

To accomplish this, Interface provides a host of load cells and instrumentation devices. Since our first load cells were designed in 1968, we have built millions of these products 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 in T&M.

In our latest case study, we outline four weigh and scale use cases that utilize Interface sensor technologies. Defined weight as a product specification requires extreme accuracy in measurement. Utilizing precision force sensing solutions and instrumentation enables product engineers and manufacturers to collect data and use it as part of the product design.

Accuracy Matters for Scales and Weighing focuses on weighing and scale applications used with heavy machinery, medical devices, operational containers, and distribution solutions. In each of these instances, utilizing weight in the design, build, and supply of these products is fundamental to each use case and the success for the product.

Weighing and Scales Case Study

 

Force Sensing Keeps Factories Running Feature in Fierce Electronics

In the recent article, ‘May the force be with you: Force sensing keeps factories running, product quality high’ Dan O’Shea at Fierce Electronics writes about the growing demand for sensors in industrial automation applications.

Following his interview with Interface’s Keith Skidmore, Dan writes:

‘While some sensors are more focused on monitoring equipment or measuring environmental conditions around a manufacturing process, force sensors measure mechanical forces occurring in the equipment and processes, and the products being manufactured. They measure things like load, tension, resistance, weight or total pressure applied. By employing this kind of sensing technology, manufacturers can monitor the health of their equipment and improve quality assurance for their products.’

“Testing things by applying a force to them is super common. Many products in lots of industries get tested this way, from aerospace to automotive, through to consumer goods. Chairs, furniture, mattresses, ladders–basically, anything that’s being manufactured, there can be a desire to figure out how strong the various parts of those products are.” Keith Skidmore, engineer and regional sales director at Interface

Read the entire Fierce Electronics article here.

Interface provides industrial automation and IoT solutions to manufacturers, equipment makers and factories around the world. Sensors play a pivotal role in production and optimization through tools and process improvements.

Industrial Robotic Arm

Robotic arms are frequently used in production facilities throughout the manufacturing process. Suppliers of these devices heavily rely on accurate and quality sensors to provide feedback. In this application, the designer needed to test the force of the arm apparatus to ensure it could safely secure packages on a moving conveyor belt without damaging any materials or products. This automated function helps to improve quality of packaging and increase productivity on the line.

Interface provided the model 6A40A 6-Axis Load Cell with model BX8-HD44 Data Acquisition Amplifier instrumentation. The 6-Axis load cell provides measurement of all forces and torques (Fx, Fʏ, Fz, Mx, Mʏ, Mz) and the BXB-HD44 Data Acquisition Amplifier logs, displays, and graphs these measurements while sending scaled analog output signals for these axes to the robot’s control system. Customer installed 6A40 6-Axis Load Cell between robot flange and robot grabber. The extensive data outputs from the multi-axis sensor provided the exact detailed measurements needed for the industrial robotic application.

Interface Sensors Used for Internet of Things

What is creating the increasing demands for sensor technologies today? One thing is just using sensors in things, putting sensors into things that didn’t use to utilize sensors. Advancing the use of data in objects, equipment, consumer goods, machines and tools is increasing the needs for advanced and reliable measurement devices. It’s why demand for Interface products used in Internet of Things applications are expanding rapidly.

Sensor data is being used through the entire life cycle of a product design, from early design to testing, through production and even aftermarket sales. The valuable insights that engineers and manufacturers gather from real-time user data and feedback in both test and actual market use is advancing iterations, use cases, and smart application types.  Interface is seeing this in the demands for miniature sensors used by OEMs and wireless technologies. The smarter the device, the better the sensor. That is why Interface is a preferred partner when IoT needs accurate information to make smart decisions.

Big data along with advancing IoT communication capabilities is presenting opportunities for manufacturing to use efficient, accurate, and cost-effective sensor solutions designed for making products and machines smarter. Users of IoT solutions and manufacturers of IoT products are using valuable sensory data to constantly measure applied forces, helping with innovation and redesigns. It’s being used for all types of smart devices, industrial automation robots, medical equipment, and even wireless mobile testing labs.

What type of products are being used in IoT?

We are seeing Interface load cells, torque transducers, multi-axis sensors, DAQ and instrumentation systems are designed for all kinds of advanced IoT applications. While many are taking advantage of our expanding line of wireless and Bluetooth load cells and instrumentation, we also see numerous requests for our Mini Load Cells to be designed into the actual product.

Interface has been supplying these sensor technologies for years. To capture some of growing demands miniaturized and wireless sensors, we’ve recently launched a new solutions area on our website, Internet of Things. We explore Industry 4.0 and wireless applications, offer a new Interface IoT Solutions brochure and highlight products that are used for IoT use cases.

Our solutions align with the requirements of IoT and Industry 4.0.  You see this in the array of capabilities in our products, including:

  • Wireless communications and enabled sensors for real-time collection
  • Miniature load cells and sensor technologies for modernization and innovation of product designs
  • Robotic sensor solutions for use in autonomous and mounted devices
  • OEM designed sensor solutions to use for stability and product intelligence
  • Intrinsically safe products used in harsh and changing environments
  • Safety and regulatory sensors for constant monitoring
  • Bluetooth and wireless telemetry system components used for monitoring and testing
  • Stainless steel and rugged designs for different temperatures and climates
  • Advanced instrumentation and software for accurate and reliable data capture
  • OEM engineered products for high-production counts

Whether you are using Interface measurement products for prototype testing, temperature testing, component and usability studies or small-scale testing machines, we have solutions that make your tests cordless, digital, and using internet speed to capture data.

Recent IoT Applications Using Interface Measurement Solutions

  • Smart factory tools and machines
  • Wireless testing equipment for labs
  • Autonomous vehicle components
  • Robots and robotic parts
  • Weighing and lifting apparatus
  • Safety regulation feedback and sensing devices
  • Predictive usability and durability testing
  • Fitness and health equipment use
  • Touch screen testing
  • Home health feedback sensors

To learn more about our products used for IoT applications, contact our application engineering experts.

Additional Resources

Wireless Telemetry System

WTS 1200 Standard Precision LowProfile® Wireless Load Cell

WTS Brake Pedal Force Testing

IoT Solution That Monitors Rigging and Lifting in Real-Time Showcased at OTC50

Advancements in Instrumentation Webinar Recap

Solutions to Advance Agriculture Smart Farming and Equipment

Solutions to Advance Agriculture Smart Farming and Equipment

The agriculture industry is no stranger to technology. In fact, it’s among the most advanced industries in the world. With advancements in IoT, e-agriculture and smart farming are now core operations for most large producers and crop managers, while equipment and components look for more data for work efficiencies and improving production quality.

The global agribusiness industry is estimated to be $5 trillion and growing rapidly. The Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) notes that agriculture innovators and product developers are contributing to improved quality of life, economic growth, employment, and environment in a big way.  In developing this technology, one of the most critical supporting tools is force measurement sensors.

From heavy machinery used in working the fields to industrial weighing applications for livestock, there is a massive market of manufacturers serving farmers and the supply chains that support agriculture. Interface sensor technologies continue to play an important role in these advancements and use cases in the agriculture industry.

Interface products are a top choice for agriculture technology manufacturers because they provide the accuracy and reliability necessary to enhancing performance and ensuring safety. We have a variety of force measurement sensors that are designed for modern agricultural testing projects and as components for OEMs. Our expert application engineers help customers with standard products as well as design customized solutions for all types of applications using our products that are used for extreme environments, UAV and drone inspections, material handling, complex agricultural machines, and extreme weather conditions, engine testing, all ensuring maximum safety and efficiency.

Interface’s wide range of load cells, torque transducers, and DAQ systems are ideal for all types of advanced and simple agricultural applications, like weigh checking, lifting equipment, electrical and motorized farm vehicles, even drones used during the production and inspection. We have outlined these examples in our case study, Interface Solutions Used in Growing Agriculture Innovation. In this profile, you can see how our sensor technologies are used to ensure efficiency, sustainability, and proper production.

Common Agriculture Use Cases for Interface Products

  • Tractor and equipment testing
  • Production lines
  • Greenhouse facility management
  • Robotics and automation tools for farming
  • Livestock weighing
  • Feed and water monitoring
  • Storage, silo dispensing and weighing
  • EV engine testing
  • Field inspection and drone sensor testing
  • Wireless equipment for field management and remote monitoring
  • Gate and fencing field security solutions

Two very popular product categories in the agriculture industry include torque sensors and wireless products. Torque sensors are used in heavy machinery like tractors, plows and other vehicles that require immense power to move equipment and crops. For torque applications in tractors and other vehicles, we have different USB options for torque transducers such as the T12, T15, and T25 Rotary Torque Transducers. These options allow for easy integration with our numerous instrumentation solutions, including both digital and analog.

Wireless solutions have increased in popularity across all industries, but especially in farming where engineers and manufacturers are running tests in the field and don’t want to run long wires that can get in the way. Interface provides a wide range of wireless solutions including our Wireless and Bluetooth® Telemetry Systems, which include sensor transmitters, receivers, and displays. These systems help our customers create a test network that is more convenient and just as accurate as its wired counterparts.  You can view multiple agriculture applications using Interface solutions online. Here are a few examples.

Interface Applications in Agriculture

Tractor PTO Torque Testing

A customer wanted to measure the torque and speed of their tractor’s PTO (power takeoff test) system, ensure the tractor’s PTO system was functioning properly, and measure the torque being delivered to an implement. Interface’s solution was to use its T27 Bearingless Hollow Flange Style Rotary Torque Transducer to measure the tractor’s torque and speed of their tractor’s PTO system. The T27 Bearingless Hollow Flange Style Rotary Torque Transducer is bolted to the tractors PTO shaft. A dynamometer is attached on the other end and the transducer can measures the tractor’s torque and speed with high accurate results. With the INF3-USB PC Interface Module the customer was able to display, graph, and log the recorded torque and speed of the tractor’s PTO system with the supplied INF3-USB software. Using this solution, the customer was able to successfully and accurately measured the torque and speed of the tractor’s PTO system. Read more about tractor PTO torque testing here.

WTS Equine Bridle Tension System

The customer needed to quantify the so-called “poll pressure.” Bits designed to give strong poll pressure using simple pulley lever principles show a much-attenuated transfer of the rein tension through the bit to the poll. The attenuation is readily understood when the equine mouth is recognized as a “floating” fulcrum degrading the otherwise required fixed pivot point of an ideal lever. Interface provided a WTS Equine Bridle Tension System, with 2 SMA Miniature S-Type Load Cells in both the line of the reins and that of the cheekpiece on one side of the horse. This system was used to study the dynamic response of the cheekpiece tension to rein tension in the ridden horse. The WTS provided the valuable data can be displayed and/or recorded in real time using a PC and/or a handheld receiver depending on the requirements and preferences of the customer. The fundamental operation of the bits could in principle be discovered on the laboratory bench. But in practice of course, the equine mouth is expected to provide the fulcrum. Within the real experimental system comprising the rider’s hands, the horse’s mouth, and the bit, the elasticity of the equine mouth provides a “floating” fulcrum and a potential source of time-lag and decoherence between the dynamic rein and cheekpiece tensions. Read Testing the Reins for more information.

Interface is a valuable partner to the agriculture industry and has developed a wide range of standard and custom solutions to meet the varying needs of manufacturers. You can read more about our products used in the agriculture industry, as well as some application examples available in our industry Agriculture Solutions Brochure.

Additional Resources

Interface Supplies Agriculture Industry with Sensor Technologies

Interface Helps to Move Agriculture Innovation Forward

Interface Solutions Used in Growing Agriculture Innovation

Tractor Linkage Draft Control

Silo Monitoring and Weighing

Chicken Weighing

Fueling Global Demand for Interface Solutions

Increasing demand for quality, accurate and reliable sensor technologies is global.  Interface products are used on every continent and across all types of industries. As manufacturers and product innovators make advances in what they build and test, there is a direct correlation to the growth in precision test and measurement tool requirements we supply.

The overall sensor market in 2022 is expected to continue its fast past growth, estimated between 8-12% across all types of sensors. In force measurement, this pace is consistent with the experience in the global markets we serve in Africa, Asia, Australia and Oceania, Europe, Middle East, South and North America.

Represented by hundreds of sensors experts around the world, Interface distributors continue to experience growth in market share and Interface product users.  In fact, Interface’s fastest growing markets are represented in our global network.  Solutions that utilize our precision load cells, torque transducers, multi-axis load cells and instrumentation are all experiencing high growth worldwide.

What is impacting the greatest international growth for all types of sensors technologies?  According to market analysis and based on Interface’s experience, it’s being fed by:

  1. Miniaturization of Products and Sensors Used in Testing and OEMs
  2. Industrial Automation and Robotics
  3. Innovation in Aerospace and Automotive
  4. IoT – Internet of Things

Our direct experience in demand for Interface solutions outside of the US is related to these areas and specifically new products and expanding use cases. First, we recently launched our Global G Series products to meet this demand. This specialty product is sold exclusively outside the US. These products are designed and manufactured in the International System of Units (SI), with the same precision and accuracy of all Interface products.

The Global G Series is a global standard product line that is designed for applications that require miniature load cells and for OEM solutions used for automation of machines and components.  The markets that are experiencing the highest growth internationally include:

For example, innovative markets like electric vehicles and hydro-electric energy are growing rapidly domestically and in international markets. These industries rely on force testing to optimize these new technologies.

The Asia-Pacific market is currently our fastest growing market. Interface provides products for this market across all industries including automotive, aerospace, test and measurement and more. As mentioned above, the alternative energy, aerospace and electric vehicle market is a big area for Interface and the Asia-Pacific plays a big role in these areas.

Electric vehicle design and manufacturing requires a precise level of accuracy to improve energy efficiency, minimize weight and maximize vehicle range. For instance, battery technology is a major global focus; therefore, maximizing power output using force testing is the key to improving vehicle design. To achieve this, test and measurement solutions need to be as accurate as possible. Interface also provides high accuracy torque transducers, load cells, load washers and more for two areas of electric vehicle testing: laboratory testing to optimize system performance and production testing to ensure product quality.

Another application for force measurement in Europe is force testing on off-shore hydro-electric power plants. This is a great fit for Interface because we have developed an entire lineup of load cells and other products that are submersible. For this project specifically, we provided submersible WMC load cells. This is one example of an innovative application for renewable energies, and this is another market that is growing rapidly both domestically and internationally.

One of the consistent top selling products in both regions and industries are wireless load cells. In our 2022 Test and Measurement Industry Trends blog, detailed some of this growing demand for wireless force measurement solutions. Wireless systems are helping manufacturers simplify the integration process and create a cleaner safer test environment with far less wiring. It is especially helpful in industries like aerospace or automotive, where large factories want to transmit data across the facility without needing a mess of wires getting in the way.

For wireless needs, Interface supplies its Wireless Telemetry System (WTS) which offers sensor transmitters, receivers, and displays. High accuracy, high quality measurement is interfaced with simple yet powerful configuration and monitoring software and gives sensor manufacturers and integrators the complete flexibility to build their own sensor modules around it. The system easily replaces wired systems, reducing installation and maintenance costs.

One area that Interface is also investing in internally is recalibration services to serve all customers across the world. Many of our customers are becoming more aware of and utilizing these services, as we are continuing to grow this capability amongst international customers who are utilizing Interface products for the first time.

Interface’s presence in the international market is growing quickly. Interface is looking forward to seeing where and how we can supply the best in force measurement solutions to enable innovation around the world.

Source: Tyler Pettit, Application Engineer International Markets

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.

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/.