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Interface Force Measurement Solutions Featured in Quality Magazine

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

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

Included below is a brief introduction from article:

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

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

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

Additional Ken Vining feature:

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

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

The Five Critical Factors of Load Cell Quality

Accurate data and high-quality test and measurement programs have many contributing factors. None are more important than the devices and equipment used on the test line. At Interface, we understand this better than anyone else.

Quality is why our force measurement products are used and known across multiple, highly regulated, and complex industries for providing the most reliable and accurate data anywhere. It is also why Interface is recognized as the preeminent leader in load cell quality.

How do we reach this high standard that we continue to hit with every product that leaves our facility? It is our overriding commitment to quality and consistency. The most important aspect of this is the fact that Interface controls the entire manufacturing process of our load cells. Many providers outsource certain components like that strain gages. We build the strain gages, the load cells, integrate the strain gages into the load cells and we do our own test, calibration, and quality inspection on each device.

Through our development process, which has been created and perfected over 52 years, we have learned what makes a great load cell. To start, Interface Chief Engineer Ken Vining outlines the top factors in load cell quality.

Five Most Critical Factors of Load Cell Quality

#1 Repeatability

Repeatability is first on the list and it is what our customers consider the most important aspect of buying an Interface load cell. Anyone can develop a load cell that is accurate for the first 10 to 15 measurements, but as environmental factors and stress are inflicted upon the load cell it needs to last. Due to our experience in this industry, we understand how certain temperatures, loads and other factors can diminish the accuracy of a load cell. This is one of the reasons we work so closely with our customers. Every application is different, and if we understand the application, we can deliver a custom load cell that withstands the various stressors over time without providing diminishing returns. This ensures that our customers receive the same, high-quality data after 10 years of use that they received on day one.

#2 Longevity

Like repeatable data accuracy over time, the load cell also needs to feature a high-quality and ruggedized build to last physically. Constant application of weight, pressure or torque can diminish the build quality and strength of a load cell if it does not meet the material requirements of the application. This can also reduce accuracy and lead to higher costs if customers must replace their load cells regularly. Interface has worked across a wide variety of industries and we understand the materials necessary for nearly any environment. With proper use, build quality and routine maintenance, load cells should last a very long time. In fact, Interface still has load cells in use in the field from when we started building quality product more than five decades ago.

#3 Accuracy

Data accuracy is affected by a litany of factors in load cells. In fact, we wrote an entire white paper on this very topic called, “Contributing Factors to Load Cell Accuracy.” Once again, the application of the load cell is what determines the conditions that affect accuracy. These conditions include creep, side and eccentric load, temperature, humidity, the mounting process and more. Interface can customize each of our load cells to ensure these conditions are accounted for to maintain premium accuracy.

#4 Sensitivity to Off-Axis Loads

A typical load cell is designed to measure load in one direction. However, nearly any project using force measurement test processes is going to introduce an off-axis load. If the load cell is not designed to adjust for this and compensate for what is called moment, the data output will be skewed. This is another reason that customers need to be extremely specific when discussing the application of the load cell. There are several ways to compensate for moment; however, most of these adjustments are physical and occur in the design and manufacturing process. With a correctly calibrated and designed load cell, off-axis loads will be eliminated and will not affect the accuracy of the data.

Special Note: Our recent release of the new ConvexBT product, the first to market miniature load button load cell that is designed to solve for off-axis (eccentric) loading. Read more here.

#5 Access to Prominent Force Measurement Experts

Every factor of quality listed above is realized and accomplished through a close and transparent relationship between customer and force measurement provider. Every application dictates a different force measurement solution. When we understand the application, we can select the right type of load cell or customize an off the shelf load cell to meet the quality and accuracy needs necessary for any project. This is why a customer’s access to a force measurement expert is an integral part of load cell quality.

Every force test and measurement project can create a different challenge and developing an accurate and reliable load cell to meet those challenges can be tough. Therefore, Interface considers these five factors, and hundreds more, for every product we engineer and build. This is our unwavering commitment to quality and customer satisfaction.

Contributor:  Ken Vining, Chief Engineer and Head of Quality

Hazardous Environment Solutions from Interface

There are hundreds of thousands of engineers and manufacturers that spend their days working in hazardous environments. Whether its operating inside of facilities with large machines with intricate moving parts, working hundreds of feet in the air repairing a bridge, or deep within a mine shaft, these professionals put themselves in danger every day by the nature of their work. As engineers and manufacturers, many of us are also tasked to solve for safety challenges and keep these professionals protected in any environment.

At Interface, one of the ways we contribute to industrial safety is with the development of our Interface Ex Rated Load Cells, also known as Interface Intrinsically Safe Products. These specialized load cells and force measurement solutions are designed and manufactured so that the materials and electronic components are safe for use in hazardous gas and dust environments when installed per applicable installation instructions. These components play an integral role in the safety of the men and women working in dangerous environments in particular industries like oil and gas, mining, aerospace, automotive and more.

These hazardous environments are categorized by the amount of explosive risk that is present in the environment. These levels include:

  • Zone Zero – explosive presence is always there
  • Zone One – explosive presence is close and is sometimes there
  • Zone Two – explosive presence is nearby, but is rarely present other than in some type of leak or other catastrophes

In order for force measurement products to operate safely in these environments, companies must design the devices in accordance with a regulatory body. These products must also be inspected for approval and then it is marked with the certification code that displays the zone and temperatures it’s safe to operate in. In addition, the manufacturing process needs to be highly controlled. Manufacturers must keep documentation for each product, which includes how the product was made and where it went. And they are required to keep that documentation for 10 years in case of a product recall.

There are a number of different regulatory bodies focused on product safety throughout the world, and each has different specifications for explosiveness that need to be met based on the area in which the product is sold. Locations in which Interface can sell its Ex Rated products include countries in North America, Europe, Asia, and Brazil in South America.

The regulatory bodies that develop the specifications and approve products include:

  • International Electrotechnical Commission Explosive Atmospheres (IECEx) is given after a manufacturer proves compliance through a quality assessment report (QAR).
  • ATmospheres EXplosible or ATEX is a European Union(EU) examination certification. In order to receive ATEX certification, the manufacturer must obtain a quality assurance notification (QAN) to sell products in certain EU areas.

Interface develops a host of Ex Rated force measurement products that are certified by both IECEx and ATEX. These products have been used in a wide variety of applications within the energy and automotive industries. Included below are a few examples of the products we sell and the applications using our Ex products

ATEX 3400 Series Load Cells

The 3400 series of load cells are rated for Zone 1 and include the 3416 and 3430 Coil Tubing Intrinsically Safe Load Cells, the 3420 Coil Tubing Intrinsically Safe Load Cell and the 3410 Intrinsically Safe LowProfile® Load Cell. These products are hermetically sealed and have been used in the oil and gas industry to measure the force of coil tubing as it goes down an oil well. The 3400 Series is used in the space industry to help develop hydrogen-powered vehicles because of the threat of explosion with hydrogen power. The 3400 Series Load Cells have also been used in a distillery for a custom whiskey-making application.

ATEX, IECEx, ETL, Inmetro 1923 Series

The 1923 Series Load Cell is used in the oil and gas industry. These load cells include designs rated for both Zone 0 and Zone 2 applications. This load cell measures the force in which the pump jack is operating to avoid allowing the pump to go too fast and interrupt the capillary flow of oil. We also recently developed and released the 1923 Wireless Series load cell. Our 1923 Wireless Series innovation provides the same accurate, real-time data readings with little to no fuss over wires, which can create more hazards for the user.

ATEX SSMH Sealed Hazardous Environment Intrinsically Safe S-Type Load Cell

Our Zone 1 rated SSMH S-Type Load Cell is our only load cell that is certified for dust, so it is most often used in mining operations. This product is a tension and compression load cell that is environmentally sealed at an IP65 rating. It also has a high-temperature rating of up to 290° F for dust environments.

ATEX IECEx Bow Type Crosby™ Cabled Load Shackle

The Interface range of ATEX IECEx load shackles is designed for lifting and weighing in rugged or harsh environments, and also meet the requirements for operation in Zone 1 and 2 hazardous areas. The shackle pins are forged from high tensile stainless steel and are machined to an exacting specification. This range of load shackles is proof loaded to 150% of the normal rated load and is available in a range from 3.25 to 400 MT (7.17K to 882K lbf). The product is internally gaged and the whole instrumented area is sealed to IP67 to protect it in service.

When operating in explosive environments, our customers need to know that their products are safe and reliable. Here at Interface, we stand by the quality of our work and the safety of our Ex Rated products. For more information on Interface’s Intrinsically Safe and Ex Rated products, please visit /product-category/intrinsically-safe/.

Contributor:  Ken Vining, Chief Engineer at Interface

Interface White Paper Highlights Contributing Factors to Load Cell Accuracy

Core to everything we do at Interface is within our foundational pillars of quality, service, accuracy, and innovation.

When it comes to precision load cells, our team of experienced engineers is fully committed to designing and building the best force measurement products in the industry. In fact, it is commonly known that with our published specifications, we often exceed them. It is why Interface products retain the industry-leading reputation for precision performance.

With innovation and imagination in our values, Interface team members look for ways to continuously test boundaries and explore possibilities, never losing sight of accuracy. We are students of the industry and understand the precise details and mechanics that go into force measurement product development to make our solutions are the most accurate on the market.

Critical to serving our customers is understanding the contributing factors of load cell accuracy and matching the products that best fit their requirements. There are many factors that can disrupt accuracy or skew data, such as the environment in which the load cell is being used, the type of load cell application use, even the mounting process.

All of these specifications must be correctly identified when choosing the right product for the project or product to ensure accurate results. To help our fellow community of engineers, manufacturers, and product designers to navigate the force measurement world, we have developed a new Contributing Factors to Load Cell Accuracy White Paper. Click here to get your copy today!

This Interface technical white paper includes a breakdown of the most critical factors of load cell accuracy, which includes:

  • Creep
  • Side and eccentric load
  • Temperature
  • Humidity
  • Mounting process

Chief Engineer Ken Vining provides valuable insights into some of the steps to take to avoid accuracy failure, such as:

  • Utilizing a golden part
  • Preventing load cell misuse
  • Setting a preventative maintenance schedule
  • Recalibration

This valuable resource provides a quick reference to understand load cells and the intricate details that come with their proper and accurate use. Included below is a link to access the downloadable PDF of the white paper. This technical white paper is an addition to our long-standing commitment to providing expert resources for those using or researching use case applications for load cells.

CLICK HERE TO ACCESS TO THIS NEW WHITEPAPER TODAY

The Interface Load Cell Field Guide is also available on Amazon.

A Visit to The Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab

In 2015, Interface’s visionary founder Richard F. Caris had many legacies, one of which is the donation he made to The University of Arizona’s (UA) Mirror Lab. This endowment was a testament to his unwavering commitment to innovation, exploration, and science. Because of his deep personal interest and generous donation to the lab, UA named it the Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab.

At the Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab, scientists, engineers, and technicians are developing large, lightweight mirrors with unparalleled surface accuracy. The actual mirrors are helping to advance science and discovery around the world with the new generation of optical telescopes that can explore the universe through optical and infrared light. The actual mirrors developed at the lab represent a sweeping departure from the old conventional solid-glass mirrors.

Buell Tomasson Jannuzi, Jeffrey Kingsley, Ted Larson, Ken Vining in front of GMT Primary Mirror Segment 5 (S5). Photo Credit: Damien Jemison UA

Interface’s Chief Engineer Ken Vining and VP of Product Management and Marketing Ted Larson recently took a trip to Tucson, Arizona, to get an up close and personal view of the advancements that have been made over the last four years at the Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab. The experience is breathtaking for anyone that gets the opportunity to visit the lab.

Although the lab has been using Interface’s load cells long before 2015, the purpose of the Caris donation was to aid in the construction of the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT) with the lab’s revolutionary mirror casting capabilities.

These primary mirrors for the GMT are described as “a marvel of modern engineering and glassmaking.” Five of the seven 8.4-meter segmented mirrors have been cast thus far. The first mirror is complete and the other four are in various stages of production.

Completing any telescope project is a significant time commitment. In the last four years, a few segments have been cast. The project is expected to run until 2027. Although completing the GMT is a long-term endeavor, the lab is starting to think about future projects.

During Interface’s recent visit, our engineers made sure to provide careful guidance on product selection to promote future achievements and inventions.

The Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab team has all these ideas they’re thinking about and we knew if they engaged Interface early, we could help them solve a lot of problems.” – Ken Vining, Chief Engineer at Interface

While our experts were touring the Mirror Lab, they also discussed our new Interface University Program that provides special incentives for students and higher education programs. Interface knows that when programs learn with the best force measurement products, they can advance their learnings and encourage future innovations.

One of the additional benefits from the onsite visit was advancing Interface and the Mirror Lab’s collaboration in providing additional technical education, support, and resource to UA engineering students and Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab personnel. Interface has developed a variety of topics for educational seminars, including humidity’s effect on load cell performance, the basics of metrology, how to properly calibrate a load cell, and the impact of high elevation on load cells.

In case you’re curious about the last topic, elevation doesn’t have much of an effect on load cell performance. However, a telescope of this magnitude can test the boundaries like no other.  It is 18,000 feet at installation altitude, which gets a telescope above the ‘dirty’ parts of Earth’s atmosphere. If you are looking to learn more about the Interface University Program, contact us here.

Interface was founded in 1968 by Richard F. Caris.  You can read more about our history here.  If you would like to tour The University of Arizona’s Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab, you can get tickets online.  Tours are Monday through Friday at 1 pm, and as available at 3 pm. Click here for tickets and information.

About UA:  Established in 1885, the University of Arizona, the state’s super land-grant university with two medical schools, produces graduates who are real-world ready through its 100% Engagement initiative. Recognized as a global leader and ranked 16th for the employability of its graduates, the UA is also a leader in research, bringing more than $622 million in research investment each year, and ranking 21st among all public universities. The UA is advancing the frontiers of interdisciplinary scholarship and entrepreneurial partnerships and is a member of the Association of American Universities, the 62 leading public and private research universities. It benefits the state with an estimated economic impact of $8.3 billion annually.  https://www.arizona.edu

 

 

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

 

 

 

Faces of Interface Featuring Chief Engineer Ken Vining

Throughout his career, Ken Vining has lived by the philosophy that if you don’t make mistakes, you will not learn. This approach has guided Ken to become the outstanding engineer and innovator he is today. It has also helped to shape his techniques as the head of the R&D team at Interface.

The number one thing I tell my team is that failure is the most important device we can use to learn and improve. I will never be upset if they spend money on an idea and it fails or doesn’t meet expectations. However, I will be unhappy with my team if they wish they had spent money to pursue an idea and didn’t because they were afraid to fail.” Ken Vining, Chief Engineer at Interface

Ken Vining’s career in force measurement began in 1981 when he took a position as a draftsman at Beowulf Corporation in Huntsville, Alabama. After a short time with the company, Ken decided he wanted to pursue a career in engineering because he thought he had the natural talent to excel in the profession. He began taking night classes in mechanical engineering at the University of Alabama.

Ken continued his career in force measurement while simultaneously expanding his education in mechanical engineering and the development and use of application specific integrated circuits (ASICs) for force and pressure measurement products. His continuous pursuit of knowledge has allowed Ken to stay well-informed on current and future trends in mechanical engineering, electronics and force measurement.

In 2008, Ken joined Interface as a senior project engineer, a role he held for six years. He was later promoted to Director of Advanced Engineering where he developed and launched products for force, torque, and signal conditioning.

The technologies that Ken has been instrumental in producing leading-edge force measurement solutions including products made with bonded foil, semiconductor and sputtered thin film strain gages. Some of the most significant product launches that he has led or contributed to include Interface’s newest and biggest launch, the AxialTQ, and a product that is just about to launch, the 1923 wireless load cell.

Earlier this year, Ken was promoted to Chief Engineer at Interface. In this position, he oversees the R&D department and focuses on new product lines and capabilities that the company can explore. Ken’s relentless pursuit of education, personal growth and eye for innovation is what makes this role a natural fit.

Ken enjoys his new role at Interface because he knows that there are plenty of opportunities to fail, grow, and succeed in developing innovative products. The projects that get him most excited are those that give him the opportunity to blend basic load cell technology with high-end electronics – a process that Interface has a history at excelling in.

As for Ken’s free time activities, he’s an avid skier and bicyclist. He competes in a bicycle race or two per year, and his most recent ski trip brought him to the historic Telluride ski resort in Colorado.

To learn more about Interface’s innovative products, please visit www.interfaceforce.com.  If you would like to stay up with our latest products and new releases, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter InterfaceIQ. Click here to subscribe.