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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.

Faces of Interface Featuring Tin Nguyen

Today’s Faces of Interface features a person who might possibly hold the most titles in the company, and for good reason. Tin Nguyen is our calibration engineer, manufacturing engineer and business unit manager for calibration. Tin has earned all these titles along with the important responsibility through his relentless ability to take on and excel in new tasks, as well as his desire to learn. Check out his story.

Since he was about the age of eight years old, Tin had a proficiency for learning how to design and build things. It all started growing up on his grandparent’s farm where he would theorize ways to make tools and machines around the farm easier to use or more efficient. He vowed then that when he grew up, he would find a way to build things to make life easier for people.

Tin went on to attend Arizona State University (ASU), where he received a bachelor’s degree in manufacturing engineering and in technology in 2000. He really enjoyed the ASU engineering school experience because it was hands on and he got to work with the latest technology, preparing him for the real world. While attending school, Tin also served as an auto mechanic for racing cars to earn some extra money on the side and because he really enjoyed the work.

Tin joined Interface in September 2001. He began his career as a calibration associate in the calibration lab. After a few years in the lab, Tin was then promoted to manufacturing engineer. A year later, he was promoted to calibration supervisor followed by the calibration departments business unit manager. His success in each of these roles allowed him to retain some of his titles and work throughout the company to lend his skills and expertise.

Today, his role covers quite a bit of what we do here at Interface. His day-to-day responsibilities include developing and maintaining tooling for calibration, fixturing, improving production processes, auditing equipment, figuring out ways to reduce costs, training calibration techs, maintaining calibration standards, looking after 20 different rigs, to highlight a few. His depth of experience and expertise lends to supporting and helping the company meet the growing demands for Interface’s quality products.

What Tin enjoys so much about working at Interface and continuing to take on new roles is that he loves to learn everything there is to know about the company and serving customers. Tin noted, there are a lot of talented people around him to provide that knowledge and support. After more than 20 years with the company, Tin still feels that he has more to learn. He’s also very honored by the trust that Interface and its leadership have placed in Tin to take on all of his important roles.

In his free time, Tin loves to travel and explore the great outdoors. He enjoys hiking, camping, fishing, boating and more. And, as if he doesn’t already have enough projects in his work life, Tin is also very fond of upgrading and remodeling his home. He takes a lot of ownership over the process and will do everything that he can before hiring somebody to help.

With all the hats Tin wears, he knows Interface inside out and we’re thrilled to have him and his cross-departmental expertise as part of the Interface family! We hope you enjoyed the newest entry into our Faces of Interface and if you’re looking to learn more about our talented staff, visit our ForceLeaders feature here.

Users of Interface Test and Measurement Products

Interface has a long history working with several types of users that rely on our products for test and measurement.

From pioneering engineers working in campus labs to ground-breaking scientists and innovators finding solutions to complex problems. We often share insights about the many industries that Interface serves and how our extensive line of products are used in a wide variety of applications within these industries.

In this Interface IQ Blog, we want to highlight individuals who use our products and discuss how they are used in various projects, programs, and testing environments.

We recently asked our customers how they utilize our products and here are their responses:

  • Calibration Equipment – 36%
  • Product Testing and Use in a Test Lab – 30%
  • New Product Design and Engineering Solutions – 25%
  • Products Manufactured into Original Equipment or Devices – 25%
  • Fatigue Testing – 20%
  • As Components of Other Products -16%
  • Experimentation – 14%
  • Education and Training 7%

Note that each responder chose all that applied in the survey.

Interface Product and Service User Types

Product Design Engineers

Product design engineers are involved from the very beginning of new production introduction (NPI). They are theorizing new products or product improvements, drawing designs, and developing prototypes. Force measurement plays a key role in NPI, enabling many different capabilities including automation, in-product performance monitoring, and more. These engineers benefit from Interface products because we offer top-quality performance, and we can uniquely customize our products and complete solutions to meet new product designs. Read our recent profile: Why Product Design Engineers Choose Interface.

Product Test Engineers

Product testing remains Interface’s largest user profile across industries. Interface provides various load cells, torque transducers, data acquisition instrumentation of all capabilities and capacities to create small and large testing solutions. We offer solutions for testing products, manufactured parts, prototypes, consumer goods, devices, OEM solutions and embedded components. We work directly with product testing engineers and test lab experts to supply standard, engineered-to-order, and customized solutions to fit into a test machines, rigs, and test benches. Often our products are designed right into the product to provide instant user feedback. Interface products are used to test everything from the structural integrity of an airplane to the minute forces of heart valve clamps used in open heart surgery. Product Test Engineers choose Interface due to the reliability and quality of sensors, along with precision accuracy.

Metrologists

Metrology is the science of measurement, embracing both experimental and theoretical determinations at any level of uncertainty in any field of science and technology. Therefore, it is all too common to find many Interface products within a metrology lab. Metrologists use Interface products to calibrate the machinery and tooling that will is frequently used during production and manufacturing. The relationship between Interface, metrologists and manufacturing engineers is an important one because each role in partnership ensures the quality of the products that leave the manufacturer’s doors.

Manufacturing Engineers and Production

Interface products can also be found within many of the machines, equipment, and tools on a manufacturing floor. These engineers will often use Interface products as embedded sensors or for process monitoring. With industrial automation, our sensor technologies are used to enable a machine to ensure certain robotics or automated functions are tuned correctly to provide the right amount of force. Some examples include packaging lines, bolt fastening, bottle capping machines in a soda factory or stamping machining that mark the minute symbols or logos on a pill. Manufacturing facility attendants also use force measurement to monitor machines in use. When force data is observed outside of a safe range, a manufacturing attendant may determine that a machine on the floor needs calibration or repair.

Educators

Another major customer of Interface are professors and lab techs in higher education facilities. Colleges and universities, specifically engineering departments often have Interface blue load cells and testing equipment onsite. Force measurement’s role is growing rapidly in STEM, as workforce demands seek out students experienced in R&D, engineering, design, mathematics, science and proving concepts. Therefore, professors are purchasing our products to give students hands-on experience with sensor technologies in early and advanced education. In fact, many young students today have exposure to products tested or using active sensors as part of their functions, like tablet displays, planet rovers, sports equipment, robotics, gaming brake pedals, rockets, and drones. Working together with academic institutions, we understand that having access to the best components helps develop future engineers as innovators.

This is a concise list of different people and titles we have worked with over the years. There are many more out there. Also, the use of force measurement sensors is growing rapidly in product design and development, so we expect this list to continue to expand. We are proud to serve such a diverse range of individuals, industries and applications and we look forward to what the future of force measurement holds.

Industry Leader in Test and Measurement

Interface was founded as a supplier of cutting-edge test and measurement industry solutions in 1968. It’s in our DNA and fundamental to what we’ve been engineering, manufacturing and selling for more than five decades. What started out as first to market with a pancake-style LowProfile load cell, has expanded into a broad mix of world-class test and measurement products and calibration services that enable T&M professionals full access to complete systems, from sensors to instrumentation.

Our mix of load cells, torque transducers, multi-axis sensors, calibration systems and other force measurement solutions allow engineers, product designers and manufacturers access to industry-leading testing devices that provide the most accurate and reliable data possible.

Whether that is testing the torque when applying a screw via robotics or verifying touch screen force for the latest 5G consumer hand-held device, we provide the sensors that test the machines, tools, and actual products before and in-market.

Interface is steadfast in ensuring the test and measurement professionals have more than quality sensors. We also provide T&M solutions to maintain and service testing equipment and devices used in labs and facilities throughout the world. The range of products we offer are from standard precision use to calibration-grade. Whether we are supplying our 1800 Platinum Standard Load Cell or a Verification Load Frame, Interface supports all types of T&M pros. Or as we like to call them, ForceLeaders.

Test and measurement use cases are growing due to the demands for miniature load cells, more data for intelligence gathering and automation functionality.  It is estimated that more than $27B is spent in the production of test and measurement equipment globally. And the market is growing due to professionals seeking advancements in equipment and sensor technologies for use in new products, maintaining equipment and sustaining usability with data and proven testing rigor.

Interface sensors are involved in a wide range of T&M applications across a multitude of industries, with increased visibility into new markets like IoT and smart data-drive technologies.

Trends in test and measurement that are fueling the greatest growth:

  1. Medical and healthcare devices using miniature and wireless sensor technologies
  2. Activation of sensors into real-time data monitors and feedback tools
  3. Networking and communications use with 5G and wireless sensor capabilities
  4. Robotics and industrial automation machines and equipment
  5. Safety and regulation equipment with performance sensors
  6. Consumer electronics durability and usability
  7. Environmental exposure and changing conditions, from submersible to extreme temperatures

Read more about the trends in test and measurement in 2022 Test and Measurement Industry Trends.

The reason Interface is the industry-leading provider is because T&M requires precision and reliability. Interface sensors are known for being the most accurate in the industry. From structural and material testing to static and fatigue testing, our products provide key data for manufacturers, engineers and testing professionals to ensure their products and services will hold up under designed loads and performance standards.

From our Ultra Low Capacity series measuring forces in mere grams to our LowProfile™ load cells with capacities up to 2 million lbf, our solutions can meet the needs for any test profile required when it comes to force.  In regard to torque testing, Interface can supply torque transducers with ranges as low as 0.005 Nm and up to 340K Nm to meet the needs of your test. Our overload protected low capacity load cells and torque sensor provide the most accurate results in the industry. In fact, T&M experts measuring torsion effects, tension tests, mass and kinetic energy are utilizing our products. Watch the video below to see some popular Interface Test and Measurement Product Solutions.

Interface provides an overview of solutions for the T&M industry, detailing our capabilities and providing an overview of some of recent applications. Of course, there are hundreds of use cases every year that depend on Interface, so these are just a couple highlights we thought you would find interesting below. Download the T&M Industry brochure at https://bit.ly/37q3BnxE-Bike Torque Measurement

An E-Bike manufacturer needed to test the torque on their electronic bicycles. They needed a torque sensing system that measures how much force the bike rider is pedaling onto the pedals, because this determines how much electric power the bike’s motor generates. Interface suggested installing the Model T12 Square Drive Torque Transducer where the pedal assist sensor would normally be. The T12 Square Drive Torque Transducer’s results can be recorded, graphed, and logged using the SI-USB4 4 Channel USB Interface Module when connected to the customer’s PC. Using this solution, the E-Bike manufacturing company successfully tested the torque on their electronic bicycles with Interface’s products and instrumentation. Read the full E-Bike app note here.

Proving Theoretical Cutting Forces of Rotary Ultrasonic Machining

Rotary ultrasonic machining is a hybrid process that combines diamond grinding with ultrasonic machining to provide fast, high-quality drilling of many ceramic and glass applications. This new method has been theoretically proven using computer models. Rotary ultrasonic machining generates forces of a very small magnitude. To prove this theory, any load cell used for measurement must be sensitive, while at the same time retaining high structural stiffness within a compact, low-profile envelope. Interface’s 3A120 3-Axis load cell is installed in the rotary ultrasonic machine to measure the forces being applied to a sample part. With clear signals and minimal crosstalk, the applied forces are recorded and stored using an the BSC4D Multi-Channel PC Interface Module. The 3-Axis load cell provides excellent data helping uncover the relationship between machine cutting parameters and the forces applied on the component. Using this knowledge, the machining process can be reliably optimized for new materials and operations. Learn more about this machining T&M app note here.

You can learn more about all types of T&M applications in our Applications Catalog, demonstrating the diversity and range of T&M solutions and ingenuity of our customers.

Additional Resources:

Interface Solutions for Testing Tools

Insights in Torque Testing Featured in Quality Magazine

 

Faces of Interface Featuring Rocky Lee

In today’s Faces of Interface, we’re introducing Rocky Lee, a recent addition to the Interface team. Rocky joined Interface in September 2021 as our director of quality. His role is ensuring that every product that leaves our doors meets the incredibly high precedent for accuracy and reliability that Interface is well known for around the world. We had a great time talking to Rocky and hope you enjoy his story.

As a kid growing up Rocky always displayed an interest in STEM. It led him to pursue a mechanical engineering degree from the University of Michigan. He enjoyed learning about how things work and how things are made, so it felt like the perfect education for his interests.

Shortly after graduating, he got his first role in the engineering and manufacturing world. Rocky joined Raytheon as a mechanical engineer. His role at Raytheon was traveling around to airports to outfit them with a new communications system that Raytheon had developed. He would go in and ensure that the airport’s infrastructure could handle the power and technology requirements of the new radar system.

After Raytheon, he started as a product engineer for Toyota. His role involved him being stationed at a supplier that converted Toyotas into convertibles. He also worked on various other convertible lines, including Toyota Paseo, Mitsubishi Eclipse, and the Mitsubishi Spyder hardtop convertible. These experiences really kicked off a few of his passions in life – quality and convertibles. In fact, Rocky has owned three convertibles including a Toyota Celica convertible, Mercedes SLK, and a BMW 4-Series Hardtop Convertible.

Rocky then took a short break from the engineering and manufacturing world. He owned an ultra-high-end wedding gown design and manufacturing company for several years. He really enjoyed owning the company because it pushed him into new roles like sales and marketing, expanding his capabilities and expertise. After moving on from this business, he would then move to a quality management role for Suncast, which made consumers goods for the home and garden market. This would be his last role before joining Interface.

In 2021, Rocky and his wife decided it was time for a change of scenery. They had always envisioned themselves retiring to Arizona, but they decided to get started on warmer weather early! Rocky joined Interface shortly before moving and he chose us because he had deep desire to get back into the engineering and manufacturing world.

Rocky is learning quickly in his new role. His first major project is expanding the quality inspection process to ensure quality is instilled from start to finish and throughout development. He says he is enjoying his time at Interface due to the high-level of Interface’s engineering talent. He feels that the expertise here will help him learn quickly and become engrossed in the force measurement world. He’s also excited by the wide range of industries and applications that Interface is involved in by supplying precision force measurement solutions to companies globally.

When he’s not working hard to meet customer expectations for Interface product quality, Rocky, his wife, and their two children are taking advantage of Arizona and all it has to offer. This includes hiking, sightseeing, white water rafting and more. He is also really enjoying the golf out here. He and his wife love to play together and they’re planning to spend a good deal of their free time checking out Arizona’s award-winning golf scene in the years to come.

Rocky is a wonderful addition to the team and we’re proud he chose Interface. To get to know more of Interface’s outstanding team, tune into the blog each month for a new addition to our Faces of Interface Series.

Read more about the importance of quality in our industry here: Quality is Top Reason Customers Choose Interface

 

New Interface White Paper Highlights Turning an Active Component into a Sensor

The most common uses of force measurement in OEM (original equipment manufacturer) applications are when a force sensor is designed into a product that will be produced at mid to high volumes and provides real-time force feedback on certain product functions in use. Utilizing sensors as a feature enables data acquisition over time to monitor forces and understand how those forces effect product efficiency, safety, quality or all of these performance metrics. This ultimately is used to design a better product, in the current state and for future enhancements or to know when a product is performing best or risks breaking down.

Did you know that there is another application of force sensors in OEM applications that is playing a large role in the factory of the future? This is when we turn an active component into a sensor and use that data to create automated actions. This solution is used when there is a desire to take a moving component within a system and make it smarter, ultimately allowing it to make data-based decisions on its own.

For example, the manufacturing industry is using force sensors on machines within a production line that are responsible for picking components up for visual inspection. The sensor is integrated into the grabbing component and can tell the machine the exact force to use when picking up the component as not to damage it. This is a critical capability when dealing with expensive and delicate components that can break under too much force. In the past, a force measurement sensor would have been used only to test this functionality. When the sensor is designed directly into the machine, the user can both test beforehand and monitor and automate processes in real-time.

The need for this type of capability is growing rapidly amongst manufacturers across a wide variety of industry including aerospace and defense, industrial, medical, automotive, industrial automation, assembly and more. To further outline the potential for these types of solutions, Interface developed a new white paper that details  how sensor solutions for OEMs work with specific examples of the benefit of turning an active component into a sensor.

Included below is a brief intro to the recently released white paper. Get your copy by clicking on the link here. Additionally, if you’re interested in learning more about Interface solutions for OEM applications go here, or call us to speak to our OEM application experts at 480-948-5555. Ready to get started, let us know how we can help here.

WHITE PAPER EXCERPT

OEM SOLUTIONS: TURNING AN ACTIVE COMPONENT INTO A SENSOR

The age of industrial automation and big data is upon us. Manufacturers that fall behind in equipping their facilities and products with innovation that allows for automated processes, remote monitoring and better efficiency through technology, will quickly fall behind. This is due to the fact that automation helps to significantly improve process quality because it eliminates human error. It also creates long-term cost savings by speeding up several processes, or by helping to monitor products in use and in real-time to optimize performance and stability over time through better data collection.

Get your copy of the white paper to read more.

Special note, contributors to the white paper are Interface and sensor engineering experts, Brian Peters and Rob Fuge.

Additional Resources for OEM

Interface is a Critical Solutions Provider for OEMs

Making the Case for Custom Solutions Webinar Recap

 

Interface Supplies Agriculture Industry with Sensor Technologies

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 development are contributions to quality of life, economic growth, employment, and environment in a big way. Interface is proud to be a supplier of sensor solutions, from load cells to instrumentation, to the agriculture industry.

Any time you are manufacturing tractors, self-propelled harvesting combines, robotics, silo structures, monitoring technologies and other equipment used for crop production and farm animal management, test and measurement has an important part. T&M is essential in validating performance, functionality, and safety. Interface load cells, torque transducers, multi-axis sensors, instrumentation and data acquisition systems are essential for these different kinds of agricultural applications. These products can be paired together to ensure efficiency, sustainability, and proper production planning. Interface sensors can also regulate through harsh weather conditions often experienced on a farm such has rain, humidity and unbearable temperatures, both low and high, while still maintaining a high testing and measurement performance.

In the case study Interface Solutions Used in Growing Agriculture Innovation, we outline how our sensors and data acquisition devices are designed to provide engineers with high-quality force and torque data to monitor and confirm the design and in-action processes of a wide variety of equipment. Interface products are ideal for manufacturers that develop agricultural machinery. Load cells and torque transducers, as well as DAQ and instrumentation solutions provide accurate force and torque data to monitor and confirm the design and in-action processes. This applies to a wide variety of agriculture equipment used to push, pull, lift, contain, and move things ranging from seed to cattle. To perfect these inventions and ensure safety, Interface sensors play a pivotal role.

If you would like to dig into a series of use cases that for the agriculture industry, we’ve included links below:

Faces of Interface Featuring Bobby Calleja

Throughout his career in the manufacturing industry, Interface Planner Bobby Calleja has seen it all, from the aerospace industry to beauty products and circuit boards. His knowledge and experience in manufacturing has made him a critical member of the Interface family and we’re glad to share his story.

Bobby’s professional journey began in Long Island, New York, where he worked for his father at his machine shop. Being around his father and seeing his work ethic for the job, along with a passion for the industry, made Bobby realize that it’s what he wanted to do with his professional career.

Bobby worked for his father for six years before deciding it was time to do his own thing and get far from the cold New York winters. When he moved to Arizona, he began working at a small mom and pop aerospace facility that was eventually bought out by Goodrich Corporation. He began as a machinist and working his way up to night supervisor where he would oversee the repair and build of F16 fuel injectors. When his position was being moved to Iowa, Bobby was offered a job to move with it, but he opted to stay in Arizona.

His next move was with a manufacturer called Philosophy that made beauty care products. At Philosophy, Bobby served as a second shift supervisor where he managed that production from start to finish on the floor. After five years of working at Philosophy, the company was bought out and Bobby moved around to a few different manufacturing roles, including a circuit board facility for a few years.

In 2018, Bobby joined Interface. He began as a shipping clerk and then became a shipping manager a year later. In 2020, he was promoted to planner. Today, his role includes scheduling and planning parts to the floor for the Mini Load Cell product line, one of Interfaces most popular products.

“I enjoys the new role because of the challenge it provides. No two days are the same and the role is like working on a big, complicated puzzle. You have to fit the pieces in the right place to meet customer demand.” – Bobby Calleja, Product Planner at Interface, Inc.

When he’s not solving the day-to-day challenges of planning mini production, Bobby enjoys time spent his wife of 25 years and their two kids. His son recently graduated from Arizona State University and his daughter is going into her Junior year at Edinboro University in Pennsylvania. The family are huge Disney fans and Bobby is not ashamed to admit he’s first in line to take pictures with Mickey Mouse. Bobby is also an avid softball and baseball player and fan. He is also big music guy. Back in New York, Bobby spent his free time DJ’ing around the city.

We’re proud to have Bobby’s experience and talent on our production floor here at Interface and hope you enjoyed reading his story as much as we did sharing it. To learn more about our outstanding team, check in to the IQ blog each month at www.interfaceforce.com/blog/.

Force Sensors Advance Industrial Automation

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

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

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

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

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

Click here to read the rest of the article.