Posts

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:

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.

Force Measurement for Efficiency in Food Processing and Packaging

Interface provides the food processing and packaging industry with sensor technologies that increase efficiency and reduce waste. Like many industrial facilities, organizations are pushing hard to integrate new technology and automation that makes processes faster, more adaptable, and smart.

One of the factors critical to creating a smarter factory is by utilizing force measurement sensors that are designed for collecting data in each production phase, as well as monitoring equipment in use for performance optimization.

Interface has a wide variety of precision-based accurate and reliable sensors used for various applications in food processing and packaging. Our customers are using miniature load cells within the production line to apply the exact force needed to delicately press a logo onto a edible product. We have others using multi-axis sensors from Interface to verify accuracy of intricately machined parts while moving through the manufacturing process.

We’ve provided sensors for industrial automation solutions to thousands of customers using in-stock as well as custom application-specific sensors for OEM equipment. Read our Force Measurement is Reducing Waste and Automating the Consumer Packaging Industry OEM case study to learn more.

Below are additional examples that highlight uses case of actual applications in food processing and packaging.  You can see additional industrial application highlights in our solutions overview by clicking here.

Commercial Food Processing

A food processing plant wanted accurate results of their in-motion check weigher when food is weighed and processed while moving down the belt.  A check weigher is an automated machine for checking the weight of packaged commodities. This included ensuring production line efficiency and food quality, real-time results of their food being weighed, and a load cell that can endure the food industry’s soiled environment.

Interface offered a solution using multiple SPI High-Capacity Platform Scale Load Cells that could be installed in the customer’s equipment that is sued through the production line where product is weighed on the conveyor. The SPI High-Capacity Platform Scale Load Cells delivers precise weighing data. When connected to the 920i Programmable Weight Indicator and Controller, the solution provides the customer real-time results of the weight of the food. The 920i Programmable Weight Indicator and Controller can also read up to four scale channels in real-time. The processing gains in efficiency were visualized and managed during the weighing process to optimize control and production. 

Water Bottle Dispensing and Weighing

A beverage bottle manufacturer wanted to dispense the right amount of fluid into their bottles, and then weigh their bottles to ensure it is at the labeled weight on their product packaging. This is both to minimize waste, but also to meet the standard requirements noted on the packaging. Interface suggested using the MBP Miniature Beam Load Cell, and attaching it under a plate or platform the water bottle is placed on while it is being filled with fluids. The force weight is measured by the MBP Miniature Beam Load Cell, and connected to the 9870 High-Speed High-Performance TEDS Ready Indicator where results are captured, displayed, and recorded by the customer utilizing their water bottle assembly machinery. With this solution, the water bottle manufacturer received highly accurate results of each water bottle being weighed in real-time, using the accuracy to reduce waste and speed processing time.

Snack Weighing and Packaging Machine                     

A snack manufacturing brand wanted to weigh the amount of consumable food product automatically dispersed into the bags during the packaging process. In this case, they needed to weigh their potato chips being packaged and ensure the potato chips are at the exact weight needed due to regulatory standards. Interface’s solution was to use multiple SPI Platform Scale Load Cells and install it to the potato multi-head weigher and packaging machine. The SPI Platform Scale Load cells were installed inside of the mount that attaches the head weigher to the packaging machine. Force results from the potato chips bag fill are read by the load cells and sent to the ISG Isolated DIN Rail Mount Signal Conditioner, where the customer was able to control the automated production from their command center.

The customer was able to determine the weight of the potato chips being distributed into their bags with highly accurate results. They also were able to control the automated production process with the provided instrumentation. They will use this same weighing method for other snacks that need to be packaged.

To learn more about Interface solutions designed for the modern factory, or specifically the food and beverage industry, contact our expert application engineers.

Additional Packaging Application Note:

Candy Stamp Force Testing

Force Measurement Solutions for Bolt and Screw Fastening

Among the many applications of force measurement devices, one that appears to be a simple application can have a big impact on worker safety, productivity, waste reduction, assembly and product performance. In this new animated application note highlight, we take a look at the tools used for bolt fastening measurement.

Bolts and screws are used to secure different pieces or components together for nearly every product imaginable, especially when it comes to large machinery and even automobiles. The success of these products and the manufacturing of these components requires a strict level of detail that goes into the tightness of a bolt. It’s not like your typical “do it yourself” furniture where you just tighten a screw or bolt until you can’t anymore. The precision needed for certain objects to be tightened to the exact measurement is mandatory.

Interface provides measurement solutions for all types of industrial automation and toolset testing used in thousands of applications that ultimately are utilized in the building of products. In the example below, we provided devices that are used to determine the exact bolt force and tightness necessary. The goal of measuring the tightness is to avoid under or overtightening. As you can imagine, under tightening can cause components to come apart. However, over tightness can also cause significant damage to the pieces being bolted together.

Bolt Fastening Application

To show the process of measuring bolt tightness, check out this latest use case video demonstration.

For this bolt fastening application, the customer used an Interface Model LWCF Load Washer along with an Interface Model INF-USB3 Single Channel PC Interface Module to monitor force being applied during bolt tightening. The data transferred from the bolt clamping force load cell load washer with a thru-hole, to the instrumentation is displayed, logged and graphed directly onto a computer for analysis and performance testing.

This is a basic example of the test and measurement process, however, Interface also contributed to a number of real-world projects and created applications notes to provide an illustration. One of our favorites is when an industrial automation company was building an automated assembly machine for an automotive manufactur­ing plant.

The product engineers and testing team needed to tighten all of the head bolts on an engine on their assembly line to a specific torque value. Having the head bolts precisely and consistently tightened to the engine block is critical to the operation of the engine.

To measure this force, several Interface Model T33 Spindle Torque Transducers were installed in their new machine to control torque and angle and ensure the head bolt was properly tight­ened. The square drive of the T33 allowed the customer to fix their tool directly to the end of the torque sensor, streamlining the installation.

Using this solution, the head bolts were correctly installed according to manufacturer specifications, producing an engine that meets performance and reliability expectations of the auto manufacturing plant.

Here are additional solutions that showcase how Interface load cells, torque transducers, instrumentation and custom solutions are used for various tools and manufacturing processes across various industries.

Aircraft Screwdriver Fastening Control

Fastening Work Bench

Bolt Fastening Force and Torque

Interface Solutions for Robotics and Industrial Automation

Contact us to learn more how we can help you ensure the right fastening and machine control for your next projects.

 

 

 

Interface Helps to Move Agriculture Innovation Forward

The agriculture industry is the backbone of most economies, as food production and farming are essential to everyone’s existence around the world. Advancements and innovations in this market are core to growing a sustainable food supply as well as for safety and productivity management across the agriculture supply chain. Interface is proud to support a range of customers developing innovative sensor-based tools and equipment used in the field.

As a complete solutions provider, we provide standard and engineered to order measurement products that are designed for modern agricultural testing projects and as components for OEMs. Our Interface expert application engineers can also help in the design of customized solutions for all types of applications using our products in harsh environments, for material handling, within complex agricultural machines, and for extreme weather conditions, and engine testing. These are typical use cases that rely upon the quality, accuracy and reliability of measurement solutions from Interface.

Our customers are in a range of agriculture submarkets, from heavy machinery to food production. The common products Interface supplies to these segments include our precision load cells, torque transducers, multi-axis sensors and miniature load cells, along with the popular tension links, load shackles, and wireless instrumentation. We also provide advanced sensor technologies and digital monitoring equipment for agricultural-based manufacturing, farm and field management, inventory monitoring, equipment testing, livestock weighing and ranching, as well as food processing and grain monitoring.

In the application use cases below, we provide a few examples of agricultural solutions that are using various Interface force measurement products.  To review a larger series of applications, visit our Interface Agriculture Solutions here.

Silo Monitoring and Weighing

For customers who need to weigh and monitor the content inside their silos, Interface can offer our A4200 Zinc Plated or A4600 Stainless Steel Weigh-check Load Cells, paired with 1280 Programmable Weight Indicator and Controller. Using these products, the customers can monitor the amount of content by weight in their silo. In this application example, the customer was provided a customizable solution to monitor and weigh their silo. Results from the 1280 Programmable Weight Indicator and Controller were sent to the customer’s control center. Read the entire application note here.

Tractor Linkage Draft Control

A large commercial farmer group wanted to measure to measure the forces applied on their tractor’s draft control, between the tractor and any linked-on attachments. Measuring the force will help the farmer be able sense any strains on the hitch of the tractor and will be needed to apply any specific settings to the draft control when the tractor encounters rough terrain. Interface supplied a WTSLP Wireless Stainless Steel Load Pin, which is a wireless load pin that can be installed directly in the hitch, replacing the normal shear pin of the tractor. Force results are transmitted wirelessly to the WTS-BS-4 USB Industrial Base Station, where the farmer can view the results on their PC computer or laptop with the supplied WTS toolkit. The customer can also view results on the WTSBS-1-HS Handheld Display for Single Transmitters in real-time. Using these products, the farmer can determine the specific draft control settings for their tractor. Read more about the tractor application here.

Poultry Feeder Monitoring

A customer wanted to monitor the motor that operates their poultry feeders. The poultry feeders must give out an equal distribution of feed per poultry house. We provided a solution using the T5 Standard Precision Pedestal Mount Shaft Style Rotary Torque Transducer, with the speed and angle options, which will be attached between a poultry feeder and a motor with Interface’s couplings. Torsion measurements can be graphed and logged sing the 9850 Torque Transducer and Load Cell Indicator. With this solution, the customer was able to monitor their poultry feeders and ensure that every feeder got the same amount of food distributed to it.

Interface load cells, torque transducers, and data acquisition systems are ideal for a wide variety of agricultural applications. These products can be paired together to measure and ensure efficiency, sustainability, and proper production planning. Interface products can also regulate through harsh weather conditions such has humidity and unbearable temperatures while still maintaining a high testing and measurement performance. Our custom solutions application engineers will work alongside you to create the most effective and efficient solution based on your needs if standard does not fit your exact requirements. Read more here.

To check out additional application examples related to the agriculture, and other industries, please visit our website at www.interfaceforce.com/application-notes/.  Be sure to check out these great new farm applications.

LIVESTOCK WEIGHING

 

 

 

 

 

CHICKEN WEIGHING

 

 

 

 

 

 

EQUINE REIN TESTING

Faces of Interface Featuring Garland Hawkins

Faces of Interface is an important series because it highlights the talented team members that keep Interface going strong. In this new ForceLeaders feature, we interviewed Garland Hawkins, our production planner for Interface’s most popular LowProfile load cells.  A key member of our operations and Navigators teams at Interface, this feature highlights Garland’s professional history and a few of the things he’s working on today.

Growing up in the home of a mechanical engineer, you are bound to develop a kinship with the engineering and manufacturing world. For Garland Hawkins, he remembers fondly the time spent with his father building and tinkering with different mechanical objects. While a career in the manufacturing industry wasn’t necessarily planned, he’s thrilled that it’s where his career has taken him.

Garland’s path to the manufacturing industry is a little different than his father’s trek. After high school, Garland’s career began in the logistics industry as an order filler for Lineage Logistics. He enjoyed the work and quickly showed off his talents rising through the ranks over six years from order filler to trainer and eventually the supervisor. After leaving Lineage, Garland continued his career in logistics as the shipping and receiving manager for S&G.

After two years at S&G, Garland was ready for a change of scenery. He had spent his whole life in California and wanted something new. In 2016, Garland moved to Arizona because he preferred the desert landscape and knew that growth opportunities in Arizona were on the rise. Garland began working at the airport for a consolidation company, but he knew it was just a temporary gig before getting back into the field he knew and loved of logistics.

Then an opportunity came about with Interface. Garland began with Interface in the shipping and receiving department. As he became acclimated and comfortable in this new role in the engineering and manufacturing industry, he caught his stride. Shortly after, Garland was recognized for his hard work with a promotion into the planning department and eventually into his current role as Production Planner for Interface’s LowProfile Load Cell line.

In this role, Garland is tasked with managing the supply chain and planning. Basically, everything related to shipping and logistics for LowProfile Load Cell products. This includes, monitoring parts, maintaining inventory, addressing works orders with the production floor, scheduling machine shop and production orders and aligning capacity with customer demands and requirements.

Garland notes what he loves about Interface is the opportunity for success within the company. Most importantly, Interface is hyper-focused on growing into new markets and new regions and Garland knows that this will translate to career growth and opportunities to contribute to the company’s growth.

In addition to taking advantage of opportunities to grow at Interface, Garland is also working on his own to grow his skillset and knowledge during his time at Interface. Garland recently completed his degree in Operation Management and Analysis at Ashford University.

Garland’s drive and hunger are certainly not lost on Interface either. The company recognized this ambition and nominated Garland into its prestigious cross-functional Navigators program, which is designed to take rising stars and put them through development activities that expose them to every department of the company. This working team is essential in providing ideas and plans to drive positive change with critical thinking and problem-solving throughout the company. Garland is thankful for this opportunity because it provides the ability to see the company from every angle. It is helping him better understand the impact and importance of his own role while giving him insight on growth opportunities within the company.

While he’s not working at Interface, Garland likes to relax by enjoying his relatively new hometown of Phoenix, Arizona. He’s recently taken interests in hiking and exploring the outdoors in the desert. He’s also a big sports fan, especially basketball. He enjoys playing and watching NBA games while checking out the local food scene. However, he has not adopted the Suns as his home team yet, he’s a loyal Lakers fan through and through.

We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to shed some light on one of our committed team members. Garland Hawkins is star in the making with plenty to offer and a drive to take action.

 

Faces of Interface Featuring Tim Matteson

The Faces of Interface is an important series for the Interface IQ Blog because it highlights the talented people that keep Interface going strong. In this new ForceLeaders feature we interviewed Tim Matteson, product quality and improvement engineer for our Mini OEM product line, to learn a little bit more about his history and what he’s working on these days.

Interface’s Tim Matteson grew up in the small town of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin (and yes, there are many cheese jokes here) between Green Bay and Milwaukee. He was fond of the electrical and mechanical world, having grown up with a father who owned an electronics business and often doing work for him. This interest drove Tim towards mechanical fields and hobbies.

Immediately after school, Tim went to work for a printing company called Action Printing in Wisconsin. His job was to keep the large, fast, and loud presses in working order. Through this work he learned he had a proficiency for troubleshooting and problem-solving. Tim worked his way through the ranks at Action Printing, eventually becoming the assistant plant manager where he managed a crew and ensured production remained efficient.

Eventually, and after a trip to warm and sunny Arizona, Tim and his wife decided it was time for a change of scenery. Tim moved to Arizona shortly after the vacation and started working at another commercial printing company, Signature Offset. He spent 10-years there as the operations manager, and while he enjoyed his time with the company, the decline of the printing industry had Tim looking for a new opportunity.

Tim joined Interface in August 2010 as our second shift manager, which entailed keep an eye on production throughout our facility. After a few years, he moved to become the department supervisor of one of our most popular product lines, Interface Mini Load Cells. He then moved up again, becoming a business unit manager. In this role, he oversaw production for three different product lines, including our popular minis. And now today, Tim runs the Mini OEM product line as the product quality and improvement engineer.

In this role, Tim oversees the production of one of Interface’s fastest-growing business units in OEMs. His job is to ensure that production is running as efficiently as possible and that every product that leaves the floor has the same premium quality that Interface is known for in the industry. Tim says that the thing he enjoys most about working at Interface is the fact that he gets to put his problem-solving and troubleshooting skills to work every day. He’s also dealing with a lot of detailed drawings of Interface products, which brings back fond memories of his drafting days.

In his free time, Tim likes to spend his time outdoors exploring Arizona. One of he and his wife’s favorites spots to hike is the Superstition Mountains. The couple has also hiked the Grand Canyon 10 times now, often camping out at our state’s Wonder of the World. He says that he and his wife probably spend so much time outdoors nowadays because they’ve escaped the winter weather and can enjoy time outside nearly all year long.

Tune in each month as we feature another Interface employee or partner. To view the entire series, visit our ForceLeaders page here.

Interface Partners with Manufacturing Representative Firm GenTek

In a move that enhances its ability to expand premium force measurement solutions to a growing number of customers in the Southeast, Interface today announced a new partnership with manufacturer’s representatives GenTek Inc.

GenTek focuses on providing technology solutions to strategic customers in a range of industries, from military and defense to aerospace and commercial sectors across the Southeastern United States.

GenTek offers its customers a wide range of electronics, sensors, data acquisition devices, test and measurement equipment and GPS devices, and now, more than 36,000 force measurement products from Interface. Based in St. Petersburg, Florida, GenTek is providing sales support for Interface’s vast product and service lines across five Southeastern states: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, and Tennessee.

“Interface is well-known across many of our key customers and industries as a leader in force measurement solutions. Partnering with Interface is an ideal scenario since their products represent a very synergistic addition to our lineup that will help our customers succeed.” Ed Lamkin, president and CEO, GenTek Inc.

GenTek Inc. was founded in 1995 and has grown to become one of the most prominent manufacturer’s representatives in the Southeast. GenTek is focusing its efforts for Interface on leveraging new and existing relationships with OEMs and other customers in multiple industries including aerospace and defense, semiconductor capital equipment and test and measurement, offering force measurement solutions that meet their evolving needs.

“GenTek Inc. has built a reputation for having a deep understanding of how to solve their customer’s problems and delivering powerful technology solutions that help them achieve their product development goals. We welcome GenTek to our team and look forward to working together to achieve continued success and growth.” – Brian Peters, vice president of global sales, Interface

To contact a local representative or distributor in your area, please go to our list of contacts here.