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Interface Solutions for Weighing Applications

Interface sensors are used for an extremely wide variety of test and measurement applications. We also supply different technologies and instrumentation for a range of weighing applications, from packaging to waste management. Determining accurate weight is a key data point that manufacturers in all types of industry use cases. Whether they need the information for transporting an object, lifting the object, or just creating a specification sheet, accurate data on weight, accuracy in weight measurements are fundamental for safety and function.

Here is a quick review some of the weighing applications, everything from the food and beverage industry to agriculture and industrial. And it’s important to note, weighing across these different industries doesn’t always involve a simple scale, each object large or small that needs to be weighed has a different method for doing so and different force sensors to get the most accurate data built into machines or used in conjunction with other hardware components.

SNACK WEIGHING AND PACKAGING MACHINE

A snack manufacturing brand wanted to weigh the amount of their snacks that are automatically dispersed into the bags during the packaging process. In this case, they wanted to weigh the potato chips being packaged and ensure the potato chips are at the exact weight needed due to regulatory standards. Interface provided a solution using multiple SPI Platform Scale Load Cells, and installed 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 were read by the load cells and sent to the ISG Isolated DIN Rail Mount Signal Conditioner, where the customer is able to control the automated production from their command center. Using this solution, the customer was able to determine the weight of the potato chips being distributed into their bags with highly accurate results. They  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. Read more here.

WASTE MANAGEMENT CONTAINER WEIGHING

When a waste management company wanted to measure the capacity of their waste containers in order to know when it is time to dispose the waste, Interface proposed a solution using Model WTS 1200 Standard Precision LowProfile™ Wireless Load Cells. The load cells can be installed at the bottom of each waste container leg to measure the sum weight of the container. The data is transmitted to the WTS-BS-4 USB Industrial Base Station with the supplied Log100 software. The customer would then be able to determine when their waste container was at full capacity in order to dispose of the waste, or to transfer it. Read more here.

GARBAGE TRUCK ON-BOARD WEIGHING

A garbage disposal company wanted to test the load capacity of their garbage truck bins so they know when it has reached maximum capacity. Interface’s solution is to customize and install four SSB Sealed Beam Load Cells under the garbage box body, on either side. When trash continues to be piled inside the box body, it will push more force down onto the SSB Sealed Beam Load Cells. When maximum load capacity has been reached, the results can be reviewed and displayed when connected to the 482 Battery Powered Bidirectional Weight Indicator in real time. Using this solution, the customer was able to test the maximum load capacity of the garbage bin attached to the truck, so they know when to empty the truck’s garbage at the transfer station. Read more here.

MEDICAL BAG WEIGHING

In the medical industry, it is important to monitor the amount of material in a medical bag carrying fluids for an IV. Medical staff also need to know if a medical bag is empty or if the dispensing tubes are blocked. Force measurements can track this. Using Interface Model MB Miniature Beam or MBP Miniature Beam with built-in overload protection combined with Interface instrumentation, force readings can be captured, displayed and stored for this need. Health Professionals can then review and monitor medical bag weights to ensure medicine is properly dispensed and bag is replaced when empty.

Weighing applications are at the foundation of measurement. The earliest force sensors were designed for this purpose, and they continue to be a large part of application testing today. The only difference between now and then is that Interface has nearly perfected their accuracy across different applications with different types of force sensors measuring very large weight and very small, minute forces.

ADDITIONAL WEIGHING APPLICATIONS

Chicken Weighing

Silo Monitoring and Weighing

Crane Force Regulation

Water Bottle Dispensing and Weighing

To learn more about Interface weighing applications and other applications of our load cells, torque transducers, multi-axis sensors and more, contact us today.

 

 

 

Interface Solutions for Industrial Markets

The industrial market is vast. The industry classification covers everything from manufacturing and assembly to mining and agriculture. The highly regulated environments involved in industrial applications often require advanced equipment and technologies for product design and development, as well as after market performance management. Force and torque products are critical sensor components used in industrial applications.

Interface has been a partner to industrial customers for more than 50 years. We engineer, build, and supply force and torque sensors and acquisition devices designed to provide industrial engineers and manufacturers with high quality data that monitors and confirms the design and in-action processes of their equipment. Applications for industrial markets involve everything from heavy machinery to weighing solutions. The accuracy of these devices is critical to high-quality outcomes, low-costs and most importantly, worker safety.

INDUSTRIAL APPLICATIONS 

An example of an industrial process that requires an accurate force sensor is a crane application used in lifting heaving objects. Interface engaged with a customer who needed to measure the lifting capabilities of a crane using an Interface load shackle. The purpose of the shackle was to ensure the crane wasn’t lifting more than it could handle, putting worker safety at risk and potentially damaging the machine.

Interface model WTSSHK-B Wireless Load Shackle was connected to a crane load string to measure forces. A model WTS-BS-1-HA Battery Powered Handheld Display was used to wirelessly receive load information and display results. Using this solution, the customer was able to successfully measure lifting and reading weight wirelessly on a handheld display while the crane was in action.

Another great example of the industrial industry’s use of force applications can be seen in manufacturing automation. One of the growing trends in marketing automation is the use of robotics to replace repetitive human tasks. Robotic arms are often found on assembly lines and they carry out a single task over and over. If the robotic arm isn’t properly calibrated, it can ruin an entire production line and lead to significant losses. To qualify the accuracy, many OEM’s use load cells and torque transducers to continuously measure the intricate movements of a robotic arm.

One Interface customer used a robotic arm to close packaging on a production line. If the arm wasn’t accurate, it could apply to much force and crush the packaging or not close the packaging as intended, leading to losses in shipping.

Interface supplied a 6-Axis Load Cell with a model BX8 Data Acquisition and Amplifier System. The Interface Multi-Axis 6-Axis Load Cell was able to measure all forces and torques on every axis and the BX8 8-Channel Data Acquisition System was able to log, display, and graph these measurements while sending scaled analog output signals for these axes to the robot’s control system.

READ MORE HERE: FORCE MEASUREMENT IS REDUCING WASTE AND AUTOMATING THE CONSUMER PACKAGING INDUSTRY

Another consideration for specialized industrial applications is in harsh environments. There are hundreds of thousands of engineers and manufacturers that spend their days working in these environments. Whether its operating inside of facilities with large machines and 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.

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 are designed for those applications found in dangerous environments in particular industries like oil and gas, mining, aerospace, automotive and more.

The applications for industrial vary widely because the industry is diverse. Interfaces designs and manufacturers force and torque products for hundreds of different industrial use cases and applications every year. Our team of engineers can even create custom solutions for new and innovative industrial requirements. Included below are examples of some of the products typically used by our industrial customers.

  • 2400 Load Cell Series – The 2400 is a stainless-steel load cell designed for applications requiring a hermetic seal for use in general industrial applications.
  • 3200 Load Cell Series – The 3200 precision stainless steel load cell series has all the features of the Interface Model 1200 LowProfile® (one of Interface’s most popular products) and in addition it is stainless steel and hermetically sealed for harsh applications.
  • SSMH Load Cell Series – Model SSMH S-type load cell provides a suitable force measurement sensor for applications in coal mining and transfer and other heavy industries where explosive dusts and environment conditions are potentially explosion-hazard rated. SSMH capacities available that provide intrinsically safe certification.
  • Stainless Steel Load Buttons – Interface’s load button load cells are designed for customers who require the measurement of forces in a very confined space. They are designed to provide the most accuracy in as little space as possible.
  • 5400 Series Reaction Torque Transducer Series – Model 5400 series features a rugged flange-style designed with thru-holes, low deflection, high torsional stiffness and the ability to withstand large overhung moments.
  • Wireless Telemetry System (WTS) – High accuracy, high quality measurement is interfaced with simple yet powerful configuration and monitoring software. The WTS 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.

These are just a few examples of Interface applications notes and products designed for industrial applications. For more information on Interface solutions design for the Industrial industry, contact our experienced application engineers.

 

Applications for Consumer Products and Packaging

When we think about force measurement and its relation to product development, we often consider the aerospace, automotive or industrial industry. However, many of Interface’s customers use load cells and torque transducers to test and develop machinery used for consumer products and in the packaging industry.

In order to meet this demand, customers need force measurement tools that are both accurate and provide the necessary data points to automate and regulate consumer packaging machinery. This consumer packaging case study takes a look at the wide variety of applications of force measurement tools used to create consistency and quality among the products consumer buy and use daily.

BACKGROUND

If you have ever wondered how a pill or piece of candy gets a little logo stamped on it without crushing it or how every bag of chips is nearly filled to the same capacity, chances are a load cell or torque transducer was involved. Interface works with hundreds of customers who manufacture a wide variety of machines used in the consumer packaging industry. These machines serve numerous functions including logo stamping, bag weighing, bottle capping, sealing, and precision cutting.

According to Grandview Research, the use of automation, as well as robotics throughout the packaging lines, has seen tremendous growth in recent years. The aim is to improve productivity, reduce the operating costs and prevent waste, thus improving the overall efficiency of the packaging systems. “Big Data” has also gained popularity with operation managers that collect machine data to regulate the performance of the machinery, undertake preventive maintenance and maximize the up-time.

CHALLENGE

The challenge our customers run into when building these machines is they require a high level of precision to get consistent and repeatable results. If the machines are incorrectly calibrated, it can lead to excessive waste. For instance, if a bottle of soda isn’t capped correctly, it can leak, or if the machine which embosses toilet paper and napkins is too forceful, the paper will be ripped to shreds. Currently, most packaging machines are relying on physical hard stops, clutches, monitoring motor current and laborious tasks to monitor and apply the necessary force and torque. To ensure proper performance and to reduce waste, the most accurate and reliable force measurement tools are required.

SOLUTION

Interface works with hundreds of original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) who develop machines for the consumer packaging industry. Depending on the function of the machine, we manufacture a wide variety of force measurement products to help reduce waste, ensure repeatable results and provide accurate data to help consumer packaging customers automate their processes.

All of our products come with various data communication systems, including analog or digital and Bluetooth®, wireless or Ethernet. This provides customers with flexibility in their data collection methods and the ability to connect systems through the Internet of Things (IoT) functionality. For machines using a precision twisting motion, such as capping machines, we offer nearly 50 types of reaction torque transducers and rotary torque transducers for customers. All of our torque transducers are precision-machined and use our proprietary torque sensors for the most accurate data possible.

For precision weighing or stamping, such as the candy stamping application, we manufacture more than 60 different types of load cells and Interface Mini Load Cells. These load cells have capacities as low as 1 lbf (500 gf) for extreme precision. In our customer’s application highlighting candy stamping, a test apparatus was outfitted with the Interface Model WMC Mini Load Cell and a 9330 Data Logging Indicator to measure the compression force required to imprint the candy without crushing it and collect data to finely tune the process.

For applications using robotics, Interface offers multi-axis sensors to test force and torque measurements simultaneously in three mutually perpendicular axes.

RESULTS

Accuracy in packaging is a game-changer for cost-savings, production efficiency, time-to-market, and product safety. Whether you are measuring, weighing or securing, Interface load cells, mini load cells, torque transducers, and instrumentation can assure you the quality and accuracy you need to protect your brand and customer satisfaction.

Interface is one of the leading force measurement manufacturers for the consumer packaging industries. We work directly with OEM’s and engineering consultants to implement systems and products which help to reduce waste, automate the packaging process and provide accurate, repeatable results. For more information on how Interface can help solve your test and measurement challenges, please contact us to connect with our specialized Application Engineers, click here to locate a local Representative or International Distributor.

READ COMPLETE CASE STUDY HERE

Interface Case Study For Consumer Packaging

Load Cells for Consumer Product Applications

Typically, when engineers talk about load cells and their multitude of uses, it is assumed the applications are large-scale industrial projects like airplanes, rockets, and automobiles. However, did you know Interface load cells are regularly used for research and development (R&D), manufacturing, and end-of-line testing for countless consumer products?

Force is one of the most critical pieces of measurement in product development. This is especially true for consumer products that we interact with every day. Load cells are the tools that ensure products feel, handle and react the way they should in a consumer’s hand.

Here are a few examples showcasing how load cells touch almost everything the consumer touches.

A perfect example of a consumer product where force measurement plays a critical role in human interaction is in the abundance of numerous touch screens. Load cells are used in the R&D process to measure the accuracy, pressure, and sensitivity of the touch screen consumer interacts with on a minute-by-minute basis. The little things we don’t think about when using a tablet or smartphone, such as the smooth feeling of scrolling through social media pages, is possible because of testing using a load cell.

Another common consumer application type of load cells being used to improve product feedback and interaction is with simulation programs. High-end flight simulators often use load cells to measure the force of haptic feedback on the joysticks or chair when interacting with a flight simulator. The feeling of drag or rough winds a pilot experiences in a simulation is measured and refined for accuracy using a load cell.

Load cells are also an integral part of the manufacturing process for consumer goods. If you’ve ever seen a piece of candy with a logo stamped on it, chances are high a load cell was involved in determining the level of force to apply an exact brand stamp. Load cells are used on the stamping machine to ensure the right amount of force is used to apply the logo without crushing the candy.

In the food and drug industries, load cells are used in manufacturing facilities and on a wide variety of packaging machines. They are used for ultrasonic welding, which is the sealing process for plastic, paper or fabric shopping bags, garbage bags, and diapers. Potato chip assembly lines use load cells to weigh the bags as they fill them with chips to know when to stop and move on to the next bag. And the same stamping process used for candy in applying labels is used on pills.

Companies also incorporate load cells in end-of-line product testing. Furniture often goes through rigorous testing to ensure reliability. The furniture has various loads applied to it to confirm it can hold heavier weights over time, the furniture can also be bent and flexed to check the quality of the materials.  To reduce waste and ensure product quality, many consumer bottles use a torque transducer for end-of-line testing to test the proper cap implementation.

Batteries are another consumer product that goes through R&D and end of line testing to measure the force needed to damage the casing.  This is used to eliminate poorly designed and assembled batteries, as the acid inside can do immense harm if a child or adult is able to accidentally crush one.

Force measurement is also something that plays a role directly in the products we use. For instance, scales we use to weigh ourselves, food, and more, have load cells in them. Racecar gaming brake pedals are another example. High-end racing simulators need their brake pedal to be very accurate at measuring the amount of force applied to it to react as a real car would. Load cells are implemented in the base to provide accurate force readouts to the simulator in real-time.

Most products we all interact with every day have had some force testing or are currently using a sensor to manage its use and reliability.  Other consumer products that use Interface load cells, in all capacities and models, include treadmills, skis, bicycles, coffee makers, gaming brake pedals, boats, golf balls, desk drawers, guitars and robotic vacuums. And that is just to name a few.

Load cells and other force measurement tools like torque transducers are an integral part of developing, testing, and manufacturing reliable and accurate consumer goods. Think about this the next time you are handling your smartphone or carrying in groceries from the store. None of it would be possible without the use of force measurement equipment.

Contributor:  Kim Williams, Business Development Manager at Interface