Posts

Interface Solutions for Testing Tools

Interface load cells, torque transducers and instrumentation are commonly used in the test and measurement of different tools and fasteners used in testing products and actual production of various machines and components. The sensor data received in measuring assembly tools and fixtures used in securing nuts, bolts, and screws, is critical in making safe and reliable products.

For example, the ability to measure torque on screws and the force output of a screwdriver or wrench is very important when there are tight tolerances involved like in engineering and build of automotive or aerospace and defense machines and parts.

As we did for the machine testing blog, we’ve detailed a few examples of how Interface force and torque solutions are used in measuring tools performance for both design and assembly.  You can find additional application notes on these examples and more by visiting our industry solutions.

Bolt Fastening

Bolt Fastening Force and Torque

An aerospace company was working on a test plan that involved taking torque and compression measurements on fasteners with varying joint materials. The system required both high and low sampling rates, in addition to the capability of precisely measuring force and torque simultaneously. They required reliable accuracy and long-term stability. The test plan intended to provide verification of required force and torque specifications for fasteners, to ensure safety without compromising installation. Interface suggested a LW or LWCF Load Washer in conjunction with a  T12 Square Drive Rotary Torque Transducer. With this solution, the customer was able to align force and torque measurements to desired levels. This was accomplished by combining the sensors with the high sample rate of the data logging and graphing capabilities of the SI-USB, capturing real-time force and torque levels for examination. The fasteners were tightened to the specified force and torque requirements and were safely installed without impairment to themselves or the joint material. The customer was able to measure the rapid event effectively and accurately. Read more about this bolt fastening solution here.

Aircraft Screwdriver Fastening Control

An airplane manufacturer needed a solution where they can control the torque when fastening screws on their airplane models. They didn’t want to create any damage to materials or apply too much torque when plane components are being fastened together. Interface suggested a T15 Hex Drive Rotary Torque Transducer, which can be attached to the fastening work bench, measuring and recording torque, rotational speed, and angle of the screwdriver. The LWCF Clamping Force Load Cell is installed, measuring the forces applied on the screw being fastened. Results are sent to the SI-USB4 4-channel USB Interface Module, which is connected to the customer’s PC or laptop where data is logged, graphed, and displayed. This solution allowed the airplane manufacturer to calibrate their screwdriver by measuring its torque, rotational speed, and angle, when attaching materials together for their airplane. They were also able to measure the forces being applied to the screw, to ensure it was not applying too much torque to the components. You can learn more about the aircraft screwdriver application here.

Torque VerificationRatchet Wrench Torque Verification

A customer wanted to perform regular torque testing on his ratchet-type torque wrench while recording these values for future examination. Interface supplied a model TS15 Square to Flange Reaction Torque Transducer with the INF-USB3 PC Interface Module for the customer to use. The customer mounted TS15 to work bench through flange and inserted the ratchet-type torque transducer into the TS15. Using this product, the customer was able to accurately perform their calibration checks and view the results while logging them to their PC Computer.  Learn more about this wrench torque verification testing here.

While not nearly as complex as machine testing applications, tools testing is equally important to the outcome of a project. The tools and fasteners used, even those as simple as a bolt and wrench, need to be accurately measured and assembled to avoid loose connection or overtightening that can damage the product. Interface provides a host of tool testing solutions for nearly anything that outputs force or torque. To learn more about our tool testing solutions, visit us at www.interfaceforce.com.

Additional Resources

Force Measurement Solutions for Bolt and Screw Fastening

Bolt Fastening- Force

Fastening Work Bench

Engine Head Bolt Tightening

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

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.

Celebrating Independence and American Manufacturing

As we celebrate Independence Day 2020 at Interface, we are also celebrating our history as an American manufacturer.  We are a company founded in 1968 that started with a vision to engineer and build precision and quality products made in the USA. We remain steadfast in honoring our commitment to remaining an US headquartered manufacturer.

Our first production facility was opened in 1972 in the Scottsdale Airpark in Arizona. Through our 52 year history and growth we have expanded in this location, which features a high-production manufacturing facilities, an accredited calibration laboratory, a multi-faceted machine workshop, and our corporate offices.

At Interface, we know manufacturing is critical to the US economy. The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) stated that in 2019, U.S. manufacturers accounted for more than 11% of the total output in our economy and employed more than 8% of the workforce. Additionally, the total output from U.S. manufacturing in 2018 was $2.3 billion.

Manufacturers in Arizona account for 8.61% of the total output in the state, employing 5.96% of the workforce according to NAM.  It is our depth of respected talent and valuable experience that enable us to continue our driving focus on innovation, engineering and production of the world’s most accurate, reliable and quality performance load cells and force measurement solutions in Arizona. In 2019, Interface was recognized as the Manufacturer of the Year in Arizona, a great honor for the entire Interface team.

Our force measurement expertise is vital to a number of industries where U.S. regulatory compliance is necessary. This includes aerospace and defense, space and launch sectors, medical, industrial automation, new IoT technology and automotive. We have worked with global businesses in these industries, along with test and measurement, for more than five decades. Over time, we have earned several industry-related regulatory compliances to serve both local and international customers. It is represented by our commitment to quality.

As we celebrate the Independence Day holiday, our team is also are taking a moment to celebrate American ingenuity, innovation, and recognize the outstanding manufacturing presence in the USA.

“America was not built on fear. America was built on courage, on imagination, and unbeatable determination to do the job at hand.” ― Harry S. Truman

We take pride in being an American women-owned and operated business, and we look forward to what our 2nd 50 years bring us.

Interface Solutions for Robotics and Industrial Automation

As the manufacturing world continues to push towards the 4.0 Industrial Revolution, critical technology is necessary to ensure facilities are running as efficiently as possible. With advancements toward fully or semi-autonomous factories and robotics, manufacturers need to have total trust in their hardware and software to perform with precision in the assigned tasks. This requires collecting accurate and real-time data to constantly monitor every aspect of the facility’s technology and production.

In the development of robotics used in industrial automation, our Interface Multi-Axis Sensors are often used to test the multi-directional movement and force of robotics arms. Whether it’s a fully automated or semi-automated robotic system, manufacturers need to be able to ensure the complex movements and actions of the robotics arm are optimized to take on very precise jobs. These types of robotics are often used for projects that are too precise for the human hand.

Industrial automation and robotics are creating a more efficient manufacturing process, which will help to churn products out more quickly and lower costs. However, to optimize these processes, it’s critical that we trust the hardware to operate autonomously and that we have systems in-place to identify malfunctions quickly.

Interface plays a critical role in robotics and industrial automation by providing our customers with highly accurate load cells and torque transducers to measure and collect data on the force and torque that these machines are exerting. Interface force measurement solutions and products are involved in the testing of the machines before they hit the production line, and in some cases, our products are also installed directly on the machine to allow users to monitor the force in real-time.

One industry that has a high demand for our products is the consumer packaging industry. Many of the processes involved in the production line of a consumer packaging plant have utilized automation for a long time.

For instance, beverage companies that sell bottles of water or soda utilize machines that cap the product all day long. Hundreds of thousands of bottles go through the capping process on the production line daily. If there are any issues with the torque applied in the capping process, the beverage company could see heavy losses because the bottle could be damaged from over torquing the cap, or the beverage could leak during the shipping process if the caps are under torqued. To avoid these loses, the machines are optimized using a torque transducer.

Torque transducers provide data during the testing process to help the machine manufacturer get the force exactly right for the capping process. The torque transducer can also stay installed on the machine so that the beverage company can continuously monitor the torque of the machine and stop production before damages occur if there is an issue.

Interface offers nearly 50 types of reaction (static) torque transducers and rotary (dynamic) torque transducers. All of our torque transducers are precision-machined and use our proprietary torque sensors for the most accurate data possible.

Another common automation use for force and torque measurement products is in the automotive industry. Automation in this industry has been used for some time increase production of cars.

Two examples of how Interface load cells and torque transducers play a role in the automobile production line is with seat durability testing and bolt fastening.

For seat testing, we had a customer use an Interface Multi-Axis Model 6A68C 6-Axis Load Cell to identify previously unknown bending forcing that could negatively influence their testing process. This allowed the customer to redesign their testing fixture to eliminate the bending moment and more accurately perform the durability testing.

For bolt fastening, we installed an Interface Model LWCF Clamping Force Load Washers along with Interface Instrumentation to monitor the force being applied during bolt tightening. This helped the customer avoid over tightening bolts, which could damage the product in the process.

For a more in-depth overview of both applications, please check out our application notes:

Force measurement products are a critical technology in the testing and monitoring of automation equipment. To learn more about the various products and instrumentation Interface supplies to facilitate industrial automation and support advancements in robotics, contact our applications experts here.  We also have a number of application notes focused on industrial automation here.

Contributor: Ken Bishop, Sr Sales Director, Custom Solutions and Services

 

Vision Sensor Technology Increases Production Reliability

In the product manufacturing process, repeatability, process control, and inspection are some of the most important factors in creating high-performance products. At Interface, reliability and accuracy are the two most important features of our renowned force measurement products. For this reason, Interface continues to invest in the highest quality test and inspection technology to ensure each product that leaves the production floor is of the utmost Interface brand quality.

In this blog, we will be discussing our investment in top-of-the-line vision sensor technology and systems that help us to effectively reduce waste, improve efficiencies in manufacturing, and guarantee proper performance.

For many years, Interface has relied on our employees for their keen visual inspection of products that come off the production line. These trusted employees are looking at a number of things, including: are wires installed properly and are the serial and revision numbers correct. These respected and experienced Interface team members can inspect hundreds or thousands of products a day, with a heavy reliance on the human eye.

Interface load cells must meet stringent quality processing production standards, along with our calibration requirements before they are shipped to our customers. Interface will scrap any product that does not meet the exact precision standards for performance. In fact, if the product fails, we will not utilize the product at all. We will start our manufacturing process over to ensure the integrity and quality is met, as is expected with any Interface branded force measurement product.

In a recent experience of solving for a wiring issue that could cost thousands in waste, we sought out an innovative way to approach the challenge. To solve the visualization and human dependency concerns, we invested in a Keyence Vision Sensor IV2 Series. This camera system allows us to reduce human error by programming the camera to pick up misaligned wiring and notify the user.

It works with advanced sensor technology that can identify production issues and will provide the user with a green light if everything looks good, or a red light if there is an issue. The system is helping to significantly reduce both inspection time and production line errors. The vision technology system is currently implemented on our MBS mini load cell line, one of our highest volume production lines. Since implementing the system, we have not seen a failure that caused any type of loss.

We are now looking into how we could use the Keyence Vision Sensor technology in other areas of production. For instance, we are testing how the camera could be used to read serial and revision numbers that are laser marked onto our products. Every once in a while, if the laser is misaligned or the user hits an extra keystroke, the numbers could be off, and the customer will have an error in their records. With the innovative visualization system, the camera’s sensors could read the serial numbers and let the user know if there is an error quickly.

To learn more about how Interface is investing in innovation and technology to improve our processes and production methods, check out the IQ Blog at www.interfaceforce.com/blog/.  You can also learn more about Interface’s 2019 Arizona Manufacturer of the Year Award here.

Contribution from Nick Siegel, Design Engineer, Interface

Faces of Interface Featuring Scott Dunne

A critical factor of becoming a successful engineer is becoming proficient at working with your hands. For Scott Dunne, Production Engineering Manager at Interface, training his brain and perfecting the use of his hands has been a passion since childhood and helped to elevate his role in the design and manufacturing of Interface’s leading force measurement products.

Growing up, Scott’s grandmother worked for Western Electric where she made telephones. From time-to-time, she would bring home parts or fully assembled phones for him to take apart and put back together. This simple example of bonding moments with his grandma fueled his desire for a career in engineering.

After high school, Scott attended the Newark College of Engineering (now known as NJIT) to pursue a degree in engineering. He was successful in earning a Bachelor of Science in industrial engineering and went on to start his career in the automotive industry with Adrionics.

At Adrionics, he assembled cables for harnesses that stretched from the back of the car radio to the steering column, most of which was done by hand. He worked there for a few years before moving into the power supply industry. While working at RTE Power-Mate, Scott made high-volume power supplies for the gaming industry. He later worked at TDI Power where he focused on low-volume, high-reliability power supplies for numerous industries.

After nearly 10 years in the power supply industry, Scott joined Ohaus Corporation, a manufacturer of digital scales and load cells. This was his first job in the force measurement industry and he quickly developed an enthusiasm for it. Scott rose through the ranks and eventually became the manufacturing engineering manager. When a major conglomerate purchased Ohaus, Scott was selected to help move the production line from New Jersey to Changzhou.

After an 18-month assignment in China, Scott returned to the U.S. and he and his wife decided it was time for a change, including a move out of the cold and into a warmer environment. He and his family moved to Scottsdale, Arizona, where he pursued a career with Interface because a former co-worker handed him a catalog from the company before he left New Jersey.

His experience building load cells made him the perfect fit for Interface and he was hired as an operations manager overseeing the production line in January 2000. After 14 years in this position, Scott became the product supply manager where he supervised Interface’s supply chain. As the Production Engineering Manager today, he is helping in the training and onboarding of Interface team members by sharing his depth of knowledge and experience in working with load cell technology.  He recently conducted a Load Cell 101 training for team members, which was sold out during every session.

“Ever since I began my career in engineering, I have been fascinated with the entire production and even sales process. One of the best things about working at Interface as a production engineer, I have a hand in everything from the start of the design to the final manufacturing of a variety of load cell and force measurement technologies. With this responsibility, I have the distinctive opportunity to learn more from a sales perspective in team meetings as to what our clients need today and even in the future. My position allows me to do what I love while expanding my knowledge of our industry.” Scott Dunne, Production Engineering Manager, Interface

In his free time, Scott continues to work with his hands doing woodworking. He is also a self-described “hockey nut,” and follows the New Jersey Devils and Phoenix Coyotes closely. He enjoys watching and attending games with his family.

Faces of Interface is an ongoing series shining a spotlight on Interface’s talented team members across the organization. Scott recently contributed a great post, Strain Gages 101. To follow Faces of Interface and to stay up-to-date on the company, please visit www.interfaceforce.com/blog/ and subscribe to the posts and newsletter.