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Interface Sensors Used for Development and Testing of Surgical Robotics

Electro-mechanical and software advancements in the medical device and healthcare industry have made all kinds of surgical robotics a reality. Manufacturers and design engineers of these robots come to Interface during the stages of research and development, product engineering and refinement, and testing to perfect surgical use cases. The sensor technologies we provide are preferred in these processes and in final integration due to the fact these devices are highly regulated and require the utmost in accuracy and reliability.

The types of surgeries currently being performed with robotics include what were once considered invasive and a higher risk of failure such as coronary bypass, removing cancer tissue, transplants, laser incisions, and more. With surgical robotics, the medical professionals rely on precision to perform these surgeries with as minimal invasion as possible.

The product development process for surgical robotics is extremely meticulous and requires a wide variety of tests to confirm the accuracy of the product. One of the key components to testing in this field is force measurement. As you can imagine, force plays a massive role in surgical robotics. Every action performed needs to be forced tested to ensure that whatever the surgical task, the robot is doing it with precision.

For surgical robotics, minute forces need to be measured because they are working with highly fragile subjects within a human body. To measure these tiny forces, Interface offers a variety of Interface Mini™ Solutions.  Interface Mini Load Cells are used for light touch, light weight, or for less space. Our miniature load cells provide exceedingly accurate measurements similar to our full-size load cells with proprietary alloy strain gages. They are used in R&D, test and for OEM use in robot components.

All our miniature beam load cells, load cell load buttons, load washer, miniature tension force load cells, S-type load cells, and sealed stainless steel load cells are commonly used based on their capacity and designs.  A variety of our load cells can be used in an off-the-shelf application. Our engineers can also work with you to design custom load cells to fit your exact needs, which is common in robotics.

Interface recently developed an application note to outline how force measurement can be used in testing force feedback using a combination of load cells, torque transducer and data acquisition device on a robotic surgical device.

Robotic Surgery Force Feedback

A biomechanical medical company wanted to test the force, torque, and tactile feedback from their robotic arm for invasive surgery. The surgeon’s movements are mirrored by the robotic arm during surgery, and it was essential all haptic force feedback is measured to ensure safety during invasive surgery. A number of Interface’s force and torque measurement products were suggested for this robotic arm. These includes our load button, S-types, Mini overload protected torque transducers and DAQ instrumentation.  Included below are the roles of each device:

Each one of Interface’s load cells or torque transducers played a part in the ensuring the safety and functionality of robotic arms during invasive surgery. The force feedback that was measured from the robotic arm ensured that the robot used the perfect amount of force when using surgical tools that create incisions during surgeries. It also measured the torque being produced, ensuring the robot arm was moving smoothly and at the right speeds. Read the application note for this surgical robot here.

This is just one example of Interface’s work in robotics, and surgical robotics specifically. There are a growing number of devices used in special, precision surgeries that utilize force to perform its task.

Additional Resources Related to Medical, Healthcare and Robotics

Spotlighting Medical Device and Healthcare Solutions

Medical and Healthcare Brochure

OEM: Medical Bag Weighing

Force Solutions for Medical Tablet Forming Machines

Interface OEM Solutions Process

6-Axis Force Plate Robotic Arm App Note

Force Measurement Solutions for Advanced Manufacturing Robotics

Fueling Global Demand for Interface Solutions

Increasing demand for quality, accurate and reliable sensor technologies is global.  Interface products are used on every continent and across all types of industries. As manufacturers and product innovators make advances in what they build and test, there is a direct correlation to the growth in precision test and measurement tool requirements we supply.

The overall sensor market in 2022 is expected to continue its fast past growth, estimated between 8-12% across all types of sensors. In force measurement, this pace is consistent with the experience in the global markets we serve in Africa, Asia, Australia and Oceania, Europe, Middle East, South and North America.

Represented by hundreds of sensors experts around the world, Interface distributors continue to experience growth in market share and Interface product users.  In fact, Interface’s fastest growing markets are represented in our global network.  Solutions that utilize our precision load cells, torque transducers, multi-axis load cells and instrumentation are all experiencing high growth worldwide.

What is impacting the greatest international growth for all types of sensors technologies?  According to market analysis and based on Interface’s experience, it’s being fed by:

  1. Miniaturization of Products and Sensors Used in Testing and OEMs
  2. Industrial Automation and Robotics
  3. Innovation in Aerospace and Automotive
  4. IoT – Internet of Things

Our direct experience in demand for Interface solutions outside of the US is related to these areas and specifically new products and expanding use cases. First, we recently launched our Global G Series products to meet this demand. This specialty product is sold exclusively outside the US. These products are designed and manufactured in the International System of Units (SI), with the same precision and accuracy of all Interface products.

The Global G Series is a global standard product line that is designed for applications that require miniature load cells and for OEM solutions used for automation of machines and components.  The markets that are experiencing the highest growth internationally include:

For example, innovative markets like electric vehicles and hydro-electric energy are growing rapidly domestically and in international markets. These industries rely on force testing to optimize these new technologies.

The Asia-Pacific market is currently our fastest growing market. Interface provides products for this market across all industries including automotive, aerospace, test and measurement and more. As mentioned above, the alternative energy, aerospace and electric vehicle market is a big area for Interface and the Asia-Pacific plays a big role in these areas.

Electric vehicle design and manufacturing requires a precise level of accuracy to improve energy efficiency, minimize weight and maximize vehicle range. For instance, battery technology is a major global focus; therefore, maximizing power output using force testing is the key to improving vehicle design. To achieve this, test and measurement solutions need to be as accurate as possible. Interface also provides high accuracy torque transducers, load cells, load washers and more for two areas of electric vehicle testing: laboratory testing to optimize system performance and production testing to ensure product quality.

Another application for force measurement in Europe is force testing on off-shore hydro-electric power plants. This is a great fit for Interface because we have developed an entire lineup of load cells and other products that are submersible. For this project specifically, we provided submersible WMC load cells. This is one example of an innovative application for renewable energies, and this is another market that is growing rapidly both domestically and internationally.

One of the consistent top selling products in both regions and industries are wireless load cells. In our 2022 Test and Measurement Industry Trends blog, detailed some of this growing demand for wireless force measurement solutions. Wireless systems are helping manufacturers simplify the integration process and create a cleaner safer test environment with far less wiring. It is especially helpful in industries like aerospace or automotive, where large factories want to transmit data across the facility without needing a mess of wires getting in the way.

For wireless needs, Interface supplies its Wireless Telemetry System (WTS) which offers sensor transmitters, receivers, and displays. High accuracy, high quality measurement is interfaced with simple yet powerful configuration and monitoring software and 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.

One area that Interface is also investing in internally is recalibration services to serve all customers across the world. Many of our customers are becoming more aware of and utilizing these services, as we are continuing to grow this capability amongst international customers who are utilizing Interface products for the first time.

Interface’s presence in the international market is growing quickly. Interface is looking forward to seeing where and how we can supply the best in force measurement solutions to enable innovation around the world.

Source: Tyler Pettit, Application Engineer International Markets

Force Measurement Solutions for Advanced Manufacturing Robotics

One of the most significant trends in advancing manufacturing is the use of robotics for smart factory automation. These types of machines are designed and coded to perform a variety of mundane and repetitive tasks on a manufacturing line or within an industrial facility. This allows humans to utilize their skills to work on more complex and productive tasks.

These activities are often characterized as picking, assembly, labeling, packaging, finishing work and inspection. Integrating robotics into manufacturing has many benefits including improved workplace safety, increasing productivity, and reducing material waste and costs. Interface uses robotics in our advanced manufacturing efforts in the assembly and building of world-class sensor technologies that are used around the world.

As with all points within a factory, there are many tasks that are very simple, while others can be very intricate requiring precision. As tasks become more difficult, the accuracy of the robot’s functionality is incredibly important. This is when sensors and precision measurement become instrumental to automation.

To ensure supreme accuracy, force measurement sensors are being used to improve processes as well as designed into robotic systems for monitoring performance data in real time. Force measurement sensors help manufacturers optimize the activities and tasks assigned to automated functions.

Popular types or robots used in advanced manufacturing environments using Interface load cells and our force measurement solutions include:

  1. Articulated – Often used in assembly, these robots have rotary joints to allow for a range of motion. Sensors such as mini or load button load cells are used in the testing and actual embedded in the joints to measure force and pressure.
  2. Gantry – These robots have three linear joints that move in different axes The X, Y, Z measurements are often tested with multi-axis load cells as this cartesian robot requires accuracy and precision.
  3. Cylindrical – This type of single robotic arm moves up and down, often stabilized by a cylindrical rod. They often are used in assemblies, welding, and handling of materials. These are tested with load cells for their ability to articulate the movement with exactness.

Interface products are playing a big role in manufacturing automation, especially in the design and development of robotics that use measurement in performance. They are used in all types of industries including automotive, medical, agriculture, and of course general manufacturing.

We supply a wide variety of sensors that measure force, torque, pressure, pulling force and more. We also are well-known worldwide for the accuracy and reliability of our products, making us the perfect fit for high-precision robotics applications.

Here are a few application examples where force measurement provides enormous value in testing and using robotics to advance manufacturing.

Industrial Robotic Arm in Production Line

Robotic arm solutions are becoming commonly used on production lines. When a manufacturer of a robot arm needed to measure force and torque when the arm picks up and places objects, Interface supplied a Model 6A40A 6-Axis Load Cell with Model BX8-HD44 Data Acquisition and Amplifier. The 6A40-6 Axis Load Cell was able to measure all forces and torques (Fx, Fʏ, Fz, Mx, Mʏ, Mz) and the BXB-HD44 Data Acquisition Amplifier was able to log, display, and graph these measurements while sending scaled analog output signals for these axes to the robot’s control system. This helped the customer optimize the multiple forces on the robot needed for moving objects on the production line. Read more about this solution here.

Robotic Arm

This customer needed to lift and move delicate objects, like a glass bottle, in an automated environment with a robotic arm without causing damage to the objects that are being lifted and moved. Delicacy was the key here. Two ConvexBT Load Button Load Cells were used in the grips of the robotic arm to measure the amount of pressure being applied to the object it is lifting and moving. The DMA2 DIN Rail Mount Signal Conditioner converts the signal received from the 2 ConvexBT Load Button Load Cells from mV/V to volts to the PLC Controller which tells the robotic arm to stop clamping pressure when a specified amount of pressure is applied to the object. The two ConvexBT Load Button Load Cells accurately measured the amount of pressure applied to the object the robotic arm was lifting and moving without causing any harm or damage to the object. Watch Robotic Arm Application Note and read more here.

More robotic applications are being tested every day. Interface is proud to be able to supply the necessary technology to enhance production lines, improve shipping and logistics operations and speed up repetitive processes with robotics so workforces can thrive and develop skills that advance manufacturing overall.

Additional Resources

OEM Industrial Robotic Arm App Note

Automation and Robotics Demands Absolute Precision

Robotics in Play with New Animated Application Using ConvexBT

Interface Solutions for Robotics and Industrial Automation

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.

Robotics in Play with New Animated Application Using ConvexBT

Numerous factors are driving the industry 4.0 revolution. From big data to IoT technology, industrial facilities and manufacturing plants are looking at new ways to automate their process and create a more efficient and cost-effective environment. One of the most important technology advancements in this mix is robotics.

Robotic equipment is a common industry 4.0 innovation used to create an autonomous or semi-autonomous machine capable of carrying out a variety of repetitive tasks that used to take up the time of skilled labor. Some of the tasks or processes that robotics enhance include stock management and logistics, manufacturing automation, janitorial duties and, there are even robotic applications called co-bots that assist human workers when ultra-high precision is needed.

To facilitate the demand for robotics, a variety of sensor and measurement components are necessary to ensure the highest quality and reliability of these application. Many tasks carried out by robotic applications are ultra-precise and require more accuracy than what a human hand or eye can handle.

Sensor technologies embedded in the actual robotics instrument must also be used to constantly calibrate or monitor the robotics. If robotics is used on an automated manufacturing line, any issues with the robotics can disrupt and compromise the entire process. Therefore, robotics manufacturers utilize Interface solutions when they need quality sensors that can monitor the precision of the robotics and ensure that their accuracy and reliability is maintained.

Interface develops high-quality test and measurement solutions designed for hardware testing of all kind. For robotics, our products are frequently used as a component within an OEM device. We understand the premium accuracy and reliability necessary to help develop robotics solutions and have provided both off-the-shelf and custom force measurement solutions designed to meet a variety of applications. We recently created an animated application note on an industrial automation robotic arm using our new light weight, light touch load button load cell, the ConvexBT.

The ConvexBT is designed for testing and also for full integration into the robotic element to measure the force pressure during use.  ConvexBT is available in multiple capacities, including our latest release of the 500lb and 1Klb models.

NEW! Interface Robotic Arm Application Note

A customer came to Interface with a robotic arm product that would be used to lift and move delicate objects, such as a glass bottle, in an automated environment. The goal in using Interface was to find a force measurement product that could ensure the robotic arm did not damage the products it was moving by applying too much force. The main component that Interface products would be applied to is the robotic arms’ clamp. The objective was monitoring the grabbing pressure of the clamp and ensure that the device would stop applying pressure when the necessary force was used to pick up the object without doing damage.

Using its new line of Load Button Load Cells, ConvexBT, and a DMA2 DIN Rail Mount Signal Conditioner, Interface provided a solution that would produce an electric signal on the clamping process that tells a controller to have the device stop applying pressure. Two ConvexBT products were connected underneath the rubber pads on both sides of the robotic arm clamping device. When the clamps made contact and applied pressure, the DMA2 Signal Conditioner converted the signal from the ConvexBT from MV/V to volts to a PLC controller. This signal tells the controller when to have the robotic arm stop applying clamping force.

Ultimately, the two ConvexBT Load Button Load Cells were able to accurately measure the amount of pressure applied to the object the robotic arm was lifting and moving without causing any harm or damage to the object.

This is just one of many examples of force measurement products being used in the robotics and automation industry. As the demand for robotics grows and a wider variety of applications are introduced, Interface will continue to engineer the best solutions to help customers reach the age of Industry 4.0.

To learn more about Interface solutions for the robotics and automation industry, please visit /solutions/. You can also check out our case study on the for industrial automation and robotics use here.

Looking Forward to the New Year

2020 has been a challenging year for most. Despite the disruption every person and industry has faced this past year, Interface continues to keep our eyes on the future. What can we do to meet our customer’s needs today and tomorrow?

One of the ways that Interface has accomplished this intense focal point is by setting our sights on the increasing number of requests for specific drawings and engineered to order force, torque, and specialized product lines. These requests provide us unique visibility in evolving product development concepts and the overall T&M landscape for the customers we serve.

Through Interface’s continued investments in R&D, analyzing the marketplace, and anticipating customer needs, we’ve identified key trends that we believe will have a significant positive impact in meeting our customer’s current requirements and preparing for future demands.

The first trend we see today is our customer’s increased focus on miniaturization. Innovation using sensor technologies continues to shrink in dimensions yet require the same or greater level of precision performance. We see this in all types of devices and hand-held technologies, industrial automation, robotics, as well as in automotive and consumer product inventions.

The trend towards miniaturization in the medical device industry has been happening for quite some time; however, the capabilities and precision requirements continue to become more stringent and demanding of higher levels of performance. For example, with trends in at-home care remote monitoring has caused medical device manufacturers to develop mobility for devices. They’re also taking diagnostic machines and turning them into a handheld version so doctors can administer medical tests quickly and efficiently at the point of care, rather than sending patients out of home for administering or tracking.

To address product development challenges related to devices that becoming more compact, Interface is engineering and manufacturing precision components that excel in confined space. We’ve already begun to address this in 2020 with the release of our ultra-precision ConvexBT™ Load Button Load Cells.

ConvexBT is a first of its kind load button load cell, providing better temperature resistance and more enhanced eccentric load rejection than other competitive products. For many years, miniature load cells categorized as load buttons have been sensitive to off-axis, eccentric or misaligned loads. This means if the load is not exactly perpendicular to the surface it is resting on, the data could become skewed or inaccurate. Interface designed the ConvexBT load button load cell to confine misaligned loads to the primary axis of the cell providing superior performance in comparison to similar products on the market. Read more about the product release here.

The next key trend we are prepared to address in 2021 and beyond is test and measurement systems that address complex and multi-dimensional testing requirements. Historically, load cells and torque transducers have addressed force, torque, and weight in a variety of single product groups. And these devices would be added to a test series with a host of other sensors or get multiple outputs through a variety of tests. More and more customers want measurement devices that include additional outputs from the sensors to account for things like acceleration, temperature, humidity, and more.

We see this in growing requests for adding accelerometers in our load cells and torque transducers. In industries like automotive, we often use a torque transducer to measure rotation with components like car engines and tires. By adding an accelerometer, the device can be used to measure both torque and acceleration. This addresses our customer’s desire to simplify their test process and it provides more data in a single test to expand use cases and applications.  As this desire for more data and fewer testing devices grows, Interface is continuing the expansion of engineered to order and customized load cells to allow for dual measurements in a single component.

This trend is closely related to the need for a complete system. Systems are often completely customized to a single project or program that provides the measurement device, instrumentation, cabling, and housing. These systems can also be mobilized with wireless components for field applications.  The group of custom solutions engineers have created multiple versions of these systems used in energy, aerospace, and T&M labs.

Despite the challenges of the last year, Interface is hyper-focused on innovation and the ability to address the evolving needs of our customers. If you want to measure it, then Interface is here to help you create the right solution to get exactly what is required for your invention, product improvement or test. How can we help you win in 2021?

Interface is a Critical Solutions Provider for OEMs

The hardware industry is rapidly making its way into taking advantage of the Industry 4.0 and Big Data eras. The idea that data insight can cut costs, increase efficiency and reduce downtime is spreading like wildfire throughout major OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) across the world. These organizations are adding more and more sensors and other data collection devices to their products to receive deeper analytics on the health and efficiency of various in-action processes.

One of the most important tools in this mix of data tracking and collecting devices are force measurement sensors. Load cells and torque transducers are being added to products across industries to not only optimize individual product processes, but also to ensure that the product remains in proper working conditions.

As an example, the aerospace industry is putting force sensors all over airplane components. Everything from landing gear to the wings may include a sensor. These force sensors can then be used to constantly collect data on the well-being of these components. If landing gear needs to be fixed or adjusted, you don’t want to find that out while your 30,000 feet in the year. You want data that helps you track performance and potential degradation over time so you can solve problems before it puts lives at risk.

To serve OEMs in automotive, aerospace, robotics, medical and consumer product industries, force measurement companies like Interface must be able to manufacture sensors in high volumes and at affordable price points. Load cells and torque transducers used in test and measurement can be reused over and over, so the demand for higher volumes is lower. However, when the sensor is integrated into the final product, force measurements manufacturers need to be able to deliver a high enough volume to meet the OEM’s demand for production of the specific product the sensor will be integrated into for continuous use.

Interface holds a unique position in the OEM marketplace for custom sensor technologies. Our decades of success has allowed us to make critical investments towards streamlining our own production and manufacturing of industry-leading components to serve OEM customers. Over the last few years, we’ve implemented better, more efficient processes and have added automation to improve consistency, repeatability and time to market. This also benefits our customers by lowering costs for large scale, continuous production to meet the growing demands and use cases in the OEM market.

A huge benefit is that Interface controls the design and development of our load cells and torque transducers. We build everything from the strain gauges to the product packaging. This allows us to rapidly iterate and customize our designs to meet the needs of a wide range of OEM customers. Our engineers work hand-in-hand with our OEM partners to design the exact requirements into our sensor technology.

This is critical to being a top solutions provider serving OEMs because force measurement products must fit the design and specifications of the OEM application, as well as potentially removing unnecessary features to fit a certain price point for volume production. OEM applications can also be exposed to more extreme conditions in industries like aerospace, automotive or medical, so the sensor might need a specific material or treatment to withstand certain environments.

One of the essential benefits we provide our customers in the U.S. is the fact that our products are manufactured in country, and our engineering, sales and support staff is also local. This enables easier communication with our customers, as well as faster shipping times. When a customer needs to adjust the specifications on a device or troubleshoot a challenge, they know that they’ll get the support they need during their own working hours.  We are extending this value globally as we continue to create solutions that meet our demands worldwide.

The demand for big data and automation is growing rapidly among OEMs. It is also one of the most competitive markets in the world. To serve our customers with unique engineered to order designs and solutions, we work every day to stay on top of manufacturing trends and find new ways to optimize production to meet their cost and volume needs.

To learn more about Interface and our custom solution capabilities for the OEM market, please visit us at www.interfaceforce.com.

Contributor:  Brian Peters, Interface Regional Sales Director for the US

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.

 

Solutions

Interface Sensors Used for Development and Testing of Surgical Robotics

Electro-mechanical and software advancements in the medical device and healthcare industry have made all kinds of surgical robotics a reality. Manufacturers and design engineers of these robots come to Interface during the stages of research and development, product engineering and refinement, and testing to perfect surgical use cases. The sensor technologies we provide are preferred in these processes and in final integration due to the fact these devices are highly regulated and require the utmost in accuracy and reliability.

The types of surgeries currently being performed with robotics include what were once considered invasive and a higher risk of failure such as coronary bypass, removing cancer tissue, transplants, laser incisions, and more. With surgical robotics, the medical professionals rely on precision to perform these surgeries with as minimal invasion as possible.

The product development process for surgical robotics is extremely meticulous and requires a wide variety of tests to confirm the accuracy of the product. One of the key components to testing in this field is force measurement. As you can imagine, force plays a massive role in surgical robotics. Every action performed needs to be forced tested to ensure that whatever the surgical task, the robot is doing it with precision.

For surgical robotics, minute forces need to be measured because they are working with highly fragile subjects within a human body. To measure these tiny forces, Interface offers a variety of Interface Mini™ Solutions.  Interface Mini Load Cells are used for light touch, light weight, or for less space. Our miniature load cells provide exceedingly accurate measurements similar to our full-size load cells with proprietary alloy strain gages. They are used in R&D, test and for OEM use in robot components.

All our miniature beam load cells, load cell load buttons, load washer, miniature tension force load cells, S-type load cells, and sealed stainless steel load cells are commonly used based on their capacity and designs.  A variety of our load cells can be used in an off-the-shelf application. Our engineers can also work with you to design custom load cells to fit your exact needs, which is common in robotics.

Interface recently developed an application note to outline how force measurement can be used in testing force feedback using a combination of load cells, torque transducer and data acquisition device on a robotic surgical device.

Robotic Surgery Force Feedback

A biomechanical medical company wanted to test the force, torque, and tactile feedback from their robotic arm for invasive surgery. The surgeon’s movements are mirrored by the robotic arm during surgery, and it was essential all haptic force feedback is measured to ensure safety during invasive surgery. A number of Interface’s force and torque measurement products were suggested for this robotic arm. These includes our load button, S-types, Mini overload protected torque transducers and DAQ instrumentation.  Included below are the roles of each device:

Each one of Interface’s load cells or torque transducers played a part in the ensuring the safety and functionality of robotic arms during invasive surgery. The force feedback that was measured from the robotic arm ensured that the robot used the perfect amount of force when using surgical tools that create incisions during surgeries. It also measured the torque being produced, ensuring the robot arm was moving smoothly and at the right speeds. Read the application note for this surgical robot here.

This is just one example of Interface’s work in robotics, and surgical robotics specifically. There are a growing number of devices used in special, precision surgeries that utilize force to perform its task.

Additional Resources Related to Medical, Healthcare and Robotics

Spotlighting Medical Device and Healthcare Solutions

Medical and Healthcare Brochure

OEM: Medical Bag Weighing

Force Solutions for Medical Tablet Forming Machines

Interface OEM Solutions Process

6-Axis Force Plate Robotic Arm App Note

Force Measurement Solutions for Advanced Manufacturing Robotics

Fueling Global Demand for Interface Solutions

Increasing demand for quality, accurate and reliable sensor technologies is global.  Interface products are used on every continent and across all types of industries. As manufacturers and product innovators make advances in what they build and test, there is a direct correlation to the growth in precision test and measurement tool requirements we supply.

The overall sensor market in 2022 is expected to continue its fast past growth, estimated between 8-12% across all types of sensors. In force measurement, this pace is consistent with the experience in the global markets we serve in Africa, Asia, Australia and Oceania, Europe, Middle East, South and North America.

Represented by hundreds of sensors experts around the world, Interface distributors continue to experience growth in market share and Interface product users.  In fact, Interface’s fastest growing markets are represented in our global network.  Solutions that utilize our precision load cells, torque transducers, multi-axis load cells and instrumentation are all experiencing high growth worldwide.

What is impacting the greatest international growth for all types of sensors technologies?  According to market analysis and based on Interface’s experience, it’s being fed by:

  1. Miniaturization of Products and Sensors Used in Testing and OEMs
  2. Industrial Automation and Robotics
  3. Innovation in Aerospace and Automotive
  4. IoT – Internet of Things

Our direct experience in demand for Interface solutions outside of the US is related to these areas and specifically new products and expanding use cases. First, we recently launched our Global G Series products to meet this demand. This specialty product is sold exclusively outside the US. These products are designed and manufactured in the International System of Units (SI), with the same precision and accuracy of all Interface products.

The Global G Series is a global standard product line that is designed for applications that require miniature load cells and for OEM solutions used for automation of machines and components.  The markets that are experiencing the highest growth internationally include:

For example, innovative markets like electric vehicles and hydro-electric energy are growing rapidly domestically and in international markets. These industries rely on force testing to optimize these new technologies.

The Asia-Pacific market is currently our fastest growing market. Interface provides products for this market across all industries including automotive, aerospace, test and measurement and more. As mentioned above, the alternative energy, aerospace and electric vehicle market is a big area for Interface and the Asia-Pacific plays a big role in these areas.

Electric vehicle design and manufacturing requires a precise level of accuracy to improve energy efficiency, minimize weight and maximize vehicle range. For instance, battery technology is a major global focus; therefore, maximizing power output using force testing is the key to improving vehicle design. To achieve this, test and measurement solutions need to be as accurate as possible. Interface also provides high accuracy torque transducers, load cells, load washers and more for two areas of electric vehicle testing: laboratory testing to optimize system performance and production testing to ensure product quality.

Another application for force measurement in Europe is force testing on off-shore hydro-electric power plants. This is a great fit for Interface because we have developed an entire lineup of load cells and other products that are submersible. For this project specifically, we provided submersible WMC load cells. This is one example of an innovative application for renewable energies, and this is another market that is growing rapidly both domestically and internationally.

One of the consistent top selling products in both regions and industries are wireless load cells. In our 2022 Test and Measurement Industry Trends blog, detailed some of this growing demand for wireless force measurement solutions. Wireless systems are helping manufacturers simplify the integration process and create a cleaner safer test environment with far less wiring. It is especially helpful in industries like aerospace or automotive, where large factories want to transmit data across the facility without needing a mess of wires getting in the way.

For wireless needs, Interface supplies its Wireless Telemetry System (WTS) which offers sensor transmitters, receivers, and displays. High accuracy, high quality measurement is interfaced with simple yet powerful configuration and monitoring software and 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.

One area that Interface is also investing in internally is recalibration services to serve all customers across the world. Many of our customers are becoming more aware of and utilizing these services, as we are continuing to grow this capability amongst international customers who are utilizing Interface products for the first time.

Interface’s presence in the international market is growing quickly. Interface is looking forward to seeing where and how we can supply the best in force measurement solutions to enable innovation around the world.

Source: Tyler Pettit, Application Engineer International Markets

Force Measurement Solutions for Advanced Manufacturing Robotics

One of the most significant trends in advancing manufacturing is the use of robotics for smart factory automation. These types of machines are designed and coded to perform a variety of mundane and repetitive tasks on a manufacturing line or within an industrial facility. This allows humans to utilize their skills to work on more complex and productive tasks.

These activities are often characterized as picking, assembly, labeling, packaging, finishing work and inspection. Integrating robotics into manufacturing has many benefits including improved workplace safety, increasing productivity, and reducing material waste and costs. Interface uses robotics in our advanced manufacturing efforts in the assembly and building of world-class sensor technologies that are used around the world.

As with all points within a factory, there are many tasks that are very simple, while others can be very intricate requiring precision. As tasks become more difficult, the accuracy of the robot’s functionality is incredibly important. This is when sensors and precision measurement become instrumental to automation.

To ensure supreme accuracy, force measurement sensors are being used to improve processes as well as designed into robotic systems for monitoring performance data in real time. Force measurement sensors help manufacturers optimize the activities and tasks assigned to automated functions.

Popular types or robots used in advanced manufacturing environments using Interface load cells and our force measurement solutions include:

  1. Articulated – Often used in assembly, these robots have rotary joints to allow for a range of motion. Sensors such as mini or load button load cells are used in the testing and actual embedded in the joints to measure force and pressure.
  2. Gantry – These robots have three linear joints that move in different axes The X, Y, Z measurements are often tested with multi-axis load cells as this cartesian robot requires accuracy and precision.
  3. Cylindrical – This type of single robotic arm moves up and down, often stabilized by a cylindrical rod. They often are used in assemblies, welding, and handling of materials. These are tested with load cells for their ability to articulate the movement with exactness.

Interface products are playing a big role in manufacturing automation, especially in the design and development of robotics that use measurement in performance. They are used in all types of industries including automotive, medical, agriculture, and of course general manufacturing.

We supply a wide variety of sensors that measure force, torque, pressure, pulling force and more. We also are well-known worldwide for the accuracy and reliability of our products, making us the perfect fit for high-precision robotics applications.

Here are a few application examples where force measurement provides enormous value in testing and using robotics to advance manufacturing.

Industrial Robotic Arm in Production Line

Robotic arm solutions are becoming commonly used on production lines. When a manufacturer of a robot arm needed to measure force and torque when the arm picks up and places objects, Interface supplied a Model 6A40A 6-Axis Load Cell with Model BX8-HD44 Data Acquisition and Amplifier. The 6A40-6 Axis Load Cell was able to measure all forces and torques (Fx, Fʏ, Fz, Mx, Mʏ, Mz) and the BXB-HD44 Data Acquisition Amplifier was able to log, display, and graph these measurements while sending scaled analog output signals for these axes to the robot’s control system. This helped the customer optimize the multiple forces on the robot needed for moving objects on the production line. Read more about this solution here.

Robotic Arm

This customer needed to lift and move delicate objects, like a glass bottle, in an automated environment with a robotic arm without causing damage to the objects that are being lifted and moved. Delicacy was the key here. Two ConvexBT Load Button Load Cells were used in the grips of the robotic arm to measure the amount of pressure being applied to the object it is lifting and moving. The DMA2 DIN Rail Mount Signal Conditioner converts the signal received from the 2 ConvexBT Load Button Load Cells from mV/V to volts to the PLC Controller which tells the robotic arm to stop clamping pressure when a specified amount of pressure is applied to the object. The two ConvexBT Load Button Load Cells accurately measured the amount of pressure applied to the object the robotic arm was lifting and moving without causing any harm or damage to the object. Watch Robotic Arm Application Note and read more here.

More robotic applications are being tested every day. Interface is proud to be able to supply the necessary technology to enhance production lines, improve shipping and logistics operations and speed up repetitive processes with robotics so workforces can thrive and develop skills that advance manufacturing overall.

Additional Resources

OEM Industrial Robotic Arm App Note

Automation and Robotics Demands Absolute Precision

Robotics in Play with New Animated Application Using ConvexBT

Interface Solutions for Robotics and Industrial Automation

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.

Robotics in Play with New Animated Application Using ConvexBT

Numerous factors are driving the industry 4.0 revolution. From big data to IoT technology, industrial facilities and manufacturing plants are looking at new ways to automate their process and create a more efficient and cost-effective environment. One of the most important technology advancements in this mix is robotics.

Robotic equipment is a common industry 4.0 innovation used to create an autonomous or semi-autonomous machine capable of carrying out a variety of repetitive tasks that used to take up the time of skilled labor. Some of the tasks or processes that robotics enhance include stock management and logistics, manufacturing automation, janitorial duties and, there are even robotic applications called co-bots that assist human workers when ultra-high precision is needed.

To facilitate the demand for robotics, a variety of sensor and measurement components are necessary to ensure the highest quality and reliability of these application. Many tasks carried out by robotic applications are ultra-precise and require more accuracy than what a human hand or eye can handle.

Sensor technologies embedded in the actual robotics instrument must also be used to constantly calibrate or monitor the robotics. If robotics is used on an automated manufacturing line, any issues with the robotics can disrupt and compromise the entire process. Therefore, robotics manufacturers utilize Interface solutions when they need quality sensors that can monitor the precision of the robotics and ensure that their accuracy and reliability is maintained.

Interface develops high-quality test and measurement solutions designed for hardware testing of all kind. For robotics, our products are frequently used as a component within an OEM device. We understand the premium accuracy and reliability necessary to help develop robotics solutions and have provided both off-the-shelf and custom force measurement solutions designed to meet a variety of applications. We recently created an animated application note on an industrial automation robotic arm using our new light weight, light touch load button load cell, the ConvexBT.

The ConvexBT is designed for testing and also for full integration into the robotic element to measure the force pressure during use.  ConvexBT is available in multiple capacities, including our latest release of the 500lb and 1Klb models.

NEW! Interface Robotic Arm Application Note

A customer came to Interface with a robotic arm product that would be used to lift and move delicate objects, such as a glass bottle, in an automated environment. The goal in using Interface was to find a force measurement product that could ensure the robotic arm did not damage the products it was moving by applying too much force. The main component that Interface products would be applied to is the robotic arms’ clamp. The objective was monitoring the grabbing pressure of the clamp and ensure that the device would stop applying pressure when the necessary force was used to pick up the object without doing damage.

Using its new line of Load Button Load Cells, ConvexBT, and a DMA2 DIN Rail Mount Signal Conditioner, Interface provided a solution that would produce an electric signal on the clamping process that tells a controller to have the device stop applying pressure. Two ConvexBT products were connected underneath the rubber pads on both sides of the robotic arm clamping device. When the clamps made contact and applied pressure, the DMA2 Signal Conditioner converted the signal from the ConvexBT from MV/V to volts to a PLC controller. This signal tells the controller when to have the robotic arm stop applying clamping force.

Ultimately, the two ConvexBT Load Button Load Cells were able to accurately measure the amount of pressure applied to the object the robotic arm was lifting and moving without causing any harm or damage to the object.

This is just one of many examples of force measurement products being used in the robotics and automation industry. As the demand for robotics grows and a wider variety of applications are introduced, Interface will continue to engineer the best solutions to help customers reach the age of Industry 4.0.

To learn more about Interface solutions for the robotics and automation industry, please visit /solutions/. You can also check out our case study on the for industrial automation and robotics use here.

Looking Forward to the New Year

2020 has been a challenging year for most. Despite the disruption every person and industry has faced this past year, Interface continues to keep our eyes on the future. What can we do to meet our customer’s needs today and tomorrow?

One of the ways that Interface has accomplished this intense focal point is by setting our sights on the increasing number of requests for specific drawings and engineered to order force, torque, and specialized product lines. These requests provide us unique visibility in evolving product development concepts and the overall T&M landscape for the customers we serve.

Through Interface’s continued investments in R&D, analyzing the marketplace, and anticipating customer needs, we’ve identified key trends that we believe will have a significant positive impact in meeting our customer’s current requirements and preparing for future demands.

The first trend we see today is our customer’s increased focus on miniaturization. Innovation using sensor technologies continues to shrink in dimensions yet require the same or greater level of precision performance. We see this in all types of devices and hand-held technologies, industrial automation, robotics, as well as in automotive and consumer product inventions.

The trend towards miniaturization in the medical device industry has been happening for quite some time; however, the capabilities and precision requirements continue to become more stringent and demanding of higher levels of performance. For example, with trends in at-home care remote monitoring has caused medical device manufacturers to develop mobility for devices. They’re also taking diagnostic machines and turning them into a handheld version so doctors can administer medical tests quickly and efficiently at the point of care, rather than sending patients out of home for administering or tracking.

To address product development challenges related to devices that becoming more compact, Interface is engineering and manufacturing precision components that excel in confined space. We’ve already begun to address this in 2020 with the release of our ultra-precision ConvexBT™ Load Button Load Cells.

ConvexBT is a first of its kind load button load cell, providing better temperature resistance and more enhanced eccentric load rejection than other competitive products. For many years, miniature load cells categorized as load buttons have been sensitive to off-axis, eccentric or misaligned loads. This means if the load is not exactly perpendicular to the surface it is resting on, the data could become skewed or inaccurate. Interface designed the ConvexBT load button load cell to confine misaligned loads to the primary axis of the cell providing superior performance in comparison to similar products on the market. Read more about the product release here.

The next key trend we are prepared to address in 2021 and beyond is test and measurement systems that address complex and multi-dimensional testing requirements. Historically, load cells and torque transducers have addressed force, torque, and weight in a variety of single product groups. And these devices would be added to a test series with a host of other sensors or get multiple outputs through a variety of tests. More and more customers want measurement devices that include additional outputs from the sensors to account for things like acceleration, temperature, humidity, and more.

We see this in growing requests for adding accelerometers in our load cells and torque transducers. In industries like automotive, we often use a torque transducer to measure rotation with components like car engines and tires. By adding an accelerometer, the device can be used to measure both torque and acceleration. This addresses our customer’s desire to simplify their test process and it provides more data in a single test to expand use cases and applications.  As this desire for more data and fewer testing devices grows, Interface is continuing the expansion of engineered to order and customized load cells to allow for dual measurements in a single component.

This trend is closely related to the need for a complete system. Systems are often completely customized to a single project or program that provides the measurement device, instrumentation, cabling, and housing. These systems can also be mobilized with wireless components for field applications.  The group of custom solutions engineers have created multiple versions of these systems used in energy, aerospace, and T&M labs.

Despite the challenges of the last year, Interface is hyper-focused on innovation and the ability to address the evolving needs of our customers. If you want to measure it, then Interface is here to help you create the right solution to get exactly what is required for your invention, product improvement or test. How can we help you win in 2021?

Interface is a Critical Solutions Provider for OEMs

The hardware industry is rapidly making its way into taking advantage of the Industry 4.0 and Big Data eras. The idea that data insight can cut costs, increase efficiency and reduce downtime is spreading like wildfire throughout major OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) across the world. These organizations are adding more and more sensors and other data collection devices to their products to receive deeper analytics on the health and efficiency of various in-action processes.

One of the most important tools in this mix of data tracking and collecting devices are force measurement sensors. Load cells and torque transducers are being added to products across industries to not only optimize individual product processes, but also to ensure that the product remains in proper working conditions.

As an example, the aerospace industry is putting force sensors all over airplane components. Everything from landing gear to the wings may include a sensor. These force sensors can then be used to constantly collect data on the well-being of these components. If landing gear needs to be fixed or adjusted, you don’t want to find that out while your 30,000 feet in the year. You want data that helps you track performance and potential degradation over time so you can solve problems before it puts lives at risk.

To serve OEMs in automotive, aerospace, robotics, medical and consumer product industries, force measurement companies like Interface must be able to manufacture sensors in high volumes and at affordable price points. Load cells and torque transducers used in test and measurement can be reused over and over, so the demand for higher volumes is lower. However, when the sensor is integrated into the final product, force measurements manufacturers need to be able to deliver a high enough volume to meet the OEM’s demand for production of the specific product the sensor will be integrated into for continuous use.

Interface holds a unique position in the OEM marketplace for custom sensor technologies. Our decades of success has allowed us to make critical investments towards streamlining our own production and manufacturing of industry-leading components to serve OEM customers. Over the last few years, we’ve implemented better, more efficient processes and have added automation to improve consistency, repeatability and time to market. This also benefits our customers by lowering costs for large scale, continuous production to meet the growing demands and use cases in the OEM market.

A huge benefit is that Interface controls the design and development of our load cells and torque transducers. We build everything from the strain gauges to the product packaging. This allows us to rapidly iterate and customize our designs to meet the needs of a wide range of OEM customers. Our engineers work hand-in-hand with our OEM partners to design the exact requirements into our sensor technology.

This is critical to being a top solutions provider serving OEMs because force measurement products must fit the design and specifications of the OEM application, as well as potentially removing unnecessary features to fit a certain price point for volume production. OEM applications can also be exposed to more extreme conditions in industries like aerospace, automotive or medical, so the sensor might need a specific material or treatment to withstand certain environments.

One of the essential benefits we provide our customers in the U.S. is the fact that our products are manufactured in country, and our engineering, sales and support staff is also local. This enables easier communication with our customers, as well as faster shipping times. When a customer needs to adjust the specifications on a device or troubleshoot a challenge, they know that they’ll get the support they need during their own working hours.  We are extending this value globally as we continue to create solutions that meet our demands worldwide.

The demand for big data and automation is growing rapidly among OEMs. It is also one of the most competitive markets in the world. To serve our customers with unique engineered to order designs and solutions, we work every day to stay on top of manufacturing trends and find new ways to optimize production to meet their cost and volume needs.

To learn more about Interface and our custom solution capabilities for the OEM market, please visit us at www.interfaceforce.com.

Contributor:  Brian Peters, Interface Regional Sales Director for the US

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.