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Interface Solutions for Heavy Equipment

Interface has collaborated with heavy equipment design engineers and OEMs for many years by providing sensors to measure weight, torque, and force. Heavy equipment, also known as heavy machinery, is used to describe the heavy-duty machines that are vastly utilized in infrastructure, construction, transportation, maritime, forestry, agriculture, and mining industries.

Force measurement plays a crucial role in the design, testing, and use of heavy equipment and vehicles including excavators, bulldozers, loaders, cranes, lifts, mixers, pavers, and compactors. Many of the considerations in designing heavy machinery are mandated by force limitations and equipment performance testing. Reference our Cranes and Lifting case study for examples.

Top Five Heavy Equipment Use Cases for Force Measurement

  1. Performance Valuation: Force measurement is used to evaluate the performance of heavy equipment. It allows engineers and designers to assess the forces and loads experienced by different components, such as hydraulic systems, structural elements, and moving parts. Measuring forces with high accuracy ensures that the equipment is built to operate within safe and efficient limits.
  2. Safety Confidence: Heavy equipment operates in demanding and challenging environments where safety is fundamental. Force measurement solutions from Interface help to identify potential safety risks by monitoring the forces exerted on various components in both testing and actual real-time use. Load cells and other sensor technologies enable engineers to design equipment with appropriate safety factors, ensuring that it can withstand the expected forces without failure or compromising operator safety.
  3. Design Optimization: Force measurement assists engineers to enhance the design of heavy equipment. By accurately measuring forces and loads during operation, and will identify areas of high stress or potential weak points. This information is valuable in refining the design, selecting appropriate materials, and implementing structural modifications to improve durability, efficiency, and overall performance.
  4. Regulatory Standards and Compliance: Heavy equipment is subject to strict industry standards and regulations, globally, nationally, and locally that specify performance and safety requirements. Force measurement is used for measuring and monitoring compliance. By accurately measuring and documenting forces, engineers can demonstrate that the equipment meets the specified criteria, aiding in regulatory approvals and certifications.
  5. Troubleshooting and Maintenance: Periodically measuring forces to monitor the condition of critical components and identify any abnormal or excessive forces is useful for identifying issues or wear. This information is critical for preventive maintenance, identifying the root causes of problems, and extending the equipment’s lifespan.

In the construction industry, heavy equipment is extensively used for retail, commercial and civic construction projects. Interface supplies load cells, tension links, load shackles, load pins and other measurement solutions for testing and monitoring.

Excavators are equipped with a hydraulic arm and a bucket, allowing them to dig, excavate, and move enormous amounts of earth, debris, or materials. Sensors are used in design, performance monitoring and maintenance of this type of machinery.

Loaders are powerful machines used for loading materials onto trucks, stockpiling, and general material handling. Overloading is the most common failure. Testing loads for these machines used in construction sites, quarries, and mining operations ensures safety and compliance.

Bulldozers need to be evaluated for earthmoving and grading projects. Rigorous force measurement evaluations help to validate power and maneuverability.

Cranes extensively utilize sensors, including load pins and tension links. During crane lifting capacity tests, force sensors are used to verify if a design for the crane can handle the loads it is required to lift and carry while in movement. This can be done with a variety of different force sensors. Interface tension link sensors are a smart choice as it can be used inbetween the crane hook and the load to provide a more accurate reading on the force. This example of force testing is critical to not only moving the required load, but also in verifying that the crane is safe to operate around workers below. If the crane lift capacity cannot be verified, individuals below the crane are at risk of massive loads dropping from great heights.

Lifts depend on sensors. In the shipping and transportation industry, heavy equipment must have carrying capacities verified or the machines and vehicles may break down or lose control due to excessive loading. In addition, operators need to be cognizant of their load limits and current use in cases. This verification is done using load cells in the testing of the vehicle, but load cells are also used at truck stops with weigh stations. Interface load cells can provide fully accurate data at extremely high weight. In addition, the engines on these trucks need to be able to move the vehicle while under large loads. For this challenge, torque transducers can be used to evaluate and refine an engine’s capability to move vehicles at required loads.

Interface sensors are used in the test and monitoring of maritime heavy equipment, both onshore and near-shore. Cranes and forklifts used in moving cargo plus maritime equipment used for securing lines often use sensor technologies. We also supply measurement devices used for heavy equipment that is submersible. This includes engine testing, mooring and fishing lines, boat hoists and more. Interface offers a complete lineup of sealed sensors that excel while submerged, allowing maritime users to test equipment in real time.

Included below, we have outlined a few heavy machinery testing examples in which Interface products were used:

Gantry Crane Weighing

Gantry cranes are used for several mobile and lifting applications within industrial or construction environments. A weighing system is needed to see if the gantry crane can manage lifting heavy containers or loads, preventing crane failure or accidents. Interface’s WTSLP Wireless Stainless Steel Load Pins can be installed into the corners of the lifting mechanism of the gantry crane, where heavy loaded containers are lifted and moved. The force results are then wireless transmitted to both the WTS-BS-1-HS Wireless Handheld Display for Single Transmitters, or directly to the customer’s PC with the WTS-BS-6 Wireless Telemetry Dongle Base Station. Using this solution, a customer can monitor the loads lifted from their gantry crane with Interface’s Wireless Telemetry System and determine whether their gantry crane was able to manage lifting heavy loads.

Overall, force measurement provides valuable insights into the performance, safety, and reliability of heavy equipment, enabling designers, manufacturers, and operators to make informed decisions and ensure efficient and safe operation.

We have a wide range of solutions for the design and testing challenges of heavy equipment used for lifting, weighing, and measuring force and torque. Contact us for any help you need with heavy equipment solutions.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Infrastructure Projects Rely on Interface

Lifting Solutions

Weighing Solutions Brochure

Heavy Truck Test and Measurement Solutions

Force Measurement Solutions for the Construction Industry

Bridge Construction Wind Monitoring

Solutions to Advance Agriculture Smart Farming and Equipment

Why Machine and Equipment Manufacturers Choose Interface

LIFTING: Lifting Heavy Objects

LIFTING: Crane Block Safety Check

LIFTING: Crane Force Regulation

Understanding GUM and Measurement Uncertainty

Understanding GUM and adherence to good test and measurement practices are essential to minimize uncertainties and ensure reliable measurement results for every application.

In the context of test and measurement, GUM stands for Guide to the Expression of Uncertainty in Measurement. The GUM is a widely recognized and internationally accepted document published by the Joint Committee for Guides in Metrology (JCGM), which provides guidelines for evaluating and expressing uncertainties in measurement results.

GUM establishes general rules for evaluating and expressing uncertainty in measurement that are intended to be applicable to a broad spectrum of measurements. A critical portion of any measurement process, the GUM outlines a thorough framework for uncertainty estimation. GUM defines terms and concepts related to uncertainty, describes methods for uncertainty calculation, and offers guidance for reporting and the documentation of uncertainties in measurement results.

The GUM provides a systematic approach to assess and quantify uncertainties by source, including equipment constraints, environmental conditions, calibration procedures, and human factors. The standards set by GUM emphasizes the need for considering and quantifying all substantial uncertainty components to ensure reliable and traceable measurement results.

By following the principles and guidelines outlined in the GUM, test and measurement professionals, metrologists, and scientists ensure standardized approach to uncertainty evaluation and reporting, facilitating comparability and consistency of measurement results across different laboratories and industries.

The uncertainty requirement varies for different use cases and industry applications. For example, for aerospace, defense, and medical devices there are strict uncertainty requirements compared to commercial scales or measurement tests that do not need precision accuracy.

When estimating uncertainty in load cell calibration, it is important to refer to the Guide to the Expression of Uncertainty in Measurement (GUM). The GUM provides a comprehensive framework with general rules for evaluating and expressing uncertainty in measurement. It serves as a guide applicable to a wide range of measurements, providing valuable guidance on uncertainty assessment in load cell calibration and other measurement processes.

In test labs that utilize load cells and torque transducers, the principles and guidelines GUM should be consistently applied to accurately evaluate and express uncertainties associated with the measurements obtained from these devices.

The application of GUM in test labs using load cells and torque transducers requires a thorough understanding of the measurement process, relevant standards, and calibration procedures. Read Understanding Uncertainty in Load Cell Calibration for more information.

Different considerations to measure uncertainty

  • Determine what parameter is to be measured and the units of measure.
  • Identify the components of the calibration process and the accompanying sources of error.
  • Write an expression for the uncertainty of each source of error.
  • Determine the probability distribution for each source of error.
  • Calculate a standard uncertainty for each source of error for the range or value of interest.
  • Construct an uncertainty budget that lists all the components and their standard uncertainty calculations
  • Combine the standard uncertainty calculations and apply a coverage factor to obtain the final expanded uncertainty.

GUM is used to identify and characterize uncertainty sources that can affect the measurements obtained from load cells and torque transducers. These sources may include calibration uncertainties, environmental conditions, electrical noise, stability of the test setup, and other relevant factors. Each of these sources should be quantified and considered in the uncertainty analysis.

Quantitative estimates of uncertainty component contributions to the overall uncertainty need to be determined. This can involve conducting experiments, performing calibration procedures, analyzing historical data, or utilizing manufacturer specifications to obtain uncertainty values for each component.

Once sources and estimates are complete, next step is to combine the individual uncertainty components using appropriate mathematical methods prescribed by the GUM. These methods include root-sum-of-squares (RSS), statistical analysis, and other relevant techniques. The aim is to obtain an overall estimate of uncertainty that accounts for the combined effects of all relevant sources.

The GUM provides guidelines on expressing uncertainties in measurement results. It emphasizes the use of confidence intervals, expanded uncertainty, and coverage factors. The uncertainty should be reported alongside the measurement values, indicating the level of confidence associated with the measurement. This allows the users of the measurement data to understand the reliability and accuracy of the obtained results.

For additional information about GUM, errors and setting an uncertainty budget, watch our webinar Accurate Report on Calibration. The video is set to start on the topic of Measurement Uncertainty.

It is essential to consider the specific uncertainty requirement of the application to ensure that the chosen force measurement device is appropriately calibrated for the project. This resource is a helpful recap: Specifying Accuracy Requirements When Selecting Load Cells.

In addition, understanding GUM, reducing uncertainty with regular calibration of testing devices and proper maintenance of the equipment go together with GUM.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Gold Standard® Calibration System

Accurate Report on Calibration

Technical Information

Load Cell Test Protocols and Calibrations

Regular Calibration Service Maintains Load Cell Accuracy

 

Testing Lab Essentials Webinar Recap

Interface recently hosted an in-depth discussion about one of our favorite topics, testing labs. Our focus in this technical webinar centered on test lab devices, instrumentation, industry testing lab challenges and considerations, along with best practices. We also took a deep dive into different testing lab applications and how to modernize your test lab.

Force measurement experts Elliot Speidell and Jeff Boyd delivered an engaging and knowledgeable seminar, Testing Lab Essentials: Today + Tomorrow.  Bringing decades of first-hand experience, they were able to provide product examples, tips, recommendations and lessons learned in working with testing lab professionals across industries, from automotive to medical devices.

Initial discussions in the event covered test lab basics, including types of products should be in every lab that performs testing of force, torque, and weight. The quick summary, force, torque and weight measurement devices including load cells and torque transducers of various models, calibration grade equipment and published standards, test stands, data acquisition systems and safety equipment.

One of the first steps in assessing any lab is the type of measurement equipment on hand to perform various testing requirements. Transducer selection criteria includes mechanical connection and load application, force magnitude and loading condition, cycle count, form factor restrictions, environmental conditions, additional measurements needs, such as multiple axis.

Testing labs often require different types of load cells depending on the type of products being tested and the applications in which the load cells will be used. Here are some common types of load cells used in testing labs:

  • Compression load cells: Used to measure the compressive force applied to an object. They are commonly used in materials testing to measure the strength of materials such as concrete, metals, and plastics.
  • Tension load cells: Used to measure the tensile force applied to an object. They are commonly used in materials testing, such as in tensile strength testing of metals and other materials.
  • Shear load cells: Used to measure the shear force applied to an object. They are commonly used in materials testing, such as in shear strength testing of materials.
  • Multi-axis load cells: These load cells are capable of measuring forces in multiple directions and are commonly used in structural testing applications.
  • Torque transducers: Used to measure torque or twisting forces. They are commonly used in automotive testing, industrial machinery, and other applications where rotational forces are important.
  • Fatigue-rated load cells: These load cells are designed to withstand high-cycle fatigue testing and are commonly used in materials testing and durability testing of products.
  • Low profile load cells: These load cells are designed to fit into tight spaces and have a low profile, making them ideal for use in small-scale applications.
  • High-capacity load cells: These load cells are designed to measure large forces and are commonly used in heavy machinery and structural testing.

Instrumentation is central to any testing lab environment. The three most common types of instrumentation found in test lab includes:

  • Indicators: Indicators are used to convert the input signal to a local displayed value.  Often they will have features like, peak capture, alarms, and analog outputs.
  • Signal Conditioners: Signal conditioners are used to convert (amplify) one type of electrical signal into another. 
  • DAQ: Data acquisition systems are used to collect and analyze data from measurement devices. These systems may include software, hardware, and data processing equipment.

In a series of follow-up InterfaceIQ Blog posts we will detail other topics covered in this information packed discussion, including modernization, load frames and test stands, do and don’t tips, plus frequently asked questions.

Watch the complete webinar here:

Metrologists and Calibration Technicians 101

Interface works with metrologists and calibration technicians worldwide. We are a partner, supplier of calibration grade products they use, and participants in research to advance the science of measurement. We are also proud team members with experienced experts in measurement, including our esteemed force measurement engineers and calibration technicians at Interface.

By simple definition, a metrologist is a scientist who researches and applies the science of measurement. Working in the field of metrology, they often create processes and engineer tools and systems used to measure objects, such as load cell calibration tools used to accurately to measure applied force.

Engineers and technicians work in collaboration with metrologists in the design of products and devices used for measuring objects. Metrologists are keen to maintain the accuracy standards of measurements for organizations, product makers, and manufacturers of measurement devices.

Metrologists practice their expertise in test and measurement at manufacturing facilities, corporate R&D centers, independent test and calibration labs, government entities and standards organizations, as well as at higher learning institutions. The range of industries that utilize metrologists spans from aerospace to medical sciences. It is commonplace for metrologists to participate in research, product design, testing, and repair of equipment.

To preserve accuracy of performance and standards of measurement, metrologists develop calibration procedures to control performance of devices. They use these techniques to also identify enhancements and continuous improvement initiatives. Metrology professionals often share their findings with metrologist groups and associations, for purposes of scientific research and development within the field of measurement science. NIST publishes reports related to metrology from contributors around the world. You can find thousands of reports here.

Calibration technicians calibrate test and measurement equipment, as well as provide quality inspection, installation, troubleshooting support, and regular maintenance. Cal techs operate the machines used to validate performance, then report on the findings.

A calibration technician can work in production or manufacturing environments, onsite calibration labs, or for independent labs that provide services to users and makers of measurement devices. It is quite common to find calibration labs staffed with experience technicians as a part of a manufacturer’s facility, across most industries. Depending on the size of the manufacturer, this could include a small in-house lab or multiple lab sites. These labs are stocked with a variety of sensors, rigs, machines, and tools. As noted by many of our representative firms and onsite customer visits, they often will find shelves of blue load cells ready for use at any time for test and measurement projects and calibration services.

Interface supplies calibration labs with all types of measurement calibration grade transducers and equipment, including:

Calibration technicians work with various testing and calibrating tools and technologies. The role requires a mix of expertise in the science and application of measurement. Interface has multiple onsite calibration labs with full testing rigs, machines, operating tools, instrumentation, and software used for tracking performance. Interface does calibrate every product we manufacture, to certify performance prior to releasing to the customer.

Interface Services Calibration Technicians operate within our Services Calibration and Repair Department at our Interface production facilities in Arizona. They provide services for Interface products for annual and regular calibration check-ups, as well as diagnostic, repair, and warranty evaluations. Interface recommends annual calibration services. If you need to schedule a service, go here.

Technicians perform calibrations and any additional needed services for customer owned equipment, works with quality and inspection managers to maintain the proper records within the services process application. They ensure that the measurements taken with our equipment are accurate. Interface calibration techs work on multiple shifts for a 24/6 operation. Interface is adding qualified technicians to our team to meet the demands in production and services.

Calibration technicians perform inspection, testing and validation to ensure conformance to established accuracy and calibration standards. They also help to create calibration procedures and help n sourcing errors or quality issues reported during calibration activities.

Requirements for Interface Calibration Technicians include:

  • Perform basic to mid-range diagnostics of force measurement equipment
  • Work collaboratively in a team environment to complete discrete tasks
  • Print and Review Calibration Certificates Competencies
  • Able to use fine motor skills to calibrate product
  • Able to work with hand and power tools, lifts, electronic test equipment, soldering and indicators
  • Understands industry and quality concepts and standards such as ISO, A2LA, NIST
  • Offers suggestions and improvements as they see them
  • Organize and schedule work in progress
  • Experience in calibration technology, science, engineering, or a related field

You can apply for positions Interface Calibration Technician jobs here.

For metrologists and calibration technicians, quality and control require strict adherence to ensure that the products and equipment are performing properly. As measurement is exact, both are responsible for performing routine audits and quality inspections to maintain compliance with good calibration practices.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Regular Calibration Service Maintains Load Cell Accuracy

Top Five Reasons Why Calibration Matters

Shunt Calibration 101

Extending Transducer Calibration Range by Extrapolation

Strain Gage Design Under Eccentric Load WRSGC Presentation

Specifying Accuracy Requirements When Selecting Load Cells

 

Quick History of Creating Standards in Measurement

Since humans have roamed the earth, there is evidence that science and measurement have played a significant part in the progression of our existence.  Early signs of tools and architecture are riddled with measurement references.

History also suggests there was little agreement in any standardization, though there were many proclamations for standard types of units to be used for measurement.  One can only imagine how any standardization could take place without our 21st-century technology conveniences used for sharing and collaboration.

Yet, there is a record of the first attempt to standardize measurements by the pharaoh Khufu, in the building of the great Khufu Pyramid around 2,900 B.C.  Khufu declared the standard for measurement was to be a fixed unit called the Egyptian Royal Cubit, now recognized as one of the earliest references to any standard of measure.

Scientists have noted that the reason the Great Pyramid is a perfect right angle within 3/1000 of a degree is because of the use of this standard unit of measurement.

With little agreement in standards for nearly 4,500 years thereafter, the use of various weights and measures were littered in the chronicles of designs and renderings by innovators, explorers, astronomers, scientists, and artists that include maps, weapon designs, mechanical inventions, architecture and more.

It is known that Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans were successful in creating standard systems of measurement accepted in their regions; though they didn’t agree with each other’s definitions.  As the role of the instrument maker and scientist grew in popularity and prominence, standard weights and measurement tools did too.

At the longing of a Scottish Inventor and Instrument Maker James Watt, a group of scientists was urged to come together to promote a common language in measurement.  During the French Revolution, The Royal Academy of Science was instructed to create the new system based on ideas proposed by Watt to promote ‘unity’.  Ultimately this is when the meter (Metron) was first set as a standard for measuring distance, and thus the metric system was to be promoted universally for all.

Or would that really be the case? As Europe struggled to accept uniformity, in the independence of the United States, Americans defied the standards and created their own. In the beginning, each state used its own measurement, with little agreement amongst their fellow countrymen.  That is until they agreed to a standard called the Parliamentary Yard. This yard was set as a standard by a bar known as Bronze No. 11, which became the US accepted length for a yard and its own standard for measurement. Yet in Europe, the Metric System started to gain traction and greater acceptance.

It wasn’t until 1875, that the International Conference on Weights and Measures got 17 nations to actually agree to a measurement standard under the ‘Treaty of the Meter’ (Convention du Mètre).

It was in 1893 that the United States finally agreed to the standards, using Meter Bar No. 27 and Kilogram No. 20, as fundamental national standards.  And to further its commitment to universal standards, in 1901 the US Congress created the National Bureau of Standards, now the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and authorized it to have custody of standards and manage a catalog of hundreds of standards.

As of 2018, there are 60 Member States and 42 Associate State and Economies of the Meter (Metre) Convention and it remains the basis of all international agreement on units of measurement. The International System of Units (SI) is the modern metric system of measurement. The SI was established in 1960 by the 11th General Conference on Weights and Measures (CGPM), which is the international authority of the SI and modifies the SI.

At Interface, our most frequently referenced SI unit in force measurement is the newton (symbol: N), which is the derived unit of force. It is named in recognition of Isaac Newton’s second law of motion. One newton is the force needed to accelerate one kilogram (symbol: kg) of mass at the rate of one meter per second squared in the direction of the applied force.

Measurement is still evolving, read about the redefined kilogram here.

For reference, the most recent Guide to the SI online is the NIST Special Publication 811, 2008 Edition, by Ambler Thompson and Barry N. Taylor.

Our Reputation is Defined by Our Industry-Leading Quality

Interface is proud to have a 50-year reputation for delivering the highest quality force measurement solutions on the market. To develop a global reputation for quality, we started by defining what quality means to us. At Interface, quality is providing our customers with products that meet the standards we publish, doing so quickly, and getting the products right the first time. Because of the standards we evaluate our products against, other load cell manufacturers often adopt our quality processes.

“We are known for quality because Interface leverages its gold and platinum standards to manufacture and service the best load cells in the world.”

Our consistency is evident throughout the organization, including in our dedicated metrology and incomparable engineering departments. We’re able to measure even the smallest shifts in response through our 15 hydraulic standards and five deadweight standards—all of which are just for load cells. Our engineering and metrology teams pay close attention to these standards, which we use to compare other load cells to ours. All of this data is gathered regularly and subject to strict monitoring to prevent issues.

Unlike others, Interface’s load cells do not lose their accuracy over time. Instead, our load cells demonstrate improvements in accuracy the longer our customers have them.  The way we design our load cells is the key to this success. Our load cells are low height and high precision for axial force measurement, and we use shear beams for more strain gauges inside. The strain gauge is part of the flexure, which allows all strains to be measured as accurately as possible. Our strain gauges are designed in-house so customers don’t need to accommodate their designs to account for generic strain gauges.

Interface load cells also improve over time because of the materials we use. We manufacture our load cells with steel that we machine in-house, and we manufacture our own strain gages. The strain gages are bonded to our machined steel elements, and as a result of the bonding process, the adhesive and bonding materials will gradually improve the transfer of strain with time. This allows for a better transition of force from the machined steel to the strain gauge, which accounts for the increase in long-term performance from error and output standpoints.

Our reputation for quality has been critical to maintaining our market leadership over the past 50 years, and we stop at nothing to provide our customers with the most accurate force measurement solutions available. To learn more about Interface’s load cells and quality our renowned Gold and Platinum Standards, call us at 800-947-5598 or email contact@interfaceforce.com.

Contributor: Michael Cobb, Interface Technical Services