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Seaside Ports are Optimizing Efficiency and Safety Using Interface Sensor Technologies

Among the various maritime sectors, Interface supplies measurement solutions to infrastructure and equipment makers for ports and waterway terminals that heavily rely on quality measurement solutions.

Ports are critical to our global economy. An estimated 2,500+ ports exist worldwide, with thousands more harbor entries and waterway commerce centers. Interface offers an extensive line of products commonly used in port and terminal applications of all types to modernize equipment and improve operations.

Interface’s sensors and instrumentation are used to test and confirm product designs and measure real-time functions of equipment used onshore, nearshore, and offshore. Our force measurement products are frequently used for modernizing and maintaining port-related machines, moving equipment, and lifts. This includes our submersible measurement solutions.

Our products are perfect for precise load measurement during lifting operations, cargo handling, cargo weight monitoring, mooring line monitoring, and general port equipment maintenance.

The most common use case for Interface products for container stacking and handling. Load cells are integrated into gantry and reach stacker crane systems that lift and move shipping containers. These devices measure the weight of each container, ensuring safe handling and preventing overloading.

Load cells play a vital role in mooring and anchoring systems. They measure the tension on mooring lines and anchor chains, ensuring they can withstand the forces exerted by wind, waves, and currents. This helps prevent ships from breaking free and protects the vessel and the surrounding infrastructure.

Cargo moving and weighing equipment at ports heavily rely on sensor technologies. Conveyor belts transporting bulk goods utilize load cells to measure the product’s weight accurately.

Many port and terminal crane systems incorporate load cells with built-in safety features to prevent overloading and potential accidents. These devices monitor the applied weight and automatically shut down or limit crane operation if the safe limit is exceeded.

The vehicles entering and leaving port terminals with cargo often pass over weighbridges equipped with load cells. These devices accurately measure the vehicle’s weight, ensuring compliance with weight regulations and preventing damage to infrastructure from overloaded vehicles. Scales using load cells ensure high-accuracy measurement.

Our load cell technologies ensure the safe and efficient operation of various port equipment by measuring the weight, tension, and compression forces exerted on different components, allowing operators to make informed decisions and prevent accidents.

Maritime Port and Terminal Applications Using Interface Products

  • Container Weighing
  • Ship-to-Shore Crane Load Monitoring
  • Ship Stability Testing
  • Quick Release Hooks (QRH)
  • Mooring Line Tension Monitoring
  • Dockside and Terminal Equipment
  • Container Handling Machines
  • Ship Loader Booms and Unloaders
  • Gantry Crane Safety Monitoring
  • Straddle Carriers
  • Conveyor Belt Design, Test and Measurement
  • Reach Stacker Automation

Due to the environment, safety requirements, and regulations for maintaining core operations of ports, quality sensor devices must withstand unpredictable conditions, including complete submersible use cases. Interface plays a vital role as a supplier of measurement solutions designed for maritime use. Our rugged weighing and force measurement products are designed for durable operation in areas that utilize waterways to transport goods from port to port.

We offer submersible products that meet harsh and extreme environmental requirements and are rugged in design. These products include our stainless steel load cells, load pins, load shackles, tension links, and several instrumentation devices.

Quick Release Hook (QRH) system

Mooring Lines Quick Release Hooks

A customer wants to test the strength of the cable line used in the hoist of their vessel. Customers need test their Quick Release Hook (QRH) system when their vessels are docked. They want to ensure the mooring lines are secured and the quick-release hooks can be easily and safely released. Interface’s WTSLP Stainless Steel Load Pin can be installed into the quick release hook, where forces from the mooring lines can be measured and displayed when paired with the WTS-BS-4 USB Industrial Base Station. The WTS-RM1 Wireless Relay Output Receiver Module alarm can also be triggered for the customer when maximum safety workload capacities are reached or overloaded. Learn more here.

reach stacker lifting a heavy container

Port Reach Stacker Safety

A reach stacker is a vehicle used in shipping ports and container terminals to lift, move, and stack heavy containers. A force monitoring system is needed to ensure the safety of surrounding personnel and to determine if the reach stacker can lift heavy loads. Interface’s WTSLP Wireless Stainless Steel Load Pins can be installed into the corners of the lifting mechanism of the reach stacker, where heavy-loaded containers are lifted and moved. The force results are then transmitted to 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. Read more.

Crane Capacity Verification

A customer wanted a system to detect if their crane block could lift heavy loads securely to keep working conditions and personnel safe at docks and other maritime transportation applications. If lifting capacities were exceeded, the customer wanted a system to alarm them in real time. Interface’s Model WTSATL-JR Aluminum Compact Wireless Tension Link Load Cell was used to measure the load’s maximum capacity. The WTS-RM1 Wireless Relay Output Receiver Modules also triggered an alarm when the maximum capacity of weight/force was reached. The data was transmitted and could be reviewed with the WTS-BS-1-HS Wireless Handheld Display or on the customer’s PC. Using this solution, the customer verified if the crane is safe and functional enough to lift its working load limit (WLL) or safe working load (SWL) capacity.

Boat Hoist

A customer needed a boat hoist system to lift boats out of water for maintenance. They wanted a wireless solution to monitor the forces being applied through the hoist system. Interface suggested using multiple WTSSHK-B Wireless Crosby™ Bow Load Shackles at the pick-up points of the hoist mechanism. Data results of the individual loading points and total weight were transmitted wirelessly to the WTS-BS-4 Industrial USB Base Station when connected to a PC or laptop with supplied Log100 software. Interface’s wireless system and solution successfully measured the boat’s weight and ensured it would be safely lifted out of the water.

Integrated seamlessly into various port machinery and equipment, Interface measurement devices provide highly accurate, real-time data to save costs, improve productivity, and keep workers and cargo safe during port operations.

Maritime Approved Solutions

What is Proof Testing and Why Does it Matter?

Proof testing determines that the failure of critical components and parts could result in costly damage to equipment and even injury in severe cases. Our measurement products are designed to be used in proof testing applications.

In proof testing applications, testing and measuring an object’s performance under extremely intense conditions, often above the specified operational use, is critical. This allows testing engineers to ensure the object can handle its rated load and go above and beyond to understand maximum performance and failure.

Interface load cells and data acquisition systems are frequently used for proof testing, which determines the strength and integrity of a test subject by applying a controlled, measured load to it. It is commonly used for general test and measurement applications for stress, fatigue, and materials testing. It is frequently used by industries such as construction, natural resources, infrastructure, heavy machinery, and manufacturing to verify the strong point and durability of objects and structures.

Top Three Reasons Why Proof Testing Matters

#1 Safety: Proof testing qualifies and quantifies the safety of equipment and structures that sustain substantial loads. Identifying weaknesses or defects is preventative, as failure can result in catastrophe. Proof testing for safety is standard for applications that include lifting equipment, rigging gear, structural supports, and components in aircraft or spacecraft.

#2 Quality: Proof testing is common during quality control to verify that equipment or materials meet the required specifications. Whether it is the equipment used in manufacturing equipment or the materials used to construct a building, proof testing is essential in defining and measuring adherence to quality standards.

#3 Reliability: Proof testing provides accurate data on the performance and trustworthiness of the tested objects. By understanding how it reacts under stress, product engineers and testing labs can validate the lifespan of a specific component or product. It is also used to define preventative maintenance requirements. It impacts production lines, product versioning, inspections, and, ultimately, the customer’s user experience.

Proof tests provide vital safety and performance measurements for equipment or structures with significant loads. It helps to prevent accidents, improve reliability, and ensure the quality and integrity of the tested item. Consult Interface Application Engineers to determine the best measurement devices for proof testing.

Proof Testing Using Load Cells

Step One: Load Cell and Set-Up

The starting point is selecting the proper measurement tool, in this case, a load cell. Consider the object’s size, expected load range, and accuracy requirements. Choose a load cell with a capacity slightly exceeding the maximum anticipated load during use.

TIP! Use Interface’s Load Cell Selection Guide

Mount the load cell and object in a stable, controlled environment. Ensure proper alignment and distribution of force on the load cell. Connect the load cell to the data acquisition system with a dedicated readout unit, computer software, or data logger, depending on your needs.

Step Two: Pre-Test and Zeroing

Most test engineers will run a pre-test at low load. This is done by applying a small force and monitoring the readings to ensure everything functions correctly and there are no extraneous signals. Zeroing the load cell to set the baseline measurement without any applied force is important. READ: Why Is Load Cell Zero Balance Important to Accuracy?

Step Three: The Test

When you start the proof test application and data recording, most technicians will increase the load gradually. As defined in a test plan, follow a preset loading schedule, typically in increments, until reaching the desired test load. This could be a static load held for a specific time or a cyclic load simulating real-world conditions. Next, using your load cell measurement instrumentation, monitor the load cell readings, object behavior, and any potential visual deformations throughout the test.

Step Four: Analysis

The proof testing provides data that can be used to analyze the load-displacement curve, identifying any deviations from expected behavior, excessive deflections, or potential failure points. Based on the data, determine if the object met the strength and performance requirements or exhibited any unacceptable flaws. This is why a high-performance, accurate load cell matters in proof testing. It determines the quality of your analysis. As with any testing, it is valuable to maintain records of the test procedure, data, and conclusions for future reference or further analysis. This step is crucial for regulatory and product liability requirements.

The specific requirements and procedures for proof testing will vary depending on the product, equipment, structure, industry standards, and regulations.

Proof Testing Example

The most straightforward solution, where it is necessary to measure the load in a tension cable subject to safety considerations, is to enclose the load cell in a compression cage, which converts tension into compression. The compression cell is trapped between the two plates. Thus, the load cell’s only overload failure mode is in compression, allowing a motion of 0.001″ to 0.010″ before the load cell becomes solid. Even if the load cell is destroyed, the compression cage cannot drop the load unless it fails. Therefore, the cage can be proof-tested with a dummy load cell or an overload-protected cell, and the risk of injury to personnel is avoided.

TIP! This example is detailed in our Interface Load Cell Field Guide. Get your copy here.

The nature of proof testing applications requires a diverse line of performance measurement tools. Interface products extend from overload capabilities for our precision LowProfile load cells to complete DAQ systems. These options provide perfect testing solutions when necessary to push the limits on a product, component, or part.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Enhancing Structural Testing with Multi-Axis Load Cells

Fatigue Testing with Interface Load Cells

Load Cells Built for Stress Testing

Benefits of Proof Loading Verification

Manufacturing: Furniture Fatigue Cycle Testing

Data AQ Pack Guide

Interface Solutions for Consumer Products

Enhancing Structural Testing with Multi-Axis Load Cells

Multiple industries use structural tests for quality control, regulatory requirements, failure analysis, predictive maintenance, design and performance verification, and safety assurance.

Structural tests measure the tension, design proofing, and lifecycle fatigue validation. Load cells provide valuable measurement data in structural testing. These tests apply to assessing the structural components for rockets, aircraft, automobiles, EV batteries, heavy equipment, and infrastructure projects.

There are times when more data is valuable beyond a standard load cell. Multi-axis sensors are essential tools for structural testing, providing valuable insights into the behavior of structures under various loading conditions. These sensors measure forces in multiple directions, enabling engineers to identify potential weaknesses, assess structural integrity, and optimize designs.

Multi-axis sensors offer several technical advantages for structural testing compared to traditional single-axis load cells. Interface’s 2-axis, 3-axis, and 6-axis load cells are all excellent options for structural testing.

TIP:  Use the new Interface Multi-Axis Selection Guide to evaluate the different designs, capacities, and capabilities quickly.

Primary Benefits of Using Multi-Axis Load Cells for Structural Testing

  • Extensive data acquisition: The primary advantage of multi-axis sensors is they can simultaneously measure forces in multiple directions, thoroughly analyzing the force distribution on a structure.
  • Improvements to structural design: The data obtained from multi-axis sensors can be used to refine structural design models, leading to more robust, efficient, and safe structures.
  • Reduction in complexity: Multi-axis load cells can replace multiple single-axis load cells, simplifying test setups and reducing the required data channels. The benefits are saving time during test setup and data analysis.
  • High accuracy: Multi-axis load cells are designed to minimize crosstalk between axes, ensuring accurate measurements even when forces are applied in multiple directions, which is critical in structural test data.
  • Early detection of structural issues: Using multi-axis sensors can help to identify subtle changes in structural behavior that may indicate early signs of damage or deterioration, allowing for timely intervention.
  • Versatile measurement device: Multi-axis load cells are used in various structural testing applications, including complex force distributions and dynamic loading conditions, making them versatile tools for structural and civil engineers.
  • Compact form factor: Interface multi-axis load cells are dimensionally suited for testing structures with limited space constraints.

During the Inventive Multi-Axis and Instrumentation Webinar, our application engineers shared significant technical benefits of multi-axis sensors. Watch the full recorded technical seminar here.

  • Improved understanding of reaction loads at boundary conditions
  • Transmissive loads through DUT
  • Bending and side loads
  • Force vector and center of force
  • Boundary load condition verification
  • Expansion of existing test methods

Applications of Multi-Axis Sensors in Structural Testing

Structural health monitoring: These sensors are used to continuously monitor the condition of structures, identifying early signs of damage or deterioration.

Bridge testing: Multi-axis sensors measure bridges’ load distribution and stress levels during various loading scenarios, ensuring their structural integrity.

Aircraft testing: These sensors measure aircraft structures’ aerodynamic forces and vibration response, ensuring their safety and performance.

Civil engineering testing: Multi-axis sensors are employed in testing a wide range of civil engineering structures, including buildings, dams, and offshore platforms. Visit: Infrastructure Solutions

Multi-axis load cells are an ideal technical solution for structural testing because they can simultaneously measure forces in multiple directions, reduce complexity, and improve accuracy. These versatile sensors can be used in structural testing and ongoing structural monitoring.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Multi-Axis Sensor Application Notes

Interface Solutions for Structural Testing

Structural Testing Overview

Modernizing Infrastructure with Interface Sensor Technologies

Interface and Infrastructure Markets Form a Perfect Partnership

Electric Vehicle Structural Battery Testing

Outlining Force Solutions for Structural Outrigging

Performance Structural Loading

Rocket Structure Testing

 

Universal Load Cells 101

In the force measurement testing world, versatility has tremendous value. That is why some of Interface’s most popular products are designed to provide adaptability for a broad spectrum of testing and force monitoring processes.

These products are engineered for universal use cases, from standard tension and compression LowProfile Load Cells to Interface’s multi-axis sensors that can measure up to 6 axes for additional data.

Universal load cells can measure both tension and compression forces in testing and monitoring applications. Universal load cells provide the ability to capture data on both forces. They are designed for a broad scope of force or weight measurement applications such as weighing scales, material testing machines, and industrial automation equipment.

These load cells are ideal for installations where the load may change from tension to compression. Universal load cells also suit various product and material destructive testing as they are robust and easily mounted in various applications.

Top Benefits of Universal Load Cells

Range of Standard Capacities: Universal load cells are diverse in dimension and capacities. From miniatures like our model ULC, which is the world’s most accurate ultra-low capacity tension and compression load cell measuring loads from 0.1 to 2 N (10.2 grams to 500 gmf) to 1000 Series High Capacity Fatigue Rated LowProfile Load Cell capable of measuring tension and compression over a million pounds of force, Interface has a range of universal options. The requirements of any testing program will define the type of load cell.

Versatility: Universal load cells can measure force in multiple directions, including compression, tension, and shear forces.

Adaptable Accessories: Universal load cells can be used with various accessories and fixtures to suit specific applications. This includes bases, mounting hardware, adapters, cables and protective enclosures. Wireless sensor options are in high demand for universal load cells.

Engineered to Order: Interface offers engineered to order and customization of our load cells to further the application use and flexibility of use.

Products such as universal load cells appeal to highly regulated industries like aerospace, defense, automotive, and industrial automation. In controlled testing, engineers must meet stringent performance measurement standards for components, equipment, and machinery.

Another area in which universal load cells stand out is in material testing. Measuring tension and compression provides critical force data when testing a material that will be used in system that needs to be both strong and flexible for safety and quality purposes.

One of Interface’s most popular load cell model, the 1200 series, is universal. For example, Interface’s Model 1200 and 1201 Series IO-Link Universal Load Cells are pancake style load cells which are IO-Link compatible with an open standard serial communication protocol that allows for the bi-directional exchange of data from sensors and devices.  We also offer a 1200 and 1201 Series 3-Wire Amplified Universal Load Cell.

Features and benefits of the 1200 and 1201 Series IO-Link Universal Load Cell include:

  • Proprietary Interface strain gages
  • Temperature compensated
  • Eccentric load compensated
  • Low deflection
  • Shunt calibration
  • Tension and compression
  • Compact size
  • 3-wire internal amp choice of 4-20 mA, ±5V, ±10V, 0-5V, 0-10V

Patient Hoyer Lift

A Hoyer lift is used to move patients. A medical equipment manufacturer would like a force system to weigh disabled patients and measure the maximum force when using the equipment. Interface’s WTS 1200 Precision LowProfile Wireless Load Cell is attached to the top of the Hoyer lift. The tension and compression force results are wirelessly transmitted to the medical personal’s computer through the WTS-BS-6 Wireless Telemetry Dongle Base Station. Interface’s wireless force system was able to measure the amount of weight a patient while also clarifying the maximum capacity the Hoyer lift can hold during use. Read more about this application here.

If you need a little more flexibility in your testing and monitoring system, Interface universal load cells may be a great option for you.  The choice of a specific load cell will depend on factors such as the required load capacity, accuracy, environmental conditions, and signal compatibility with the rest of the measurement or control system.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Interface 101 Series

Wireless Telemetry Systems 101

Load Cell Sensitivity 101

LowProfile Load Cells 101

ITCA Tension and Compression Load Cell

 

How Does Tensile Testing Work?

Tensile testing, also known as tension testing, is a type of mechanical test used to determine how a material responds to a stretching force. This test helps evaluate the mechanical properties of an object, such as metals, polymers, composites, and various other materials.

Performing a tensile test applies a load to specimen, and gradually increasing the load sometimes until failure or destruction. The tensile data is analyzed by using a stress-strain curve.

Interface stain gage load cells are commonly used in tensile testing due to their high precision and sensitivity. They work by measuring the strain in a material, which is directly related to the applied force. This strain data is then converted into force measurements. Learn more in Tension Load Cells 101.

Tensile testing is fundamental in test and measurement. It is used by researchers, testing labs, and engineers across industries including infrastructure, medical, manufacturing, aerospace, consumer goods, automotive, energy, and construction.

How Tensile Testing Works

Tensile testing is essential in materials science and engineering to understand the material’s behavior under tension and to ensure its suitability for specific applications.

First, a specimen of the material is prepared with a specific shape and dimensions. This sample is carefully controlled to meet testing standards based on the test plan.

Interface supplies a variety of load cells for these tests. The load cell is typically mounted in a tensile testing machine. The tensile test machine has two separate jaws, one of which will move away from the other at a controlled rate during the test. As it moves away, it is pulling on the material, stretching it until it the test is complete, or it breaks. This is also referred to as testing to failure or destruction. The controlled rate is called the strain rate, and materials will behave differently under different strain rates.

The specimen is then securely mounted in a testing machine, which is usually called a tensile testing machine or universal testing machine. The load cell is positioned in such a way that it bears the load applied to the specimen during the test.

Load cells are commonly used in tensile testing to measure and record the force or load applied to a specimen during the test. These sensor devices are crucial for accurately determining the mechanical properties of materials under tension.

The testing machine applies a pulling force (tensile force) to the specimen along its longitudinal axis. The force is gradually increased at a constant rate, causing the specimen to elongate.

As the tensile testing machine applies a pulling force to the specimen, the load cell measures the force in real-time. This force measurement is typically displayed on a digital instrumentation device or recorded by a data acquisition system.

The recorded data, including the applied force and the corresponding elongation or deformation of the specimen is usually plotted on a stress-strain curve for analysis. The stress-strain curve provides valuable information about the material’s mechanical properties, including its ultimate tensile strength, yield strength, Young’s modulus, and elongation at break.

Engineering Checklist for Tensile Test Plans

  • Identify the Purpose of the Tensile Test
  • Select the Material and Test Standard
  • Define the Mechanical Properties
  • Determine the Specific Mechanical Properties for Evaluation
    • Common properties include tensile strength, yield strength, modulus of elasticity (Young’s modulus), elongation, reduction in area, stress-strain curve characteristics
  • Establish Test Conditions
    • Include temperature, strain rate and testing environment
  • Define Sample and Specimen Requirements
  • Determine Measurement Accuracy Requirements
  • Prepare Instrumentation and Equipment
  • Plan for Data Recording and Reporting
  • Review Compliance Requirements and Safety Standards
  • Document Test Plan
  • Publish Verification and Validation Processes
  • Report Results

Defining measurement requirements for tensile tests by specifications is a crucial step in ensuring that the tests accurately and reliably assess the mechanical properties of materials.

Tensile Testing Terms to Know

Stress: Stress is the force applied per unit cross-sectional area of the specimen and is usually denoted in units of pressure. Stress is calculated by dividing the measured force by the cross-sectional area of the specimen. The load cell’s force measurement ensures that the stress values are accurate and precise. Simply, stress is the amount of force applied over a cross-cross-section.

Strain: Strain represents the relative deformation of the material and is the change in length (elongation) divided by the original length of the specimen. Strain is the amount of elongation in a sample as it is stretched or squashed.

Elastic Region: In the stress-strain curve, the initial linear region where stress is directly proportional to strain is known as the elastic region. Here, the material returns to its original shape when the load is removed.  As soon as a material is placed under any load at all, it deforms. Visually, the deformation may not be noticeable, but right away, the material is deforming. There are two types of deformation: elastic (not permanent) and plastic (permanent).

Yield Point: The yield point is the stress at which the material begins to exhibit permanent deformation without an increase in load. It marks the transition from elastic to plastic deformation.

Ultimate Tensile Strength (UTS): UTS is the maximum stress the material can withstand before breaking. It is the highest point on the stress-strain curve. If the material is loaded to its UTS, it will never return to its original shape, but it can be useful in engineering calculations, as it shows the maximum, one-time stress a material can withstand.  Load cells can detect the exact moment of specimen failure, such as fracture or breakage. This information is crucial for determining the ultimate tensile strength and other mechanical properties of the material.

Elongation at Break: Elongation at break is the amount the specimen stretches before it breaks, expressed as a percentage of the original length.

Load cells can also be used for real-time monitoring and control during the test. Test operators can set specific load or strain rate parameters to control the testing machine’s operation and ensure the test is conducted within specified conditions.

Load cells play a safety role by providing feedback to the testing machine’s control system. If the load exceeds a certain threshold or if the load cell detects an anomaly, the testing machine can be programmed to stop or take corrective actions to prevent damage to the equipment or ensure operator safety.

To discuss Interface products and experience in tensile testing, be sure to reach out to our global representatives in the field or contact us. We are always here to help!

Interface Solutions for Structural Testing

Interface products are used in many types of structural tests across industries, including for rockets, aircraft, EV batteries, heavy equipment, and infrastructure projects. Our loads cells provide the accurate and reliable data, which is why our force measurement solutions are a top choice for these complex and highly regulated industries.

Structural testing labs use Interface solutions to perform tensile, compression, bending, fatigue and hardness testing on materials, components, or assemblies. There are a variety of structural tests used for measuring tension of push and pull forces, design proofing, and lifecycle fatigue validation. Each of these tests plays a critical role in verifying the quality and safety of a product, component or materials, and each of these tests relies upon force measurement sensors.

Types of Structural Testing

  • Tensile Testing involves applying a pulling force to measure a structure’s strength and resistance. Load cells are used to measure the applied force and resulting tension from elongation or deformation of the material.
  • Compression Testing uses compressive force to evaluate the strength and resistance of a structure to crushing. Force measurement sensors are used to measure the magnitude of the applied force and the resulting deformation or failure.
  • Torque Testing measures the twisting or rotational forces applied to a structure. Torque transducers are utilized to assess the material’s torsional strength, stiffness, and behavior.
  • Load Capacity Testing determines the maximum load that a structure can withstand before failure. Force measurement sensors and load cells are used to gradually increase the load until failure occurs, enabling the determination of the structure’s load-carrying capacity.
  • Bending Tests assess the flexural strength and behavior of materials under force. Load cells measure forces applied during bending and to determine the bending moment, stress distribution, and deflection of the material within a structure.
  • Fatigue Tests in structural testing labs assess the durability and performance of materials under cyclic loading conditions. Force sensors measure the applied forces or loads helping to analyze the material’s fatigue life through various cycle counts.
  • Impact Testing involve subjecting a structure to sudden and high-intensity forces to assess its ability to withstand rapid loading conditions. This is particularly important for environmental condition testing to structures that endure extreme temperatures, winds, moisture. This type of testing is also important for submersible structures.
  • Shear Testing evaluates the resistance of a material to forces applied parallel to its surface, causing it to slide or deform. Force measurement devices measure the applied shear forces and determine the shear strength and behavior of the material used in a structure.

During the Testing Lab Essentials Webinar, Interface application experts detail various ways our products serve test labs. During this event, the experts detailed top considerations in selecting Interface products that serve test lab engineers in conducting structural tests. 

Structural testing labs use our LowProfile load cells because they are designed to fit into tight spaces and machines, making them ideal for use in small-scale structural applications. High-capacity load cells from Interface are designed to measure large forces and are commonly used in heavy machinery and structural testing. Universal load cells are capable of measuring tension and compression, making them ideal for quality control and structural testing applications.

Multi-axis sensors are valuable force measurement solutions as they provide more data across two, three and six axes during a single structural test. Implementing multi-axis sensors can provide a more complete picture of loads and moments being applied to the DUT providing additional insight for design and verification.

As noted in the webinar, key challenges involved in structural testing include managing and isolating extraneous loads such as off-axis load and bending, understanding which products are most suitable for the type of structural tests you are performing and ensuring the instrumentation you are using is compatible with force solutions. Equally, it is important to define your systems for optimal data collection in the planning phase of any project.

Structural Testing Applications

Performance Structural Loading

Performers and entertainers have special stages built to perform in concerts for their fans. From the largest sports events half-time shows to other complex staging, a force measurement system is needed to ensure the safety for all performers, equipment, and scenery on stage. The stage needs to hold all weight, and also maintain during dynamic movements, such as performers walking on stage. For this challenge, Interface’s A4200 Zinc Plated or A4600 Stainless Steel WeighCheck Load Cells paired with the 1280 Programmable Weight Indicator and Controller is able to measure the individual loads on each load cell, or the entire weight of the performance stage. Results from the 1280 Programmable Weight Indicator and Controller was sent to the customer’s control center. Using Interface’s A4200 Zinc Plated or A4600 Stainless Steel WeighCheck Load Cells as a customizable solution, the customer was able to monitor and weigh the performance stage.

Rocket Structural Test

NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) core stage will be the largest ever built at 27 feet in diameter and 200+ feet tall. Core components including liquid hydrogen and oxygen tanks must withstand launch loads up to 9 million pounds-force (lbf). Interface load cells attached to hydraulic cylinders at various locations along test stands to provide precise test forces. Strain gages bonded to rocket structure surface and connected to data acquisition system for stress analysis. Using this solution, Engineers are able to measure loads applied at various areas on the rocket structure, verifying the structural performance under simulated launch conditions.

EV Battery Structural Testing

As electric vehicles push advancements in efficiency gains, structural battery packaging is at the forefront for optimization. This drives the need to validate structural battery pack design, both in terms of life expectancy against design targets as well as crash test compliance and survivability. Interface’s solution includes 1100 Ultra-Precision LowProfile Load Cells in-line with hydraulic or electromechanical actuators in customer’s test stand. Also utilized are 6A Series 6-Axis Load Cells to capture reactive forces transmitting through pack structure. Multi-axis measurement brings greater system level insight and improved product success.

Interface is a valued partner to test labs for providing solutions for structural testing.

Additional Resources

Modernizing Infrastructure with Interface Sensor Technologies

Rocket Structure Testing

Rigging Engineers Choose Interface Measurement Solutions

Load Cell Selection Guide

Tension Load Cells 101

A tension load cell is a type of force sensor used to measure tensile forces in materials, structures, or machines. It is used to measure the maximum load that a material can support without fracture when being pulled or stretched under the applied load. A strain gage manufactured inside the load cell sensor measures the deformation and converts it into an electrical signal.

The main difference between a tension load cell and a compression load cell is the direction in which they measure the force being pushed or pulled. Though most Interface high performance load cells are designed for both tension and compression, specific load cells are calibrated in tension only to measure forces that pull or stretch a structure. As the load cell stretches, it measures the resulting force.

It is customary practice for most labs to use tension and compression load cells, then determine its specific tension use case based on the requirements of a test project or product design. Tension and compression load cells are easily used for tension only but will measure both. Load cells can be calibrated in either tension or compression, and both tension and compression. The combined is more economical for test labs and most use cases.

Benefits of Tension Load Cells

Load cells that measure tension are preferred over other types of load cells when the force being measured is tensile in nature. They are accurate, reliable, and can be calibrated to suit different applications and environments. Additionally, they are easy to use and require minimal maintenance.

Accurate measurement of tensile forces: Tension-only load cells are specifically designed to measure tensile forces accurately, without being influenced by compressive or bending forces. This makes them ideal for applications where the force being measured is purely tensile, such as in the testing of cables, wires, ropes, or chains used in lifting applications and equipment. Interface Tension Links are preferred for these types of lifting and weighing use cases.

High sensitivity and resolution: Tension-only load cells typically have high sensitivity and resolution, meaning they can detect slight changes in the applied force. This makes them useful in applications where precise measurements are required, such as in the testing of materials with low tensile strength.

Easy installation: Tension-only load cells are typically easy to install and use, requiring minimal setup time and equipment. They are often designed with attachment points or hooks for attaching to the load being measured, which makes them convenient for use in the field or in a testing lab.

Durability and reliability: Tension-only load cells are often constructed from durable materials, such as stainless steel, which makes them resistant to corrosion and wear over time. They are also designed to provide reliable and consistent measurements, ensuring accuracy and consistency in test results.

Tension Load Cell Applications

Tension load cells are standard and their versatility in application use makes them popular in test and measurement. Tension load cells are used for test and measurement industry applications including in manufacturing, automotive, energy, aerospace, and infrastructure. For example, the transportation sector uses load cells to measure the tension in cables, wires, ropes, and chains. They are used in a diverse range of testing equipment to measure the strength and durability of materials. They are designed to provide accurate and reliable measurements of tensile loads and can be calibrated to suit different applications and environments.

Tension load cells are commonly used in applications for material testing to evaluate the tensile strength and elasticity of varied materials, such as metals, plastics, and composites. Tension testing is a valuable tool in materials science and engineering, as it provides valuable information about the tensile properties of a material. Some examples of tension testing include:

  • Determining the strength of a material: Tension testing provides a way to measure the maximum load a material can withstand before it breaks or fails. This information is crucial in determining the strength of a material and its suitability for different applications.
  • Understanding the ductility of a material: Tension testing can also be used to measure the amount of deformation a material can undergo before it breaks. This information is important in determining the ductility of a material and its ability to withstand bending and stretching without breaking.
  • Identifying defects or weaknesses in a material: Tension testing can help identify defects or weaknesses in a material that may cause it to fail under stress. By subjecting a material to increasing levels of tension, engineers can pinpoint the point at which the material fails and investigate the cause of the failure.
  • Comparing the properties of varied materials: Tension testing can also be used to compare the tensile properties of different materials. This information is useful in selecting the best material for a specific application and designing structures that can withstand the required loads.

Tensile Testing For 3D Materials

A customer wants to conduct a tensile force test on different 3D printing materials until failure. These different 3D printing materials being tested included PLA, PETG and ASA to see how they performed. The customer wanted to test the materials quality, strength, ductility, and stiffness. Interface recommended using our 1200 Standard Precision LowProfile™ Load Cell be installed into the customer’s test frame. The tensile test is conducted, and force results captured by the load cell are synced through the INF-USB3 Universal Serial Bus Single Channel PC Interface Module. These results can be displayed on the customer’s computer with supplied software.

Tension load cells are used in structural testing to measure the tension in structures used in construction, aerospace, maritime, and infrastructure. For example, tension load cells are commonly used for bridges, buildings, and towers, to ensure they can withstand the forces in their design and application.

Tension load cells are often used within manufacturing machines and equipment for monitoring and real-time force measurement. For example, in a facility they are used to measure the tension in cables or wires during production, to ensure they meet the required specifications and are safe for use.

Research and development for all types of applications need to assess the tensile properties of new materials or structures, to assess their suitability for different applications, from medical devices to product simulations.

If your next project needs an accurate tension load cell, contact our application experts to see which model best fits your exact requirements.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Interface Solutions for Material Testing Engineers

Tensile Testing for 3D Materials App Note

Testing Lab Essentials Webinar

Bolt Tension Monitoring

Mooring Line Tension Testing App Note

Tension Links 101

Why Mechanical Engineers Choose Interface Solutions

Mechanical engineers play a crucial role in the design, development, and maintenance of mechanical systems that are integral to modern society and industries. They apply tenets of physics, materials science, and engineering to design, test and analyze, fabricate, and maintain mechanical systems in various industries, including automotive, aerospace, energy, robotics, and manufacturing.

Frequently, mechanical engineers use Interface force measurement devices to gather data, analyze performance, and ensure the safety and reliability of mechanical systems. Force measurement technologies help them to quantify the magnitude and direction of forces acting on objects or structures.

Mechanical engineers are active in the research and development of modern technologies and innovations, from small components to large industrial machines. This vital role is typically involved in the selection of materials, manufacturing processes, and quality control to ensure that mechanical systems are safe, dependable, efficient, and cost-effective.

Interface’s quality and accuracy of load cells make them a preferred engineering solution for various use cases. The range of products are used for multiple testing and design applications. The most common products selected by mechanical engineers include:

Engineers use sensors to determine the forces acting on different components or subsystems within a larger system, such as an engine, gearbox, or suspension system, during operation. This information can be used to verify that components are operating within their design limits, identify potential failure points, and optimize performance.

Force measurement devices are used by mechanical engineers in quality control processes to ensure that mechanical systems meet design specifications and performance requirements by performing tests during the manufacturing process, such as checking the tension in bolts, verifying the strength of welds, or measuring the force required for assembly or disassembly of components.

Mechanical engineers use impact force sensors to measure the forces experienced by a vehicle during crash testing, or fatigue testing machines to apply cyclic loads to components or structures to simulate real-world conditions. They participate in the design, development, and optimization of renewable energy systems such as solar power, wind power, hydropower, and geothermal power. Read Interface Solutions for Growing Green Energy.

Mechanical engineers are at the forefront of advancements in robotics and automation, including designing and developing autonomous vehicles, drones, robotic manufacturing systems, and automated processes for industries such as automotive, aerospace, and manufacturing. Advancements in materials science is a key role for many mechanical engineers. As well, these types of engineers play a crucial role in advancing the field of biomechanics and developing medical devices.

IoT and smart systems that integrate mechanical components with sensors, actuators, and control systems to create intelligent and connected systems are a result of the work of mechanical engineers. This includes developing smart buildings, smart appliances, smart transportation systems, and other IoT-enabled devices. Read Interface Sensor Technologies Enables IoT Capabilities

Mechanical engineers use force measurement devices to perform tests and experiments to determine the forces experienced by mechanical systems. Load cells help them to quantify the loads on structural components, such as beams, columns, or joints, to understand their performance under different conditions.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Electrical Engineers Choose Interface Sensor Technologies

Interface Celebrates Engineers

Interface Solutions for Production Line Engineers

Interface Solutions for Material Testing Engineers

Quality Engineers Require Accurate Force Measurement Solutions

Why Product Design Engineers Choose Interface

Why Civil Engineers Prefer Interface Products

Use Cases for Load Pins

Performance Structural Loading App Note

Interface OEM Solutions Process

 

 

Load Cell Test Protocols and Calibrations

In the Interface Load Cell Field Guide, our engineers and product design experts detail important troubleshooting tips and best practices to help test and measurement professionals understand the intricacies of load cells and applications for force measurement devices. In this post, our team has outlined some helpful advice for testing protocols, error sourcing and calibrations.

The first step in creating test protocols and calibration use cases is to define the mode you are testing. Load cells are routinely conditioned in either tension or compression mode and then calibrated. If a calibration in the opposite mode is also required, the cell is first conditioned in that mode prior to the second calibration. The calibration data reflects the operation of the cell only when it is conditioned in the mode in question.

For this reason, it is important that the test protocol, which is the sequence of the load applications, must be planned before any determination of possible error sources can begin. In most instances, a specification of acceptance must be devised to ensure that the requirements of the load cell user are met.

Typical error sources in force test and measurement are usually identified as being related to:

  • Lack of protocol
  • Replication of actual use case
  • Conditioning
  • Alignment
  • Adapters
  • Cables
  • Instrumentation
  • Threads and loading
  • Temperature
  • Excitation voltage
  • Bolting
  • Materials

In very stringent applications, users generally can correct test data for nonlinearity of the load cell, removing a substantial amount of the total error.  If this can’t be done, nonlinearity will be part of the error budget.

An error budget is the maximum amount of time that a technical system can fail without service level consequences. In force test and measurement, it is sometimes referred to as uncertainty budget.

Nonlinearity is the algebraic difference between output at a specific load and the corresponding point on the straight line drawn between minimum load and maximum load.

Nonrepeatability is essentially a function of the resolution and stability of the signal conditioning electronics.  Load cells typically have nonrepeatability that is better than the load frames, fixtures and electronics used to measure it.

Nonrepeatabillty is the maximum difference between output readings for repeating loading under identical loading and environmental conditions.

The remaining source of error, hysteresis, is highly dependent on the load sequence test protocol.  It is possible to optimize the test protocol in most cases, to minimize the introduction of unwanted hysteresis into the measurements.

Hysteresis is the algebraic differences between output at a given load descending from maximum load and output at the same load ascending from minimum load.

There are cases when users are constrained, either by requirement or product specification, to operate a load cell in an undefined way that will result in unknown hysteresis effects. In such instances, the user will have to accept the worst-case hysteresis as an operating specification.

Some load cells must be operated in both tension and compression mode during their normal use cycle, without the ability to recondition the cell before changing modes. This results in a condition called toggle, a non-return to zero after looping through both modes. The magnitude of toggle is a broad range. There are several solutions to the toggle problem, including using a higher capacity load cell so that it can operate over a smaller range of its capacity, use a cell made from a lower toggle material or require a tighter specification.

ONLINE RESOURCE: INTERFACE TECHNICAL INFORMATION

For questions about testing protocols, conditioning, or calibration, contact our technical experts. If you need calibration services, we are here and ready to help.  Click here to request a calibration or repair service today.