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ForceLeaders Summit Florida

Interface’s exclusive ForceLeaders Summit heads back to the Space Coast on March 14, 2024. We are stopping in Cocoa Beach with new topics, products, and technical tips. Our force measurement seminars bring industry experts and engineers together to talk about load cells, torque transducers, calibration, systems, applications, and, most importantly, answers to questions. These are fast-paced, technical hands-on events. Registration is required, with limited seating. Interface and GenTek force measurement solutions engineers and experts will share valuable tips and experiences using our precision load cells, torque transducers, multi-axis sensors, pressure sensors, and advanced instrumentation. Join us for a two plus hour conversation followed by interactive discussions, demonstrations and lunch.

Load Cell Simulator 101

A load cell simulator is a device that mimics the electrical signal of a load cell. This allows technicians to test and calibrate measurement systems without applying physical force or weight to the load.

By generating a range of input signals using a load cell simulator, technicians can assess the instrument’s linearity, sensitivity, and accuracy, ensuring it meets the required specifications.

The two most common uses for load cell simulators are troubleshooting and calibration. Load cell simulators can effectively troubleshoot force measurement systems, detecting and isolating faults or malfunctions. By simulating various load conditions and injecting fault conditions, technicians can pinpoint the source of the problem, such as a broken wire or a faulty load cell.

Load cell simulators are essential for calibrating force measurement devices, ensuring they accurately translate applied force into a measurable electrical signal. By generating a controlled force signal, technicians can compare the displayed value to the known input signal, identifying discrepancies and adjusting the device accordingly.

Interface load cell simulators are part of our accessories product line. They are an essential accessory and valuable investment for any testing lab or research facility frequently using load cells. These simulators can help to improve safety, reduce downtime, improve accuracy, lower costs, and increase convenience.

Why Use a Load Cell Simulator?

  • Testing and monitoring force measurement systems: Load cell simulators can test instrumentation performance used in force measurement systems, such as hydraulic presses, assembly machines, and material testing machines. By simulating forces that the system would typically encounter, the simulator can help identify potential problems with the instrumentation, ensuring that the system operates safely and efficiently.
  • Verifying proper indicator setup: Load cell simulators can be used to verify that an indicator is configured correctly for the type of load cells being used. This includes checking the scaling and the instrument’s linearity.
  • Cable checks: One of the first troubleshooting tips for any load cell application is to check the cables and connectors. A load cell simulator is valuable for checking cables.
  • Scaling: Load cell simulators are crucial for scaling force measurement devices, enabling precise calibration, troubleshooting, and testing. They play a vital role in ensuring the accuracy and reliability of force measurements across various industries.
  • Calibrating scale indicators: Load cell simulators can generate a precise mV/V signal corresponding to a specific weight. This allows technicians to calibrate scale indicators to ensure that they are displaying accurate weight readings.
  • Application evaluation: Load cell simulators can be used to develop and troubleshoot force-related applications, such as medical devices, prosthetics, and exercise equipment. By simulating forces that users would typically apply, the simulator can help to ensure that the application is safe, effective, and operational.
  • Research and product development: Load cell simulators can be used to research new force measurement applications.
  • Technician training: Load cell simulators can educate and train technicians on the proper use and calibration of load cells.

Interface Load Cell Simulators

CX SERIES PRECISION MV/V TRANSFER STANDARD LOAD CELL SIMULATOR 

CX SERIES PRECISION mV/V TRANSFER STANDARDModel CX Series Precision mV/V Transfer Standard is the market’s most accurate load cell simulator. This NIST Traceable product is commonly used to calibrate and check instruments in accredited labs.

  • Most accurate load cell simulator
  • Special low thermal EMF construction
  • Each unit is individually calibrated, aged, and recalibrated
  • Strong, rugged design
  • Instrument substitution testing

In the series, models CX-0202, CX-0610, CX-0440, CS-0330, and CX-0220 are used to set up and check the Gold Standard® System Hardware. CX-0440, CX-0330, and CX-0220 are single-step mV/V transfer standards providing precision outputs of ±4, ±3, and ±2 mV/V respectively. CX-0610 is a multi-step unit that allows the user to go from -6 mV/V to +6 mV/V in 1 mV/V steps. Model CX-0404 is specifically designed for instrument substitution testing as per ASTM E74.

EVALUATOR 3 LOAD CELL SIMULATOR 

Evaluator 3 Load Cell SimulatorThe Evaluator 3 variable range simulator is well suited for basic troubleshooting needs, offering nine fixed intervals from -5 mV/V to +4.5 mV/V.

  • ABS plastic case
  • Weighs less than 1 lb (0.45 kg)
  • Fixed rotary switch, -0.5 mV/V to 4.5 mV/V in 9 steps of 0.5mV/V per step
  • Used in testing and troubleshooting mV/V instrumentation

IF500 LOAD CELL SIMULATOR 

The new model IF500 is a 5V or 10V excitation-only load cell simulator with a state-of-the-art microprocessor-based design. It is a cost-effective simulator with advanced instrumentation capabilities. The instrument excitation supply powers the IF500 and requires no batteries.

  • Set “ANY” mV/V value within ±5mV/V
  • State-of-the-art, microprocessor-based design
  • Sleep mode eliminates digital clock noise
  • Powered by instrument excitation supply… No batteries
  • Buffered Ratiometric output
  • 350-ohm bridge configuration
  • Stores up to 10 settings with sequential recall
  • Digital zero trim and storage
  • Low noise, low quiescent current, low-temperature coefficient, high stability amplifiers
  • Compatible with instruments using 5V or 10V excitation, including Interface’s instrument models 9820, 9840, 9860, 9870, 9890, CSC/CSD, DMA/DMA2, DCA, INF1/INF4, ISG, SGA, and VSC
  • Options include: NIST Traceable Calibration Certificate, Screw Terminal Adapters for the BNC Connectors and Cable Adapters

Application Examples for Load Cell Simulators

Manufacturing: Load cell simulators are essential for calibrating and testing force measurement devices used in manufacturing processes, ensuring accurate force control and product consistency. ADDITIONAL RESOURCE: Manufacturing Solutions.

Food Processing: Load cell simulators are critical in calibrating and troubleshooting force measurement devices, ensuring precise portion control, and maintaining food safety standards.  ADDITIONAL RESOURCE: Force Measurement for Efficiency in Food Processing and Packaging

Construction: Load cell simulators are employed for testing and calibrating force measurement devices used in construction applications, such as crane load monitoring and material testing. ADDITIONAL RESOURCE: Construction Solutions

Medical Devices: Load cell simulators are utilized for calibrating and verifying the accuracy of force measurement devices in medical applications, such as patient weighing scales and rehabilitation equipment. ADDITIONAL RESOURCE: Medical and Healthcare

Interface load cell simulators are indispensable tools for scaling force measurement devices, providing a safe, efficient, and cost-effective means to ensure the accuracy and reliability of force measurements across diverse industries. Their ability to calibrate, troubleshoot, and test force measurement devices contributes to product quality, process control, safety, and regulatory compliance, making them essential for maintaining the integrity of force measurement systems.

Interface Engineered Solutions for Lifting Webinar Recap

Everything from mechanical engineering designs, equipment materials, and the sensors used in lifting machinery is changing the concept of lifting today. Interface experts Keith Skidmore and Ken Bishop explore types of measurement products, applications, technical considerations, and tips for lifting use cases in the Interface recorded webinar Engineered Solutions for Lifting.

Sensors are central in lifting equipment to maintain safety, quality, compliance, and efficiency. Interface provides a useful product selection online resource for lifting applications. Go to the Lifting Solutions Guide.

Interface load cells can help prevent accidents by providing real-time feedback on the weight of the lifted load. The measurement data helps ensure the lifting machinery is not overloaded or unbalanced, leading to structural failure, tipping over, or injury. Sensor technologies improve quality control by ensuring products are lifted to the correct specifications.

Interface LowProfile Load Cells, Load Pins, Load Shackles, and Tension Links improve efficiency by automating the lifting process. For example, load cells can control the speed and movement of a lifting mechanism, ensuring that the load is lifted safely and efficiently. These measurement sensors can reduce costs by minimizing damage to equipment and products. By preventing overloads and ensuring that loads are lifted safely, load cell devices can extend the lifespan of equipment and prevent costly accidents.

In many industries, regulations require load cells for lifting applications to ensure compliance and overload protection. For example, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires the use of load cells in many lifting applications for monitoring and reporting.

Automation of lifting is on the rise. Using robotics and component activation is commonly designed into new equipment and retrofitting existing hardware. These features also provide valuable operating safety and alarm systems based on key measurements. Modernizing equipment to meet today’s and future use cases is important to operators and manufacturers of lifting equipment. This includes utilizing wireless components and using cloud-based data (IoT).

Lifting sensors are more commonly found in settings with high-temperature variances and exposure to extreme environmental conditions. The measurement solutions must withstand these variances while providing continuous monitoring capabilities. Today’s use cases require smaller load cells, like our beam load cells, while not sacrificing precision measurement.

Interface products are used for all types of lifting equipment, apparatus, and machines, including:

  • All Purpose Cranes
  • Patient Lifts and Medical Equipment
  • Drones with Lift and Carry Capabilities
  • Aircraft Lifts and Rigging
  • Lifting Gantry Systems and Mobile Gantry Cranes
  • Jib Cranes
  • Engine and Floor Cranes
  • Scaffold Runway Systems
  • Venue and Entertainment AV Equipment
  • Rigging Equipment
  • Pallet Movers
  • Elevators
  • Loaders and Bulldozers

During the webinar, Interface experts shared tips and best practices. Here is a quick summary of tips for lifting use cases.

Top Measurement Tips for Lifting Use Cases

TIP #1 Select the right force sensor. Factors to consider when selecting a force sensor include the maximum force it can measure, accuracy, weight, dimensions, and environmental conditions for use.

TIP #2 Proper installation will define your application’s success. It is important to install the force sensor correctly to ensure accurate measurements.

TIP #3 Calibrate the force sensor regularly, preferably once a year. Regularly run calibration-grade tests if the load cell is embedded into the lifting device.

TIP #4 Based on each use case, instrumentation can make all the difference in your program. For example, a data acquisition system collects force data to monitor the lifting process, identify potential problems, and generate reports.

TIP #5 Design the lifting system with safety in mind. Force measurement can improve the safety of lifting systems by preventing overloading, detecting imbalances in the load, and monitoring the condition of the lifting equipment.

Tune into the webinar to hear Keith Skidmore and Ken Bishop detail best practices, key considerations to identify stable and unstable lifting, and a thorough review of industry applications using Interface products.

Lifting Applications

Crane Capacity Verification

A customer wants to verify that their crane is strong enough to safely lift a heavy load at its rated maximum load capacity. A wireless solution is needed to avoid long cables and to have a faster installation time. Interface’s Model WTSATL Lightweight Wireless Tension Link Load Cell can measure the load’s maximum capacity. The WTS-RM1 Wireless Relay Output Receiver Modules can also trigger an alarm that can be set when the maximum capacity of weight/force has been reached. The data is transmitted and can be reviewed with the WTS-BS-1-HS Wireless Handheld Display or on the customer’s PC.

gantry crane lifting a heavy container

Gantry Crane Wireless Lifting for Heavy Containers

Gantry cranes are used for mobile and lifting applications in industrial and construction. A weighing system is needed to see if the gantry crane can lift 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 transmitted to the WTS-BS-1-HS Wireless Handheld Display for Single Transmitters and a connected computer using the WTS-BS-6 Wireless Telemetry Dongle Base Station.

Patient Lifting Device

In the medical field, sometimes it is necessary to weigh or transfer patients who are disabled and cannot walk. A Hoyer lift is used to move patients around. A manufacturer would like a force system to weigh disabled patients and see the maximum weight it can hold. Interface’s WTS 1200 Standard Precision LowProfile® Wireless Load Cell is attached to the top of the Hoyer lift. The force results are wirelessly transmitted to the medical laptop through the WTS-BS-6 Wireless Telemetry Dongle Base Station.

Find additional productions and solutions in our Lifting Solutions Overview.

Lifting Solutions Brochure

Force Measurement Installation Guides

Interface is a long-time provider of the world’s most accurate and reliable force measurement products. Our sensor and instrumentation solutions are used across industries to test and monitor everything from critical infrastructure and to advanced robotics. Innovators and engineers know that our quality is unmatched. However, any measurement device manufacturer nor superior quality of a product can save users from poor performance when making this one critical mistake, poor installation.

Proper installation is one of the absolute keys to reliable and accurate test data and successful measurement programs. This is true for any type of test and measurement protocol, in particular utilizing force measurement.

Preparing for any installation for any load cell force or weighing measurement system is dependent of the integrity of the physical installation, interconnection of the components, following proper performance of the system components, and calibration.

Installation success is such an important topic, we asked Interface engineers and application experts for their thoughts on the top reasons why proper installation is critical to a successful test or vice versa. They also shared helpful guidance on why improper installation can be so damaging.

  • Poor installation can lead to damaging the load cell, so to protect your investment follow the installation instructions that a accompany your product.
  • When we provide performance metrics on our product, it is based on our in-house calibration. When improperly installed, you will not be hitting the performance numbers you need during use.
  • Improper installation can cause overload which can not only damage the load cell, but also create unsafe working conditions.
  • Installation guides not only give you the proper installation techniques, but they also provide the correct order for installation.
  • And our favorite tip, and the most relatable, “Improper installation with ultimately lead to headaches!

Installation can also vary widely between load cells and other force measurement solutions. Each product has different processes depending on the mounting components, the application being tested or monitored, the environment in which the application is being tested or monitored, and more. It is important to carefully review any materials provided with the instrumentation and sensor.

Interface provides a wide variety of installation guides, instructions and technical support online. You can find these instruction guides by visiting our support installation and manuals option.

In addition, we have resources providing clear explanation on installation and its importance. Recently, our video and blog series titled, I’ve Got A Load cell – Now What? Part 6 – Usage & Best Practices, includes in-depth information on installation and mounting.

Mechanical Installation Tips

Once you have your load cell hooked up and your instrumentation scale, it is time to put it to work. You want to review the attachment, including thread engagement and mounting. If you are threading into the live end, the center hub on the low profile load cell, make sure you have enough threads engaging into the load cell itself. We recommend that you thread it into where the studs bottom out, then back up a half a turn. Next step is to preload tension load by about 130% of capacity and jam the jam nut. We want to ensure that we do not have any repeatability issues due to thread engagement of the flexure. If you cannot provide a preload, reference the torque values in the installation guide.

Mounting to Base, Structure or Plate Tips

  • Use Grade 8 or Better Hardware
  • Mount to Total Flatness of .002″
  • R30-33 Hardness Scale
  • Follow the star patter to proper torque values
  • Preinstalled Bases

Interface bases help in making integration to any assembly much easier. Interface manufactures bases with the same high-performance materials and specifications for hardness and flatness as our load cells. The bases offer threaded holes, which make it easier for mechanics like hydraulic actuators.

We also offer several references for troubleshooting. Two important considerations to review during set-up are the mechanical and electrical installation requirements.

Mechanical Installation Troubleshooting: Load cells not mounted in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations may not perform to specifications. It is important to review the mounting surfaces, hardware, and orientation during the installation.

Electrical Installation Troubleshooting: Proper load cell performance is depending upon the electrical system. The areas to inspect during any install are the connections, cables, settings of excitation voltage and loading of the bridge circuit.

We urge that to get the most out of your new load cell to reference the materials provided in the installation guides. If you have any questions, Interface is also here to help. Feel free to reach out to your local representatives and distributors or call us directly at 480-948-5555 to speak with an engineer to help solve your installation challenges.

I’ve Got a Load Cell – Now What? Episodes 5 and 6

Reviewing the test and measurement video I’ve Got a Load Cell – Now What?, today we are highlighting Episodes 5 and 6 in the favored series.

These two installments highlight instrumentation and installation tips with best practice recommendations for the most popular load cell, the 1200 LowProfile, in addition to the 1100 LowProfile, SM S-Type and WMC Stainless Steel Miniature Load Cell products.

Once you have selected measurement device, it is equally important to review your instrumentation options. You will need a way of interpreting the output or the voltage from the load cell. This requires connecting to some type of instrumentation. If you already own an instrumentation device, you need to ensure that it is useable with any new force measurement device.

Interface offers a large line of instrumentation, from simple indicators to more complex multi-channel data acquisition systems used with multi-axis sensors, load cells and torque transducers. In addition to watching the video, be sure to check out our Instrumentation Selection Guide.

If you are selecting new instrumentation, there are a few questions to help qualify what will work best. For example, do you need a simple device to read analog outputs or advanced wireless instrumentation used with calibration-grade equipment? What type of software will you need to analyze the output data? Will you be connecting the instrumentation to a computer? As discussed in, I’ve Got a Load Cell Episode 5, here are some basic considerations for instrumentation.

Instrumentation Selection

Step 1: Electrical Wiring – Review the electrical wiring diagrams (also available on each product page). If you need to review the wiring based on engineered-to-order or custom options, contact our application engineers.

Step 2:  Signal Leads – Are you using a 4 or 6-wire configuration? A 6-wire lead provides sense. Some instrumentation options will support 6-wire signal leads. Most applications allow you to just pair with excitation.

Step 3: Cables – Identify the type of cable required with the right number of leads. For example, our standard 6-wire cable will support the sense function. We recommend shielded conductors when you order your cables.

Step 4: Grounding – Avoid ground loops in any wiring.

Step 5: Excitation Voltage – Review the sensor’s voltage of excitation on the datasheet to identify the load cell calibration. We recommend to properly match with the instrumentation’s capabilities in voltage with the load cell.

Step 6: Set-Up – Once you connect your instrumentation, you need to scale it. Review your options in the installation instructions. Some instrumentation options will take an mV entry and others will require a known load or shunt calibration. Reference your device’s calibration certificate.

In the I’ve Got a Load Cell, Now What? series Episode 6, we highlight some important diagnostics, installation tips and best practices. This video highlights examples of installation for some of our most popular load cells.

During the selection of your load cell, which usually begins with capacity and capabilities requirements, it is important to consider performance influencing factors and installation.

Use Case Considerations

  • Environmental Considerations and Exposure
  • Fatigue or Non-Fatigue
  • Overload Protection Needs
  • Off-Axis Loads
  • Dimensions
  • Mounting and Base Requirements
  • Output
  • Installation Set-Up

If you already have an older load cell, we recommend doing some back load cell health checks before putting it back into use. How can you evaluate the health of your load cell? You can do some simple diagnostics with load cells. Here are three recommended diagnostics:

  1. Zero Balance Check – If the load cell has been in use for some time, it is good to determine if there has been any potential overload or damage to the load cell. If the zero balance has shifted up or down from the nominal, that is an indication the load cell should be evaluated or repaired prior to using it in test applications.
  2. RCal or Shunt Calibration Check – Any shift from the specifications or certificate requires further evaluation.
  3. Bridge Evaluation – Some instrumentation will allow you to do a bridge evaluation. If you have any concerns on the performance or accuracy of the output, contact Interface to discuss tools that you can use to evaluate the bridge of the load cell.

The next section of Episode 6 highlights the 1200 LowProfile features, installation tips, and mounting options for assembly.

Mechanical Installation Tips

Once you have your load cell hooked up and your instrumentation scale, it is time to put it to work. You want to review the attachment, including thread engagement and mounting. If you are threading into the live end, the center hub on the low profile load cell, make sure you have enough threads engaging into the load cell itself. We recommend that you thread it into where the studs bottom out, then back up a half a turn. Next step is to preload tension load by about 130% of capacity and jam the jam nut. We want to ensure that we do not have any repeatability issues due to thread engagement of the flexure. If you cannot provide a preload, reference the torque values in the installation guide.

Mounting to Base, Structure or Plate Tips

  • Use Grade 8 or Better Hardware
  • Mount to Total Flatness of .002″
  • R30-33 Hardness Scale
  • Follow the star patter to proper torque values
  • Preinstalled Bases

Interface bases help in making integration to any assembly much easier. Interface manufactures bases with the same high-performance materials and specifications for hardness and flatness as our load cells. The bases offer threaded holes, which make it easier for mechanics like hydraulic actuators.

Brian Peters and Elliot Speidell continue to detail the assembly and best practices for three additional products. You can watch more installation tips and recommendations related to the 1100 Model Ultra Precision Compression Only LowProfile Load Cells, SM S-Type Tension and Compression Load Cells and our popular WMC Sealed Stainless Steel Miniature Load Cell.

Interface publishes all our installation guides, diagrams and resources for support online. Go to our support resources for additional help.

Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel to get the latest videos on products, applications and user tips.

Embedding Sensors in Products Webinar Recap

Interface recently hosted a live virtual event, Embedding Sensors in Products, where Brian Peters and Randy White detail the processes, products and uses cases for using Interface load cells, load pins, and torque transducers as a stand-alone sensor solution or a component within a product.

Interface has been providing custom engineered and manufactured solutions for more than 50 years to equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and product engineers to meet unique specifications and requirements.

Interface sensor technologies are frequently being used medical devices, machines and equipment, industrial automation robotics, material extraction and pumps, weighing and monitoring devices, vehicle production and components and more. Building any custom OEM solution to exact specifications is a team sport.  Working together with Interface engineers, we partner with the customer through ever stage: Design, Test, Build and Supply.

The typical uses cases for Interface OEM Solutions include:

  • Products requiring sensor technology components
  • Instrumenting components
  • Utilizing sensors to measure force, weight, or torque
  • Managing test and measurement processes and protocols
  • Precision performance requirements and testing 

The entire recorded Embedding Sensors Event is available to online to watch at your convenience.

The best tip for success is to engage early with Interface. Our experts have the experience and know-how of product capabilities, applications, configurations, and a history of what works and potential risks. When getting started, details matter. Our OEM Applications Engineers will work with you to ensure we have answer to important questions, including: 

  • What are you measuring?
  • Why are you measuring?
  • What signal or connectivity is needed?
  • Measurement range and potential loading conditions
  • Envelope and mechanical integration
  • Environment
  • Calibration – relative vs absolute measurement
  • What are you trying to solve #1?

Be sure to watch the new ForceLeaders event to gain insights into the process, tips for success, industry use cases and the range of products available for embedding sensors into products. There are many products Interface has available that are great options for engineered-to-order and customization. These Interface products include low and high capacity load cells, compression load cells, miniature load cells and load buttons, load pins, s-type and beam load cells, sealed load cells, torque transducers, digital communication devices, multi-axis sensors and more. Several product options are discussed in detail during this informative presentation

You can watch the presentation below, where our experts discuss the following topics:

  • Interface OEM Solutions
  • How to Get Started
  • Dialing in on Specifications and Requirements
  • Process: Design, Test, Build and Supply
  • Common Sensors Used for OEM
  • Trends in OEM 
  • Applications + Uses Cases
  • FAQs

If you have questions about how to get started or need further information about our OEM Solutions, go here. Our experts are ready to help with your exact requirements.  Additional information is also available in our white paper, New Interface White Paper Highlights Turning an Active Component into a Sensor.