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Interface Load Cells 201 General Procedures Guide

The Interface Load Cells 201 Guide is an extract from our comprehensive go-to for the force measurement industry, the Interface Load Cell Field Guide.

This shortened reference zeros in on general procedures for using load cells. With in-depth explanations, illustrations, practical procedures, and insightful tips, this Interface technical support resource is a helpful guide to have on hand. It is designed to support general procedures using load cells, optimize your processes, and achieve exceptional results in any force measurement application.

Interface Load Cells 201: General Procedures Guide topics include:

  • Excitation Voltage: Understand the crucial role of voltage in powering your load cell and learn techniques for remote sensing, ensuring accurate readings every time.
  • Physical Mounting: Master proper mounting with detailed instructions for both “dead” and “live” ends, ensuring maximum precision and optimal cell life.
  • Mounting Procedures for Different Load Cell Models: Whether you’re working with beam cells, mini cells, low profile cells with or without bases, or any other type, the guide provides clear, step-by-step instructions for a perfect setup.
  • Mounting Torques and Fixtures: Get the torque values right for your specific transducer, ensuring secure mounting without compromising performance.

This quick guide eliminates errors and ensures reliable data with expert mounting techniques. It helps to extend the life of a load cell, protecting your investment with proper installation practices that maximize cell longevity. A complete copy can be found below.  To save a copy, go here.

Looking for even more in-depth support? Interface offers additional resources, including installation manuals, video tutorials, technical support, and a complete library of Interface 101 articles.

VIDEOS TUTORIALS AND RESOURCES

 SUPPORT REFERENCES

 TECHNICAL INFO AND GUIDES

If you have questions about any of these topics, need help selecting the right sensor, or want to explore a specific application, contact Interface Application Engineers.

Interface Load Cell 201 Guide- 2024 Edition

Unlocking the Power of DAQ Webinar Recap

Interface hosted a technical seminar on the topic of data acquisition systems. With the demands for more data and faster processing with requirements to connect multiple devices in testing environments, there is an increasing need for high accuracy DAQ systems. Keith Skidmore and Dave Reardon detail the basics of DAQ, trends, products, software options and answer to questions in the webinar, Unlocking the Power of DAQ.

To start, a data acquisition (DAQ) system consists of hardware and software components designed to collect, process, and analyze data from various sources and convert it into digital format for further analysis and storage.

Components of DAQ Systems

  • Input:  Sensors (Ex: Force, Torque), Digital Signals (Ex: DIO, Counters), Timing Signals (Ex: IRIG, GPS) and Serial Streams (Ex: RS-232, RS-422)
  • Signal Conditioning Circuitry: Excitation, Amplifier, Voltage Offsets, and Filters
  • Analog-to-Digital Converters (ADC)
  • Digital-to-Analog Converters (DAC)
  • Hardware and Software for processing, analyzing, display and recording
  • Output Signal: prior to ADC, after DAC, or even after processing

Analog data acquisition systems acquire and process analog signals. Analog signals can include sensors that measure load, force, torque, strain, temperature, pressure, voltage, current, and many other physical or electrical qualities.  Digital data acquisition systems acquire and process digital signals. Digital signals can include on and off states, counters, serial streams, text data, video, GPS signals, and other advanced options.

 Key Considerations for DAQ Systems

  • Features
    • Supported range of inputs mV/V, VDC, mA, partial bridge, encoder, pulse, frequency
    • Included software and related functionality
  • Form factor
    • Bench top, rack mount, portable, ruggedized and others
  • Sample rate
  • Connectivity
  • Power supply
  • Channel count and cost per channel

Interface DAQ Products

Interface offers a range of solutions for DAQ systems. The top products for DAQ include:

During the webinar, Keith and Dave detail a series of product groups for the Interface Data AQ Packs.

Data AQ Pack Brochure

Watch the webinar and learn more about product options, software, applications and best practice tips.

Interface Most Watched Videos in 2022

Interface is committed to providing content in all types of formats to meet the demands of our customers, across all industries and generations.  Our Interface Force YouTube Channel currently hosts 133 videos. In 2022, we added 50 new videos to our channel. We continue to add new digital media every month, based on topics in demand along with helpful resources for Interface customers.

Subjects of the videos include recorded online seminars, animated application notes, product demonstrations, tutorials and industry solutions. The channel is geared toward engineers, product designers, and test & measurement professionals, providing useful references and resources that detail product types, set-up and installation support, along with common use cases.

We are equally focused on sharing content that tells the Interface story and why people trust Interface for precision force measurement solutions.

To assist in navigation of the media rich YouTube channel, Interface introduced playlists in 2022.  These playlists are a great way to find and also binge on topics of interest, like our popular ForceLeaders Webinars.

What are people watching on the Interface YouTube Channel?  Here is a recap and a couple of quick reference lists to tune into Interface videos that your peers and colleagues find most interesting.

Top 10 2022 Interface Videos

  1. Torque Sensor Training Part 2 – Different Types of Torque Sensors 
  2. Interface SuperSC Product Spotlight
  3. Advancements in Instrumentation
  4. Superior S-Type Load Cells Webinar

In the category of animated application notes, the clear 2022 top 5 winners that caught the most interest include:

The classics still stand the test of time on Interface’s YouTube Channel.  By far, the most popular videos of all time rank as follows:

#1 I’ve Got a Load Cell – Now What? How to Evaluate & Install a Load Cell

#2 How To Choose A Load Cell

#3 Torque 101 Webinar

#4 T25 High Speed USB Output

#5 Getting Started – 920i Programmable Weight Indicator Controller

Interface wants to make sure that the content we provide is diverse in subject matter and promotes the interests of those that choose us for our products and services. Thanks to everyone that tunes in and watches our videos.

So, we can’t leave this recap without a few of our favorites. What videos were top picks by Interface? Here are a couple of our favorite adds this year:


And the music award goes to…

Be sure to subscribe to the Interface YouTube Channel or check out the product videos on the site here.

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.

I’ve Got a Load Cell – Now What? Episodes 3 and 4

Continuing our review of the popular webinar series, I’ve Got a Load Cell – Now What?, we are detailing the third and fourth episodes. The focus of these two installments is documentation that you should expect with every load cell and the fundamentals of load cell output.

Digging into documentation is an important subject for anyone that is buying or using load cells for test and measurement. It is also a differentiator in the quality and type of manufacturer that makes your device. The details provided in load cell documentation validates the characteristics and performance, as well as experience and craftmanship used in the engineering and construction of your load cell.

When quality and accuracy matters, documentation and certification are critical verification evidence.

Load Cell Documentation: Datasheets and Calibration Certificates

Interface provides detailed datasheets for every load cell model number. On the top of the datasheet, the Interface model number precedes the description of the load cell’s primary characteristics, such as 1200 Standard Load Cell. The Interface Calibration Certification accompanies every sensor device we manufacturer and ship from our U.S. headquarters, confirming the final condition prior to release. Interface calibrates every load cell we make before it leaves our facilities as part of our performance guarantee.

INTERFACE DATASHEET FUNDAMENTALS

  • Features and Benefits
  • Standard Configuration and Drawings
  • Dimensions
  • Specification Parameters Based on Model and Capacity
  • Detailed Measurement and Performance Data for Accuracy, Temperature, Electrical and Mechanical
  • Options
  • Connection Options
  • Accessories

Special note for datasheet reviews, the models that use the same form factor are often on the same datasheet with varying capacity measuring ranges in U.S. (lbf) and Metric (kN) information.  All Interface datasheets are available for review and download for every product we offer, including load cells, torque transducers, multi-axis sensors, mini load cells, load pins and load shackles, instrumentation and accessories.

INTERFACE CALIBRATION CERTIFICATES DETAILSIQ

  • Model Number
  • Serial Number
  • Bridge and Capacity
  • Procedures
  • Input and Output Resistance
  • Zero Balance
  • Test Conditions: Temperature, Humidity and Excitation
  • Traceability
  • Shunt Calibration
  • Performance Test Data of Test Load Applied and Recorded Readings
  • Authorized Approval

The performance information detailed on the certificate is important for how it was calibrated, how it performed at release, system health checks and troubleshooting. Watch the episode #3 of I’ve Got a Load Cell – Now What? for additional information about datasheets and cal certs.

Fundamentals of Load Cell Output

Load cells are used in one of two ways, either universal (bipolar) or single mode (unipolar). Bipolar is for measuring tension and compression. Unipolar is for measuring either tension or compression. This use type will dictate what output you will get from the load cell. Most Interface load cells are a tension upscale device, which means you will get a positive output when it is placed in tension.

Standard load cells are usually unamplified mV/V ratio metric output. Interface does offer amplification signals for our load cells, which is a common request when pairing with a data acquisition system. In episode #4 of I’ve Got A Load Cell – Now What?, Elliot provides an example of mV/V ratio metric when using a 5000 lbf LowProfile Load Cell with our 9840 Instrumentation.

For questions about datasheets, calibration certifications or performance and capacities, please contact our application engineers.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Interface 1200 Precision LowProfile Load Cell Series Product Highlight

Load Cell Basics Technical Q&A Part One

Load Cell Basics Technical Q&A Part Two

Understanding Load Cell Temperature Compensation

Load Cell Basics Sensor Specifications

 

I’ve Got a Load Cell – Now What? Episodes 1 and 2

Interface has produced more than 100 videos, all available on our Interface YouTube channel.  We provide product videos, industry and application use cases, training, software, and set-up instructions, ForceLeaders webinars, and video discussions with our force measurement solutions experts.

One of our most popular videos is our webinar that answers the question, I’ve Got a Load Cell – Now What? In this online seminar, we discuss some of the basics about load cells, as well as offer tips for checking the health of your load cell, installation tips, usage best practices and monitoring performance.  The series concludes with an in-depth Q&A session. As with all good material, we offer a modern remake to this valuable online resource with a refreshed 7-part series that addresses important load cell topics with visual demonstrations.

In the updated series, I’ve Got a Load Cell – Now What, Interface’s Brian Peters and Elliot Speidell cover the following load cell basic topics:

  • Episode #1 Visual Inspection of Your Load Cell
  • Episode #2 How to Read the Load Cell Label
  • Episode #3 Load Cell Documentation: Datasheets and Calibration Certificates
  • Episode #4 Fundamentals of Load Cells
  • Episode #5 Load Cell Instrumentation Tips and Setup
  • Episode #6 Checking Load Cell Health and Usage Best Practices for LowProfiles, SM S-Type Load Cells and Miniature WMC Load Cells
  • Episode #7 Q&A with Brian and Elliot address incoming questions on what to do

Over the next several weeks, we’ll be highlighting some of the material that is covered in these short clips.  Today’s focus is about visual inspection and how to read a load cell label.

Visual Inspection of Your Load Cell

Visual inspection is critical for all load cells. The good news is that Interface provides quality-controlled inspection of all load cells before they leave our factory. If you are about to utilize a load cell that you have had on the shelf or has not been used for a while, visual inspection is an important first step. In this video, Brian highlights what to look for during your inspection:

  • Thread damage
  • Condition of the exterior load cell
  • Noticeable wear from exposure
  • Check for any rust
  • Inspect connectors and pins

Watch I’ve Got a Load Cell – Now What? Begin with Visual Inspection


Upon your inspection, if you would like Interface to provide a detailed inspection and calibration service before you utilize an existing sensor, contact our services team.

How to Read Interface Load Cell Labels

In this short episode, we highlight how to read an Interface load cell label. Every device we manufacturer has essential information about the sensor detailed on the label. You will find the model number, capacity, serial number and often you find options and option codes that detail the exact sensor features. Labels can also provide output data from time of calibration. To get a complete run-down on what is on Interface labels, watch I’ve Got a Load Cell – Now What? Reading Interface Sensor Labels.

Looking for more videos or resources, be sure to go to Interface’s online support resources. You will find diagrams, installation manuals, technical and troubleshooting details, educational videos and more.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES
Interface Presents Load Cell Basics
Load Cell Basics Technical Q&A Part One
Load Cell Basics Technical Q&A Part Two
Get an Inside Look at Interface’s Famously Blue Load Cells

Dimensions of Multi-Axis Sensors – An Interface Hosted Forum

The Interface ForceLeaders event, Dimensions of Multi-Axis Sensors, explores the features of multi-axis load cells and the benefits of more test and measurement data. Learn why multi-axis sensor technology is growing in use across all industries.

Recap of Instructional on Instrumentation Webinar

Interface recently hosted a new ForceLeaders event on the topic of instrumentation.

The webinar experts, Keith Skidmore and Ken Bishop, shared insights and experience in different types of instrumentation. Along with detailing various features, they provided valuable tips for testing engineers, metrologists, and sensor users on how to choose the right instrumentation for your upcoming projects or new systems.

The discussion featured a series of instrumentation types, benefits and uses cases, which you can now watch online by visiting our training and events page here.

The types of instrumentation detailed during the webinar showcases the range of products we offer and that are available to complete any testing solution.  These products range from simple boxes to complete telemetry systems used for field and wireless communication requirements. The webinar highlighted the following range of instrumentation options:

  • Signal Conditioners
  • Indicators
  • Data Acquisition
  • Portable Load Cell Indicators
  • Weight Indicators
  • Junction Boxes
  • USB Interfaces
  • TEDS Ready
  • Wireless and Bluetooth Telemetry Systems

The experts offered guidance on the topic of analog versus digital and wireless versus Bluetooth. They also provided some simple criteria to review when deciding what type of instrumentation fits your exact requirements.

Basic Criteria for Selecting Digital or Analog

  • Is there an existing network you need to connect to?
  • Are you connecting to an existing DAQ device?
  • What is your budget?
  • How many sensors are you connecting?
  • Do you need to communicate through a bus?

For more insights into application use cases, frequently asked questions and top 10 tips, be sure to watch the event.  Here are just a few of the tips shared during the Instructional on Instrumentation presentation:

Tip #1 – Know your power supply requirements, amount of filtering that is fixed or adjustable, input range, scalability and zero adjustment range.

Tip #2 – The output signal from a load cell is expressed in terms of millivolt output per Volt of excitation, at capacity. 

Tip #3 – The output signal is directly affected by input voltage. It’s important to maintain a stable excitation voltage.

WATCH THE RECORDED LIVE EVENT: INSTRUCTIONAL ON INSTRUMENTION

If you have missed any of our ForceLeaders webinars, be sure to visit our YouTube Channel.  We have recorded all the events for your convenience.  Our experts are also here to help you get the exact instrumentation based on your unique requirements. Contact us here for questions or technical assistance.

Additional Resources:

Instrumentation Options in Test and Measurement

Digital Instrumentation for Force Measurement

Force Measurement Instrumentation 101

Force Measurement Solutions for Bolt and Screw Fastening

Among the many applications of force measurement devices, one that appears to be a simple application can have a big impact on worker safety, productivity, waste reduction, assembly and product performance. In this new animated application note highlight, we take a look at the tools used for bolt fastening measurement.

Bolts and screws are used to secure different pieces or components together for nearly every product imaginable, especially when it comes to large machinery and even automobiles. The success of these products and the manufacturing of these components requires a strict level of detail that goes into the tightness of a bolt. It’s not like your typical “do it yourself” furniture where you just tighten a screw or bolt until you can’t anymore. The precision needed for certain objects to be tightened to the exact measurement is mandatory.

Interface provides measurement solutions for all types of industrial automation and toolset testing used in thousands of applications that ultimately are utilized in the building of products. In the example below, we provided devices that are used to determine the exact bolt force and tightness necessary. The goal of measuring the tightness is to avoid under or overtightening. As you can imagine, under tightening can cause components to come apart. However, over tightness can also cause significant damage to the pieces being bolted together.

Bolt Fastening Application

To show the process of measuring bolt tightness, check out this latest use case video demonstration.

For this bolt fastening application, the customer used an Interface Model LWCF Load Washer along with an Interface Model INF-USB3 Single Channel PC Interface Module to monitor force being applied during bolt tightening. The data transferred from the bolt clamping force load cell load washer with a thru-hole, to the instrumentation is displayed, logged and graphed directly onto a computer for analysis and performance testing.

This is a basic example of the test and measurement process, however, Interface also contributed to a number of real-world projects and created applications notes to provide an illustration. One of our favorites is when an industrial automation company was building an automated assembly machine for an automotive manufactur­ing plant.

The product engineers and testing team needed to tighten all of the head bolts on an engine on their assembly line to a specific torque value. Having the head bolts precisely and consistently tightened to the engine block is critical to the operation of the engine.

To measure this force, several Interface Model T33 Spindle Torque Transducers were installed in their new machine to control torque and angle and ensure the head bolt was properly tight­ened. The square drive of the T33 allowed the customer to fix their tool directly to the end of the torque sensor, streamlining the installation.

Using this solution, the head bolts were correctly installed according to manufacturer specifications, producing an engine that meets performance and reliability expectations of the auto manufacturing plant.

Here are additional solutions that showcase how Interface load cells, torque transducers, instrumentation and custom solutions are used for various tools and manufacturing processes across various industries.

Aircraft Screwdriver Fastening Control

Fastening Work Bench

Bolt Fastening Force and Torque

Interface Solutions for Robotics and Industrial Automation

Contact us to learn more how we can help you ensure the right fastening and machine control for your next projects.