Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Load Cell Basics

A load cell is a type of transducer that converts physical force into measurable, quantifiable electric energy. Because of the various types of load cells needed to operate different pieces of machinery, there are many configurations, but the most popular and the focus of this article is the strain gauge variety. This is a device which measures strain, and then transfers that force into electric energy which manifests as measurement for workers and scientists. Measuring strain effects helps preserve the integrity of the unit under pressure as well as protects equipment and people nearby.

How Load Cells Work

Load cells’ operating principles are threefold. They are hydraulic, pneumatic and strain gauge load cells. Gauge load cells are attached to structural bearing or support beam of an application that endures stresses and pressures, oftentimes with superglue or some other appropriate adhesive. When strain is put upon the bearing, the material’s change in tension exerts force upon the strain gauge load cell, which sends an electronic signal through a switching unit. This signal manifests as a measurement of the load, and reveals how much tension is being placed upon the unit.

Load cell display units also come with a variety of features. Contemporary displays are in digital format, and display tension forces as well as temperature, voltage to frequency comparisons and other important information about the application. The measurement is calculated by a complex equation based on the reaction of four different measurements of stress and compression. The display reads out numbers so that someone monitoring the application can determine if the stress is appropriate.

Load Cell Applications

Load cells are necessary for many load-bearing applications, both to maintain structural integrity and, in so doing, ensure the safety of people and environs. Large buildings, which sway in wind and contract and expand in different seasons, are huge, pressure-dependent structures housing hundreds to thousands of people, and under unsafe conditions, accidents can happen. Most buildings are designed to withstand impacts and natural disasters, and load cell strain gauges are set in place so as to monitor these conditions. For instance, brick structures, which are composed of interlaced building materials, require load cell strain gages to see if anything has shifted too much to pose a hazard. Although mankind has implemented innovational technology to decrease the likelihood of this happening, looking at any old ruins of a castle or wall can show the types of dangers brick structures can pose. In large skyscrapers, the many support beams and structural components often use load cells for similar reasons. Your office building probably contains many such units to keep the building under observation.

Other load-bearing applications include freight vehicles and docking locations which must sustain incredibly heavy loads on a day to day basis. The load cell might be monitored less in a vehicle, which is on the go and not subjective to constant analysis, but fixed-place applications like docks will undergo status checks frequently. Virtually any structure of similar type needs to be monitored to keep on an even keel.

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