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11 Things You Need to Know About Load Cells

Load cells are often called cell transducers. This is because they are essential components in industrial weighing systems. However, in a more accurate definition, load cells are used to measure directional force through a combination of spring elements and strain gauges, converted into an electrical output.

Load cells are vital in the world today because of these functions. Some people even call them the heart of every scale. Unfortunately, they are often overlooked, but their contribution to modern manufacturing, weight-based sales, and outdoor production settings are impeccable.

In this article, the critical things you need to know about load cells are thoroughly discussed.

What should you need to know about load cells?

1. Load cells have different classifications.

Being a part of the world today, people must understand load cells in a simpler concept. Load cells have different classifications. Each classification has distinct characteristics that separate it from the other. They are classified into:

  • Pneumatic: Pneumatic load cells are used for measuring lower weights with high degrees of accuracy. The measurement they make is in the form of force balance. As a result, pneumatic load cells report weight as a change in pressure. In addition, these load cells have their advantages because they are resistant to explosions and have low reactivity to temperature changes.
  • Strain-gauge: Strain-gauge load cells are the most widely used load cells globally. The mechanism works as weight is applied to a strain-gauge load cell, converting it into electrical signals. The advantage of strain-gauge load cells is they provide highly accurate, precise measurements.
  • Hydraulic: Hydraulic load cells use water for measurements. They use a principle that involves applying force on a medium contained in a confined place. As a result, the change in pressure is registered in a tube of filling fluid, converted into an electrical output. Having no electrical component makes them perform well in hazardous conditions.

2. They have different applications.

As the heart of every scale, load cells have different applications in the modern world. They are leveraged in different industries and are considered vital for things to function correctly. Besides numerous load-bearing functions, load cells are applied in these industries for structural integrity and other purposes that anticipate the safety of the environment and the people.

Here are some of the ways loads cells are applied in the world today:

  • Agriculture: Load cells are a significant product used in Agricultural machinery. The dispensing of feed, fertilizer, and seed is done by weight. Feed mix bins, chaser bins, sheep feeders, and spreaders also utilize load cells to function correctly. Farmers also use load cells to check the weight of grain silos and livestock.
  • Manufacturing: Manufacturers need accurate measurements to finish their tasks. With this, load cells are being used daily. They are used in package filling, process weighing, and friction testing.
  • Automotive: Load cells are used in the automotive industry for seat testing, fuel tank assembly, crash testing, protecting mechanical overload, and transportation scales.
  • Medical: For medical professionals, load cells are leveraged to provide proper care during dialysis, surgeries, calibrating systems, and laboratory testings. Medical professionals can also use them in rehabilitation equipment.
  • Testing: Load cells are also used in universal testing machines. This purpose is advantageous to engineers, manufacturers, and other individuals who want to ensure accurate loads for their services.
  • Construction: Load cells are used in building construction to test building materials. For example, beam load cells are used for tensile testing and structural strength.

3. Their performance correlates with the demands of their applications.

In an industrial setting, high-endurance load cells are needed. The best fit for this is the strain-gauge because of their almost "perfect" accuracy in settings that involve experimental stress. On the other hand, in applications that require precise mechanical balance, pneumatic load cells are the best option. The best options are the hydraulic ones in remote settings since they can operate without being connected to power.

4. They have different shapes.

Just like their types, each load cell has different shapes. Each shape also contributes to its unique function. The different shapes are the following:

Pancake load cells are used in applications that require high precision. People can use them both in tension and compression measurements, axial force, and component fatigue testing. On the other hand, S-Beam load cells are mainly for tension-involving applications and settings. Beam load cells are used for different weighing applications like static, silo, dynamic, and tank weighing. Meanwhile, canister load cells are the ideal choice for compression applications requiring 100,000 lbs or more. Button load cells are ideal for confined and narrow settings. Finally, thru-load cells are designed for stiffness, ideal for off-center applications.

5. Load cells provide custom-scale solutions.

Integrating load cells into pre-existing structures like tanks, silos, hoppers, and other structures can create custom-scale solutions. Load cells are not just about the basics. They serve as great solutions for advanced scale management too.

6. They are capable of diverse measurements.

As technology advances, the use of load cells also progresses. For example, load cells can measure diverse measurements like the electrical resistance from vertical compression, tension, and suspended tension.

7. Load cells are supplied with an IP rating.

For guaranteed reliability, load cells are supplied with an IP rating. These IP ratings promote a robust usage in outdoor, manufacturing, industrial, and other hazardous settings.

  • IP65 rated load cells are certified for complete protection against dust particles, low-pressure directed water up to 6.3mm, and other particulates.
  • IP66 rated load cells are certified for complete protection against dust particles, low-pressure directed water up to 12.5mm with limited ingress, and other particulates.
  • IP67 rated load cells are certified for complete protection against dust particles, total immersion for up to 30 minutes at 15cm to 1m depths, and other particulates.
  • IP68 rated load cells are certified for complete protection against dust particles, extended immersion under higher pressure, and other particulates. Manufacturers also add parameters according to other factors like temperature fluctuations and flow rates. They will customize the parameters according to the intended load cell application.

8. Their performance depends on operating temperature conditions.

Contrary to popular belief, load cells depend on varied operating temperature conditions. Therefore, not all of them share similar characteristics when it comes to the degree of temperature compensation. Load cells perform better in a specific environment, so this factor must be considered when choosing the suitable load cells for your needs. For outdoor operations, a load cell with an IP68 rating works best.

Having a metal body is also one reason that makes load cells more prone to this problem. Exposure to cold nights, direct sunlight, or a hot environment may cause inaccuracy in the functioning of your load cells. If you suspect any dramatic shift in your load cells, you should protect them from sudden temperature changes. For example, it would be best to cover it when the surrounding environment is too hot.

9. They have different mounting options.

Load cells offer different top and bottom mounting options. This factor is often overlooked, so most buyers have difficulty designing fixtures to put their load cells into practice. Threaded holes in load cells make them more user-friendly and less expensive.

10. Troubleshooting is essential for their optimal performance.

Troubleshooting is essential to obtain accurate measurements all the time. Disruptions in the readings are often caused by external factors such as temperature changes, mechanical interferences, and environmental conditions. By being aware that this is an inevitable situation, it becomes easier to understand why you need to troubleshoot your machinery.

11. Excessive vibrations disrupt load cell readings.

It is inevitable for vibrations to be present, especially in settings where other nearby processes cause it. Excessive vibrations from these processes may result in disruption of the reading in your load cells. To prevent it from happening, you may move the source of vibration away from your load cells.

So, how do you select the right load cells for your needs?

There are many ways to select suitable load cells for your needs. However, if you have learned a thing or two from this article, it will be easier for you to apply the insights in choosing which load cells best fit your needs.

Here is another guide to choosing the right load cell package:

1. Determine your application.

How will you know what you need if you have not fully understood the needs of your intended application? Choosing the ideal option becomes easier by determining where you will need the load cell and how you will need it.

2. Know your capacity requirements.

Knowing your desired application's minimum and maximum capacity requirements is a step closer to the correct load cell package. In addition, you need to consider extraneous factors each load cell will be obliged to. For optimum load cell capacity, considering nonlinearity, bridge resistance, and hysteresis is a must.

3. Consider the size and specification requirements of a load cell.

You can determine the size requirements of a load cell by considering the height, width, length, and weight needed in your desired applications.

4. Familiarize yourself with the different types and shapes of load cells.

Mainly, load cells are classified into different types. Each type has its advantages and disadvantages. The same thing goes with the shapes of load cells. Make sure you choose the best one that answers your needs. Know their strengths and weaknesses too.

5. Check the operating environment.

Consider the operating environment as many load cells are sensitive to sudden changes in temperature, excessive vibrations caused by other processes in the surrounding environment, and other external factors. It would be best to watch out for these things before coming up with a final decision.

Where can you get the best load cells in Australia?

Here at Metrons, a team of professional experts provides top-notch advice about how to select the proper load cell package that suits the forces and loads of your proposed applications. You can save dollars from expensive repairs that wrong selections and decisions can cause by scheduling a consultation.