Is your farm looking to reliably weigh livestock such as cattle or sheep?
Does your dairy or deli require an accurate point-of-sale weighing solution for foodstuffs?
From the farm to the farmer’s market; soil to the supermarket, the individual weighing needs of most any New Zealand business vary day to day, job to job, industry to industry. That’s why taking the time to choose a load cell solution that matches the scale of the weighing task at hand is absolutely crucial.
What works for one Kiwi business, won’t necessarily work for another: a load cell isn't a one-size-fits-all weighing solution.
If your business rushes this process, it could be left with nothing more than a costly dead weight.
Yes, they all measure loads and forces. But don’t let that fool you. Capacity and size are just two among a number of factors your business needs to consider when selecting the best weighing solution for the task at hand.
For example, does your business know:
- What the operating environment is like?
- What mounting options are required?
- The size of the budget?
These are just some of the questions you need to be asking.
It’s times like these that you need an expert on your side. You need Meltrons! With more than 25 years of experience in the industry we’re perfectly poised to point you in the right direction, so today we’re helping you select a weighing solution that offers precision and dependability without the high price tag.
Keep reading to find out what to consider when selecting a suitable off-the-shelf load cell or requesting a custom design:
1. How would you describe the proposed operating environment?
Selecting a load cell relies as much on ‘what’ you’re weighing, as it does ‘where’ you’re weighing it. Standing up to the loads and forces of daily operation is one thing, but is it resilient enough to handle the pressure harsh, hazardous, or rough environments?
Cold? Wet? Dusty or dirty? Your choice of load cell ultimately needs to be able to withstand harsh loads and even harsher environments. And it isn’t just dust or dirt, either. Changes in temperature within the environment, for example, can influence a load cell’s output accuracy given they’re largely constructed out of either tool or stainless steel.
So, ask yourself:
- Is the environment dirty, dusty, or otherwise harsh?
- Is it controlled and relatively self-contained?
- Is it susceptible to large or small variances in operating temperature?
- Is it exposed to excessive moisture or humidity?
2. Will the Load Cells be exposed to - or immersed in - water, cleaning liquids, or chemicals?
Not all load cells are created equal, and neither are the environments that they operate within.
A weighing task carried out in the freezing temperatures of New Zealand’s South Island, for example, calls for a different load cell solution than if it were repeated so many feet deep off the coast of the North Island.
The requirements of the former would be far looser than the latter. Underwater or submerged weighing such as that described in the example above would require a waterproof load cell that’s ideal for wet, rainy, or damp environments.
So when you’re weighing up your options, consider the solution’s specifications as well as the surroundings.
3. How long is the desired duration of measurement?
Load cells are designed to measure a given load, yes. But for how long will it be subject to this weight? Short term, or long term? Luckily, there are load cells available capable of withstanding various measurement durations.
Options include short-term with a Tare, longer measurement durations where Tare isn’t applicable, as well as pairing the load cell with an indicator that boasts Peak Hold functionality which allows you to ‘freeze’ the load cell’s peak load. This is particularly useful where destructive tests are conducted on test specimens.
4. Will the application subject the Load Cell to dynamic or sudden loads?
Every load cell is rated with a maximum capacity, but consideration should also be given to any sudden, dynamic, or large loads that may place undue strain on the load cell during operation.
Sudden shifts in weight may cause an overload, resulting in anything from signal loss and loss of linearity, through to complications with calibration or even mechanical damage which may make it difficult to achieve the pinpoint accuracy and minute measurements required.
Determining the capacity requirements of your weighing task is as important a factor as any other listed here. As is calculating the velocity, frequency, and magnitude of any dynamic loads so that this can be accounted for in the final rating of any load cell considered for the job.
5. What is the desired accuracy?
Accuracy is crucial to the success of any weighing application, but it’s the level of accuracy required that needs to be considered when choosing a load cell.
This requires some forethought, as a variety of factors such as the load cell’s Rated Output (RO) accuracy specifications, the indicator used, and the operating environment all affect the accuracy of the reading returned to the end-user.
6. What is the direction of loading?
Tension? Compression? Or both? The way a load cell measures and detects weight determines its potential use cases, and how best those align with your requirements.
Compression load cells are generally used for measuring a pushing force along a single axis, such as truck, tank, and silo weighing, while tension load cells remain a popular option for hoists, winches, cranes, and elevators thanks to their ease of installation to measure...well, tension!
7. Are there any size constraints or restrictions?
Is the load cell the right ‘fit’ for the job?
Installation restrictions such as size and shape should be factored into considerations early in the load cell selection process. Size up the location and the operating environment, and work back from there.
Small, enclosed, or difficult to reach areas, for example, are where miniature load cells shine.
8. What mounting options are required?
You’ve considered ‘where’ the load cell will be placed, but what about ‘how’?
Size and scale are important, yes, but so too is the orientation and mounting of the load cell itself.
Will the load cell be mounted on a crane, rope, or other wire? In this case, a tension load cell is your best bet. The MT404TWA's heavy-duty, fully self-aligning mount, for example, makes installing and maintaining weighing systems simple.
9. What is the total cost of the operation?
It’s easy to get caught up in technical specifications, but the right solution at the wrong cost still makes for a poor choice.
Your business requires a reliable, accurate, hardy load cell that stands up to the task at hand without breaking the bank.
So whether it’s one of the options above or something different entirely, you should now be able to track down a flexible, cost-effective load cell solution for almost any task. But if not? Or if you’re after a custom or replacement load cell? Then feel free to contact us and we may be able to further help point you in the right direction, or even design and develop a product to meet your needs.