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Sep
15

Down on the farm; load cells in agriculture

LC---farming---Sep-2020

As the last of the straw bales disappear from the fields and the grain harvest is in, load cells continue to play vital roles both in traditional and automated farm setups.

Load cells feature in almost every aspect of modern farming. You’ll find them in four-wheel steering systems for agricultural vehicles, enabling them to manoeuvre in small spaces and maximise crop yields. They also feature as

 “Linear position and load sensors that are part of advanced mobile autonomous vehicles linked to the GNSS for vehicle guidance and load weight measurement …  Other automated and autonomous machine tasks comprise the sensing component as part of closed-loop systems where often multiple functions are synchronised, such as with vision systems and linear motion positioners or rotary actuators for tasks including in-row weeding or selective crop harvesting.”

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Aug
28

Supporting a sagging ship: HMS Victory and load cells

LC---victory

It’s probably the most famous ship in the Royal Navy that doesn’t actually float any more, but HMS Victory has been saved from ‘sagging’ in its dry dock with the help of load cells.

Launched in May 1765 from the docks at Chatham, and at the time the largest ship build for the navy, HMS Victory was Nelson’s flagship at the Battle of Trafalgar. Now it sits in dry dock at the National Museum of the Royal Navy (NMRN) in Portsmouth.

 

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Aug
07

“A statement in its understatement”: the new Genoa San Giorgio Bridge

LC---Genoa-bridge---Aug-2020

The Morandi Bridge, opened in 1967, was seen at the time as the way forward for bridge building, using pre-stressed concrete and cable-supported spans. Sadly, on 14 August 2018, during a heavy storm, one of the cable-stayed towers and adjacent spans collapsed, killing 43 people on the bridge and in housing below.

Now, just two years on, a brand new bridge has been completed. Designed by architect Renzo Piano, the Genoa San Giorgio Bridge was built by 1,200 construction workers in just 15 months of 24/7 activity, working on the bridge despite strict lockdown conditions due to coronavirus. The only day work stopped was Christmas Day 2019.

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Jul
28

Blow the wind southerly: load cells and wind turbines

LC---wind-turbines---July-2020

Wind turbines are a common site now in the UK, whether spread over high hillsides or spinning gently on the horizon out to sea. Despite the initial scepticism, wind power now provides a very significant proportion of power to the National Grid. In December 2019, the winds of Storm Atiyah resulted in a record-breaking day when wind turbines contributed over 44% of the total British power needs for that day. That compared with nuclear power (20.5%) and gas (12.8%) on the same day.

 

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Jul
16

Back on track: load cells and sports

LC---Sport---July-2020

It’s sport, Jim, but not as we know it… The coronavirus pandemic has changed the face of UK sport, with most sporting fixtures cancelled and the few remaining held behind closed doors. So, to celebrate a cautious and staged return to sport, we’ve been looking at the continuing role load cells play in various beautiful games!

 

Football

Football is back, albeit in empty stadiums and on TV channels where you least expect it! Load cells play an important role in testing and assessing the kit used by professional footballers, from boots to shin pads. Footballs go through rigorous testing and are also studied in terms of their impact on the human body, as with the findings around headers and young players.

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Jun
25

A vital role: load cells and vaccine production

LC---Covid-vaccines---June-2020

The race is on to develop the first effective COVID-19 vaccine, and it’s a very fast race indeed. Processes that normally take years are being compressed into a matter of months. Vast sums are being invested to ensure teams from across the world have the resources to accelerate their work.

Scientists in the UK are at the forefront in developing a vaccine, with clinical trials already underway by a team at the University of Oxford, led by Professor Adrian Hill. Professor Robin Shattock and his team at Imperial College have designed a self-amplifying RNA vaccine using a piece of genetic code and are moving to human trials within a six months timeframe.

The demand for any effective vaccine will be huge, and it’s small wonder that large pharma giants such as AstraZeneca have signed a $1.2billion deal with the US government to produce 400 million doses of Professor Hill’s as yet unproven vaccine (at time of writing). This is in addition to a deal with European governments for up to 400 million doses, and with the UK for 100 million doses.

 

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Jun
11

Poppy seeds, lunar rovers and load cells

LC---Moon-and-NASA---June-2020

Getting a autonomous robot or vehicle stuck in soft soil and having to rescue it is embarrassing enough. Getting a lunar rover stuck halfway up a slope of “loosely consolidated granular terrain” is much more problematic.

That’s what happened to NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Spirit, which got stuck in the sands of Troy near the Gusev crater - and it hasn’t moved anywhere since. More modern rovers us a six-wheeled rocker-bogie suspension, but this still won’t help them get out of the soft loose soil known as regolith that covers large areas of both Mars and the lunar surface.

 

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May
28

Horse helmets and load cells: testing strength from side impact

LC---Horses-May-2020

Horse riding helmets are designed to protect the horse rider if they fall off their mount, whether in racing, the show ring or on a trial course. However, the situation can be far worse if the horse falls too, and lands on their rider.

A study published in Applied Sciences used load cells to test the strength of riding helmets when crushed from the side, as in the situation when a horse might fall onto the rider’s head. The team from (location) created a head form the size of the average male head filled with sensor, put it inside a standard 57cm jockey-style helmet and recreated the conditions of falls at various angles.

The head form began as a CAD model using the external geometry of a EN960:2006 standard, and the fit of a size J riding helmet. The head form was then 3D printed, before being fitted with a uniaxial load cell rated to 70 kN. Data acquired via a single channel laboratory amplifier was then filtered to ISO 6487.

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May
15

Life in the load cell fast lane during lockdown

LC---formula-one

If the lack of driving during lockdown has been getting you down, spare a thought for those who normally live in the Formula 1 fast lane.

You may think they are spending hours in sophisticated simulators, racing the world’s most famous circuits, and with load cells in their simulator pedals recording every nuanced movement of their well-heeled feet.

Apparently not, however. Deprived of the need for speed, they’ve been keeping active in other ways.

 

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Apr
24

Aircraft testing in the time of COVID

LC---aircraft-testing

It may seem incredible, but according to plane spotters, there was a moment this week when there were NO aeroplanes flying over the UK (well, no commercial flights anyway). We’ve certainly noticed far less activity in the skies. So, given that most flights are grounded, what are aircraft manufacturers doing?

Boom Supersonic were nearing completion of XB-1, their 1:3 scale prototype of their supersonic Overture airliner when the virus pandemic hit. For now they have switched to producing face shield headbands for local hospitals, but the hanger is being disinfected ready for the return of the “build-essential team”, as Forbes describes them.

The company are developing supersonic passenger jets, inspired by Concorde but built with 21st century materials and technical know-how. They have raised over $150million in funding and have pre-orders worth around $6billion.

 

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Apr
16

How many load cells does it take to install a light fitting?

LC---April-2020-1

The answer, of course, depends on how big your light fitting is, and where it is going! The Radisson Blu Scandinavia Hotel in Gothenburg commissioned a new design lighting installation for the hotel’s large atrium. The installation hangs from two large trusses, one motorised, one fixed and hanging from steel wires.

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Mar
25

Lift, camera, action! Dropping aircraft at NASA Langley Research Center

LC---dropping-aircraft

 

Sometimes, a story comes our way that just makes you wish you worked for NASA! Their Landing and Impact Research Facility at Langley includes a massive steel gantry, originally used to train Apollo astronauts to land on the moon. In the 1970s, the massive 240ft high structure was used to establish aviation crash testing techniques.

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Mar
18

Getting tired: potential fatigue failure in load cells

LC---Fatigue-failure-LoadCells

Load cells are extremely hard-working and robust tech, designed to be in continual use for extended periods of time, with the minimum of maintenance and care required. With regular recalibration, your load cells can last for years even in challenging conditions. However, even load cells can become fatigued through rapid and repetitive loading and unloading, due to their metal construction.

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Feb
25

Polar bears and load cells [Updated February 2020]

LC---weighing-polar-bears

One of our most popular articles has been this one - how to weigh a polar bear. So, with International Polar Bear Day approaching on Thursday 27th February 2020 (6a), we’ve updated this classic article with new information - and links to some great new pictures!

It all started with a simple question: had load cells been used in any form of polar bear research, given the extremes of temperature in the bear’s native Arctic, and the challenges of performance and data storage extreme cold presents.

 

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Feb
17

Pancakes: flipping formulas, world records and low profile load cells

LC---pancakes

As Shrove Tuesday approaches, many of us will be gearing up for an evening of throwing half-cooked pancake batter in the air in the vain hope that it returns uncooked side down to the pan rather than sticking to the ceiling.

At The Load Cell Shop, every day is pancake day, of course! Our pancake load cells, aka low profile load cells, are ideal for a range of industrial measuring, testing and laboratory applications. Low profile load cells resist extraneous loads including bending, torque and side loads. So, pancake load cells are highly effective for fatigue testing, test rigs and for force measurement testing. Our low profile load cells are available in a wide range of capacities from 2.5kN to 300kN, and are compatible with our load cell bases.

 

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Jan
28

Replace or recalibrate? Ensuring load cell accuracy

LC---Load-cell-calibration

Load cells are pretty robust pieces of kit, designed to withstand continual use in a variety of conditions, from underwater to freezing temperatures. However, their accuracy diminishes over time, and they do not last indefinitely. So, if your load cells are not performing as well as they did, what should you do?

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Jan
19

Burning issues: load cells and bush fires

LC---Bushfires-Jan-2020

The Australian bush fires have dominated the news this month, and despite some very welcome rain and cooler temperatures in the last few days, the emergency is far from over. Our article this month investigates how load cells are helping scientists research the effect and possible solutions for wild fires.

 

A wind tunnel for studying wildfires

Wildfires are, buy their very nature, unpredictable and affected by natural factors such as wind, vegetation type, the land topography and more. A team in Canberra built a dedicated fire-proof wind tunnel to allow them to safely study of fuel combustion during a bushfire by reproducing a range of conditions. Load cells were, quite literally, taking centre stage in this project.

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Dec
20

Bread and butter: load cells in the food industry

LC---Dec-2---xmas-food-2

If, like us, you’ve been glued to the TV series “Inside the Factory”, you’ll know just how much food production is mechanised and automated, from mixing ingredients to final packaging.

A new bread production line launched in the USA uses load cells under a conveyor belt to measure precise weights of dough. It allows bakers to divide up large quantities of dough within a single line. The dough line is headed up by a feeder that “Adjusts the dough sheet width depending on the products being made, thereby reducing the amount of trim and increasing quality. The line can either divide the dough pieces by dimension or accurately cut by weight.”

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Dec
12

Braving the storm: calibrating load cells in marine environments

LC---Dec-1---calibrate-marine-1

Load cells are used extensively in marine environments, from the legs of oil rigs to cranes loading container ships. Load cells are effectively self-contained, so can be manufactured to be totally waterproof and work reliably even when submerged for long periods.

One of the issues in marine environments is that a lot of equipment will be naturally in motion due to weather, tides and wave action. This is particularly true for mooring winches, which are used to tie a ship to its berth when in port. When a ship is loaded or unloaded, or in a high swell, the winching ropes can suddenly tighten or loosen. If the cables were held at a fixed length, they could easily snap or be damaged, even given their own natural elasticity.

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Nov
25

Did the earth move for you? Load cells and landslides

LC---Nov-2---Landslide-1

Land slides may not be that common in the UK, but they can be incredibly disruptive when they do happen. The recent heavy rain, for example, caused a land slip on the main rail route into from London to Southampton, and required some major earth removals before the services could continue. Luckily, load cells can play their part in monitoring structures holding back the flow of earth.

 

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Contact Us

Richmond Industries Limited

Unit B9, Acre Business Park

Acre Road

Reading

RG2 0SA UK

 

Phone: +44 1189 310 396

Email: sales@loadcellshop.co.uk

Company No. 2813623

 

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