Load cell round up; old cranes, oil pumps and how to kill a lithium ion battery

Published On: October 24 2019


Three neat little news stories showing the versatility of load cells.

Old tech, new tests

All over the globe, there are machines that have worked hard for decades, using long-established techniques, and can continue to work well for the business. All they need is a little TLC, regular maintenance, and calibration or adaptation for special tasks.

A ringer cranes at a ship in Malaysia, originally built in 1973, was required to load anchor piles onto a ship, bound for a new oil and gas floating production storage facility. The crane, with a capacity of 308t at 24m, needed to be tested to lift 108t of weight 1 metre above the ground at a 41m radius.

The testing crew rigged the crane for the lift by attaching slings to the crane hook, an independent 150t wireless load cell, and a cradle load with test weights. The crane also had its own load cell and RCI display, so the two readings could be checked. As the test lift revealed, the crane load cell was giving a reading 12% above what the actual weight was. Multiple test lifts confirmed that the new wireless load cell was accurate, as the test manager confirmed:

“The load was lowered back to the ground to facilitate recalibration. To ensure the calibration was set, the load was lifted up and down on a number of occasions; we then lifted the load again and it was held for five minutes to ensure there was no winch ‘creepage’. This time, all was found to be in order.”


Rod-Pump-Control (RPC) with load cells

You can’t always get up close and personal with your machinery, especially if it’s in an inhospitable or remote environment. In oil wells, rod-pumps need to vary their speed according to changes in downhole conditions. As an article in the Journal of petroleum Technology explained,

“Thanks to recent progress in microelectronics, the embedding of ML (machine learning) models in remote places with scarce connectivity, known as edge computing, is possible.”

This technology allows measurements to be taken by two sensors, a proximity sensor and a load cell “mounted between the polished rod clamp and the bridle”. Readings can be analysed both by humans onsite and by a remote supervisory control and data-acquisition (SCADA) system. The resulting data can be used by ML applications for analytics or to generate alarms, whilst the creation of a ‘downhole card’ enables an experienced operator to work out if the pump is working normally or has developed a fault.


Testing batteries to destruction

Lithium-ion batteries may not be anything new, but they are increasingly being used in places where old tech used to exist, including electric cars, medical equipment and aircraft. So it makes sense to test these batteries in a variety of ways to assess their robustness and durability. However, at Scandia Labs appear to delight in the varied ways they can destruction test batteries. As an article in the Albuquerque Journal explains with great relish:

“They crush ’em. They pierce ’em. They roast ’em, soak ’em in saltwater and short circuit ’em. They overcharge and even over-discharge ’em. Heck, they can even shoot them with lasers.”

Now they have built an indoor testing tower that allows researchers to drop over 200 pounds of weight directly onto lithium-ion cells. Or, as the chief testing engineer from Scandia puts it: “This becomes our ninth way of killing a battery.”

According to the article, testing using the new drop tower is quite a spectacle to behold :

“A battery sits in a steel tray bolted to a load cell to measure the impact force at the base of the tower as a weight of at least 200 pounds is perched above at heights up to 8 feet, 8 inches. The push of a button unleashes the weight. Gravity takes over, followed by a violent collision of weight onto battery. Wires connected to the battery and the tower measure speed, force, temperature and voltage. Cameras record the impact and resulting carnage.”


Load cells for weighing, monitoring and testing

Whatever you require load cells for, you’ll probably find the right ones for the task at our online load cell store. If you don’t just call us. We can design and manufacture load cells to your specific requirements in our UK manufacturing facility in Reading, Berkshire.

And if your testing involves a load cell or two and some spectacular video footage, please share it with us on our Facebook page!