In 2017, our News blog has been covering some of the most innovative, interesting and entertaining uses of load cells in the UK and beyond. It’s been a real eye-opener to see how load cells are at the heart of a diverse range of industries; to test, to monitor and to help researchers develop new technologies.
Some of the most innovative work has been in three major fields: health, robotics and wireless monitoring. Whilst the use of load cells in all three markets are nothing new, what is impressive is the range of applications and their integration with other technologies to produce new methodologies impossible even five years ago.
Load cells and health
In an age where you can measure multiple health metrics on your phone, load cells are the foundation of many monitoring and measurement systems aimed to improve our nation’s health.
Perhaps the most surprising is the microtechnology that mimics the functions of human organs, where soft strain gauges measure the contractile stresses in human tissue. (From hair brushes to heart beats).
We uncovered some innovative gait analysis for those with lower limb prosthetics, to ensure the prosthetic is responsive to the particular gait of the user. This insight gave us the perfect reason to cheer on Paralympic athlete Jonnie Peacock in this year’s Strictly Come Dancing competition too! (Best foot forward; On Your Feet Britain)
Rehabilitation for those who have lost movement in their limbs utilises load cells to measure the exact amount of movement through the use of an exoskeleton. This also provides support for the limb during recovery, which can be decreased as the patient’s own muscles grow stronger. (Da Vinci to Pizzas: Load Cells in Robotics)
Over 850,000 people in the Uk are affected by dementia, and we were heartened to see load cells playing their part in the diagnosis and management of this condition. Discreet load cell monitoring enabled carers and doctors alike to notice subtle changes in a patient’s condition including weight, gait, movement, and location within the home. (Load cells and dementia: detection, and monitoring in the home)
Loads cells and robotics
Leonardo da Vinci may be credited with the first humanoid robot design, but today’s robots are packed with load cells to monitor everything from grip to gait. We loved the way load cells enabled robots to roll pizzas, and then teach other robots the same technique. (Da Vinci to Pizzas: Load Cells in Robotics)
We also featured an amazing video of a robot learning to jump –
Wireless load cells and monitoring
One of our favourite uses has to be wireless load cells in whisky distilling. A distillery can be a hazardous place, with flammable gasses and vapours, plus potentially combustible grain dust. Wireless load cells in the grain hoppers ensure accurate measurement of the malted barley, without exposing the distillery staff to the hazards. (How to celebrate Burns Night with – load cells!)
We also admired the use of load cells in the Ordsall Chord rail bridge in Manchester. For the new bridge, each of the 46 hanger pairs on the bridge have their own load cells. If a pair of hangers fail, they can be identified and replaced without affecting the bridge’s load capacity. (Load cells to monitor hangers on Manchester’s newest rail bridge)
Other fun stuff
We also discovered all kinds of uses that just tickled our fancy, and egged our curiosity. Here are just a few:
Feel free to share all our posts and blogs with all your colleagues, friend sand customers. And if you have a load cell story or project you’d like us to feature, just get in touch – we’d love to hear from you.