Snow load and expresso shots: load cells in action

Published On: March 29 2022

Two innovative uses of load cells we found for you this month. Grab a coffee and enjoy!

Angled solar panels and snow-load tests

One of the issues around testing solar panels for their load-bearing capacity is that standard testing involves the panel lying flat. However, when installed or roofs, the panels are at an angle. The result is that snow slides down the glass panel and accumulates at the bottom, so the snow load isn’ evenly distributed.

The result is that panels can fail by bending at the bottom edge. Chinese firm LONGi have created a test rig for testing inhomogeneous snow loads that holds a panel at 37 degrees. Weight can be added on a tilted panel just like accumulated snow would.

As the LONGI press release explains:

“Mechanical load testing is unable to apply extreme stress to the framing section at the lower part of a module at an inclined exposure. Snow loads tend to creep downhill and invade the potential space between frame edge and top surface, the ice formed by compression of the lower snow areas pushing against the exposed tip of the frame, making the load on the modules inhomogeneous. As length and width of a module increases, the local pressure and bending moment caused by an inhomogeneous snow load increase significantly.”

The test involves applying a step-distributed non-uniform load to the whole length of the panel. The load is gradually increased to measure the point at which the panel is actually damaged. This can include cracks in the solar cells, damage to the frame and the glass breaking.

It’s brewing coffee, Jim, but not as we know it

Who doesn’t love a fresh espresso in the morning, especially when conjured up by an experienced barista? A traditional barista is wonderful to watch, a seeming whirlwind of arms and hands grinding beans, pressing grounds, and producing a perfect tiny cup of ‘get up and go’.

At least, it used to be. A new under-counter espresso system has been unveiled by Seattle-based espresso machine manufacturer Mavam that takes the guesswork out of the perfect grind and press.

According to Daily Coffee News, the new MM unit consists of two 5-pound-capacity hoppers, linked to two independent grinding systems and a single brew chamber. All the customer sees is a bright red “font” on the countertop with three buttons.

“One button executes a shot recipe programmed for beans from one hopper, a middle button draws pure hot water and a third button triggers a shot of the second coffee.”

The MM unit under the counter does the hard work, executing a programme set by the barista including optimum water temperature, grind setting, coffee dose and infusion rate, amongst others.

So where do load cells come in? They offer precision at two key points;

  • Weighing the beans prior to grinding
  • Accurate tamp pressure for the piston that descends into the brew chamber

If you think all that detracts from the art of the barista, Mavam founder Michael Myers is quick to reassure:

“We’re still the biggest believers in the craft of making espresso; we love it more than anything … We want to enhance the cafes that don’t have the ability to do the craft or don’t want to do the craft, but still want to make the highest-quality espresso.”

Load cells and coffee part 2

We haven’t got a snazzy showroom displaying our wide range of load cells, but our online shop is the next best thing! So why not whisk up an espresso the traditional Italian way in a moka pot on the stove, sit back, and browse our selection online. Click this link to see our entire range.