As part of our new regular blog series and social media postings, we’ll be celebrating some of the innovative ways load cells have been used to solve unusual problems. Here are just a few of our current favourites.
Discovering the centre of gravity of a 298ft oil rig flare stack
Weighing and testing a standard oil flare stack is challenging enough, with the average stack measuring 60 metres in length. For one mammoth 98m stack destined for a North Sea oil platform, however, the first challenge was finding a shed large enough to test it in, and keep the rain off for the most accurate readings possible! Four 150T compression load cells were used with an accuracy of +/- 0.5%, with readouts to wireless handheld units so operatives could remain at a safe distance. The stack will shortly begin its journey out into the North Sea where it will be craned into position.
Yield maps for apple orchards
Thinning apples in a commercial orchard is an important part of ensuring the best yield possible. The process also gives growers an opportunity to map the yield of areas of their orchard in advance of picking the main crop. Wafler Farms in Wayne County, New York created a monitoring system that allowed them to view the thinned apples as they were placed by pickers on a platform, and weighed them on the move using four load cells, one at each corner of the platform. They then linked each platform to a GPS location system to map which parts of the orchard were yielding the most apples, in real time. What we love most is that all the resulting data was processed using a cheap as chips Raspberry Pi microprocessor, and stored on a USB thumb drive – very neat and very cost-effective!
From wine to plastics: load cells in silos
The use of load cells in silos is nothing new, but it’s always interesting how different industries present different challenges. Whilst most industries empty contents into a silo from the top, be it grain, liquids or powders, the plastic recycling industry uses vertical auger mixing to store and regrind plastic pellets.
The material enters the silo at the base and rises up through the resin to the top. Working in a similar way to a domestic flood processor, but with a spiralling blade that lifts materials up and out, vertical auger mixing is also used in farming for chopping up bales of straw.
Of course, in the end, it doesn’t matter which end of a hopper or silo materials go in or come out of – a load cell system positioned below the silo will weigh them just the same!
And there’s more…
Over the coming weeks we’ll be highlighting more fascinating uses of load cell technology on Facebook and Twitter, from bionic hands to aircraft parachutes. Follow us and join in the load cell geekiness with your own discoveries or applications!