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Innovative Use of a Load Cell in a Test Bench for Cross-Country Skis

Ski-Test, USA

Introduction

Ski-Test is a market leader when it comes to the precise measurement of skis. The business was started by Tore Grøsland, a product designer with a taste for innovative solutions. Over the years, Grøsland has introduced numerous products to the market, one of them being the unique testing machine known as the ‘Eiker-måler’. With it, Grøsland can ensure exact ski selection and optimum ski pairing for the skier.

The ‘Eiker-måler’ combines an altimeter with a high precision load cell from HBK to conduct ski tests at the highest level. The technology is used by both Norwegian and Swedish national skiing teams, as well as having been sold to leading ski stores across the Nordic countries. Ski manufacturers such as Fischer, Madshus, Rossignol, Atomic and Peltonen all use the ‘Eiker-måler’ to identify the ideal skis for their customers.

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The Challenge

Skiing has changed significantly over the years with incredible technical and technological improvements. Technology has also influenced skiing equipment. Today, there is a high focus on every single detail of a ski. Skiers devote a significant amount of time and attention to the subject of wax. The testing of the grip and gliding zones of a ski have been a major focus for manufacturers as well. Earlier methods relied on having a person to physically stand on the ski before visually inspecting the flex. As one can imagine, this method has its shortcomings such as the uncertainty related to the stiffness when measured visually. As a pioneer in ski-testing, Ski-Test digitalizes this process by using a load cell from HBK to apply the desired pressure, improving both the efficiency and precision of the tests.

Solution from HBK

The ‘Eiker-måler’ was originally introduced ahead of the Winter Olympic Games in 1994 as the first on the market. Since then, Ski-Test has been the market leader for the precise measurement of skis, with the ‘Eiker-måler’ continuously improving over the years. It was a request from a ski store that put Tore on the quest of improving the method for ski testing. To achieve this, Tore understood that he needed to find a way of precisely measuring both deflection and weight as load is applied. The solution was to combine an altimeter and a load cell in a test-bench, which later became known as the ‘Eiker-måler’. When asked why HBK was the preferred partner, Tore explains, “Long and proven history in load cell technology made HBK stand out in the market. I needed the load cell to be precise, reliable, and price wise accessible. The load cell from HBK met all the requirements.” The Z6F load cell has since been an important part of this successful invention.

More on the Solution From HBK

It is safe to say that Tore’s invention has had its impact on the sport of skiing. One of the earliest users of the test bench was former skier and trainer for the Norwegian men’s national team, Per Knut Aaland, “The test bench made our job much easier. The measurements became more reliable and much easier to conduct. There is no doubt we won more runs because of this.” Instead of a qualified guess based on previous experience, as was the norm back then, the wax and gliding zones were now based on actual measurements. With the test-bench, Aaland only needed to know the weight of the skier, which could then be applied by HBK’s high precision load cell. The strain gauge-based load cell converts the change in resistance to a voltage signal, which in turn is calibrated and displayed in kg. A robust design using rust-resistant materials makes the application free from maintenance, as Tore himself points out, “Through all these years, I’ve had zero complaints from customers.” Without any significant changes, the test-bench still sells more than ever, twenty-five years after the invention.

SKI-TEST 

Based in Stowe, Vermont, SkiEssentials.com has come a long way over the years. Starting out in 1984 as Bedside Tuners, a small tune shop in Stowe, the company grew to become what are now Pinnacle Ski and Sports and Inner Bootworks. The online business was a logical next step, and we made our first online sale in the basement office of our brick and mortar store in October of 2004, and we haven’t looked back since.

Our ski philosophy has morphed and evolved into our annual Ski Test, that has quickly become the benchmark and industry standard for how skis should be evaluated. Instead of offering up winners and losers, we compile data and give the ski a personality and character that you can identify with. As a result, you get the ski that’s right for you, rather than the ski with the highest score. The ski community looks to SkiEssentials.com’s editorial department for unbiased, accurate, and informative content, and we take this responsibility seriously.

More about SKI-TEST 

Technology used