The 2020s are an exciting time to be in Product Engineering. ‘Smart’ products are not just technically feasible and economically viable: they also transform the value of a product for the end-user by providing more than just the core functionality.
By embedding sensors into a product, engineers can monitor and measure the force, pressure, or load on a component. Design engineers use the information resulting from collected sensor signals to build ‘intelligence’ into products: systems monitoring, automatic control, performance optimization, autonomous operation, and other ‘smart’ behaviours.
When standard sensors don’t fit the job, HBK will create custom OEM sensor solutions to deliver the data that is essential for real-time feedback and control. Innovative OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) choose HBK as their partner because we provide a full-service solution for sensors based on strain gauges:
Custom strain gauge technology is used for critical and non-critical medical device and equipment applications. From high-precision robotic surgery, tactile force measurement, weight balance measurement for patient tables, pressure measurement for catheters, flow measurement for medical pumps, and much more - almost every medical device equipped with a plug includes a pressure, force, strain gauge, load, torque or multi-axis sensor that monitors mechanical influences.
For example, we develop sensors to provide force feedback which are designed to survive multiple autoclave cycles. Reliable, miniaturized sensors drive innovations in medical patient monitoring that increase the productivity of healthcare professionals. Successful integration of HBK strain gauge technology helps to produce more accurate medical devices and equipment.
Manufacturers of agricultural machinery are incorporating an increasing amount of advanced sensor technology in their precision farming equipment. Downforce, load pins, and torque measurements in tractors, planting and harvesting machines to allow closed-looped feedback on all types of critical mechanical movements. For example, downforce sensors can ensure seeds are planted at a predetermined depth across multiple rows and varied farm terrain. By measuring these forces accurately, the depth of seeding becomes consistent across rows and terrain for the best possible yield.
The application of fertilizer or the spreading of seeds can be optimally adapted to soil conditions in the field. Our custom sensors are leading the innovation forefront with state-of-the-art strain gauge sensors and electronics for all types of agriculture equipment. Sensors for tractors and machinery can include downforce sensors, custom torque and force sensing, harvest yield baler sensors, draft load pins, wheel force and soil compactions sensors and many more.
Robots as we know them today are a combination of computer science and engineering. Sensors gather data about the environment; a controlling program determines how and when the robot will act; actuators implement the action; sensors gather data about the interaction and provide feedback to the controlling program, repeat infinitely, in real-time. Each sensor must observe the signals it was designed for, reliably and accurately. But control algorithms are seldom about just one piece of data - multiple signals must be transformed into actionable data and forwarded to the controller.
Expert in force, torque, force, mass, pressure and multi-axis measurements solution, HBK consider OEM Custom Sensor as a complete system: one that integrates strain gauge, sensor body, cables and electronics into an assembly. For example, joint twist torque sensors and load sensors are designed to measure the torque in the wrist or load in the foot in robots (grippers and actuators).
The primary challenge for off-highway vehicles is to work efficiently, whatever the terrain. Rising fuel prices and the operators’ desire for lower costs have prompted vehicle manufacturers to design ever more economical vehicles with higher efficiency and reduced emissions. Many vehicles now automatically monitor and optimize effectiveness while the vehicle is being operated to ensure maximum efficiency. The combination of real-time force measurements with Internet-of-Things communication, plus ruggedized on-board computing with Artificial Intelligence software, paves the way for Autonomous Vehicles in Farming and Mining.
From the onboard vehicle payload to overload conditions and commercial vehicle scales, our rugged load and torque sensors are manufactured using robust and corrosion-resistant materials such as stainless steel and aluminium. We design sensors that provide the highest level of environmental protection and durability as well as meet ANSI requirements.
With a wider range of models and features available, the expectations of a potential buyer regarding the riding sensation have also changed: no matter the bike’s purpose (trekking, city, cargo or mountain bike), whether under load or not - the starting and stopping the behaviour, acceleration, and motor assistance should be smooth, immediate, intuitive and reliable. In any case, the riding experience depends on the human-machine interface: if the rider’s pedalling power and the motor power interact smoothly, the riding sensation will be a pleasant one.
Customized OEM force and torque sensors provide eBike manufacturers with accurate measurements on the drive and control systems that determine a proportional amount of the assisted motor power. The better the motor control, the better and more intuitive the experience will be for the rider. We design customized force sensors which can be designed to fit on the pedal, or torque sensors on other rotating parts to measure the feedback.
Strain gauges have proven their value in the electrical measurement of mechanical quantities and play a fundamental role in the design of various transducers for force, pressure, or torque as well as load cells.
Our reference book “The Route to Measurement Transducers” provides a comprehensive overview of what is important in transducer design. 84 pages of clear descriptions and illustrative graphics show everything you need to consider when selecting, installing, and connecting spring elements and strain gauges.