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Custom design service reduces the cost of sensors

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By providing a custom design services for its range of load cells, torque sensors, pressure transducers and displacement sensors, Applied Measurements is helping machine builders and systems integrators to reduce lead times, cut costs and improve quality.

Peter Lewis, Managing Director of Applied Measurements, says: "Despite the current economic downturn, we have grown our sales revenues by more than 30 per cent over the last three years. A major part of this growth is coming from our custom design service for our products, which include load cells, torque sensors, displacement sensors and pressure transducers. We are supplying one-off designs, pre-production prototypes, high-volume specials and direct competitor equivalents, as well as modifying or strain gauging existing components."

According to Lewis, many of Applied Measurements' global customers now request custom designs on as fast a lead time as possible. He notes: "Rather than trying to make existing, standard catalogue sensors 'fit' their application, customers now seem to want custom solutions delivered in as short a time frame as possible. After all, there seems little point in offering a custom design service for your sensor if the lead time doubles as a result. Customers simply will not wait that long. In most cases, we can deliver a custom solution – including concept design, engineering, production and calibration if required – in just six to eight weeks from customer order."

In a tough economic climate, Lewis says Applied Measurements has recognised that this ability to meet a customers' exact design requirements on a competitive lead time has given the company a clear advantage over its competitors.

Equivalent products

Lewis comments: "Our design service not only includes the ability to design new custom sensors, but also includes manufacturing direct equivalents to existing competitor products, as well as retrofit versions that the competitor may have ceased to produce. It can also include the bonding of strain gauges to metal structures or housings provided by the customer and then completing these into a finished, certified and tested product."

Machine builders and systems integrators often need to upgrade a machine for the end user, incorporating new electronics or instrumentation to replace mechanical gauges or dials. Lewis states: "In this age of accountability, it is important to have sensors that are connected to the appropriate instrumentation, including PCs that log and record the measurement data, providing traceability for the end user. In these types of applications, there are usually physical restrictions that also need to be overcome, as the customer is likely to want minimal disruption to the original machine. This is where our ability to fit in with the existing design is a big advantage to the customer. Our combination of mechanical and electronics design capability also helps here."

Many machine builders need their systems to measure in more than one axis at a time. For this, Applied can design two- or three-axis force sensors, with a variation on this when customers want a sensor to combine two measurements - such as force and torque, or force and acceleration.

Exact match

The aim of the custom design service is to provide customers with a product that exactly fits their measurement requirements under the constraints of cost, size, environmental conditions, general performance specification and availability. As Lewis puts it: "An incorrectly chosen transducer to fulfil a particular measurement application costs considerable time and money if it is eventually discovered that the data being collected is meaningless, or that the transducer is performing incorrectly due to overloading or poor installation.

"Our experienced application engineers will talk through the measurement requirements with the customer in order to determine the most appropriate solution. This typically includes discussions on: the measurement range required; dynamic transient effects; space restrictions; accuracy levels; and whether there are any unusual environmental conditions to consider."

Follow the link for more informaiton about the services available from Applied Measurements.

 
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