Choosing a Load Cell: Load Cell Types & Applications


Employing precise and accurate ways of measuring and conveying the weight of an application and the contents within is essential to industrial operations. Load cells are metal components that translate mechanical force into easily readable digital measurement of the force.

Load Cell Application Considerations

The success of an application depends on all components working optimally. Selecting a suitable load cell solution is determined by many factors, all of which will dictate the performance of an application. There are several things to consider when researching load cell capabilities, including:

  • Measuring Range
  • Accuracy
  • Resolution & Sensitivity
  • Zero Balance Error
  • Linearity
  • Frequency Response
  • Input (Excitation) Voltage
  • Lifespan
  • Orientation

In many industries, weight is money, and appropriate weight restrictions and ensuring safe weight distribution for industrial applications is critical to performance and safety. Weighing technology used in the transportation industry should be engineered to deliver quality, beginning with their load cell capabilities.

Tension and Compression Load Cell Applications

In load cell applications, tension and compression refer to the loading direction. Considering applications with tension capabilities, the load will pull force outwardly from the load cell. In contrast, forces on load cells utilizing compression capabilities indicate that the forces push inward toward the load cell directionally.

Single Ended Shear Beam vs. Double Beam Load Cells

Determining which style is best depends on the method of load-bearing that is required and the capacity. Single point load cells are the simplest form of single ended bending beam load cell and are commonly used in compression force measurements. They are mounted on one end, and the load is applied to the other. The measuring range for single end bending beam load cells typically extends from 1 kg to 500kg. Single ended shear beam load cells have a similar mounting arrangement but higher capacities with a measuring range from 50lbs to 20,000lbs. Double-ended shear beam load cells have two mounting points, one on each end, with the load being applied to the center of the solution. They are used for heavy industrial applications with a measuring range from 1,000lbs to 100,000s lbs.

Single-Point vs. Multi-Point Load Cell Systems

Single-point and multi-point load cell systems address the number of load cells used to make a scale. Considering the size of your application is essential; if it requires one load cell, single-point load cells are an ideal choice and provide instantaneous use after mounting.

Multi-point load cell systems such as a tank or hopper on multiple legs, use multiple points of force measurement and need a summing board to join the outputs of each load cell into one signal. Alternatively, multiple load cell outputs can be individually monitored using multichannel wired or wireless instrumentation.

Load Pins Load Cells

Load pins provide alternative compression force measuring capabilities to standard load cells. These measurement components can replace bolts, clevis, sheaves, equalizer pins, and other load-bearing parts, offering an ideal combination of assembly and measurement solutions.

Load Cell Environmental Considerations

Identifying an appropriate load cell for your application also depends on the environment it is being used in. Certain types of intrinsically safe load cells can be used in hazardous, potentially explosive atmospheres for use in dust or gaseous environments such as container filling systems and chemical plants. Determine the environmental requirements of your application, including the need to withstand other harsh conditions, before selecting. In addition, it is important to consider operating temperature ranges and environmental sealing required based on IP ratings such as IP 65 to IP 68.

Load Cell Accuracy Classes

Classifying accuracy capabilities in load cells are decided by the size of the measured application. Standards for classes of load cell accuracy in North America are determined by the National Institute of Standards and Technology and formalized by the National Type Evaluation Program. Most commercial legal-for-trade weighing applications are covered in NTEP classes III and IIIL.

  • NTEP Class III: This classification of load cells refers to commercial weighing applications with between 500 and 10,000 scale divisions. Further subdivisions of the load cell classification come from the number of load cells used in an application, regarding Single and Multiple load cell bearing applications.
  • NTEP Class IIIL: A classification that refers to larger capacity applications between 2000 and 10,000 scale divisions and can be broken down into Single and Multiple subclassifications. NTEP Class IIIL includes applications such as vehicle, axle-load, livestock, crane, railway track scales, and hopper scales.

Decide Which Load Cell is Suitable for Your Application with Massload Technologies

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