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Benefits of the Next Generation of Digitals Display
Release Date: 5/9/13

When it comes to sensors, form necessarily follows function. Consequently, as the geometric constraints, environmental conditions, and loading modes that sensors were required to meet expanded, the variety of form-factors, material compositions, and measurement capabilities of sensors grew proportionally.
At face value, it seems the same can be said of the digital indicators paired with these sensors. But, as the number of models on the market does continue to grow, the question is begged, is this “variety” really borne from the same legitimate necessity? If approached abstractly, it seems the digital indicator has but one job: provide its user with the measurement data they need from their sensors.

The FUTEK engineering team took a liking to this notion and actually set out to create a single display instrument that could consolidate the functionality of essentially all the digital indicators on the market into one elegant design. Pursuing this idea presented a significant challenge because, in order to simultaneously fill all of these shoes, this supposed digital skeleton key would need to bring together a list of features previously unattained by any single digital instrument.

Obviously, such an instrument would be compatible with any sensor type regardless of its measurement dimension or output signal. To maintain ease of use with several sensors in play, the system should internally store multiple sensor calibration profiles and provide Plug-n-Play technology. To meet the demands of essentially any measurement application, its electronics would need outstanding resolution, accuracy, and sampling rate. To capture measurement data from complex events occurring in both the lab and the field, the display would need a high-speed USB connection to stream digital data to PCs and have the ability to store data in its internal data logger. Process control systems can communicate using a variety of signals depending on the PLC, relay or switch, so offering a variety of analog output signals could come in very handy. Glossing over a few minor details of the engineering process, an array of performance specifications and features was combined and the IHH500 was born.

The basis of the IHH500’s capability is superior electronics. Built on a state-of-the-art 24bit platform, an accuracy of ±10ppm [0.001%] and sampling rate of 4800Hz give the IHH500 performance to spare in nearly any context. Since its accuracy is more than an entire order of magnitude better than even that of sensors used as calibration transfer standards, any error that could be attributed to the IHH500 would be insignificant to measurement uncertainty. And, capturing 4800 data points every single second allows the IHH500 to accurately plot an event with a lifetime of less than 0.01 second (according to Section 5.5 of ASTM E1942)!
The IHH500 handheld indicator comes in two versions: Pro and Elite. The Elite has his little brother’s same elegant design and impressive performance but adds the ability to input a travel encoder and includes a copy of the FUTEK SENSIT Test and Measurement Software, an assortment of connection cables and accessories, and a protective travel case. Understanding whether the IHH500 Pro or Elite is best for your asset catalog ultimately comes down to which measurement applications you will come across. For the purposes of demonstration, let’s consider a few popular applications and examine what a typical system configuration for each context might look like.

Hoist Transformation

When an object with a size or mass exceeding the capacities of conventional balances needs weighed, it is common to use a large industrial-type floor scale. Anyone who has had worked with such a scale can tell you, beyond the basic encumbrance of having to “gently” place a massive object in the center of the scale’s loading platform, the process is riddled with inconvenience: having to transport the object to wherever the industrial-sized scale resides; unload it, weigh it, reload it; and then transport it on to its actual destination. Typically, transporting the payload involves some sort of hoist, crane, or lift and multiple operators to negotiate the process.

In an ideal world, wouldn’t the scale travel to the massive payload and not the other way around? Well, actually no. In an ideal world, the scale would travel to the massive payload, pick it up, weight it, and then drop it off at its final destination. If this ideal scenario sounds too good to be true, and then consider how an IHH500 Pro can transform this process.

An IHH500 Pro display connected to a FUTEK LCF455 remote load sensor can be integrated into any hoist or lift simply by mounting the remote load sensor in line with the lifting mechanism so that it is within the load chain. This way, any object that is lifted is also automatically being weighed and its weight is digitally displayed inside the cockpit.

As an added bonus, the IHH500 system can provide the operator with a real-time overload alert for the lift. To avoid a catastrophic situation in which the machine exceeds its safe payload limit, the analog output of the IHH500 can be connected to an external switch. If the measured weight exceeds a trigger value set in the IHH500, a signal is instantaneously sent to deactivate the motor or activate an alarm the moment a dangerous payload is lifted.

Torque Certainty On Demand

A common asset among production floors is the slip-type torque driver or wrench. Whether the product is a medical device or automobile, seating various components or fasteners with a specific amount of torque can be crucial to the performance of an assembly when it is put into service. Unfortunately, due to the rough nature of torque application, these tools are particularly prone to drift and require more frequent verification than most other calibrated assets.

To eliminate reasonable doubt from the daily performance of these tools, a convenient in-house calibration system can be created by pairing the IHH500 Pro with the FUTEK TDF Series precision torque transducers. With TEDS (transducer electronic data sheet) Plug-n-Play technology, the IHH500 instantly auto-scales and parameterizes itself according to which transducer is connected, allowing an operator to literally go from checking fractions of an inch-ounce to thousands of foot-pounds in seconds. The FUTEK TDF transducers are designed with a special flange baseplate so they can be easily mounted to a work bench or calibration cart in either a vertical or horizontal orientations, depending on what is most ergonomic for the technician over the capacity range the transducer. To complete the system, the IHH500 indicator has a somewhat rare but critical 1st Peak Mode that insures the peak torque is captured the moment the tool slips and is not confused with subsequent tool reaction.

Complex Analysis, Simplified Method

Because of the increased degrees of freedom, analysis of phenomena involving torque and rotation are significantly more complex than events confined to force and linear motion. A seemingly natural consequence is that this increased complexity is inherited by the measurement instrumentation used for such analysis.
To characterize the performance of even a simple electric motor requires both its output torque and angular displacement to be related in time, allowing the derivation of meaningful results such as power and angular velocity. Such a measurement can be done by inputting torque transducer channels and rotary encoder channels into a data acquisition system and then reconciling the data streams with some sort of universal clock. As it sounds, the instrumentation for such systems is expensive and the setup of the system is quite involved.
Pairing the IHH500 Elite with a FUTEK TDR module creates a sort of metrological silver bullet for this application. The TDR module is a highly advanced sensor that combines a precision rotary torque transducer with an angular displacement encoder and outputs both signals through a specialized cable and terminal plug. Through a single input in the IHH500, both channels are simultaneously captured and results such as torque, angle, angular velocity (RPM), and power can be displayed in real time.

To take this analysis to greater depth, the included FUTEK SENSIT software can be used to graph and manipulate measurement data. SENSIT easily dimensions graphical data in terms of: measured parameters like load, displacement, and time; derived parameters like velocity and power; and even user-defined units of measure through its powerful Math Channel feature. By applying a simple scalar or formula to a given input channel, the Math Channel feature can transform torques into torsions, forces into stresses, and displacements into strains. It even has the ability to formulaically relate various input channels to generate differential and ratiometric measurements.

These applications are just a glimpse of what IHH500 displays in service all over the world encounter every day. The initial goal of the IHH project was to create a single display that could satisfy any measurement application with ease. The FUTEK engineering team quickly realized that only by combining powerful hardware with equally powerful software could such versatility be realized while maintaining our standards of design elegance and customer value. We feel confident that the IHH500 platform is fully prepared to meet measurement challenges across all industries and continents, but only through the continued feedback from our customers will we learn if our mission was accomplished.


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