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Monday - March 21, 2022

Strain Gauge Sensors Can Extend Runtimes for Automotive Production Line Tools

Manufacturing safer vehicles is a critical focus for Automotive OEMs that are working to reduce, and eventually eliminate, traffic fatalities. Safety technology has evolved rapidly over the years – seatbelts were only required in American vehicles less than 60 years ago and today all new cars must come equipped with back-up cameras. While new safety features will continue to be added, it is equally important that vehicles meet federal design, construction, durability and performance requirements.

A tightly controlled production process plays a key role in maintaining quality assurance standards set by global governing bodies. This means each part is carefully inspected and each step in the process is meticulously executed by well-trained employees. Even the tools they use incorporate feedback to alert line managers of problems as soon as they arise. This data is stored so it can be used to identify trends such as recurring issues or necessary tool maintenance.

Making Smart Automotive Production Tools

How do tools provide feedback and control output? By incorporating sensors, such as strain gauge pressure sensors, tool manufacturers can deliver precise torque control. This mechanism is more advanced than typical mechanical clutch systems for torque tools because instead of meeting a defined torque threshold, the max torque can be very precisely measured.

In the field, these tools are typically connected either by wire or wirelessly to a computer for data processing. After measuring and analyzing the torque output, the tool can automatically adjust to deliver the optimum torque to drive the bolt or fastener. Another benefit of more precise torque measurement is extended life of the tool. Because there are fewer overload events, and the tool is consistently operating at ideal output levels there is less strain placed on the motor.

MinebeaMitsumi Strain Gauge Sensor Technology

We have been manufacturing strain gauge-based sensors such as load cells, pressure sensors, and force sensors for close to 50 years. In 2017, we announced a cutting-edge high sensitivity strain gauge film that is 10 times smaller and 500% more sensitive than conventional products. The improved performance and form factor enables new application design opportunities with a focus on miniaturization.

Kevin Haupt
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