Top 6 Causes of Load Cell Malfunction and How to Avoid It

B Tek Zemic Double Ended Load Cell

Learn about the top 6 causes of load cell malfunction and discover effective ways to avoid them. Prevent costly downtime and ensure accurate measurements with these helpful tips.

In industries ranging from aviation to trucking, the accurate weighing of materials, products, and vehicles is crucial.

Load cells play an indispensable role in this process, but what happens when they malfunction? Load cell malfunctions can lead to inaccurate readings, impacting industry operations and profitability.

In this blog post, we delve into the top six causes of load cell malfunctions and provide practical advice on how to avoid these issues. These insights will help ensure the long-term reliability and accuracy of your weighing solutions. Let’s dive in and explore this important topic.

Why Load Cell Malfunctions Are a Big Deal

Load cell malfunctions refer to any inconsistencies, errors, or failures in the operation of load cells, which are devices used to measure weight or force in a range of applications. These malfunctions can greatly impact the accuracy of readings, resulting in potentially significant errors.

Considering the critical role that load cells play in various industries, from aviation and health to postal and shipping services, maintaining their functionality is crucial.

They are foundational in systems such as bar load cells, load weight gauges for trucks, and load cell platforms. Any deviation in their performance can compromise essential activities like accurate weight measurement and force detection. As such, preventative measures must be taken to ensure your load cells deliver consistent and accurate readings.

Top 6 Causes of Load Cell Malfunction

Load cells are integral components of weighing systems, but they can sometimes malfunction due to various reasons. Here are 6 of the primary causes for load cell malfunction:

1) Overloading and Uneven Loading

It is critical to always implement proper load distribution to the scale an item is being weighed on. The capacity of each load cell must be adhered to, as exceeding this limit can cause irreparable damage to the device, leading to inaccurate readings or total system failure.

To avoid this, always adhere to the manufacturer’s guidelines regarding the load cell’s capacity to avoid significant damage. Also, ensure that the loads applied to the load cells are distributed evenly. Uneven loading can cause excessive stress on specific areas of the load cells, increasing the risk of damage.

2) Incorrect Mounting or Installation

If the load cell is improperly installed, it may not be able to accurately measure the weight, leading to erroneous readings. Likewise, when attaching load cells to their mounting surfaces, be cautious not to over-tighten the fasteners. Over-tightening can lead to excessive stress on the load cells, potentially causing them to malfunction.

It’s advisable to have professionals install the equipment, or if you’re doing it yourself, follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully to ensure the load cell functions as intended.

3) Environmental Factors

Factors like temperature, moisture, and dust can all impact the performance of load cells. These elements can corrode the device’s parts or hinder its electrical conductivity, leading to inaccurate readings or other operational issues.

Shielding the device from these harmful elements, for example, by using protective casings or installing the equipment in a controlled environment, can greatly improve its longevity.

4) Electrical Interference

Electrical noise from nearby equipment can disrupt the operation of load cells and result in inaccurate readings. It’s crucial to consider the placement of the load cell and try to minimize its exposure to sources of electrical interference.

To counter this, use shielded cables and grounded electrical systems where possible.

5) Physical Damage

Damage due to shocks, vibrations, or other disturbances can also cause load cells to malfunction. Even minor impacts can cause significant damage to these sensitive devices, so they should be handled with care and protected from physical disturbances as much as possible.

If load cells are exposed to potential impacts or vibrations during transportation or operation, consider using shock-absorbing materials or cushioning devices to minimize the risk of physical damage. During installation avoid dropping or banging the load cells against hard surfaces. After the load cell is installed conduct routine inspections to identify any signs of physical damage, such as cracks, dents, or loose connections.

6) Age and Wear

All devices have a certain lifespan, and load cells are no exception. Regular usage over time can wear down the components, leading to operational issues or failures.

It’s essential to monitor the condition of your load cells and replace them as necessary to avoid these problems. Routine inspections and care, such as cleaning the load cell and checking for wear and tear, can help identify potential issues early and prevent them from escalating. Routine scale calibrations are a great way to stay on top of it.

Remember, using a load cell beyond its lifespan can risk inaccurate readings and damage to the device.

By following these practical tips, you can significantly reduce the likelihood of load cell malfunction, ensuring their long-term functionality and accuracy.

Basic Load Cell Troubleshooting

When load cells encounter issues it’s helpful to know how to troubleshoot the problem to minimize downtime and ensure accurate measurements. Apply different weights to the load cell and observe the readings. If the readings are consistently inaccurate or fluctuating, there may be an issue with the load cell itself or its connection.

Here are a few basic load cell troubleshooting steps:

Play Video about Basic Load Cell Troubleshootiing
  • Inspect for Physical Damage: Examine the load cell for any signs of physical damage, such as cracks, dents, or loose connections. Physical damage can significantly impact the load cell’s performance. If any damage is detected, it may be necessary to replace the load cell.
  • Check for Loose Connections: Start by inspecting all the connections between the load cell and the weighing system. Loose or faulty connections can lead to intermittent readings or complete malfunction. Make sure all cables and wires are securely connected with no cuts or abrasions. This type of damage exposes the strain gauge to damaging elements which can lead to incorrect readings.
  • Verify Power Supply: Ensure that the load cell is receiving the correct power supply. Check the power cables, connectors, and power source to rule out any issues related to power supply.
  • Perform Tests: If the load cell is still not functioning correctly, consider performing a variety of tests to check for different causes.
    • A zero balance test can determine load cell damage from overload, shock load or if the metal itself is worn. If this results in a load cell shift, you will know the issue is physical damage. If not, additional testing needs to be implemented.
    • A bridge resistance test can help determine if resistors are damaged. Since pairs of resistors can be damaged, it’s important to test each leg individually.
    • A resistance to ground test can help check for water damage to the strain gauge or if electrical current is leaking into the body of the load cell.

By following these troubleshooting steps, you can identify and resolve common load cell issues, ensuring accurate measurements and minimizing downtime. Furthermore, inaccurate readings can sometimes be resolved through calibration.

If you are unable to diagnose the issue, if the issue persists, or if you are unsure about performing the troubleshooting yourself, it’s always advisable to consult a qualified professional or contact the load cell manufacturer for assistance.

How American Scale Can Help

Scale Work by American scale

American Scale is renowned for delivering weighing solutions tailored to the specific needs of your industry. Our skilled team collaborates with you to understand your unique requirements and challenges before recommending the most suitable equipment for your operations.

We have a wide selection of industrial scales, balances, and load cells and weigh bars. Our professional installation services are another key aspect of our offerings. Our technicians ensure that your load cells are installed correctly, mitigating the risk of malfunctions due to incorrect mounting.

Furthermore, American Scale is committed to providing comprehensive maintenance services and ongoing support.

Regular inspection and scheduled maintenance are crucial for the prevention of load cell malfunctions, and our team is equipped to deliver these services with the utmost professionalism and efficiency. We also provide timely advice and support, helping you to deal with any issues that may arise in the course of using your load cells.

Bolster the Longevity and Accuracy of Your Weighing Equipment

Understanding the common causes of load cell malfunction and how to avoid them is crucial for ensuring the longevity and accuracy of your weighing equipment.

American Scale is your reliable partner for all your weighing needs. With over 35 years of experience, we offer tailored solutions and ongoing support to help you get the best performance from your load cells.

Don’t let load cell malfunctions hinder your operations – contact us today to discover how our services can help you maintain your equipment’s reliability and accuracy.