How to Select a Load Cell

Ask these 4 simple questions to pinpoint the exact load cell you need

You don’t have to be an expert in load cell technology to select the one you need and feel confident that it will get the job done right.

The technology found in many modern load cells can seem overwhelming at first, but in industries where precision is a must, choosing and properly using an appropriate load cell could mean the difference between another successful day at work and an expensive or potentially dangerous miscalculation.

Luckily, we’re in 2021. Once you select the load cell that’s right for your application, you can enjoy enhanced safety, accuracy, and efficiency through the use of simple software and load cell readouts that fit in the palm of your hand, function from nearly a mile away, and provide +/- 0.1% accuracy.

Despite the many brands and types of load cells available on the market today, choosing the exact right one for your needs is fairly simple when you break it all down. Let’s walk through the 4 simple questions that will guide you in selecting the right load cell.

selecting load cells
Tension load cells from Straightpoint can handle tension reading capacities ranging from 1-ton up to 500-tons.

1. What is your application environment?

First, it’s important to consider the general environment in which you’ll be using the load cell. In terms of durability, there’s a wide spectrum ranging from low-capacity, unsealed load cells to weatherproof multi-ton options.

If you’re needing load cells for industrial applications involving cranes or heavy loads, you’ll want to select a trusted load cell brand that’s been rigorously tested and proven to have high manufacturing standards. If the load cell could be exposed to water you’ll want one rated for common environmental protections like IP67 or NEMA6.

2. What are you needing to measure?

Next, what is the specific goal you’re trying to accomplish with a load cell? Tug testing? Structural weighing? Laying cable, or maybe something else? “Load cell” is a broad term that encompasses many different electronic measurement tools including tensiometers, dynamometers, load shackles, and even common crane scales. Of course, you’ll want to get a load cell that’s designed to safely measure whatever it is you’re working with. Still, keep in mind that there is some crossover in what these load cell types can do. Below is a list of common load cell types found in the rigging and lifting industry, plus their common application.

Compression Load Cells – structural weighing and the confirmation of mass or center of gravity


Tension Load Cells – measures tension levels, commonly used for overhead weighing and heavy lift applications


Crane Scales – weighs pretty much anything that can be fasted to its hanging hook, crane optional


Shackle Load Cells – common in industrial crane applications, especially limited headroom or super heavy lift projects

Towcells – monitors tensile towing forces, engineered for emergency/rescue services, salvage, 4X4 events, and other vehicle load monitoring applications


Running Line Dynamometers – measures tension, line speed, and distance for wire rope, electrical cables, and synthetic rope


Clamp On Line Tensiometers – measuring guy wire and wire rope tension

wire rope tension load cell from straightpoint
The Straightpoint COLT clamp on line tensionmeter is a fast and accurate tool for measuring guy wire and wire rope tension up to 11,000 pounds with up to 1-inch diameters.

3. How do you want to transmit and check load cell readouts?

If you have a smartphone in your pocket, you know just how far wireless technology has come over the past few years. Load cells are no exception. In fact, many modern load cells such as industry-leading Straightpoint load monitoring load cells, are compatible with your cell phone or smart device via Bluetooth or by simply downloading a free load cell monitoring app. These advanced wireless load cells work from long distances for increased safety and can also sync with a larger computer or a special wireless handheld reader to remotely read and adjust load cell setups. Of course, wired load cell options still exist, but it’s important to understand there are many more options in the field these days that could bring you added benefits.

4. What weight capacity and dimension requirements do you have?

Finally, once you know the level of durability you need, the type of load cell that measures your workload, and whether you want wired or wireless transmission, you’re almost finished. The final step in how to select a load cell is to ensure you get one that can handle your application’s weight capacity and physical dimensions. Whether it’s in pounds, kilograms, tons, inches, or centimeters – check the spec sheets carefully to ensure the load capacity and physical dimensions of the load cell itself align with your application. You shouldn’t have any doubt in your mind that what you order can handle your load safely and effectively.

Summary

Whether you have old load monitoring load cells that need to be replaced or are investing in these intelligent tools for the first time, selecting the proper load cell is important. Professionals in many different industries rely on these tools to provide precise measurements that could otherwise mean costly mistakes. First, decide on the level of durability you want. Then, consider what you’re needing to measure and the way you’d like to transmit those measurements. Finally, narrow in on the load cell specs to find one that’s able to comfortably handle your application.

Still have questions? Give our rigging and lifting product experts a call at 800-404-7068.

How to Thread Ratchet Straps and Cam Buckle Straps

While both ratchet straps and cam buckle straps are used to haul various types of cargo and come in sizes ranging from 1″ to 4″ in width, there are some key differences between the two.

Ratchet straps

A ratchet strap is available with many different fittings: chain extension, d-ring, e-track fitting, e-track double stud fitting, f-track hook and spring e-fitting, flat hook, flat snap hook, j-hook with d-ring, s-hook and vinyl coated wire hook.

Polyester webbing is most often used for both ratchet straps and cam buckle straps because it has a low stretch rate and is very resistant to abrasion.

How to thread a ratchet strap

1.) Open the ratchet so you have access to the take-up spool.

2.) Slide strap through the spool and bring it right back on itself.

3.) Pull on the strap to remove the excess slack.

4.) Once the slack is removed, you can start to ratchet the strap to the desired tension, keeping the strap straight.

5.) Once you have reached your desired tension, lock the ratchet down to its closed position.

To release the strap, open the ratchet all the way so it is completely flat and pull the strap out.

In cases where you do not need the strength of a ratchet strap, a cam buckle is an excellent choice. Cam straps are also available with various types of attachment hardware: butterfly fitting, e-track fitting, F-track hook and spring e-fitting, handle bar strap with S-hook, flat snap hook and s-hook.

Cam buckle straps 

Cam buckle straps typically come in 1″ and 2″ sizes. This video highlights the differences between ratchet straps and cam buckles and also shows how to thread a cam buckle.

How to thread a cam buckle strap

1.) Turn the cam buckle over and thread your strap back through  while pressing the thumb release.

2.) While pressing the thumb release, pull the strap to your desired tension and then release.

To release the strap, press the thumb button and simply pull the strap.

In choosing between a ratchet strap and a cam buckle, it generally depends on work load limit or how fragile the product is that you are securing. If the cargo is light and fragile, go with a cam buckle since you cannot run the risk of over-tightening and crushing the product. For items heavier or more sturdy, a ratchet strap is a good choice.

How to Thread a Toothless Cam Buckle

Cam buckles can be confusing to thread webbing onto for the first time. This video explains the proper procedure for feeding webbing onto a 1″ toothless cam buckle. Cam buckles come in all different sizes, so make sure the strength of your buckle is appropriate for the item you are securing. US Cargo Control shows you the right way to thread a strap through the buckle.

Threading a toothless cam buckle involves 4 basic steps:

  1. Open the buckle and feed the webbing between the guides.
  2. Loop the webbing back through the buckle.
  3. Next, feed the webbing through the slot in the mandrel and pull it tight.
  4. Close the buckle, and now the webbing is in place.

For more information or to purchase the items used in this video, click on the links below.

 

View all tie down hardware from US Cargo Control

L-Track Fittings: Small But Mighty

What’s round, measures less than 2″ high, yet has the ability to withstand up to 4,000 lbs. of pressure? A single L-track fitting with round ring.

This simple workhorse is easy to install- just attach the round airline track single base using screws and click the fitting into the recessed area. But more importantly, these little pieces are big on versatility. While longer L-track sections – such as the popular 24 inch aluminum L-track rail – are traditionally used on a trailer to secure motorcycles and ATVs with 2-inch tie down straps, these single L-track fittings can be placed anywhere you need an anchor point. They’re the perfect solution if you’re short on space and a full track length won’t fit, such as behind a wheel well in a trailer, or if placing a full track isn’t an ideal option, such as on the tailgate of a pickup truck.

But don’t limit L-track singles to just a trailer or truck: use them in the garage, shed, utility room, barn- the possibilities are endless. Attach one to the garage wall, add a cinch strap  to the ring and you instantly have a place to hang hoses, rope, cords, wire, etc. The round ring can also accommodate a bungee cord or rubber tarp strap hook for lots of lighter duty applications. And the strength capacity makes them great for securing heavier items as well. In fact, manufacturing shops attach these single anchor points on carts to secure items for transport within the facility, so consider them of use on an ATV, utility tractor, etc.

The L-track name comes from the term “logistic track” and is sometimes also referred to as L track or airline track, because it’s used in the airline industry to secure seating components. The longer track pieces are ideal if you need an adjustable anchor point, as it’s designed with several indentions for the fitting to secure. However, when space is tight and there not enough room for an entire track length, a single l-track fitting is the perfect solution.

Watch this video: How to install a motorcycle tie down system in a pickup truck using logistic track, for more information.