Setting the Scene for Sensors
Eisha Cooke posted on October 24, 2011 | 3808 views

Analyst firm Frost & Sullivan, estimate the sensors market in Europe to reach $19 billion by 2016, creating opportunities for technological advancements and ultimately new applications for sensors. Inclinometers, accelerometers and load cells enjoy an unrivalled status within the sensors industry and are used in a plethora of critical applications.


Inclinometers can measure horizontal and vertical angular inclination to very high levels of precision and output the data in the form of analogue or digital signals. Some typical inclinometer applications include:

  • Military Fire Control Systems - require robust sensors which can deliver precision measurements following exposure to severe levels of mechanical shock from the firing process.
  • Rail Track Monitoring – to survey rail tracks to determine deterioration and the need for safety critical maintenance.
  • Satellite Communications – used on ship, vehicle and land based antenna applications to track communication satellites.
  • Civil Engineering – to monitor movement over time of bridges, buildings and other large structures.
  • Continuous Casting Monitor – to ensure guide tracking is within dimensional tolerances to ensure continuous and quality production.


Accelerometers measure linear acceleration and deceleration of dynamic systems. The careful selection of an accelerometer is essential to ensure its frequency response is matched to the application requirements. Some typical examples of accelerometer applications include:

  • Aircraft Health Monitoring – acceleration levels applied to aircraft structures in service are monitored for determining the safe flying life of the aircraft.
  • Civil Engineering – low ‘g’ range accelerometers utilised to monitor accelerations induced into bridges and other structures to check design calculations and long term critical safety.
  • Railway – control of braking and cornering of trains to ensure safety and passenger comfort.
  • Flight Simulators – to control actuation systems to ensure the programmed ‘g’ levels are achieved.
  • Accident Data Collection – acceleration data recording for future reference in the event of an accident or incident.

Load Cells

A load cell is a transducer that is used to convert a force into an electrical signal and offers measurement of tension, compression and shear forces.

Load cells are available in many physical shapes and forms to suit particular applications and forms of loading. Some of the major load cell applications include:

  • Aerospace - Fatigue testing of airframe structures, internal engine forces and ejector seat force measurements.
  • Paper Mill – bearing force load cells to monitor and maintain correct roller tension.
  • Marine - hoist loads, platform retention, towing forces and mooring loads and systems.
  • Civil engineering – bridge lifting/weighing, vehicle/crane load monitoring and earthquake force monitoring
  • Pharmaceutical Industry – to control the compressive forces during tablet manufacture during many millions of cycles.

By Robin Butler,   


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