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Highway engineers and horticulturalists have adapted Sensor Technology’s Loadsense helicopter technology to solve a critical safety problem in tree viability.

‘This is actually an intelligent cargo hook for helicopter pilots who need to undersling carry loads,’ said Tony Ingham of Sensor Technology.

‘This may seem like a different world, but the concept is that the hook has on-board electronics for measuring the load and a wireless transmitter for sending the live data to a nearby ruggedised PC or custom-built handheld readout,’ he said.

‘We replaced the hook with one more suited to the tree work, recalibrated the strain gauge and wrote some software appropriate to the job in hand,’ he added.

‘The procedure with our equipment is to pull the tree until the first suggestions of movement, with the load force being automatically displayed as wind speed and a pass/fail signal,’ said Ingham.

In the second stage of calculation, the software can use a look-up table to suggest how often such as wind is likely to be experienced.

Ingham says that, for a future development, Sensor Technology is talking to the Met Office about using its wind maps of the UK, along with GPS (global positioning system) readings, to produce results almost to the individual tree.

‘All the data handling and calculations are transparent to the crew – they get simple pass/fail reading,’ he continued.

‘But the data can be stored and further resolved into high-level management information, which will help with developing long-term maintenance programmes,’ he added.

Sensor Technology

Sensor Technology are manufacturers of TORQSENSE Transducers, the world’s first low cost non-contact rotary torque transducers designed for OEM applications. Rotary torque measurement has always been difficult and expensive.

The patented method uses a surface acoustic wave device as a frequency dependent strain gauge and measures the change in resonant frequency caused by the applied strain in the shaft.

The signal is transmitted via an RF couple from the rotating shaft to a fixed pick-up.

By using a frequency-based device, the signal bandwidth is increased, and the problem of electronic interference common with analogue signals is eliminated. The torque sensors are designed to operate direct from a PLC or a PC.

They require minimum length of shaft, have low inertia, no physical contact between shaft and housing, wide bandwidth, high resolution and accuracy resolution to better than one part in a million, and excellent noise immunity.

The technology lends itself to design of OEM transducers for specific customer applications. Applications include automotive, manufacturing machines, condition monitoring where knowledge of torque is critical, torque control of tightening procedures, and monitoring of viscosity during mixing where consistency is required. The technology replaces existing types of rotary torque sensors by providing better performance at a lower price.

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