What are the Best Brands of Load Monitoring Products?
What are the best brands in the load cell or dynamometer market? And what should end users be looking for when purchasing force measurement technology?
Buying a load cell is a significant investment. This blog will help you make the right purchasing decision given that it isn’t always possible to look at or feel a load cell and tell which one is best for your requirements or will serve you safely over a period of time. As we’ll explore, it’s certainly a market where you get what you pay for.
The global load monitoring equipment industry is a $60m-a-year marketplace and the USA accounts for a large part of that. Although it’s growing all the time, the sector isn’t widely understood, making it difficult to navigate, especially for those looking to utilize a load cell for the first time. Even those that have been using the equipment for some years often can’t tell you who all the key manufacturers and suppliers are.
As we’ve blogged about before, load monitoring products are increasingly popular and necessary tools at indoor and outdoor facilities of all types, in a multitude of industries. Planned or unplanned load movement is made inherently safer by rigging a dynamometer or monitoring device to the application. In other words, this equipment is here to stay.
There are three or four global load cell manufacturers that are based in or have facilities in the U.S. (The biggest, Crosby Straightpoint, makes its products available, including the best-selling Radiolink plus, at FAD Equipment Store). There are also a number of local players that serve regional markets, such as the Houston, Texas hotbed, for example. It is commonly accepted that the bigger manufacturers specialize in out-of-the-box solutions whereas the smaller suppliers ‘reinvent the wheel’ every time.
The larger manufacturers are also alike in that they typically supply equipment through dealer or distributor networks. These dealerships usually fall into one of two categories: lifting and rigging equipment providers or weighing scale companies. The former will sell a load cell or dynamometer alongside shackles and rigging gear for use below-the-hook, while the latter will include the equipment in truck scales and laboratory portfolios.
In simple terms, the two types of distributor will get different kinds of inquiry:
Lifting and rigging company — “I need to rig a load cell to my tower crane”.
Scales and weighing company — “I need to weigh my ship”.
Of the tens of millions of dollars spent in the U.S. each year on force measurement equipment via the distribution channel, approx. 60% is generated by lifting and rigging hardware companies and the remainder scales and weighing companies.
In all instances, established brands like Crosby Straightpoint give the end user assurance that their technology and hardware is robust, accurate and reliable. The principles are the same in the consumer market; people buy cars, televisions, food and other products from brands that they trust and can relate too. Of course, longevity of engineering expertise is important to many people when they are lifting valuable, heavy loads or weighing large vessels.
Crosby Straightpoint, for example, boasts a DNV GL Type Approval Certificate. Not only does this acknowledge that its equipment meets the rigorous standards for their use offshore, but it proves third-party approval by a globally recognized body. All products are also provided with proof test and calibration certifications, and alert users when recalibration is required once a year. An incredible amount of work goes into building a manufacturing business of this type, which is why people look for the Straightpoint brand as they do Crosby hardware, Caldwell lifting attachments, Oz Lifting davit cranes, and so on.
As all reputable manufacturers and suppliers recognize, the key to safety is using the right tool for the job. To this end, the world’s leading dynamometer engineers are always gathering feedback from the point of use to add enhancements to products, or launch new ones, not to add pages to a catalog but to continue to meet the nuanced requirements of the myriad of applications where this equipment is applied on a daily basis.
We can generally categorize dynamometers in terms of the type of force that is being measured. It might be a tensile force in the case of the Radiolink plus or a low headroom load shackle, while another site might be weighing with compression load cells. Then there are the application and environmental issues to consider. Is it cold, wet, hot, or cold? If you’re testing in compression, do you want to know the weight, center of gravity and / or individual load cell loading? Do you want a cabled or wireless solution? Brands give users peace of mind that all these variables are considered and catered for.
Notably, the Radiolink plus is designed to be rigged with Crosby standard shackles, available on this equipment store. ATEX and IECEx versions are also in stock for hazardous areas, Zones 0, 1 and 2, which are the force measurement tools of choice for professionals in the oil and gas and petrochemicals sectors. The Clamp On Line Tensionmeter (or COLT), meanwhile, is specifically for measuring tension on static lines. In all cases, users know that Crosby Straightpoint products are suitably lightweight (the 55,000-pound capacity Radiolink plus weighs just 11 pounds).
As in all markets, you have to pay more for state-of-the-art equipment that carries the industry’s leading brands. We’ve only touched upon some of those variables above so you’ll see why it’s hard to answer the question: how much does a load cell cost? But it’s not difficult to consider what it might cost to apply an incorrect or inferior force measurement product.