Case Study: FMS Dual Range Load Cells helps Emerson & Renwick in a demanding application

Emerson & Renwick consults with FMS over design of flexible, multi-functional R&M vacuum coater

Based in Accrington in the UK and with a history spanning more than 100 years, Emerson & Renwick, has grown to be a formidable force in the converting industry and specialises in the manufacture of machinery for coating, laminating, wallcovering and automotive industries.

Initial phase
Steve Dicken from Emerson & Renwick contacted FMS to discuss its tension measurement and control requirements for a new customer project from the United Kingdom. Emerson & Renwick’s mission was to design and manufacture a flexible, multifunctional R&D vacuum coater.

This large machine was intended to be used for the roll-to-roll production of flexible electronics and energy storage on ultra-thin substrates. A team of engineers worked out the requirements that needed to be fulfilled. An essential point was to find built-in load cells that offer a broad measurement range, are able to handle a wide spectrum of substrates from 75μm down to <5μm.

Furthermore, the confined space available within the process environment meant both set-up and calibration had to be a very simple task. In addition, the service life and accuracy of the force sensor must be maximised at all times, especially in a vacuum environment, where normal materials and equipment are tested to their limits and beyond.

After consulting with FMS on its requirements, the conclusion was that both dual range load cells suitable for use within vacuum environments were the answer and the LMGZD-series dual range load cell was chosen. This was also coupled with the EMGZ310.ComACT amplifier which offers a Bluetooth connection and dedicated Android or iOS application for interfacing, monitoring and calibration. The application has further evolved since this project with Emerson & Renwick and now offers data recording to the smart device, a feature which is useful for “on-the-fly” logging and analysis.

Project procedure
FMS products offer unique solutions, which are also backed up by hands-on support from its technical team and a thorough understanding of engineering situations which push the boundaries of technology and its further ability to find solutions to those situations.

“The broad measurement range is something we already had experience with in the past. And, with the support and technical knowledge of FMS, we knew that if any issues arouse, they are very hands on to deal with it”, recalls Emerson & Renwick lead mechanical design engineer Steve Dicken.

FMS Force Measuring Systems has been manufacturing force sensors for more than 25 years in Oberglatt, Switzerland. Its innovations have created a second-to-none portfolio, which enjoys one of the best reputations in regards of quality and durability. Mr Dicken added: “Both enterprises are connected by a close partnership of over eight years. FMS was first introduced by a colleague, who had also had a long history using FMS products. I already liked the technology and flexibility of FMS back then.”

He continued, talking about the first set-up: “Where a lot of our suppliers charge us for a day’s engineering work to be on site for support the FMS representative was here to assist and make sure everything went smoothly and at no charge to us. I couldn’t ask for more really. After installation of the optimally calculated solution, we could immediately see the great results from low down tensions. That was a big surprise. We are used to the fact that load cells cannot measure from absolute zero up with accuracy until they are at a certain percentage of the nominal force, but FMS solutions can.”

Project closure
The end customer is 100% satisfied with their flexible, multifunctional R&D vacuum coater. Calibration and maintenance of the machine can be carried out easily and downtimes have been reduced to a minimum. The customer reports a powerful and reliable feedback and functionality of the machine. And, by implementing the latest Tension Measurement technology, it is equipped to support innovation and development of new products.