How To Tell If A Load Cell Has Gone Bad

Load Cell ScaleA broken load cell is not fun for any operator. They serve as the backbone for industrial scales, providing accurate measurements no matter the circumstances. When they can’t provide that accuracy, then it can affect the business. That’s why it’s important to know how to tell if a load cell has gone bad. We go through some of the signs, and potential causes.

Before checking your load cell, have your calibration information on hand. This will help you with identifying the parameters and margins of error on input and output resistance, strain gauge resistance, and more. We recommend having a multimeter on hand to conduct certain tests so that you can identify the load cell’s current output with more accuracy.

Causes Of Load Cell Damage

If load cells are dropped or mishandled, that can skew their results. The strain gauge is very sensitive and needs careful handling from operators. If a person accidentally drops the load cell, then it can cause damage to the load cell body and the interiors.

Moisture is one factor that can affect your load cell. The water may cause the load cell to short out; this is a common problem in warehouses that have a high water level, or outdoor industrial areas. It can also cause the interior parts to rust.

Sudden electrical surges, such as from lightning strikes, can also prove to be a problem. These sudden bursts of energy can permanently damage your load cells. One strategy is to shield and ground your load cells, and implement surge protectors if connecting them to an external power source.

Signs Of The Load Cell’s Measuring System Failing

There are red flags when your load cell is not working properly. The first is inconsistency for the display readings or the results. If the cell is showing different results for the same item being weighed, then that means the load cell is acting up.

Load Cell FailSometimes the display will show other errors; in some cases they will notify you about an overload when there is none. In other circumstances, it may also not even register a load, or erroneously calculate that one is placed on the load cell when you have not added any to weigh. You can assess this by checking your load cell in between weighings, to see if it goes to zero, and using one item as a control group before regular operations.

If zero balance vanishes, then that is also a red flag. Load cells reset to zero after every measurement, as a means to maintain accuracy; if it doesn’t, then the results will prove to be inaccurate. The zero balance needs to be within the margin of errors indicated on the calibration certificate. If this is not the case, then you potentially have a problem on your hand, especially if the changes are dramatic.

Checking Load Cells

The first thing you should do is look at your load cell to find potential problems. A visual check may uncover physical damage that could be affecting the results. Sometimes the obvious signs will lead to the answer. Make sure that your load cell is disconnected from any power sources.

See if there are any cracks, distortions, wear and tear, or ripping on the load cell body or cables. We recommend using a body of stainless steel as opposed to aluminum for this exact purpose. Stainless steel is designed to be durable, waterproof, and corrosion-resistant with a high heat threshold. Even so, stainless steel like other elements will wear out, just at a longer rate compared to aluminum. You can also see cell body damage from shock overload or mishandling.

Identify your cable connections as well; the load cells need to receive power from these and use them to send signals. A cable being cut, damaged, or crimped could be affecting the load cell’s connections, which is causing the cell to go bad. In some cases, a short circuit may happen thanks to wear and tear.

Make sure that the mounting surfaces are consistent for the load cell. Disparities can skew the results.

Insulation can be another cause of inaccurate readings, if it has worn out over time.

Learn More About Load Cells From Arlyn Scales

Arlyn Scales wants to educate our customer about load cells and how to manage them. Our engineers have been working with strain gauge load cells to improve them, so that they can handle more shock loading. We use these load cells in our scales, to ensure that you have the highest-quality weighing systems on hand for various industrial purposes. From checkweighing to cargo transport, we deliver on quality.

Reach out to us today to contact our representatives about load cells and custom scales. Arlyn Scales can provide advice on repair and replacement for them, as well as our expertise for industrial weighing.