Industrial Load Cells


Industrial load cells are strain gauge-based force transducers. They are used for quick, precise measurement of force in the form of weight, load, overload, or tension conditions. Fatigue-rated load cells can be used repeatedly (thousands of times per hour) over long periods of time without loss of accuracy. Load cells can be made in shape and size to accommodate any application.

 Industry depends on load cells. From checkweighing and batching systems to materials testing and waste reduction, there is not an area of applications that industrial load cells don’t support.

Need to weigh a vat of melted wax as it is being filled and mixed? An SPWE low-profile load cell is great at weighing all kinds of tanks or other vessels. Testing the mooring strength of a weather buoy? A fully submersible UWTL would be perfect for the job. Looking for a way to prevent the overload of your crane or hoist system? A DLWS clamp-on load cell is the ideal solution. How about finding a way to monitor the weight of the chemicals in your industrial fire prevention system so that you are automatically alerted when the levels are low? That system would likely use a single-point load cell such as an ESP4. Single point load cells are also useful for checkweighing systems in the process of canning and bottling, among others. The applications for a strain gauge load cell are endless and they truly do play a key role in every imaginable industry.


Industrial Load Cell Types

Special Applications

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How a Load Cell Works

Load cell diagramAs stated above, a load cell is a type of force transducer (force sensor). It converts force exerted on the load cell, such as tension, compression, or pressure, into an electrical signal. The strength of the signal is directly proportional to the force applied.

Strain gauge load cells are the most commonly used type of load cells in industrial applications. The body (or "spring element") of an industrial load cell is composed of a minimally flexible metal on which strain gauges have been secured. When force is applied, the spring element deforms slightly but is elastic enough to return to its original shape.

As the shape of the spring element changes, so does the shape of the strain gauges attached to it, thereby either increasing or decreasing their electrical resistance. When a current is passed through the strain gauges, this resistance variation will be reflected in the measured voltage output. Since this change in output is proportional to the amount of weight applied, the weight of the object can then be determined from the change in voltage.

In order for the spring element to deflect without permanent deformation, the amount of deflection must be minimal. Calculations based on the tiny resistance change of one strain gauge are not highly accurate and can be subject to error. To compensate for this, and allow for a very high degree of accuracy in a load cell, multiple strain gauges are used. Set in a Wheatstone bridge configuration (balanced when no load is applied) the overall change in resistance across all 4 strain gauges can be determined using Ohm's law and the equation below.

VO   R3  –  R2    × VEX
(R3 + R4) (R1 + R2)


Load cell bridge sensor diagramWheatstone bridge diagram

Choosing a Load Cell by Type

Beam Load CellsBeam Load Cell photo

These load cells can be found in vessel/tank weighing and floor scales. There are 3 major types, bending beam, single-ended shear beam, and double-ended shear beam. The single-ended model is mounted on one end and force applied to the opposite end. The double-ended cell is mounted on both ends and force is applied to the middle of the load cell. Bending beam load cells are economical and ideally used for lower capacity applications. Shear beam load cells are best for medium to high capacity weighing double-ended shear beam load cells being intended for the higher capacities. 

Single Point (binocular)Single Point Load Cell photo

These compression load cells are a lower capacity load cell. They are perfectly designed for deli scales, bench scales, and checkweighing applications as they are moment compensated load cells. The cell body is modified and the gauges arranged so that they allow for load placement anywhere on a scale platform and they will return an accurate value.

Pancake (shear web type)Pancake Load Cell photo

These load cells are often seen in a manufacturing environment, such as car manufacturing. They are used to measure durability and product failure limits in destructive testing. They are also ideal for verifying force measurement in press applications. These cells can be sandwiched between two components for compression or used in tension via the threaded holes. 

Canister Load Cell photoCanister (column)

The canister load cell is the earliest load cell design. This configuration is best suited to higher capacities. They work well in heavy-duty applications such as truck scales and railroad scales. Canister load cells are available in compression-only or tension/compression. As with shear web load cells, some are designed with threads for pulling applications.

S-TypeS-Type Load Cell photo

These load cells are typically found in hanging scales or suspended vessel weighing applications and can be used in both tension and compression applications. They can be suspended from shackles and pulled in tension or mounted between two items via the top and bottom threads and compressed. 



Tension Link Load Cell photoTension Link

These versatile force transducers (load cells) are specialized for measuring in-line tension forces. Available in a wide range of capacities, tension link load cells are also customizable for extremely heavy applications. These cells are often used for mooring and submersible testing, crane scales, and towing/pull force measurement.

Load PinLoad Pin Load Cell photo

Load pins replace a pin or axle on which force is applied. The design and structure of these cells are highly customizable and can be used at very high capacities. 


Thru-Hole Load CellsThru-Hole Load Cell photo

These load cells are well suited for anchor and fastener testing and boat mooring tests. This

extremely versatile load cell is utilized in tension and compression. It can be installed between two parts to measure compression or pulled from opposite directions like the link in a chain to measure tension. They can also be threaded onto a part, such as a bolting mechanism, to measure force.



Load Cell and Strain Gauge Basics   Load Cell Terminology  Load Cell Types and Uses

  Understanding Load Cell Specifications  System Basics Load Cell Accuracy 

Testing and Troubleshooting a Load Cell   Load Cell Calibration    



Select a Load Cell by Capacity

Low Capacity

Low Capacity Load Cells

Capacities from 25 grams to 150 Pounds


Mid-Range Load Cells

Capacities from 200 to 20,000 Pounds

High Capacity

High Capacity Load Cells

Capacities from 25,000 to 1 million Pounds

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