Innovative Use of a Load Cell in a Test Bench for Cross-Country Skis

Ski-Test is a market leader when it comes to the precise measurement of skis. The business was started by Tore Grøsland, a product designer with a taste for innovative solutions. Over the years, Grøsland has introduced numerous products to the market, one of them being the unique testing machine known as the ‘Eiker-måler’. With it, Grøsland can ensure exact ski selection and optimum ski pairing for the skier.

The ‘Eiker-måler’ combines an altimeter with a high precision load cell from HBM to conduct ski tests at the highest level. The technology is used by both Norwegian and Swedish national skiing teams, as well as having been sold to leading ski stores across the Nordic countries. Ski manufacturers such as Fischer, Madshus, Rossignol, Atomic and Peltonen all use the ‘Eiker-måler’ to identify the ideal skis for their customers.

 

Problem

Ski-Test is used to measure the flex of a ski when weight is applied. The test determines the ski-wax area, a necessary step for finding the optimal stiffness of the skis. In addition to body weight, the ski-wax area also depends on the technique of the skier, as this affects the force exerted on the ski. The procedure requires a precise test bench for applying a load similar to that of a skier, while simultaneously measuring the displacement.

Solution

Ski-Test, using a load cell from HBM achieves accurate and reliable results. A Z6F bending beam load cell is included in a custom-made test bench known as the ‘Eiker-måler’. The test bench combines the load cell, an altimeter, a display, and a screw-based mechanism to apply the desired load.

Results

Using the Z6F load cell Ski-Test can precisely measure the load by simulating the body weight and push-force of a skier. With this setup, Ski-Test is a market leader in the testing and verification of grip and gliding zones for professional customers worldwide.

The Challenge

Skiing has changed significantly over the years with incredible technical and technological improvements. Technology has also influenced skiing equipment. Today, there is a high focus on every single detail of a ski. Skiers devote a significant amount of time and attention to the subject of wax. The testing of the grip and gliding zones of a ski have been a major focus for manufacturers as well. Earlier methods relied on having a person to physically stand on the ski before visually inspecting the flex. As one can imagine, this method has its shortcomings such as the uncertainty related to the stiffness when measured visually. As a pioneer in ski-testing, Ski-Test digitalizes this process by using a load cell from HBM to apply the desired pressure, improving both the efficiency and precision of the tests.

Solution from HBM

The ‘Eiker-måler’ was originally introduced ahead of the Winter Olympic Games in 1994 as the first on the market. Since then, Ski-Test has been the market leader for the precise measurement of skis, with the ‘Eiker-måler’ continuously improving over the years. It was a request from a ski store that put Tore on the quest of improving the method for ski testing. To achieve this, Tore understood that he needed to find a way of precisely measuring both deflection and weight as load is applied. The solution was to combine an altimeter and a load cell in a test-bench, which later became known as the ‘Eiker-måler’. When asked why HBM was the preferred partner, Tore explains, “Long and proven history in load cell technology made HBM stand out in the market. I needed the load cell to be precise, reliable, and price wise accessible. The load cell from HBM met all the requirements.” The Z6F load cell has since been an important part of this successful invention.

More on the Solution From HBM

It is safe to say that Tore’s invention has had its impact on the sport of skiing. One of the earliest users of the test bench was former skier and trainer for the Norwegian men’s national team, Per Knut Aaland, “The test bench made our job much easier. The measurements became more reliable and much easier to conduct. There is no doubt we won more runs because of this.” Instead of a qualified guess based on previous experience, as was the norm back then, the wax and gliding zones were now based on actual measurements. With the test-bench, Aaland only needed to know the weight of the skier, which could then be applied by HBM’s high precision load cell. The strain gauge-based load cell converts the change in resistance to a voltage signal, which in turn is calibrated and displayed in kg. A robust design using rust-resistant materials makes the application free from maintenance, as Tore himself points out, “Through all these years, I’ve had zero complaints from customers.” Without any significant changes, the test-bench still sells more than ever, twenty-five years after the invention.

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