To ensure the success of its operation, the FFS enlisted the support of Des-I-D, headed by Pierre Désarmaux, who is highly specialized in project management. The company supports projects with a high potential for innovation and provides management for complex or multi-disciplinary projects. The director's experience in the company Salomon-Amer and his knowledge of the environment prompted the FFS to contact Des-I-D.
Things moved quickly, as Pierre Désarmaux explains: "We started by drawing up the functional schedule of requirements, which clearly defined the FFS's expectations. The application required installation of force sensors on the grips and recording and processing of the information received. Having known HBM for a long time, I knew that the company would have a total solution to address the whole problem, from the sensor to processing of the measurements. We then invited them to join the project. HBM proposed well adapted technical solution and put us in touch with the company, Astrym, to which we entrusted the development of the recording application".
HBM's solution involved low-temperature strain gage sensors, a SoMat data acquisition system, and nCode GlyphWorks data analysis software. In this system, the sensor required special developments, as Désarmaux of Des-I-D explains: "Together with the FFS and support from Claude Nanjod, a renowned expert in high-precision mechanics, we designed, developed and manufactured a custom cylindrical sensing element to be inserted between the support grips for the skiers and the frame supporting these grips. Each sensor features two adhesive strain gages to measure the forces exerted along two perpendicular directions. In order to ensure integrity of the device, special care had to be taken in the design of axial outputs with market-standard connectivity so that wires would not be in the starting gate zone where skiers are located.” The force on the grips at the starting time is high. The Application was designed for a total force of 200 daN, or 100 daN on each grip.
Recording the FFS application is relatively simple with just 4 data channels (two sensors on each grip) and no major metrological demands or dynamic constraints. "Although simple, there was a significant constraint. The data acquisition system would be used outdoors on a mountain and would need to be moved around a lot so it had to be compact, battery-powered. It also needed to be able to withstand hostile ambient conditions like cold, impacts, humidity and snow," says Désarmaux. The SoMat was selected to meet these needs because of its mobility and ability to function at temperatures of -20 °C. It was an especially good fit since it is available in a wide array of variants and scalable configuration whether large or small, not to mention the option for future expansions.