Rugged Load Cells for Automotive Use The automotive industry relies on careful testing. Cars and trucks are the workhorses of our everyday lives and of many large-scale industries. In order for these vehicles to be useful, they need to be safe, efficient, and perform as expected. That means that a huge part of the automotive industry is the proper testing of engines and vehicles before they make it to market. When the general public thinks of automotive testing, they think of safety tests: Cars being crashed, smashed, and collided with crash test dummies inside to see how safe they are. These tests are important, showing how a car crumples, how it absorbs impact, and what happens in an accident. But while these tests are vital to public safety, they are not the only kind of testing that must be done to bring a vehicle to market. Long before prototypes are raced around obstacle courses, car engines must be tested and fine-tuned. This testing is done to see exactly what kind of force an engine puts out and what its specs are. Accurate, reliable information about an engine’s performance is crucial to the operation and marketing of an engine. Of these engine tests, one of the most important is evaluating torque. Torque is an engine’s power output. Specifically, it is a measure of how much rotational force an internal combustion engine puts out at a certain number of revolutions per minute (RPM). Generally, a car engine performs best below 6,000 RPM, and often much lower than that; but engines are tested at a full variety of RPM. These tests allow engineers to see firsthand what the engine performance is like and what can be expected in terms of horsepower, acceleration and efficiency. This kind of testing is carried out in carefully controlled conditions. The engine is braced and an extended drive shaft reaches over to a block with a clutch and brake. This shaft runs through a torque sensor, a high-precision measurement instrument. Often, digital load cells or a digital torque transducer are used to measure the engine’s torque. The engine can then be revved up and accelerated and either allowed to coast down or manually brake, testing torque and pressure in a variety of states. The data gathered from this test can be used to certify the engine specs or can be taken back to the development team to make fine tuning or adjustments if performance is not up to the expected standards. It is because of this kind of torque testing that you can select a car based on its performance, and then count on that performance on the road. At Cooper Instruments & Systems, we’re proud to create the nation’s best digital load cells, moment compensated load cells, and torque transducers. We are a leading VA-based supplier of the most accurate, rugged and reliable sensors in the industry. Visit CooperInstruments.com today for more information and to browse our selection of instrumentation systems.