Sherborne Sensors LSOC: a market-leading Servo Inclinometer

A flexure suspension, high accuracy servo inclinometer, the LSOC from Sherborne Sensors delivers precision angular measurements in a wide variety of applications

The LSOC was developed in the 1980s at a time when there were far fewer electronic instruments and mechanical inclinometers mployed generally to measure inclined surfaces. These were fine up to a point, and could offer typical resolutions of 30 arc seconds (approx. (0.008333°). However, a key drawback was that mechanical inclinometers required the user to be present in order to observe the output (much like using a compass or spirit level).

Moreover, mechanical precision level devices are bulky (typically being housed in cast iron casings), the resolutions are lower than their modern-day electronic counterparts and, in applications such as weapon platforms – e.g. the gun turret of a tank – obtaining a measurement would be far too slow and inconvenient. With electrical terminations via a 6-way bayonet lock connector the LSOC electronic servo inclinometer can monitor angles down to resolutions of 0.1 arc seconds (0.00003°) and display the output on a monitor of choice rapidly and remotely at long distances from the application if necessary.

Unrivalled performance in harsh environments

The LSOC employs fluid damping of the servo mechanism to provide both outstanding shock protection and also to offer mechanical damping of the mechanism to act as an additional filter to attenuate unwanted background vibration. This ensures that highly accurate output signals are maintained and makes the LSOC extremely robust in withstanding mechanical shocks of up to 1,500g in magnitude. The LSOC is suitable for a wide range of precision applications in typically harsh operating environments:

·         Industrial – continuous casting monitors in the steel industry, which ensure guide tracking is within dimensional tolerances to achieve continuous quality production;  guidance systems for Tunnel Boring Machines (TBMs) that accurately monitor the position of the TBM when driving (digging) a tunnel.

·         Mass transit – used in control systems to limit speeds of trains on corners for both safety and passenger comfort, with rugged construction ideally suited to long-term use; and for rail track monitoring to survey and data record stretches of track that can be resurveyed for data comparison analysis to highlight track deterioration and the need for maintenance.

·         Military – used on gun turrets for direct elevation control where severe levels of shock are encountered on recoil after firing; also used as part of weapon platforms to give datum levels in two axes.

Civil engineering applications

Other applications of the LSOC include geological surveys to monitor for subsidence of land over time in locations that have been particularly prone to this in the past. This application is common in countries such as Japan, where construction companies will perform a geological survey before commencing construction of a planned development.

Similarly, LSOCs are employed to support civil engineering research projects. They are particularly important in the structural health monitoring of live structures. An Engineer creating the design of a large structure such as a bridge would use modelling software to simulate the effects of high winds, traffic and rolling stock going over the bridge. Validation of this design is critical – especially with health and safety now a primary concern.

This validation is best performed with precision inclinometers such as the LSOC positioned at various strategic points along the bridge to monitor for very fine angular movements over time. For large bridges this can entail the use of several hundreds of inclinometers. The bridge would be monitored typically for several months and the measurements data recorded. At the same time, wind speeds and temperatures are recorded, in order to ensure that any movement of the bridge remains within the original design specifications and support the simulations performed at the design stage.

Continuous improvement

Sherborne Sensors has continued to update the design of the LSOC to enhance its performance, productivity and cost effectiveness to remain the product of choice in precision angular measurements.  Models are available in a variety of ranges from +/-1° to +/-90° with ±5Vdc and 4 to 20mA output options. They are fully self-contained and able to connect to a DC power source and readout or control device, to form a complete tilt measurement system. They are environmentally sealed to IP65 and provide continuous operation in temperatures from -18°C to +70°C.

Sherborne Sensors has a long history of supplying the LSOC, and has manufactured many thousands of units over the years. Many of these are customised designs to include special input/output characteristics, connectors and a multitude of other changes to meet customers’ specific application requirements. Furthermore, many customers continue to return to Sherborne Sensors to have their LSOC units recalibrated and recertified for continued use in the years to come.

Crucially, as a global leader in the design, development and manufacture of sensors for military, aerospace and industrial applications, Sherborne Sensors holds AS9100 Rev C certification, the internationally recognised quality management system for aviation, space and defence organisations.

AS9100C continues to provide independent validation of our total commitment to delivering products and services of the highest possible quality and meeting our customers’ most demanding requirements for performance and reliability.

No other manufacturer can offer the heritage, application engineering expertise and aftermarket support of Sherborne Sensors in the supply of precision servo inclinometers.

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