Hospital beds with built-in weighing components have quickly become critical equipment for monitoring patient conditions, an invaluable tool as many healthcare facilities deal with a rising caseload of COVID-19 patients. WIKA makes highly customizable load-cell systems for manufacturers of high-tech hospital beds, and offers fast turnaround times, too.
Healthcare professionals need to know a patient’s weight in order to administer the appropriate amount of medication, fluids, or anesthesia. For health monitoring, it’s also important to know whether they are gaining or losing weight, especially with premature infants. But accurate weighing is not easy when patients cannot use a normal scale, such as when they’re bed-bound, unconscious, or morbidly obese. There is also the issue of dignity, as moving adults with limited mobility can lead to feelings of embarrassment or shame.
For these and other reasons, more and more medical facilities have upgraded to hospital beds with an integrated load-cell system for digital weighing.
Load-Cell Systems for Hospital Beds
Manufacturers of high-tech hospital beds often have to make do with off-the-shelf components for their weighing systems. What’s more, most load-cell companies do not offer technical advice on how to optimally place the sensors, nor do they deal with user interface – creating an intuitive display and optimized experience for medical professionals.
At WIKA USA, our force measurement specialists work closely with every hospital bed manufacturer to determine the most appropriate type of load cell to use. If our catalog doesn’t have quite the sensor you need for a bed system, we will collaborate with your R&D team to design and manufacture a solution. Drawings and models make it easy to envision the final product. We also have the capabilities to customize the functions and features you desire for a bed’s weight display or control panel. No other load-cell manufacturers in the country offer this entire package.
Customized Weight-Sensing Systems for Hospital Beds
To measure and monitor patient weight, a hospital bed incorporates a system of load cells, a summing box, and a display. Here are ways WIKA USA offers custom-made components and packages:
Many different kinds of load cells exist in the market. The ones most commonly used for hospital beds are planar, bending beam, and shear beam, and the optimal type depends on how and where the load cell is mounted. Shear beam and bending beam cells are typically installed between each caster wheel and its attachment point beneath the bed. Planar cells are usually mounted between the lower and the upper bedframe.
Most systems have four load cells, one for each corner. (In practice, a hospital bed can incorporate as many or as few load cells as desired, depending on its size and the desired functionalities.) The precise location of each cell depends on how the bed is constructed and how it articulates to elevate the head and foot sections.
The summing box, also called a summing circuit, does what its name implies: gather the output from each load cell to calculate the sum. This component is usually placed in the middle of the bed, with the circuit transmitting the total weight to the display panel. However, as it’s not a force sensing mechanism, the summing box can be located anywhere, including in the display or control panel.
The weight can be displayed in several places. A dedicated unit can be located at the foot, side, or head of the bed, or the weight information can be integrated into each bed’s control panel.
Adding a microprocessor to the display unit greatly improves capabilities beyond just weight measurement. This component can be programmed to process data from each load cell, and then, for example, detect when a patient leaves the bed or gets too close to an edge.
The WIKA Advantage
As part of the global WIKA group, WIKA USA has extensive manufacturing capabilities around the world for OEM production. Our streamlined processes also keep prices low. When weighing your options for load-cell systems, discover our Force division’s comprehensive services and unrivaled customer support.