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    S-Beam Load Cells Help Predict Ice Sheet Change

    Able Engineering Hot Water Drill
    Supporting a collaborative project with Able Engineering for the British Antarctic Survey.

    The Challenge

    Able Engineering, a family-owned engineering company in Norfolk, needed a way to monitor the load on the tower wheel of their winch system used on hot water drills for polar research.

    Hot water drills are the fastest and cleanest method of access hole creation. They enable scientists to monitor current ice stream flow to better understand ice sheet history and predict future ice sheet change.

    Able Engineering’s winch system has been used for the hot water drills by the British Antarctic Survey which drilled holes over 2.1 km deep in the most remote parts of Antarctica and Greenland. Along with smaller units sent up the Himalayas to drill glaciers to map ice movement.


    Load cells in stock, delivered quickly and at a good price. Great service which was appreciated, thank you.

    Neil Appleton | Design Engineer | Able Engineering Ltd
    Hot Water Drill Able Engineering

    Able Engineering’s winch system enables the hot water drill hose to be lowered and raised. It consists of 2 parts, the hose drum winch, and the drill tower with a driven capstan.

    A hose pipe with hot water is lowered into the snow and the load on the tower wheel is measured by Applied Measurements DBBSM S-beam load cells.

    Our 2 load cells are mounted at the end of a cantilevered frame which holds the wheel.

    The hot water drill used for the British Antarctic Survey on the Rutford Ice Stream, West Antarctica, produces 140L min of water at 85°C to create a 300mm diameter access hole.

    Able Engineering chose the DBBSM for its fast in-stock availability, economical price and reliability.

    PRECISION S-Beam Load Cell

    DBBSM S-Beam Load Cell

    Universal Load Cell

    • High accuracy better than ±0.03%/RC
    • Ranges 0-5000kg in-stock
    • Buy online
    • Tension & Compression
    • Customisation available

    We provided Able Engineering with 2 high-accuracy DBBSM S-beam load cells for their winch system. The S-beam load cells accurately measure both tension and compression to better than ±0.03% of the rated capacity.

    Customisation is available on our universal load cells, including optional IP67 protection for harsh environments and fully submersible versions.

    Rod ends and load buttons can also be readily supplied to provide optimum performance from the load cell.

    Plus, we also have a range of load cell instrumentation to provide a full load measuring system. All of which can be bought easily through our online webshop.


    Anker, P.G.D. et al. (2021) The BEAMISH hot water drill system and its use on the Rutford Ice Stream, Antarctica, Cambridge Core. Cambridge University Press. Available at: https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/annals-of-glaciology/article/beamish-hot-water-drill-system-and-its-use-on-the-rutford-ice-stream-antarctica/65BB270DA483DFBF5343A1D2B3B6812E (Accessed: February 21, 2023).

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