Strainstall Rugged Footswitch



Sandy Thomas, Marine Director, Strainstall UK Ltd, Cowes, UK


Strainstall UK Limited has extensive experience in the design, manufacture and installation of sensors and instrumentation systems for oil, gas and ore terminals, both on and offshore, for over 40 years. The founding of the company in the 1960s coincided with the development of both instrumentation for onshore oil terminals, and the offshore industry in the North Sea. Since then, they have strived to meet their clients’ specific requirements and measurement problems.

Having been involved with oil terminals for this length of time, Strainstall have been aware of a problem that has appeared time and again. Footswitches in marine environments are often unreliable, especially when used to control the capstans, which are generally situated on exposed and wash-down areas. The existing footswitches incorporate moving parts, which in use are exposed to water, weather, strong sunlight, salt and dust or grit. They are also often treated roughly with poor or no maintenance. This can result in early and costly malfunction – in fact, in ore, coal or other facilities that produce abrasive particles, these footswitches can fail in a matter of days.

Strainstall have used their unique experience in sensor design to produce the Strainstall Rugged Footswitch, which has been designed with no moving parts, and is ideally suited for use in adverse and hazardous conditions. Applying load to the pedal in the normal way causes stress in the element, and the resulting strain is sensed by strain gauges. The electrical signal from the strain gauges is monitored and provides switch function. The unit can also be used for variable speed control for electric motors. The footswitch has a very stable stainless steel housing, with a marine-grade high tensile stainless steel element, and is fully sealed to IP67/68 standard, including a protected signal cable. The rugged footswitch can be used in both hazardous and non-hazardous locations and requires no maintenance, providing cost savings over the life of the system.

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