Category: Company Blog

Force Sensing Resistors – What Are They?

Force Sensing Resistors were invented in 1977 by Franklin Eventoff, the man who would later, in 1985, go on to found Interlink Electronics, a key global manufacturer of FSRs for whom we are the sole UK distributer.

Force Sensing Resistors, or FSRs as they tend to be known, are constructed of a pair of polymer layers, held a hairsbreadth apart. One layer contains printed electrodes, and the other is covered by a conductive surface, so when pressure is applied to the FSR, the two layers meet, resulting in a variable resistance based on the amount of pressure applied.

In the forty years since they were invented, Force Sensing Resistors have found use in many different industries around the globe, jumping from the food industry, to the medical profession, through to musical instruments, and pretty much everywhere in between. Even in just one of these industries, the use of FSRs is widely different. For example, in the medical profession, Force Sensing Resistors are used to create mats that lie on beds, to allow nurses to know if someone has accidentally slipped off, or even moved. The same FSRs are also used to control prosthetic limbs, and have even been converted into shoes to help teach people how to walk again.

With six different models, the Force Sensing Resistors from Interlink Electronics are available to cover just about any niche you can think of, and their tiny cross section of about half a millimeter means they can be concealed in practically any surface, granting that surface area the ability to control whatever it is you have your FSRs connected to.

Force Sensing Resistors come in several shapes and sizes. With the smallest active surface area being just 5mm across, you can fit the FSR400 into just about any application. There is also available a larger circle, the FSR402. Both types are available with either a long or short tail attached to them which run out to solder tags. Going larger still, you have the FSR406, a square that is perfect for working into an array, and the FSR408, a long strip which can be cut down to size.

I can think of only three products launched in 1977, the Force Sensing Resistor, the Post-It Note, and the movie, Star Wars. It must have been a good year, since all three of these went onto bigger and better things.

May the Force Sensing Resistor be with you!

The Paper-Lite Office – Using Less Paper in Your Workspace

eSignature Solutions

In the modern day, when the bottom line means everything, and environmental concerns are far from your shareholders’ minds, what possible reasons could there be to use less paper in your office? Will it make a difference?

The answer is ‘Yes’. Not only will a paperless or paper-lite office improve on your green credentials, but you will also start saving money too. Here are a few reasons to consider taking your office paperless, or at least paper-lite.

Legally Defend Yourself

A lot of opposition to electronic signatures is because people don’t know what the legalities are surrounding them. After a lot of personal research into the area, I can tell you that esignatures are legally binding, and can be used in the courtroom. They have not yet been applied to a case in UK law, according to the Incorporated Council of Law Reporting (ICLR, who pay attention to all legal cases in the UK), but their provision in the Electronic Communications Act 2000 means they would have to be accepted. If you would like a copy of this piece of legislation, or indeed the relevant laws regarding electronic signatures from most of the countries around the world, please contact Steadlands.

“To whomever this may concern…”

Letters give your business that personal touch, correspondence from your company to a customer or client. Traditionally, you would write a letter, add your signature to the bottom, and send it on its way. Now, you type out a letter or email, maybe sign it if it is a physical document to be posted to someone, and send it. With an esignature solution, you can do all of that electronically. Simply type out your letter, convert it to a PDF document, then apply your handwritten signature to the electronic document. Then you can send it direct to your customer by email, saving the postage costs, yet keeping that personal touch.

Your Solution, Your Way

While our esignature solutions do have software that allows for signature capture onto PDF documents, or directly into Word or Excel, a key strength of our solutions are the software developers’ kits that are available for use. These will allow an experienced software developer to include esignature capability in your own, in-house software, or even create entirely new applications for you to use. This will let you develop the solutions you need to take your office paper free, without having to worry about restricting yourself to software that might not entirely fill your needs.

Improve Your Green Credentials

Another benefit to converting to a paperless office is that it improves your green credentials. You reduce paper usage, power and fuel consumption, all of which not only saves you money, but is also good for the environment.

Courier Waybills

If you ship goods to your customers, chances are you will use a courier service. When the courier arrives to collect the day’s shipments, he or she will sign a document to say which parcels they have collected. This can be streamlined into a paperless solution, which will mean your office uses less paper, and can save time communicating the properly signed paperwork to head office.

Internal Forms

Timesheets, holiday forms, various logs, and many other different types of form could be used in your business, all of which need a signature before they can be processed, or for security reasons. With an esignature solution, all of this can be done on a computer, meaning no more log books cluttering up your desk, or pieces of paper which could be lost.

External Forms

When you need to get your clients or customers to complete a form, maybe a claims form, or to sign up to a service you offer, you need to capture their signature. Using an esignature capture device, you can now take your paperless office out on the road! All you need is a laptop to connect it to, you will be able to capture any details from your customer, and then their signature, which will allow you to start processing their form immediately, instead of having to wait until your representatives return to the office.

Internal Messages

Sending short and simple messages within an office has traditionally fallen to note paper, or Post-It Notes. If your office is using an esignature solution, or an interactive touchscreen display, then you can literally jot down a note for someone on the pad. This kind of application may require some development work, although there are apps already available for the iPad that utilise Wacom’s Bamboo Fineline Stylus to capture handwritten notes.

Sign off Purchase Orders

In most businesses, some form of authorization is needed before you can place an order with your suppliers. Using an esignature solution for this is another way you could take your office paper free. It would allow your business to save time, by being able to send your purchase order for approval, have it signed and returned to you, within a few minutes, regardless of where it needs to go, or how far it needs to travel. Then, once signed off, you still don’t need to print it, but could send it direct to your suppliers by email, saving you yet more time.

Customer Signing

Anywhere you need to capture customer signatures, an electronic signature solution will be able to save you time and money. Electronically signing forms allow you to get a head start on processing them, since they can be sent immediately to the relevant people or team, instead of having to rely on another delivery system which could take from hours to days to let your processing team get started. This even applies to a simple customer signature capture application. Maybe they have signed for a delivery, or collection, and an esignature solution would allow the signature to be saved and stored digitally, negating the need for paperwork.

Presentations

Sitting across a desk from a potential buyer, you want to be able to impress them with your presentation. With an interactive display, you can place the display in the hands of your buyer, and control the output it shows from your laptop, letting you produce a dynamic presentation to directly target that buyer. You can even make it interactive, for added impact.

Visitor Records

Most large corporations keep a visitor records book, which people use to sign in and out of the building. Turning this into an esignature solution means removing the book from the reception desk – another step in becoming a paper-lite office – but still being able to track guests coming in and out of your building. For fire safety, any app designed to capture a signature for a visitor log could be easily configured to output an electronic file to a mobile device, meaning in case of emergency, you won’t even need to print off a list of people in the building.

Terms & Conditions

How many downloads, or software installs have the Terms & Conditions page?

With the little checkbox at the bottom which you click to say you have read and understood them? And how many companies are there that should do something like that, but in person when directly talking to a customer? Now, with an interactive display, it is entirely possible to do just that. While you are sorting out the contract for your customer to sign, offer them an interactive display and say, “Please have a quick read through our terms and conditions,” then they will be ready to sign when you are, having already studied the details.

Document Storage

Some companies are required to hold onto paperwork for legal reasons, for as much as seven years. For just one or two customers, that is not a problem, but when you start getting into larger numbers, that’s an awful lot of paperwork. Moving to a paperless office means all those documents you need to keep safe can suddenly be stored in something smaller than a shoebox, instead of requiring a warehouse. That is quite a considerable saving. On top of this, it is also a lot safer. You can duplicate documents stored electronically, and so have backups of them in multiple locations. If you have a warehouse filled with your paperwork, one small accident, and it is all gone.

 Audit Trail

With an esignature capture device, you are not only getting the ability to sign electronic documents, but also the ability to interrogate those same documents at a later date. Doing so will show you all the signer details – their name, place of work, date and time of signature capture, and so on. Best of all though, it will also tell you whether the document you are looking at has been tampered with since it was signed. This allows you to tell at a glance if a document is fraudulent, or if it is still valid.

Bonus Advertising

When a customer is sitting at your desk, maybe just discussing something, or maybe actually there to make a purchase, you could use several of our esignature solutions as an additional form of advertising. Both Wacom and ePadLink produce signature pads or interactive displays capable of having images uploaded to them, to be displayed when the pad is not in use. You could use these for directed advertising, linking the images to whatever it is that is being discussed or purchased, or to make your customer aware of other aspects of your business that they may not be aware of. Then, when you need them to, the images disappear long enough for the signature to be captured, then return once the signing process is complete.

You Keep Your Data

There are many services available that offer the ability to digitally sign documents. Most of these require that you store any signature objects, whether they are images, or data collections, on their servers, and that you only access it when you pass a document through the service for signing. With an in-house solution, however, going paperless means you can also keep your own data secure on your own servers. With an esignature capture device, you apply handwritten signatures to electronic documents, which means you don’t store a signature anywhere, except as part of the signed document.

Stock Control

From the stationary cupboard, to hazardous chemical storage, most businesses will have some form of control on their inventory, and will therefore log people making withdrawals from stock. With an esignature solution, you can have a fast and simple process which will remain entirely electronic and secure.

Never run out of ink!

It has happened to all of us. You are trying to write down something important, and your pen stops working. You hunt around for a spare, but they are nowhere to be found. “I’ll have to call you back.” With a paperless office, all your ink is electronic, so you don’t need to worry about ever running out.

Save Time and Money

I hope the other reasons I have provided here show you how much of an impact going paperless, or at least paper-lite, could have on your office, but this is the one that will sell the idea to the people who make the decisions. I’ve mentioned several times how you could save time or money using just one of the examples above, but it is when you take them all together where you can see the savings really add up. Imagine being able to remove all printing and paper costs from your business. What will that alone save? Then you have the knock-on effects, reduced postage costs, since you no longer have to send documents by post or courier, slightly reduced energy consumption, which has the benefit of both bringing down your electricity bill, and making you that little bit greener.

Finding NEMA – A Guide to Hazardous Ratings

Hazardous ratings – NEMA ranks, ATEX certifications, FM approvals, and CE labels on everything – all are ratings designed to increase the safety of people working in hazardous environments. But what do they all mean?

NEMA

Let’s start with the NEMA ratings. NEMA stands for the National Electrical Manufacturers Association, and they are the organisation that decided to categorize cases and enclosures for electrical equipment to allow a purchaser to know exactly what the contents will be protected against. The NEMA ratings are primarily for use in the USA, although they will give any buyer a good idea of what to expect.

NEMA ratings are given to electrical enclosures and containers, depending on what they are resistant to, or insulated from. They range from a rating of 1 up to 13, with a number of options available along the way.

NEMA 1 is a general purpose enclosure. It protects against dust, light, and indirect splashing, but is not sealed. NEMA 1 is best used indoors, and under normal conditions.

NEMA 2 is similar, but the enclosure has been designed to be drip-tight. Again, best suited for use indoors, but where condensation is higher – laundry rooms, or bathrooms, for example.

NEMA 3 is considered weather-resistant. It is used outdoors, mostly in construction work, tunnels, or subways, and protects the contents from rain, snow, sleet, and ice.

NEMA 3 has a couple of variations, indicated by letters after the number. NEMA 3R is the same as 3, but does not include wind-blown dust protection. 3S is again, the same as 3, but is still operable when covered in ice. Adding an X onto the rating (so, 3RX, 3X, or 3SX) indicates the enclosure has additional protection against corrosion, usually used near salt water.

NEMA 4 is watertight. Testing for this means the enclosure must exclude at least 65 GPM (gallons per minute) of water from a 1-inch nozzle, delivered from a distance of no less than 10 feet, for 5 minutes. Unsurprisingly, it is generally used for outdoor areas near water. Again, an X can be applied to this rating if the enclosure is treated for extra corrosion protection.

NEMA 5 is dust-tight. These are typically used in steel mills or cement plants.

NEMA 6 comes in two variations, 6 and 6P. NEMA 6 is watertight and can be submerged for small amounts of time. 6P can be submerged for prolonged periods of time, although neither are designed for continuous submersion.

NEMA 7, 8, and 9 ratings are given to devices designed and certified for use in locations with specific environmental hazards. These all correspond with standards produced by the US National Fire Protection Association.

NEMA 10 meets the requirements of the Mine Safety and Health Administration.

NEMA 11 is assigned to enclosures that protect the contents from the effects of corrosive liquids and gas.

NEMA 12 and 12K rated enclosures protect against dust, dirt, and dripping noncorrosive liquids.

NEMA 13 is designed to protect against dust, the spraying of water, and noncorrosive coolants.

 

ATEX

The ATEX Directive is EU legislation regarding the safety of equipment in explosive environments, and is actually based on two EU directives, one for the manufacturer, and one for the end user. The directives demand that an employer designate relevant areas of their workplace into Zones depending on what environmental hazard or explosive source is present.

Zone 0 is for an area in which an explosive mixture is present all or most of the time. In North American classifications, this is Calls 1, Division 1 (Gases).

Zone 1 is a region where an explosive mixture is likely to be present during normal operations. This also falls under Call 1 Division 1 in North America.

Zone 2 ratings are given to areas which can gather an explosive mix during normal operations, but one that will only persist for a short length of time. In the US, this classification is Class 1, Division 2 (gases).

Zones 0-2 are for gaseous or vaporous explosive materials. Zones 20, 21, and 22 are the same as the above, only for dust instead of gases, and translate to the US standards of Class 2 Division 1, Class 2 Division 1, and Class 2 Division 2 respectively.

 

FM Approvals

An FM Approval rating on an item means that it has gone through rigorous testing at FM Global’s Research Campus in West Glocester, R.I., in the United States. Here they test a product in hazardous conditions including both fire and explosive hazards. An FM Approval rating means the item in question passed all of their tests.

 

CE Labels

Products with a CE label on them have been thoroughly tested and approved for shipping, sale, and consumption within the European Economic Area. It is implied that any CE marked products are compliant with any regulations or laws that apply to that field. For example, on an industrial machine, the CE marking means it complies with any regulations within the EU which apply to a device of that type. For example, plugs and sockets for domestic use are required to comply with the “Low Voltage” directive, and any that do not carry the CE mark will not be.

Electronic Signatures are as Legally Binding as Ink on Paper.

Electronic Signatures

Quite a few of the questions that I have been asked recently during meetings and product demonstrations have been around the legality of electronic signatures.

Electronic signature devices do not only record an image of the signature, this is just a drawing, you can do this on any tablet device and some touchscreen computers.

Electronic signatures carry encryption technology to lock in e-signatures to stop documents being tampered with after they have been signed. Some of the most up to date software will record the speed, pen angle and pressure of the signature which gives a biometric picture of the signature, only using the image as a small part. All E-Signature software that we provide will record the date, time and name of the person signing the document.

Software can also be written easily to go alongside any current systems you may have.

We carry all legislation for most countries around the world, and white-paper documents talking through the legality of an Electronic Signature.

E-Signature devices are inexpensive but they offer a high return on investment, think about how much money you currently spend on paper and storage/shredding of paper.

Imagine they could all be phased out?

How much could this save your company?

Using Electronic Signature devices also support green initiatives, making a difference to the environment is important.

Steadlands have been providing Electronic Signature devices to customers in all markets for over 20 years, if you would like any further advice feel free to contact me: jimmy@steadlands.com

For more information please contact us.

You can also view this article on LinkedIn.

What are eSignatures?

The term esignatures can cover many different options, and is synonymous with phrases like electronic signatures, or digital signatures. They all cover any service or technology that allows you to apply a unique signature or stamp to a document or service. This can be constructed from available data (your IP address, for example), or can be generated using a signature capture device.

The most common form of electronic signature that people will be familiar with are the pads carried by couriers and delivery drivers, and used by a recipient to sign for the delivery of a parcel. These are simple devices, designed to capture your signature on a simple LCD screen, and save it as an image which can then later be queried and displayed on a website as proof of delivery.

Then there are services that claim to provide you with a digital signature. This signature is nothing more than a collection of data that, when gathered, is meant to prove that you were the person to submit the ‘signed’ document. This usually consists of your name, the date and time, the IP address where the ‘signature’ was captured, as well as a few other pieces of information depending on the signature service you are using. While not exactly a signature like the ones we are used to, this is nevertheless still legally binding as all of the data compiles to provide a unique identifier for the signer.

Here at Steadlands, we provide signature solutions that are more secure than the devices carried by delivery drivers, and more personal than the data collected by digital signature services. Our products allow you to securely apply your own, personal, handwritten signature into an electronic document. This can be done in Microsoft Word or Excel, or you can sign PDF documents with Adobe Acrobat, or using one of our PDF signing applications. While the majority of our hardware solutions were designed for use in Windows, we also support Linux operating systems, and will include Mac systems as of early 2016. We are also branching out into alternative signing solutions for mobile and tablet signature capture, currently available for the iPad range.

eSignature Legislation

While working with electronic signature pads, we are often asked about legality, and whether an electronic signature would stand up against its pen and paper counterpart in a court of law. To help relieve these concerns, we went and collected as much of the world’s legislation on electronic commerce, transactions, and signatures as we were able to find. Please note that our collection is subject to change, and is by no means exhaustive. Where possible, we will provide a PDF in English, but that has not been possible for all of the laws listed here, so you will find some of them in their native tongue.

Most of the world’s esignature legislation is based around the UN’s Commission on International Trade Law’s (UNCITRAL) Model Law on eCommerce, which we also have available. If you would like a copy of any of the below documents, please contact us. Please note that all of the countries listed have their own laws, but where multiple laws which affect esignature legislation exist, we have named both the country, and the act of Government in question. For example, the UK has the Electronic Communications Act, the Electronic Agreements Order, and the Electronic Signature Regulations document.

UNCITRAL Model Law on eCommerce
EU – Directive on eSignatures

UK – Electronic Communications Act
UK – Electronic Agreements Order
UK – Electronic Signature Regulations

USA – eSIGN Act
USA – eSIGN Consumer Consent Provision
USA – Uniform Electronic Transactions Act

Albania
Argentina – Digital Signature Law
Argentina – Decree 2628-02
Argentina – Decree 724-06
Armenia
Australia – Electronic Transactions Act
Australia – New South Wales Electronic Transactions Bill
Australia – Victoria Electronic Transactions Act
Australia – Western Australia Electronic Transactions Bill
Austria
Azerbaijan
Bahamas
Barbados
Belgium
Belize
Brazil
Bulgaria
Canada – Electronic Signature Regulations
Canada – Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act
Canada – Secure Electronic Signature Regulations
Chile
China
Colombia
Costa Rica
Croatia
Cyprus
Czech Republic
Denmark
Dominican Republic
Ecuador
Egypt
Estonia
Finland
France
Germany – eSignature Act
Germany – Framework Law for eSignatures
Greece
Guatemala
Hungary
Iceland
India
Ireland
Italy
Jamaica
Japan
Korea
Latvia
Liechtenstein – eSignature Law
Liechtenstein – Regulation on Electronic Signatures
Lithuania
Luxembourg
Macedonia
Malaysia
Malta
Mauritius
Montenegro
Myanmar
Netherlands
New Zealand
Norway
Pakistan
Panama
Peru
Philippines
Poland
Portugal
Romania
Russia
Samoa
Saudi Arabia
Serbia
Singapore
Slovakia
Slovenia
South Africa
Spain
St Vincent
Sweden
Switzerland
Thailand
Turkey
Ukraine
Uruguay
Venezuela
Vietnam