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Considerations When Selecting a Truck Scale: Steps 4 to 6

World Cement,

A guide to selecting and maintaining your vehicle scale:

4. Accuracy

Operators often take for granted the accuracy of their truck scale. When measuring such heavy loads, it is difficult for an operator to notice if a scale is weighing inaccurately. Many scale owners mistakenly believe that weighing errors are somewhat random occurrences. In reality, accuracy problems on truck-scale systems are systemic. This means that once the scale’s accuracy has been compromised, the under- or over-weight effect is often seen on every load applied to the scale. Even relatively small weighing errors are then multiplied by the number of trucks that cross the scale, and can soon add up to staggering amounts of lost goods and revenue.

Fortunately, weighing technology has advanced considerably in recent years. However, while many competing scales may carry the same certifications from a measurement standards agency, such as OIML or NTEP, that is only part of the story. Most scales that are used commercially are required to have their accuracy periodically checked and, if needed, recalibrated. That is because many truck scales still have a tendency to lose accuracy over time.

New technology allows some scales to hold their accuracy considerably better than others. This benefits companies that buy and sell goods by weight, as it helps prevent them from giving away product or incorrectly charging their customers.

A scale’s accuracy is most directly related to its load-cell system. While some scale companies focus heavily on the structural merits of the weighbridge, buyers should also be familiar with the type of load cells used. Ask scale providers how their scales work to maintain accuracy between calibrations. The load cells are a critical part of the scale and should be thoroughly discussed.

5. Data management

Weight information from the scale can be used to:

  • Process business transactions.
  • Adjust material inventory.
  • Measure productivity.
  • Ensure proper loading and safety.
  • Check compliance with vehicle weight regulations.

Most weighments are composed of more than just a single weight value – they also may include customer contact information (origin or destination), vehicle and driver identification, material and cost specifications and more. Many scale operators still gather this information manually using pen and paper or a simple spreadsheet. However, those tactics can be error-prone and restrict the ability for users to easily analyse this information.

To streamline scale transactions, look for software programs that interact directly with vehicle scales. With automated data capture, these programs can speed up transactions, eliminate errors and provide reliable data for business analytics.

Software capabilities can vary greatly, from basic to advanced off-the-shelf packages, as well as custom-configured software for specialised needs. Scale users should fully consider how the information gathered at the scale would be utilised throughout their organisation.

6. Service

Properly maintaining a scale is key to keeping it weighing reliably and accurately for many years. It is important for scale owners to know that the calibration checks and recertification procedures that are often required by law do not always include preventative maintenance work. Scale manufacturers will provide recommendations for preventative maintenance for their scales, but it is the responsibility of the scale owner to agree to (and pay for) these services.

Scale service can be a competitive market, with varied levels of expertise, availability and price to vary. When choosing a provider, consider the following:

  • What is covered in the scale’s warranty and what is its duration?
  • How thorough is the preventative maintenance provided in a service contract?
  • Is emergency service availability required and available?
  • Does the service provider have common replacement parts in stock, along with the required service equipment?

To find a reputable service provider, ask about the training their technicians must complete. You may also ask for references from other nearby businesses. Proactively servicing a truck scale is one of the best ways to ensure accurate and reliable operation, and can reduce overall maintenance and ownership costs throughout the life of the scale.

Part 2 of 2. Read Part 1 here.

Written by Brad Hudson, Mettler Toledo, USA. This is an abridged version of the full article, which appeared in the BMHR 2013 issue of World Cement. Subscribers can view the full article by logging in.

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