In todays world of waste management, it is more important than ever to increase productivity in all areas, especially with collection trucks on routes picking up trash and trucks hauling trash from a transfer station to a landfill. Depending on the market layout and demand on the trucks, collection trucks will go and dump directly at the landfill or at a transfer station.  

Transfer stations provide a vital role in increasing collection truck availability and efficiency. A few of the many benefits transfer stations provide to waste collection companies include a reduction in truck wear and tear, increased productivity due to reduced travel time to landfill, increase in daily customer pickups and fuel savings.   

Due to the varying density of trash it is difficult to load a truck to its legal weight and in some cases when loading materials such as cardboard it is sometimes difficult to even get a full load thereby increasing operating costsTransfer stations make use of scales in a few ways to maximize the load of the trucks while also trying to keep overloads to minimum. Each scale system has its own advantages and disadvantages, but the most common scales used in transfer station operations are as follows: 

  1. Wheel Loader Scales 
  2. Pit Scales
  3. On-Board Truck Scales 

When selecting the best solution for achieving accurate target weights it is important to look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of each. 

Wheel Loader Scales 

Wheel loader scales are a cost-effective way to manage good loads on transfer trucks leaving the transfer station. They are relatively cheap in comparison to the other options and simple to maintain. 


  • +/- 1 – 2% accuracy depending on brand 
  • Low cost to purchase 
  • Low cost to maintain 
  • Easy to calibrate 
  • Only needed on loading wheel loaders 
  • If scale malfunctions
    • A backup loader can be used, 
    • Loading at pit continues while repairing scale 
    • Repair time is very low. 


  • Operator training  
  • Operator dependent 
  • Requires bucket to be lifted when loading 
  • Dependent on good machine maintenance 


Pit Scales 

Pit Scales are in the middle when looking at initial cost to install. They provide an easy to see display for the loaders when loading trucks but require constant cleaning and maintenance due to material build up. 


  • +/- 1% accuracy depending on build up 
  • Medium cost to purchase 
  • Relatively easy to calibrate 
  • Only needed in pits where trucks are loaded 
  • Does not require bucket to be lifted (Depending on floor design at pit) 


  • High Maintenance costs and Down time 
  • Material Builds up around and underneath scale platform 
  • Transfer Station / Pit Down Time 
  • Requires pit to be shut down to clean (usual After Hours or Weekends) 
  • Requires pit to be shut down to Calibrate (usual After Hours or Weekends) 
  • In some cases, requires scale removal & replacement to clean. 
  • High man hours required to maintain 


On-Board Truck Scales 

On-board truck scales are a good solution when the loading equipment is not a good fit for scales or when the transfer station layout and design does not allow for pit scales to be used in a cost-efficient way.   


  • +/- 1% accuracy depending on brand and type used 
  • Low cost to maintain 
  • Easy to calibrate 
  • If scale malfunctions,  
    • A backup truck/trailer can be used, 
    • Loading at the pit continues while repairing scale 
    • Repair time is low. 


  • Operator training  
  • Operator dependent 
  • Higher cost to purchase 
  • Required on every truck 

Where wheel loader scales are used there seems to be significantly more benefits when comparing the 3 commonly used solutions.  

Below is a case study and ROI done some time ago at a waste transfer station where wheel loader scales were installed to increase productivity and reduce costs. This location used packers to pack the material but at other locations without packers the loading time was reduced significantly. 



Case Study  Moba Wheel Loader Scale 

This is a case study conducted to evaluate the savings when a wheel loader scale was used to load transfer trucks at a waste transfer station. 

Location Info 

The site was operating on an 8-hour shift per day and was averaging 16 tons per load to the landfill when the paid rate and target weight was 24 tons per loadThe transfer station was located approximately 1 hour from the landfill and was receiving and loading out approximately 850 tons of trash per day using 2 x packers. 


The site had 2 x L150 Volvo wheel loaders, but they used 1 loader at a time to feed the packers and switched between packers while the packers were compacting. Loading was done with 1 x L150 Volvo wheel loader. The loader did an average of 15 to 20 buckets per truck to achieve a full load. 


The hauling was done by a contracting company that had a blended fleet of trucks consisting of day cabs and sleeper cabsThey had 9 dedicated trucks to this one transfer station and each truck did an average of 4 loads each per day. 

Challenges before scales 

The site was averaging 16 tons per load and faced a few challenges to achievthe target weight of 24.00 tons.  

  • Varying Material Density – The density of the material was so varying that it was difficult to predict the weight causing the loads to vary drastically. 
  • Large Volume of Light Material – A large portion of the material was very light (cardboard) causing many loads to be underloaded. 
  • Underloading – It was difficult to load a truck to their target weight. 

Changes made 

  1. Installed Wheel Loader Scales
  2. Trained operators to use bucket counts to predict target weight likelihood
  3. Trained operator to stage heaver material to use when loads were light so they could beef up the tonnage and achieve the target weight.  

Challenges After scales 

Now that the loader operator was able to predict and achieve the target weight of 23.5 – 24.00 tons, they faced other challenges when loading the trucks.  

  • Overloads – Certain trucks were now being overloaded because target weights were being met. 
  • Heavy Tare Weights – The sleeper cab trucks had a heavier tare weight so they could not haul the 24 tons without being overloaded (exceeding the legal GVW). 
  • Incorrect Truck Tare Weights  After doing a weight study on all trucks it was discovered that when entering the tare weights of the sleeper cab trucks into the Ground scale system, they were being weighed with components removed to log a lighter tare weight. Tanks, Bumpers etc. were removed for this tare weight process causing major problems when running normally. 
  • Truck Scale Variance – It was discovered that there was a variance in the ground scales between locations. The ground scale at the site used for checking the trucks for overloading would be slightly different to the scales at the landfill. The landfill scale was the primary source for all logging and tracking of tonnages.  

Changes made 

  1. Removed sleeper cab trucks from use and only used day cab trucks 
  2. Weighed all trucks empty at landfill to establish new and correct tare weights. 
  3. Implemented a loader scale adjust program that used net weights from landfill to compensate. 

End results 

The site enjoyed significant financial and time savings from using the wheel loader scales. 

  • The site was now achieving an average 23-24 tons per truck 
  • The site went from using 9 dedicated trucks to 6 dedicated trucks still doing 4 loads per day 
  • The site went from doing 36 to 24 loads per day to the landfill 
  • The site was now able to load out all material in a working day with minimal overtime
  • The site saved a considerable amount of time due to the reduction of overloads and having to readjust the loads. 


Return on Investment           
Annual saving:        $132,313  Annual 
Monthly saving:        $11,026  Monthly 
MOBA HLC pays itself off in:      0.8  Months 
        15.4  Days 

Want to know more about on-board scales for your application? Contact us!

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