The use of electronic on-board truck scales in the United States is not new. They were introduced decades ago to vocational truckers where monitoring loaded vehicle weights were critical but where platform scales were not readily accessible.
Some of the early adopters of on-board scale systems were logging operations where loggers loaded their trucks in remote areas. Overloading was a constant problem as fresh cut trees have different levels of moisture content and varying degrees of density thus making weight determinations of a full load nearly impossible. The threat of getting overweight fines was motivation for investing in this technology and escaping the seemingly unavoidable financial penalty of just trying to get a job done.
By the early ‘90’s, increased DOT truck weight enforcement in many states intensified and spilled over into other industries such as bulk, aggregate, and waste hauling. Not knowing the weight of collected garbage, for example, began eating into waste haulers’ margins. Reasons for buying on-board scales suddenly made sense. Overloading issues were spreading and hauling companies were beginning to familiarize themselves with on-board scale options.
On-Board Scale Configuration
The typical on-board scale system consists of three main components. They are as follows:
- Hardware: The weighing sensor is usually either load cell or transducer based and both utilize strain gages at its core. The difference is load cells are primary force measurement devices where the load path goes through the cell, thus they are very accurate. Secondary transducers are sensors attached directly to existing structural parts of the truck (axles, walking beams, etc.) to measure small deflections in the component that is carrying the load.
- Electronics and Firmware: The electronic modules include a readout, a processor and any wiring that attaches to the hardware. Within, is an algorithm that processes the raw weights and filters out weight inaccuracies coming from the hardware. Getting accurate weights with the inherent pounding and vibrations of a truck is where robust electronics with a well written algorithm can make (or break) an acceptable on-board scale system.
- Software: Software features vary a lot depending on the specific requirement. Is only the gross weight reading required, or is there a need to attach an individual pick up weight to a customer’s name, address, and location? Does the software allow for automatic processing of data, or is the driver having to get involved to make decisions based on manual weight readings? What is the user interface and how easy is it to retrieve the processed data?
Today, companies using on-board scales are reaping benefits of monitoring gross vehicle weight and beyond. Given the high cost of time and operating equipment, on-board scales are having a dramatic impact on the efficiency and profitability of operating a truck. Some benefits are:
Elimination of Overweight Fines
Overweight fines are growing as regulations are being more strictly enforced.
Hauling Maximum Legal Payload
Fully utilizing equipment simply makes sense. By hauling maximum loads you can run fewer trucks because you are hauling more material with the same amount of fuel and equipment.
Reducing Maintenance Costs and Increasing Vehicle Life
Hauling only loads that the vehicle was designed to carry reduces the maintenance costs on brakes, tires, and suspensions. Frames and bodies also last substantially longer, thereby
reducing maintenance costs and capital expenditures for new trucks and trailers.
By keeping weight within legal limits, braking distance remains constant and tracking around corners is more predictable.
Reducing Liability Exposure
The liability costs of accidents involving an overweight truck can be significant. One benefit of having on-board scales is that they provide peace-of-mind.
Matching the Right System to the Right Task
The question is which system is best for your operation? What are your main pain points; a need to know individual pick-up weights or gross vehicle weight?
Whichever system is chosen to accomplish the job, whether it’s a system for monitoring total weight or it’s one for gathering individual commercial pick-up weights, on-board scales are the answer. The key to your company’s success is matching the right system to the right task. In no time you’ll begin to know your loaded truck weight!
Interested to know more about on-board scales? Contact us anytime!