Most Frequently Asked Questions About Truck Scales

Over the past few years, we have received numerous questions and inquiries about truck scales and vehicle weighing related items. So, we thought it would make a perfect article called Most Frequently Asked Questions About Truck Scales. Below is a summary of the top questions that we have received along with some basic answers to assist you.

What is a Truck Scale and How Exactly Does a Truck Scale Work?

Truck scales are industrial scales built to weigh vehicles. The most common use of a truck scale is to determine the weight of bulk goods being bought and/or sold. You may have seen this mentioned before but in many cases, a truck scale functions figuratively like a cash register for a company. In addition to commercial use, many states use truck scales to check for a truck’s compliance with truck weight limits. The vehicle scales are very popular at feedmills, solid waste processing and metal recycling centers, etc….

As for how a truck scale works, basically you start with a foundation. This is normally a concrete foundation that the truck scale will be anchored to. The actual scale platforms are anchored onto the foundation. There are usually multiple platform modules connected to make up a 70 foot long truck scale. Inside of these modules are load cells. These are the sensors that measure the weight when you drive up on the scale. These can be analog, digital or hydraulic. The weight is then displayed on the digital weight indicator.

how do truck scales work?

How Much does a Truck Scale Cost? Should I Buy a Used Truck Scale?

This is a question that we have tackled before! This number has changed obviously over the years. At the time of this article, the typical truck scale costs are probably near $70,000 or more when you factor in all the various expenses. Remember, this estimate can fluctuate. For example, there have been multiple price increases during the past twelve months.

Regarding used truck scales…. In most cases, we are against buying used truck scales. The reason is these are weighing devices that have 80,000 lb vehicles driven over them constantly and endure all that Mother Nature can throw at them…. year after year. A lot can happen to a truck scale that’s been in use out in the elements for an entire decade.

That being said, sure there might be some good deals on a “low mileage” or “hardly used” used truck scale, but in our opinion, the best long term decision is to buy a brand new truck scale that you hopefully will get to use for two or three decades.

What is the Average Life Span of a Truck Scale?

In our opinion, most truck scales should last around 25 years. However, a lot depends on choosing a quality scale and one that is matched to the amount of truck traffic you expect. Weather elements can also factor into longevity as well. This is where consulting with your truck scale sales person can be a huge benefit when shopping for a truck scale..

All things being equal, a truck scale that weighs a couple of hundred trucks a day is going to wear out quicker than a truck that only weighs a handful of trucks a day. This is an important question and one that you need to discuss with the scale company(s) that you are working with when shopping for a truck scale.

How Accurate is a Truck Scale?

If you buy or sell goods based on the weight of the truck scale, accuracy is critical. Profit, Inventory Levels, and much more are at stake! On a typical 120,000 x 20 lb capacity truck scale, we typically tell folks the accuracy of your truck scale should be somewhere in the neighborhood of 0.1 of one percent.

How Long is an Average Truck Scale?

Most folks weigh typical trucks with trailer. The majority of the time, that means a 70 x 11 truck scale is typical. However, we have seen 80 foot long truck scales or longer utilized. You want to make sure that you choose a vehicle scale that will allow you to get all the tires on the weighing platforms. This is an important subject to consider when choosing a truck scale.

What is a Load Cell & How Many do I Need?

A load cell is the item(s) in a truck scale that measure the weight being applied. Most truck scales require ~ 8 load cells. In most scales, the load cells are wired through the scale platform & summed together in a junction box.

What is a Junction Box?

A j-box is a box with a summing card inside. Usually anywhere from (4) to (8) load cells are connected to the summing card inside the junction box. The card can then be adjusted by the scale technician when calibrating the scale. The signals of multiple load cells are adjustable and then once they are fine tuned, are capable of being wired to the digital weight indicator via the homerun cable.

Should I Purchase a Steel Deck Truck Scale or a Concrete Deck Truck Scale?

Steel deck truck scales have a quick installation time (usually one day) and they are lighter weight. This also is a benefit if you ever need to move or sell the truck scale, years later.

Concrete deck truck scales have a much longer installation time overall since the concrete must cure. The scales are also much heavier which can make moving them or selling them more difficult. On the plus side, a concrete deck typically has better traction than a steel deck.

So, ultimately either choice of industrial scale can be a good one. It depends on what your particular needs are and what your future plans might be with the scale.

I Keep Reading About Lightening. How can I protect my truck scale from lightning?

Most truck scale manufacturers offer weighing scales with grounding and industry standard protection which in most cases involves a single point grounding system with surge protector. This is an ongoing area where manufacturers are working improve their products for better protection. We’ve seen better protection being introduced for load cells and summing boards for example.

How Much Truck Scale Service Maintenance is there? How Often Should I Calibrate a Truck Scale?

With an investment like a truck scale, it makes good sense to have the scale checked & calibrated on a regular basis. Generally, we suggest that truck scale owners have their scales checked anywhere from twice a year to four times a year. Also, the scale owner can do a few things as well throughout the year like keeping the scale underside clean and debris free since buildup under a truck scale is a very common problem.

Another to consider when determining calibration frequency is how many trucks per day are weighed on the scale and the dollar value of what you’re weighing. If your 120,000 pound capacity truck scale is off just a hundred pounds, it can mean thousands of dollars of profit loss and/or a safety hazard. So basically if your truck scale weighs a lot of trucks every day, then you should consider a regular quarterly calibration program with your scale company.

We hope this article helps you to make an intelligent scale purchase. The truth is, there are numerous scale companies located throughout the United States that employee very smart and talented scale professionals who can work with you to recommend a great scale for your weighing needs. As for the scale manufacturers, there are multiple high quality scale manufacturers in the United States who build very good truck scales.



How Often Does A Truck Scale Have To Be Calibrated?

Spring is a great time to perform some general maintenance on your truck scale. A popular question we hear from folks is how often does a truck scale have to be tested, adjusted, and/or calibrated? Also, what factors can influence how often scales should be calibrated?

The general consensus is normal routine scale calibration is often determined by state requirements and the scale owner’s quality assurance standards which sometimes might be something as simple as comparing truck weights with a nearby truck scale owner. Many states require the truck scale to be tested and adjusted at least once per year. Furthermore, several states call for calibration to be carried out by way of the State Weights and Measures Department or utilize certified scale service organizations to carry out routine calibration. Of course, state certified test weights are needed for appropriate calibration accuracy.

As for the question of how often do you need to calibrate your scale, it’s usually a good idea to do this at least two or three times a year. Number of truck weighments per day and also the age of the scale add to how frequently a truck scale needs to be adjusted. In most cases you should try to work with a scale company that sells and services truck scales. The company should also have a test truck with certified test weights and a portable weight cart which will allow the scale company to drive the cart around the scale and position the weights in certain places on the scale deck to find little errors that might not be found with just test weights.

Initially, service trips and calibration charges might seem expensive but in many cases the savings a company will enjoy far outweighs the service fees. If a scale is tested and is off just a couple of graduations, that could be over 40 pounds of material you’re losing for each truck that drives over the scale. That could be pretty expensive as well.

Keys To Success For Your Truck Scale

Cardinal Armor Truck ScaleIf you think about it, maintaining your truck scale calibration, keeping your truck scale clean and in good working order and watching out for any operational errors can help ensure that you keep your vehicle scale on track for a solid year of great weighing and perhaps a great year of profits for your business. As you can see from Steve Langford’s  article, a lot of this just makes sense. In some businesses a truck scale is the device that ultimately enables you get what you pay for when buying raw materials as well as making sure that you receive proper payment for your products. An accurate scale is not only necessary to maintain profitability but to comply with applicable local and state weights and measures laws. For most of us, the purchase of a truck scale is a major investment and, when you consider its use, it only makes sense to make sure the scale continues to do its job and to help maximize your profits for many years to come.  Let’s take a look at some of the ways to do just that.

Perhaps the best advice to ensure that your truck scales continue to meet your expectations is to be proactive. Don’t wait until your scale is out of calibration before calling your service company. Have your scale’s calibration checked at regular intervals. How often? How long can you go with an inaccurate scale causing you to pay for material you don’t get or to give product away? At a minimum, a truck scale’s calibration should be checked by a reputable scale service company at least once every six months. Between calibration checks, keep an eye on the readings to make sure that the readings stay within the ballpark and are not obviously wrong. If there’s any question, call your scale service company. It’s better to spend a few dollars verifying the calibration of your scale than to loose thousands or more with an inaccurate scale.

Truck scales are designed to maintain calibration, within predefined limits, over a range of temperatures but calibration can vary from winter to summer. If you are in an area subject to temperature extremes, it is a good idea to schedule the calibration of your scale to coincide with the temperature extremes. Granted, the scale may still be in calibration and only slightly high or low but, the greater the number of weighing operations, the greater the influence on your bottom line. Keep in mind that you are obligated to keep the calibration as close to a zero error as reasonably possible so that the scale favors neither the buyer nor the seller. Why would an honest business owner want it any other way? Continue reading

What Preventative Maintenance Is Required For Truck Scales Used In Metal Recycling Businesses?

Let’s say you purchased this heavy duty truck scale for your metal recycling business. Now that you have got this truck scale, what preventative routine maintenance is required for weighing scales employed in recycling applications?

Typical preventive servicing requires washing out beneath the scale deck using a high-pressure hose for routine cleaning. With your Cardinal EPR truck scale, bumper bolts and checkrods will need to be tweaked every quarter on account of expansion and contraction in the scale caused by temperature changes. That is one reason why it is a good idea to set up your truck scales for quarterly scale service agreement check ups. With this agreement in place, you can save on labor and mileage charges and keep your scale adjusted, calibrated, and working throughout the year.

Blue Blanket Truck Scale Warranty

It doesn’t matter if we are looking to buy a computer or a treadmill, we all want to buy a product that has a solid warranty. Often times that warranty will only cover the parts that might break, leaving you to pay for the extra expenses like labor and travel mileage. Well, Avery Weigh-Tronix has now added an optional warranty which will be ideal for many truck scale customers. They call it the Blue Blanket truck scale warranty and for just a small investment, the optional 5-Year Blue Blanket Truck Scale Warranty can be the perfect choice for a customer to protect their investment.

The new ‘blue blanket’ warranty option can really add another dimension of long-term value to your AWTX truck scales. If you were to add this additional protection to your truck scale, the customer now has an option to use scheduled preventative maintenance to extend their warranty. This is great since these days some bid specifications call for a 5-year comprehensive warranty and this option fulfills that requirement.

This ‘blue blanket’ includes all weighbridge components and indicator plus travel and labor at standard rates. The part number for the blue blanket warranty is AWT97-501690.

Choose Reputable Scale Service Company With Correct Tools

Most of the time we focus on how to buy scales or what features are ideal for your next truck scale purchase. Today we wanted to briefly discuss truck scale service and repairs since eventually you will have to call to have service and repair done on your truck scale.  And let’s face it, if a repair isn’t done right and efficiently, any money you saved on your truck scale purchase could be lost in a lengthy repair.  Almost every digital scale from a small bench scale to a large truck scale has a digital weight indicator. Most scales have one or more load cells. Quite a few scales have a junction box with summing board. Most electronic truck scales feature these components as well. Most of the time to test and calibrate these bench and floor scales, you just place weights in a few spots, test and calibrate if necessary. However, the testing and calibration that is performed on a truck scale varies from the standard bench and floor scales.

Most truck scales are checked with test weights and a portable test cart filled with certified weight. This allows the scale technician to drive the cart over the scale and test the scale more thoroughly than just placing weights on the end of the scale. Having a test cart with weights should allow you to get a better and more detailed test of your truck scale than if you don’t use a cart. That is one reason it is important to choose a truck scale calibration service company that has a test cart in North Carolina that can test truck scales accurately. Companies that don’t have a test cart can be at a disadvantage when it comes to finding certain hard to find errors that can creep into the picture from time to time.

Summer is almost here, Truck Scale Maintenance Ideas

We’re just about ready to head into the busy summer months. In a lot of cases, it is also a busy time for your truck scales. Spring is the best time to get the following maintenace done, because all the melting snow (in some areas) creating running water, mud and muck can wreak havoc on your truck scale operations; washing debris into pits and foundations, and damaging equipment. Not to mention the critters who have taken up residence over the long winter. We recommend completing the following steps in late spring to ensure you are up and running in time for the busy summer season. Continue reading

Downtime can mean lost revenue and lost business opportunities

The economic advantages of incorporating an iQUBE junction box in a scale system are vast. For many companies, scales are virtual cash registers, documenting weight-based transactions. Downtime can mean lost revenue and lost business opportunities. While up and running, iQUBE continually verifies that the scale is weighing correctly, guaranteeing that the accuracy of an operation is never questioned. Whether iQUBE is added to an existing system to update the technology, or purchased in a new scale bundle with a truck scale and indicator, both will see less downtime and a timely return on investment. Continue reading

Load Cells

This month we continue looking at truck scale service.  This months topic is Load Cells. From a service perspective the overall procedure is to examine load cells and the area surrounding them. The load cell area may contain dirt and debris that has built up since the scale’s last check. Load cells must have clearance to deflect through their capacity range. The same debris that can bind the scale deck can also keep the load cells and suspension components from moving freely. Continue reading

Checking Devices

As we continue to look at service of truck scales, this month we look at checking devices.  Some vehicle scales utilize suspension systems that don’t require checking devices, eliminating a time-consuming step in your service protocol.  If your scale has checking devices, make sure they are working properly.  Inspect check rods to make sure the attachment points are solid.  Check for binding.  If there is a problem, weight readings will be inconsistent from section to section.  Inspect hardware to ensure jam nuts are tight, rods are level and free of foreign material, and washers are not rusted or distorted.  Even if they are working properly, replace corroded hardware components so they don’t fail in the future when you least expect. Continue reading