Selection strategies for on-board scales and weighing systems.
Onboard loader scales have long been a cornerstone of measuring equipment for quarry operators. Recently, loader scales have evolved dramatically to not only provide highly accurate payload weighing but also load location via GPS, WiFi connectivity, colour touch-screen displays and more.
Today’s modern onboard scales empower site managers and operators to be more productive with faster and more accurate loading workflows.
Sophisticated onboard scales let operators and managers track production data, optimise truck loading and eliminate overloads that can lead to costly fines.
Not only that, but fleet and site managers have greater visibility into overall site operations with real-time access to reliable and consistent payload data.
LOADER SCALE EVALUATION AND ADOPTION
Like most technology, wheel loader scales and weighing systems are evolving to become simpler, easier to use and less costly. Part of that progression has been shaped by the proliferation of connected solutions and mobile applications used in all aspects of work and play, including smartphones, tablets, GPS devices and more.
Organisations looking to install or replace payload measurement systems for next-generation, onboard scales to maximise payload optimisation should think through the following three considerations before moving forward:
- Evaluate And Prioritise Requirements
Organisations looking to evaluate onboard scales and weighing systems should first prioritise the needs of key stakeholders. This might include looking at requirements for operators, site and fleet managers, or customer reporting or billing needs. Evaluate how each group will interact with the weighing and reporting system. For example, some scales for wheel loaders may give managers access to reports and data about tonnes moved per day, but operators receive these reports hours or days later. Other onboard weighing systems provide real-time visibility with payload data that is continuously displayed in-cab.
- Focus On The Biggest Impact For ROI
When evaluating loader scales, be sure to assess areas that offer the biggest opportunity for Return on Investment (ROI) in operations. For instance, many operations might first focus on using onboard scales to accurately track the amount of material moved per hour or per day. This capability would allow site managers to collaborate with operators and set benchmarks to optimise productivity. They may also opt to capture a wider range of metrics, such as looking at machine utilisation or cycle times to identify possible inefficiencies or process bottlenecks that are handcuffing productivity.
- Consider The Interoperability Of Equipment
Consider the lifecycle of onboard scales in the organisation as well as other equipment and technology components used. The organisation’s technology infrastructure should be machine vendor-neutral and allow for easy data exchange between scales and machines, as well as the information flow between site managers and machine operators.
After selecting requirements, identify where the greatest ROI can be recognised, and evaluate its technology infrastructure, to find a technology solution that best meets the unique needs of the operation. Keep in mind the following considerations when evaluating the options available:
Accuracy – Accuracy is typically the most important consideration when it comes to evaluating wheel loader scales. Operators need accurate weight measurements to optimise payload operations. Today, most loader scales will achieve +/-1 percent margin of error accuracy or better, excavators at better than 3 percent margin of error, and conveyor scales better than 0.5 percent. With a quarry operation that moves 2000 tonne per day, a 1 percent change in accuracy quickly adds up to increased profitability. This could translate into tens of thousands of dollars of extra revenue for a busy quarry over the course of a year. When evaluating accuracy, look for wheel loader scales that offer:
- Consistent weighing over a range of environmental conditions, such as temperature changes through the day, rough terrain and weighing on the move
- Premium sensor technology and multipoint weighing technology that provides a larger scale ‘sweet spot’ for weighing. Be careful of technology that measures outside this sweet spot during lift phases where material is dropping from the bucket
- Slope compensation technology that allows for a stockpiles yard that is not perfectly flat or for loaders that go up a ramp to feed the hopper
Look for smartscales that go beyond weighing – Modern smartscales go beyond accurate weighing to deliver simplified, machine-to-machine connectivity. This results in streamlined data collection and efficient data exchange. Better connectivity options and information sharing is significant because the key to making effective decisions is having the right data and information available at the right time.
Smartscales with embedded connectivity solutions and robust reporting and data management capabilities make this possible by breaking down barriers to streamlined data flow and by providing a holistic view of operations. Smartscales also empower operators to track who, what, where, and how much material is moved at any given time. Specific options to look for include:
- Reports that give real-time access to data by customer, product, machine or productivity including multiple scales, across quarry operations, on one report
- Dynamic visualisation capabilities – real-time data is good, but only if the team can leverage it to quickly see key performance indicators, analyse trends and highlight any bottlenecks or issues
- Electronic tickets are the new industry trend towards paperless workflows. In-cab mounted printer options are also useful. Operators can immediately print a load ticket to track individual trucks, daily or weekly load-out and more
GPS and connectivity options – Connectivity options are a critical component of modern smartscales. Bringing loader operations from the field back to the office is much more streamlined − not to mention less costly − when Wi-Fi and other connectivity options are pre-built into the onboard scale. This allows managers and operators to have a shared view of the production status.
Operators can also receive orders directly in the cab and capture electronic Ticket IDs that include time stamped and dated payload information, and send directly to customers.
Look for scales that include:
- Built-in Wi-Fi connectivity options, which allow for faster and cheaper communications networks
- Embedded-GPS systems, which allow managers to precisely track inventory, monitor machine stress and schedule maintenance, or identify equipment with unused capacity
Convenience and usability – With increased exposure to technology also comes increased expectations around technology convenience and usability. When it comes to loader scales, operators need onboard scale systems and displays that are uncluttered and easy to use so they can focus on the job at hand. A dedicated display for payload data means this information is always available, rather than sharing the screen with other information that may be a distraction. This can include:
- Touch-screen and larger displays – Loader scales that offer simple ‘smartphone quality’ touch-screens mean the learning curve for the scale systems is next to zero. Also, look for larger displays that allow for larger text, which provides easy reading and a better operator experience
INSTALLATION AND SUPPORT
When shopping for an onboard scale or weighing system, look for partners that provide:
- Specialist product knowledge
- Local, trusted on-site support (including installation, calibration, training, regular scale maintenance)
- Global coverage to support enterprise wide rollouts
- Simple installation with no welding or no cutting required – this helps maintain machine integrity and machine resale
- Support your future growth, by offering technology beyond your current needs and across your operations (for example, excavator, conveyor, loader, etc.)