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Q & A: Purchasing a Truck Scale for the Recycling Industry

Cardinal Scale Manufacturing Company answers some of the most common questions recyclers have about making an informed decision when purchasing a truck scale for their industry.

1.)  What is the difference between a full-length scale and an axle scale? Which type do you find recyclers using most often? Why?

An axle scale is designed to weigh only one individual axle of a truck at a time and may provide a total gross weight at the end of weighing the truck. Axle scales are oftentimes portable, but may also be static installations. On the other hand, full-length truck scales can weigh the entire truck (all axles included) in one weighment, so axle scales require more time to weigh a truck than full-length scales. Recyclers will always use full-length truck scales because axle scales are not NTEP legal for commercial trade, which is required in the recycling industry. Recyclers are paying individuals based on the weight of the material in their truck load, so therefore it’s necessary for the scale to be NTEP certified for accurate weighments. In brief, the process involves individuals bringing in their recycled material, the recycler pays them for it based on the weight shown on their NTEP truck scale, and the recycler then typically uses railcar to send the material to steel mills.

2.)  How many styles of full-length scales are there (low-profile, pit, full electronic, concrete deck, steel deck, etc.)? Is there one style you’d recommend for use in the recycling industry? What advantage does it offer?

Truck scales come in a number of different types and applications. Truck scales may be portable axle, weigh-in-motion, self-contained portable, electro-mechanical, electronic, and hydraulic types. Within most of the static variety types, truck scales may be either pit or low profile (above-ground) installations and either steel or concrete deck. Coincidentally, Cardinal Scale offers the widest range of truck scale technology and applications from one scale manufacturer, so this is an area where we excel in our diversity of truck scale manufacturing experience.

For the recycling industry, typically the best choice is the steel deck electronic truck scale because it offers the fastest installation time and lowest down time in replacing a pre-existing truck scale. If the recycler is replacing an older truck scale installed in a pit that is experiencing water damage issues, a hydraulic truck scale can be a wise choice to consider for an upgrade. The load cells in a hydraulic truck scale are impervious to water and lightning damage. They are the longest-lasting load cells on the market. Additionally, Cardinal’s Guardian® truck scales offer a true lifetime warranty on the hydraulic load cells.

3.)  What other features should recyclers look for in a truck scale?

There are several features recyclers should consider when making the decision to purchase a truck scale, including deck plate thickness. Recyclers are generally handling a high traffic frequency daily on their truck scales, so scale strength becomes a critical factor. Cardinal Scale manufactures our truck scales with 3/8-inch-thick steel decks for optimum strength and resiliency to handle heavy loads over the long haul for superior performance. Another quality factor to look for is factory-assembled load cells mounted in the truck scale. Every Cardinal truck scale is 100% factory assembled and tested before shipping to a job site. This involves calibrating the entire truck scale to ensure proper set-up prior to shipping for superior accuracy. Typically, a 70-foot-long truck scale size is desired in the recycling industry to be able to accommodate weighing semi-tractor trailers. Stainless steel, USA-made load cells and a NEMA 4X stainless steel junction box for load cell wiring are also important to check for when making the decision to purchase a truck scale.

4.)  How concerned should recyclers be with the load cells used in the truck scales they are considering for purchase?

Quality load cells are crucial to a truck scale, because they are the source of the weighing process. Recyclers should check to make sure their truck scale uses stainless steel load cells manufactured in the U.S. under ISO certified standards to ensure they are getting a quality load cell. Additionally, the truck scale’s load cells need to be hermetically sealed to be able to withstand high-pressure water blasts when routine cleaning is done below the scale deck. Cardinal Scale offers both electronic and impervious hydraulic load cells, and our Guardian® hydraulic load cells carry a lifetime warranty.

5.)  How much should a recycler be prepared to spend on a truck scale?

Cost depends on whether the recycler is replacing an older pre-existing truck scale or if it’s a new installation, because installation and foundation work will be different in each scenario. Cost also varies from region to region.

6.)  What kind of site prep may be required prior to scale installation?

Site prep will also vary due to whether the installation is a new or replacement truck scale. A concrete deck truck scale will add construction time due to pouring the concrete in the scale deck and curing time.

For new installations, the typical truck scale installation process is as follows:

1.)    Blueprints arrive from the scale manufacturer.
2.)    Scale house is constructed or installed on location.
3.)    Concrete  foundation and approach ramps poured by either scale service company or customer.
4.)    Truck scale is delivered from the scale manufacturer.
5.)    Scale service company wires the truck scale to the scale house and peripherals.
6.)    Calibration and certification with test weights.

Less site prep work is needed and faster installation times are achieved with Cardinal’s SnapStream Wireless Truck Scales, which offer wireless radio frequency connectivity between the truck scale and the weight indicator in the scale house. Additionally, all peripheral equipment such as remote displays, PC’s and printers may be connected wirelessly with SnapStream, which potentially saves thousands of dollars in installation costs. SnapStream is a fully-integrated NTEP legal-for-trade wireless scale system for commercial recycling applications allowing connectivity up to 1 mile line of sight between the truck scale and scale house.

7.)  What preventive maintenance is necessary for scales used in recycling applications?

Typical preventative maintenance involves washing out below the scale deck with a high-pressure hose for routine cleaning. Bumper bolts and checkrods will need to be adjusted quarterly due to expansion and contraction of the scale caused by temperature changes. The customers themselves or scale service companies can take care of this.

8.)  How often does a scale need to be calibrated? What factors can affect how often scales need to be calibrated?

Routine scale calibration depends on the recycling company’s quality assurance standards and state requirements. Most states require the scale to be calibrated once per year. Some states require calibration to be done through the State Weights and Measures Department and other states allow certified scale service companies to perform routine calibration. State certified test weights are required for proper calibration.

Frequency rate degree of use, number of truck weighments per day, and the age of the scale all contribute to how often a truck scale needs to be calibrated.

For more info on Cardinal Truck Scales:
http://www.cardinalscale.com/product-family/truck-scales

Cardinal Scale Mfg. Co. • Ph. (800) 441-4237 • cardinal@cardet.com • 203 East Daugherty St., Webb City, MO 64870USA MANUFACTURER

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