11 Aug

Predictive Cutoff Flow Monitoring Helps Achieve Greater Accuracy in Industrial Filling

In industries where material is sold or mixed by weight, miscalculations or imprecise fills lead to monetary losses that build over time. Accurate cutoffs and reporting that can be rolled into material management systems mean every dollar and batch is accounted for. The new Fairbanks predictive cutoff application does just that – combining the flexibility and data collection power of the Fairbanks FB4000 instrument with precise filling and batching controls.

What is predictive cutoff?

Predictive cutoff tracks the weight and up-to-date rate of change information to predict the weight values between scale updates. This allows for more accurate and precise filling. It’s particularly useful for those that rely on data reporting for material management or regulatory purposes, like loading trailers and rail cars for transportation in the agriculture, mining, and waste industries. Manufacturing facilities can use the instrument on hopper and tank scales, batching processes and mixing for things like cement or fertilizer.

Typical filling applications turn off the flow of materials when a specified setpoint weight has been reached. With predictive cutoff, the FB4000 constantly monitors the rate of weight change on the scale and predicts the value between display updates on-screen; if the setpoint will be reached between updates, the FB4000 does not wait to stop the flow. This results in more accurate filling weights, saving time and expense regardless of the filling or batching application.

Predictive cutoff application allows for storage and immediate recall of recipes

The new predictive cutoff application allows for storage and immediate recall of a nearly limitless number of recipes. Recipes stored by the FB4000 predictive cutoff application can include up to four materials or drafts. Any combination of stored materials can be included. And there’s no fiddling with target weights to move from one operation to the next—operators simply select the recipe from a drop-down list. In addition to live weight, the recipe and material names are displayed, along with the weight information for the recipe. A progress bar provides a visual guide to the status of the operation.

The application can be set for net or gross weight filling and can be configured for down-weighing in tank or hopper applications. The configurable I/O allows for the introduction of mechanical safety interlocks and a remote start button. The combined filling and inbound/outbound mode means the scale can be used for multiple purposes.

With its Ethernet TCP/IP interface, the relay box need not be close to the instrument. As long as the two devices exist on the same network, they may be separated by as much physical distance as the operation demands.

Built on a Windows® operating system, information from the FB4000 is easy to include in other operational reporting systems, and the instrument can connect to any Windows-compatible USB or network printer.

04 May

New FB7100 Line of Vehicle Scale Instruments Improve Efficiency for General, Single-Scale Operations

In many circumstances, vehicle weighing can be a complex process. However, in general, single-scale applications, the FB7100 Series is simplifying the process to meet the needs of a variety of operations.

Four new FB7100 Series scale instruments have been developed and available for analog scales or scales equipped with Intalogix® Technology.

The FB7100 Family

The FB7101, FB7111, FB7102 and FB7112 offer unmatched user-friendly operation without sacrificing reliability or consistency. The easy-to-navigate menus and the graphic touch screen display, featuring large colorful buttons, allow the FB7100 to be an incredibly easy instrument to operate.

The FB7100 line has three available operating modes: Gross-Tare-Net (GTN), Inbound/Outbound, and Basic In/Out. The GTN mode allows for transaction processing and ticket printing with an auto tare or keyboard entered tare weight, while the Inbound/Outbound mode allows vehicles to weigh Inbound with a temporarily stored (renamable) Loop ID. Vehicles can weigh Inbound empty or full. The Basic mode is designed for applications where the gross and tare weight are the only printed information – with no calculated net weight.

The FB7100 Series is available in two enclosure designs. The NEMA 12 desktop enclosure is designed for office environments. Its compact size and the easy-to-use 5-inch touchscreen minimizes the impact on the limited space in the modern scale house. Plus, the aluminum and steel construction holds up against daily grind. The NEMA 4X stainless steel Washdown enclosure is perfect for applications where the instrument comes in contact with hose-directed water or large amounts of dust. It features a larger 7-inch touchscreen and a desk/wall mount bracket for convenient mounting.

03 Jan

New Livestock Scale Options Meet Wide Range of Animal Weighing Needs

There are a wide range of livestock weighing needs. County fairs, 4H clubs, veterinarians, and small farms typically need to weigh single animals of all kinds, while farmers, ranchers, and sale barns need scales for weighing single or multiple animals in a more commercial setting. Finally, remote ranchers may need equipment for weighing single or multiple animals in a remote pasture or field.

Three new livestock scales have been developed with platform and instrumentation options that meet these varying application needs.

Single Animal LSA Series

Designed to weigh one animal at a time at small farms, veterinarians’ offices, county fairs, or 4H clubs, the Fairbanks LSA Series scale features 48-inch tall kick panels to reduce animal injury and stress. Non-slip X-lug flooring over steel deck, made from recycled rubber and plastic, will not deteriorate nor allow bacteria growth. The load cells and junction box are placed above the floor to keep electronics out of the mud and animal waste areas. The LSA comes with three gate options: a swing gate for use in existing alleyways; a slide gate that can be useful when the scale is placed at an end of alley or where obstructions or narrow alleyways prevent a swing gate; and a head gate that can be used to hold animal immobile for testing, medicating, applying identification tags, and similar procedures.

There are two instrumentation options available for the LSA: the FB2255 stainless steel instrument with AC or battery power and the FB700 WeighCenter with single animal rate of gain application. With a 5000-pound capacity, the scale is available in two sizes and is made of tough, durable, feces-resistant beige powder coat paint.

Multiple Animal LMA Series

Designed for weighing several animals at a time, this option would be a good choice for farmers, ranchers, and sale barns. The LMA offers a 25,000-pound capacity and comes in six sizes. Some features are the same as the LSA model, including the 48-inch tall kick panels; load cells and junction box positioned above mud and animal waste areas; non-slip X-lug flooring over steel deck; and tough, durable, feces-resistant beige powder coat paint. The LMA comes with heavy duty self-latching swing gates and can be fitted with an optional pedestal and instrument/ printer enclosure.

There are three instrumentation options available for the LMA: the FB2255 stainless steel instrument with AC or battery power, the FB500 stainless steel instrument with group animal weighing application, and the FB700 WeighCenter with group animal weighing application. With this option the instrument and printer are packaged in a weather proof powder coat painted enclosure that can track batch, animal lot, total weight, average head count and shrink.

Mobile Multiple Animal LMM Series

This mobile livestock scale is intended for weighing multiple animals at a time in applications where the livestock scale will be frequently relocated from pasture to pasture or farm to farm. It offers a complete towable scale system that works on any firm surface, accommodating up to a 6 percent grade. The LMM has a low 6-inch deck profile when in weighing mode and heavy duty self-latching swing gates. Featuring a 12-volt rechargeable battery pack and a solar panel charger for the onboard battery, the LMM series provides an integrated air pump to lift and lower air bag suspension, an electric trailer brake system, and numerous other features that make mobile weighing safe and efficient. Like the LSA and LSM scales, the LMM is designed with non-slip X-lug flooring over steel deck, durable, feces-resistant beige powder coat paint, and load cells and junction box placed to keep electronics out of the mud and animal waste areas.

The FB700 WeighCenter with group animal weighing application (FB700 instrument and TM-U295 printer packaged in a weatherproof, powder coat painted enclosure) is included with the LMM.

The LMM comes in two sizes; the single axle 13′ x 8′ size has a capacity of 15,000 pounds, while the double axle 18′ x 8′ size has a 20,000-pound capacity.

One important note – The LMM model cannot be used as a trailer.

09 Dec

Need for Speed – New Scale Meets the Need for Real-Time Weighing

The online shopping experience is fueling the “need for speed” to meet customer demand for quick delivery. Distribution, manufacturing, shipping, and warehousing facilities are quickly responding to the trend by adopting new mobile weighing technology, which provides a means of weighment at the point of loading and unloading. This type of real-time weighing drastically reduces material handling time. At the same time, mobile scales can immediately communicate a wealth of business and logistical data, eliminate inefficient traffic patterns, and improve safety by reducing traffic congestion.

One example is Fairbanks’ new WF Series forklift scale, which allows operators to capture the weight of their load without deviating from their normal work flow.

The WF Series design has advantages over other solutions. For example, hydraulic systems can be difficult to install. They are not as accurate as the WF Series and cannot be used in commercial applications.

Carriage plate forklift scales are also much more difficult and time consuming to install. In addition, scales that incorporate the weighbridge into a secondary carriage plate change the forklift capacity center-of-balance. The “scale” on the carriage plate design is piggybacked on the forklift carriage plate. The carriage is what moves up and down, left and right, angles down and up; in short, the carriage plate scale will see a lot of movement. For the scale, this isn’t a problem, however there is a cable that runs from the scale to the instrument, which is inside the cable. Scale technicians say that more than 80% of the damage is caused by this cable. It also takes a lot of time to route this cable from the carriage plate to the instrument in a way that will prevent damage; however, any time cabling is exposed can be a catch point.

Contrast that to the WF Series, which uses Bluetooth technology between the scale (weigh forks) and the instrument, so there are no wires to damage. The WF Series also has other options for communication with a company’s existing enterprise resource planning (ERP) and warehouse management system (WMS).

The WF Series is factory calibrated, so in non-commercial applications, the WF Series is ready-to-you immediately after installation is completed. In most commercial applications, the scale simply needs to be placed-in-service without need recalibration.

Return on investment

Ultimately, it all comes down to answering the question, “How will this help me?” The following scenario based on information from a medium size distribution center should shed some light on this question.

  • 40,000 pallet movements a year*
  • 12,400 movements require weighing (either checking incoming goods or outgoing shipping weights)*
  • 3 minutes saved with WF Series compared to floor scale**
  • 37,200 minutes, or 620 man-hours saved (per year)**

*           Information from leading warehousing magazine article

**         Educated guess

Now let’s use this information to find out the ROI.

Saving 620 man-hours a year translates to a cost savings of $21,700, based on labor costs estimated at about $35 per hour. Purchasing two new WF Series scales would cost around $9,198.00, plus about $500 in maintenance costs. This breaks down to an actual savings of $12,002. Under this scenario, the ROI for year 1 would be 224%, about 5 months. This does not account for the monetary value of the additional 16 square feet of floor space gained because you won’t be using floor scales!

12 Nov

Roller Conveyor Scale Captures Weight as Products Move Down Conveyor Line

In many manual conveyor applications, operators still have to weigh products. They may do this with a standard bench scale that sits next to the conveyor. Or, they may cut out a section of the conveyor, place a cart in the opening and weigh products with a standard bench scale sitting on top. Either way, they have to remove the product from the conveyor, place it on the scale, and then move it back to the conveyor or to somewhere else – like a pallet or shelving. That really takes a bite out of efficiency.

Shipping companies — UPS, FedEx, DHL, and the like — along with airline freight companies and really any manufacturing, distribution, or warehousing plant with a high-volume package (box) movement are faced with this issue.

To save material handling time, and reduce the need to lift products on and off a conveyor, consider using the new Fairbanks Roller Conveyor Scale.  Easily configurable with a new or existing manual conveyor, the scale is a precision table with an extremely-accurate scale built into it. Four adjustable feet simply thread in (to decrease height) and thread out (to increase height) and can then be locked in place. The scale can be configured longer or shorter, wider or narrower, taller or shorter, to fit the customer’s exact needs.

The Roller Conveyor Scale is an ergonomically friendly choice for establishing product weights in many shipping departments; it allows a conveyor to move the product rather than someone having to lift and carry it.

It is also a good choice for missing parts inspection and over/under check-weighing, depending on the process a company uses for picking parts. If the company uses a rolling cart with a box on it, the Roller Conveyor Scale is not necessary. However, if an ergonomically friendly gravity conveyor is used for picking parts, the Roller Conveyor Scale can really reduce material handling times. For example, if a gravity conveyor runs north-to-south with the north end an inch higher than the south end, it can be up to 100 feet long. There is a gradual slope between the two ends. If you place a box on the north end, it will gradually reach the south end via gravity. This process can take from 5 to 10 minutes. If a Roller Conveyor Scale is used, the scale could read the box with no operator interaction!

While standard bench and floor scales are a less expensive alternative solution to the Roller Conveyor Scale, the decrease in material handling time would give an excellent return on investment over time. One other option is a scale with a roller or ball top that could be used in line with a conveyor. However, these scales are substantially smaller, dimensionally, than the Roller Conveyor Scale and users would still need to find a table or cart on which to place the scale.

The Roller Conveyor Scale is being used by a major airline for its air freight shipments and is also used by a major shipping company to check rejected, damaged, and any non-standard shipments with issues. Both these companies previously conducted those tasks manually, physically taking the product to the closest scale to weigh it. With this new scale, material handlers, manufacturers, and distribution centers can economically speed production and increase operational efficiencies.

06 Sep

Scale Service Cost Control – The benefits of a managed service agreement

Maintaining a reliable and accurate scale is essential to the operation of a business. Like any other critical piece of machinery, equipment, or electronics, budgeting for maintenance and repairs can be a challenge.

Most common scale service arrangements are based on an annual fixed cost for test and calibration combined with additional costs for labor and spare parts for any scale repairs or upgrades. Though this can be an effective method for fixing a problem it may, over the course of the scale’s life, not be the most efficient solution when it comes to cost budgeting, minimizing downtime, or even reducing administrative paperwork to process invoices.

Many scale owners are now opting for a new and popular alternative to the “open-end” service – the Managed Service Agreement (MSA). This option offers:

  • Scheduled preventative maintenance and test/calibration
  • Coverage for emergency service repairs and replacement parts
  • Coverage for dispatching and usage of test weights (light capacity and up to 30,000 pounds for heavy capacity test unit)
  • Travel and expenses
  • Miscellaneous supplies

With an MSA, scale owners can work closely with their scale vendor to come up with a plan to reduce unexpected downtime by completing proactive repairs and part replacements often preformed with scheduled service (tests/calibration) arranged around the customer’s set period of downtime. The MSA cost can be paid in one up-front payment or convenient installments.

Comparison of open ended service cost versus an MSA agreement

The accompanying graph shows the spikes and variables that are more typical of any open-ended service agreement. Compare this to the consistent monthly costs of an MSA program, for example, the Guardian MSA offered by Fairbanks. The company prides itself on developing vendor/customer relationships based on partnering with customers to understand their operations and guiding them on how to best manage their scale assets.

Fairbanks Guardian Series of MSAs are flexible, designed to match the correct service plan with the usage, age, and operational criticality of the specific scale. For example, a chemical manufacturing facility with more than 100 scales can pick and choose the coverage type that best fits the unique dynamics of their operation. Contrast this to the agricultural industry where an agreement might be created with more attention to critical harvest periods.

All the Fairbanks Guardian Series of MSAs offer testing and calibration, plus a variety of parts and repair labor options. For example, the Platinum coverage offers “Smart Scale” remote diagnostics. The scale is electronically monitored at the Fairbanks Tech Support center 24/7, which proactively calls out any error codes to a field service dispatch center.

 

Superior scale service is about partnering with the customer to control costs, manage downtime and ensure accurate weighing. Utilizing a menu-driven MSA program, like Fairbank’s Guardian Service, is both innovative and practical in today’s weighing industry.

Purchasing a new scale is a significant investment and pairing the purchase with a Guardian Service agreement by building it into the initial investment is a good option. Consider it as both investing in a piece of equipment and investing in a partnership, in which Fairbanks takes on a critical role in keeping the equipment in optimal working order.

15 Aug

New truck scale for sites with little clearance – no need for foundation modifications

Today’s post takes on the thorny issue of scales needed for sites with little clearance underneath where foundations cannot be modified.

For example, many sites feature overhead loadout structures where a truck is filled while it’s on the scale. These sites have height restrictions because operators cannot easily raise the existing structures, so the only option is to install a scale that fits in their existing low profile foundation.

Other sites simply do not have enough real estate to place a regular-profile scale with approaches and full size ramps. Installing a low profile scale can significantly reduce the amount of real estate required for a legal scale.

This is a growing issue, because many scales installed in the 1990s and early 2000s came standard with a lower profile. These scales are now at the very end of their service lives and require replacement, but the expense of modifying the existing foundation to install a higher-profile scale is often too great to be viable. That makes the best option a scale that can be installed to meet the existing foundation and profile without any modifications.

The Fairbanks Talon Low Profile Truck Scale was designed to be a direct replacement for the most common low profile scales in the field. The design makes it easy to replace the scales – with no foundation modifications – as they end their service life. The low profile scale uses cover plates, but with a twist. To prevent many of the common problems of using full-width cover plates, these have been designed with corner pockets that house the load cells and other components. This is vital to ensure the ease of installation, maintenance, and reliability of the scale — and to keep everything protected inside the pockets. Keeping the cover plates in the outside corners of the scale platform helps eliminate the repeated traffic that traditionally will wear out cover plates faster than the rest of the scale by having them out of the tire path.

A new Talon Low Profile Truck Scale was used to replace an end-of-life low profile scale at a cement processing facility. The new scale was installed (with no foundation modifications) over a weekend during their off hours, and was back up and running by Monday morning. This would not have been possible if foundation changes had to be made.

Another example was a waste company that needed to replace an existing scale at a site with limited real estate and not enough room for ramps and approaches. The Talon Low Profile Truck Scale was installed into their shallow pit over a weekend, allowing them to continue normal operations.

17 Jul

Design and performance considerations to help choose between rocker column and double end shear beam load cells

Selecting the right load cell is crucial to ensure accuracy. Before selecting, carefully consider the manner by which the load is introduced to the load cell structure and installation issues. Also, pay attention to such design considerations as hysteresis performance, creep, temperature compensation, and mV/V/ohm and mV/V calibration.

First some definitions

The two main types of load cells are rocker column and double end shear beam load (DESB). A rocker column load cell is defined as one that uses a single compression column design with self-restoring alignment. DESB load cells are either secured at both ends and loaded in the middle or secured in the middle and loaded on each end.

Introducing the load

Rocker column load cells provide convex spherical upper and lower loading surfaces for load introduction. The load cells use a dual radius loading surface, with a large radius in the center where the load measurement is made and a smaller radius at the outer extremities where the rocking occurs. When choosing this style load cell, make sure the design provides accurate load measurement when the load cell has rocked to a non-vertical position.

DESB beams use a variety of load introduction methods. Some are supported at the center with a convex pillar and the load is introduced by links at each end. Other methods include bolting the load cell at the ends, or introducing the load in the center with a link or mounting the load cell at the ends with horizontal rods or pins. When using these methods, take care to ensure that there are no hysteresis errors that could affect the scale’s accuracy and performance.

Hermetic sealing key to performance

Hermetic sealing is extremely important to prevent entry of moisture and other external contaminants into the body of the load cell. If selecting rocker column load cells, be sure they are hermetically sealed at both their main sealing element and at the cable entry.

Most DESB load cells are potted (also called encapsulated), which means they have been immersed in a liquid resin that is then cured. In some cases, the potted seal may not hold up as well as hermetical sealing in truck scale environments.

Design and installation factors can affect performance

Several design factors affect rocker column load cell performance. These include hysteresis performance, creep, temperature compensation, and mV/V/ohm and mV/V calibration. For example, Fairbanks load cells can be replaced without the need for readjusting the corners or sections, and secondly, load cells can be replaced without the need for system recalibration.

Regarding installation, rocker column load cells require only simple upper and lower loading cups in most applications. Simple alignment fixtures are used for installing the load cells in a vertical position. By contrast, large castings are usually required for DESBs.

Overall, experience shows that the totally hermetically sealed rocker column load cell offers major performance advances over double end shear beam load cells. In addition to being totally hermetically sealed, rocker column load cells have fewer load introduction problems, and are easier and less expensive to apply.

02 Apr

New truck scale instrument integrates weighing functions with daily production and business functions

Customer requirements and product performance expectations continue to increase in all business areas. One place we are really seeing this is in the demand to integrate weighing functions more closely with daily production and business functions. Companies are looking to increase profitability and efficiency by increasing the number of weighments they can make over a given time. New instruments are being developed that fit in with today’s culture and business environment, where everyone expects user interfaces to provide immediate feedback and be easier to use.

For example, Fairbanks’ new FB2560 instrument uses faster and more powerful processors to provide quick response time and a superior user experience. The processor went from 1.6GHz to 1.83GHz Quad Core. In addition, downtime is minimized with Intalogix® technology, which allows the instrument to help diagnose load cell issues. Also, installation and calibration are streamlined in the FB2560 through the web interface.

The new instrument now includes five USB ports. One is a USB 3.0 port, which can transfer data about 10 times faster than the older USB 2.0 standard. The operating system has been upgraded from Windows 8.1 to Windows 10, which will allow for extended operating system support for this family of instruments. The RAM was doubled to 4 GB to increase the speed of the user interface. Along with the new hardware, software enhancements include additional features to improve service and support.

The FB2560 Series Driver Assist Terminal (DAT) is designed to speed the vehicle weighing process and reduce associated operating costs. By allowing drivers to remain inside their vehicles, the FB2560 DAT also eliminates safety concerns and liabilities that can occur when drivers walk across scale platforms and traffic lanes. Axlematic applications allow for axle-by-axle weighing of vehicles on both full-length platform and short platform scales.

Of course other weighing instrument options are also available, including the entry level FB1100, as well as the FB2250, FB2560, FB4000, and FB6000 series.  Each has a unique feature set that meets a range of customer requirements. In addition, Fairbanks has a dedicated team to address specific customized application needs.

21 Jan

Updated 2018 end of year farm outlook and predictions for 2019

As 2019 begins, and those lists of the top 10 movies or top 10 television shows have been tossed onto the recycling pile, it’s time to look at 2018 year-end farm outlook reviews – and what to expect in 2019.

The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), an independent, non-governmental, voluntary organization which bills itself as “local, county, state, national and international in its scope and influence and non-partisan, non-sectarian and non-secret in character,” recently released its “Updated End-of-Year Farm Economic Outlook,” by John Newton, Ph.D., the AFBF’s Chief Economist.

The news for 2018 is sobering, indicating that the farm economy continues to struggle. Net farm income in 2018 is down 12% from prior-year levels – about the third-lowest level in more than 20 years after adjusting for inflation.

The author starts with a review of cash receipts, which are flat. Gross agricultural cash receipts in 2018 are projected at $423 billion, up 1.5%, or $6.3 billion, from prior-year levels; but when adjusted for inflation, gross cash receipts are down 0.8%, $22 billion below the 10-year average and nearly $80 billion less than the record-setting 2014 total of $501 billion.

Then there’s the high total 2018 agricultural-related expenses, which are projected at $369.1 billion. If that plays out as expected, expenses would be up 4.2% from prior-year levels – the highest level since 2014.

One final factor to throw in is that net farm income in 2018, which is higher than originally projected by USDA, has been greatly affected by including ad hoc disaster and trade-related payments to farmers and ranchers. If we exclude these payments, net farm income in 2018 is projected at $64.7 billion, down $10 billion (or 13%) from prior-year levels. That makes it the third lowest level over the last decade, behind 2009 and 2016.

Fortunately, while the outlook for 2019 is still uncertain, there are some bright spots to look out for. First on this list are the positive effects of the farm bill, which should give farmers and ranchers more risk management certainty. Also, many are seeing that trade relationships are moving towards normalizing, based on the administration’s desire to restore and improve access in key export markets.

Combining these positives with much-needed regulatory relief and tax reform gives U.S. farmers and ranchers what they need to compete in the marketplace and move U.S. farms into increased profitability.

Fairbanks is kicking off the year by participating in three agricultural shows, and we would love to talk with you about how we can help with that move towards profitability. Find us at the Iowa Farming Power (January 29-31, 2019); Southern Farm Show (January 30-February 1, 2019); and the World Agricultural Expo (February 12-14, 2019).