13 Sep

Keep up With Scale Technology Innovations to Stay Ahead of Your Competition

Working in the weighing industry without keeping closely abreast of the many recent innovations in scale technology is a sure way to fall behind competitors. Advanced scale technology expedites work and processing times, simplifies data storage and transfer, and ultimately saves end-users money.

One example of the type of innovative scale systems indispensable in modern weighing is Fairbanks Scales’ new and improved FB2550 scale instrument. Innovative in its simplicity, networking capabilities, and processing power, the FB2550 belongs in every weighing company’s arsenal.

The FB2550’s simpler operation makes it faster and more consistent, which in turn leads to a higher level of efficiency and cost savings. The full color, true graphic touchscreen display makes the instrument extremely easy to use. A powerful integrated web utility gives technicians complete access to all menu options, including calibration, with a user friendly, web accessible interface.

All configuration and calibration functions can be performed from a connected laptop or tablet with an Ethernet crossover cable or an existing network, using standard web browsers like Chrome or Firefox. When used with Fairbanks’ unique Remote Configuration Device (RCD), technicians can even calibrate the FB2550 right from the scale platform, eliminating the need to travel between the platform and instrument to test and calibrate the scale system. For weighing technicians, it all adds up to real savings in time and effort, and increased overall efficiency.

The FB2550 is also a highly connected piece of equipment, with a range of networking abilities that makes it perfect for today’s modern weighing systems. Up to five FB2550 instruments can be networked, sharing transactional data and traffic light controls from up to eight scale platforms. Users can also automatically email transactional data or trouble codes. This improves access to transaction data and provides faster response times if there is ever an issue. Transaction data can be automatically exported to a shared user-defined network folder at the end of the day, placing key corporate data at customers’ hands in a timely and reliable manner. Load cell diagnostics data can be viewed, printed, exported, or emailed.

With its high level of processing power, the FB2550 can handle the ever-increasing data processing and storage performance requirements for weighing operations. Equipped with standard short or long platform Axlematic software, the system lets customers secure axle weights along with total vehicle weight to ensure compliance with DOT requirements.

The increased processing power also enables integration with IP cameras. Powerful camera interfacing capabilities allow the FB2550 to capture and store images from up to two IP cameras as a transaction is processed – and email or print images with a transaction ticket. The robust processing power means weighing technicians complete their job faster and more accurately, and it helps enable a much higher level of communication between weighing companies and their customers.

Scale technology is evolving. Scales need the ability to store and process a large volume of data and the ability to network and interact freely with other scales and connected devices, all within an easy to use interface. The FB2550 from Fairbanks Scales delivers on all fronts, and is truly among the most innovative scales currently available.

 

 

 

16 Aug

Innovations in Scale Software

For all industries and businesses, the future is digital. With increased access to low-cost mobile applications available in recent years, coupled with technologies such as blockchain and cloud computing, more companies have the low-cost tools, and the increased knowledge of technology, to shift software into new paradigms. Additionally, cloud computing has reached consumer stability and maturity, setting a foundation for increased movement towards as-a-service software offerings. The benefits of SaaS (Software as a Service) include quicker implementation and deployment, lower overall total cost of ownership, and earlier product releases, as well as the flexibility to “try-before-you-buy”. This applies to a number of industries, and in the scale industry, the situation is no different.

A look at history. With the advent of electronic scales came the foundation for weighing with improved data collection. Information was now in digital form and this provided a path to graphical displays and spreadsheet calculations. Over time, as technology became less expensive and more familiar, integrated devices were developed to improve processes by collecting process data and storing that data in databases. These same databases provided a structured and common method of storing the data, in addition to a foundation for quick reference and sharing, which lead to integrated scales and all their ancillary databases communicating with business systems.

But in the past few years, they’ve come even further. Now, we can see that scale software has evolved from stand-alone scales to software that connects networked devices. The benefits of this evolution are far-reaching. Digital scale information is now available to be shared with many devices via databases, integrated APIs, and more common connectivity technology like ethernet. Scale data is now linked to existing and new software to provide applications that are considered business “smart.” Scale indicators are becoming more sophisticated and have improved speeds and capabilities. From simple weight displays to advanced process control and computing power, a well-designed system provides a method of improved performance, simple configuration, and ease of use.

The sharing of data made possible by software also has a multiplying affect. Different departments and personnel, within or outside an organization, can view the same data to improve areas of scheduling, purchasing, order fulfilment, process improvement, continuous improvement and managerial decision making. The net effect is improved processes, increased visibility, and greater profitability.

With new capabilities provided by software innovations, scale information can be validated, conditional decisions can be made, and as a result, operations are improved. The level of connectivity facilitated by modern scale software provides increased speed in monitoring critical weighments and processes, allowing businesses to make quick decisions and corrections that can maximize company profits.

This is all excellent, of course, and represents a huge improvement over scale technology of even a few years ago. But the best thing about software is that it will only keep improving. With AI (artificial intelligence) likely to be the next step in the software evolutionary chain, the software itself will begin making process decisions based on business rules.

Imagine the capabilities…As these types of connections mature, devices will have additional capabilities and applications — such as self-correcting processes, the ability to call for maintenance before a failure, becoming aware of the environment and users, — will result in an overall improved experience. And, of course, as more devices improve their capabilities, a more universal move to connected devices through the IoT (internet of things) will initiate improvements in monitoring KPIs and running businesses.

This all sounds nice, but what about measurables? What’s the ROI on this scale software technology? Fairbanks Scales does not keep specific client software ROI data. The reason for this is that there are several ways to evaluate ROI depending on the scope you adopt. Much of the time, our clients will use a straight comparison – process time versus time saved (column method). ROI may also be calculated on a project basis using CASE software (project method), or through measuring reduced risk in a process or method (risk reduction method), or by measuring improved quality (quality method). However the ROI is computed, though, the ROI of software in scales has been increasing continuously over the last few years. Research suggests that the average return on every dollar spent on software realizes an improvement of more than $13.01. (2014 Nucleus Research Study)

Scale technology has come a long way from it’s stand-alone, analog roots. The only way forward in scales is through the hyperconnected data landscape that software can create. Are you on board?

 

17 Jul

Scales for Recycling Applications

Regardless of whether you’re in a small operation with just a bench scale or a single floor scale, or in a huge, busy facility with multiple floor scales and a truck scale, weighing technology is the heart of any recycling facility. All of these different types of scales are used to weigh the cans, brass, aluminum, copper, steel, or other materials being recycled; these weights are used, in turn, to determine payments or credits. As the movement to stay “green” has swelled, the need for more – and more efficient – recycling technology has become greater. The following are some key tips for selecting the best weighing technology for recycling applications:

  1. Buy scales with heavy duty load cells. Thanks to the high traffic and spills common to recycling applications, stainless steel load cells are a must-have in recycling weighing. Load cells have to hold up over time, and in demanding applications like recycling, stainless is best – particularly in above ground, rather than pit, scales, due to frequent cleaning and maintenance needs.
  2. Just like load cells, get heavy-duty cables. Recycling facilities are dirty, with spills and the rodents those spills inevitably attract. Stainless steel sheathing on cables will prevent those cables from getting chewed through, as well as protecting them from weather, spilled materials, and cuts from forklifts or other hazards. Protecting cables protects plant uptime.
  3. Find software designed for the task. Regardless of scale type, the weighing software used for recycling plants should be capable of recording multiple customers, producing reports, and printing tickets with payout amounts included. When a truck pulls onto the scale, the computer can automatically tally totals and print the ticket. This advanced software significantly shortens transaction time, helping to avoid backups.
  4. Lightning protection is essential. All of the steel we just described makes these scales a prime lightning strike risk, and without proper protection, lightning can render a scale useless.
  5. Maintain scales carefully. A quarterly Preventive Maintenance Agreement is recommended to inspect and calibrate all recycling scales. Additionally, frequent maintenance to clean trash away and wash out scales, especially under the scales, is incredibly important, as recycling facilities are traditionally very messy.

A scale chosen correctly for recycling applications will result in less downtime and a lower cost of ownership over the lifetime of the scale. Interested in learning more? Check out information on our Intalogix™ Technology for lightning protection, FB2558 Digital Instrument with recycling-ready software, Aegis Floor Scales, and Talon Truck Scales.

07 May

Expert service protects you from the high cost of inaccuracy and unscheduled downtime

Your scale is your cash register if you buy or sell a product by weight. Whether the products you weigh are large or small are large, scale uptime and accuracy is key to remaining in business. If you lose even a few pennies per transaction due to an inaccurate scale you can end up losing thousands of dollars.

A scale breakdown can potentially shut down an entire production line, with revenue losses piling up until that line is up again. These costly breakdowns can be prevented with expert scale service. Many breakdowns can be avoided with proper preventative maintenance inspections that identify potential failures early – before they become a costly problem.

Protect your investment in a scale

A scale is a precision measuring device, built with delicate high precision components. It may represent a huge investment – and one that is often placed in a harsh environment. Over time, especially in heavy capacity applications, wear and tear of key components will degrade the accuracy of the scale. A scale service expert will work to understand the unique weighing applications and service requirements of their customers and help to determine a service program and frequency that will best service them to maintain accuracy and uptime.

And by expert service, I don’t just mean slapping a weight and a sticker on a scale when on site for a preventative maintenance service or an emergency repair. Expert service means taking the time to become familiar with a customer’s unique weighing application and service requirements and providing trained technicians who will take the time to inspect the critical components. It also involves taking the time to check for dirt and debris that will impede weighing accuracy as well as reviewing major component wear or damage to ensure the scale is in top operating condition.

Costs can add up quickly when an owner scrimps on scale service – in the end scrimping may cost more than paying for expert scale service! To illustrate this point, consider the example of an owner of a truck scale with a 300 pound (lb.) error. If that owner is selling product across the scale for $0.05 per pound and sells 20 truckloads per day, that would be 100 truckloads per week and 5200 truckloads per year. The error translates to a loss of $15 per truckload, $300 per day, and $1500 per week – that is $78,000 per year!

Let’s count the benefits of expert scale service

There are several benefits to expert scale service, and each results in cost saving. Expert service will:

  • Ensure accuracy, which will prevent loss caused by unknowingly giving away product.
  • Ensure that a scale is dependable and far less likely to suffer a crippling breakdown in the middle of a production run.
  • Extend the life of a scale. Expert scale service means not only checking for accuracy but also inspecting and addressing the potential problems before they become catastrophic failures. With expert scale service, some older scales can be overhauled and returned to their original condition.

I would like to add a few words about metrics that you can use to demonstrate the quality of service provided. For example, consider such customer satisfaction measures as first time fix rates, ability to provide national coverage, and response time to address customer issues.

One metric often used to illustrate the benefit of expert scale service is the preventative maintenance to contract emergency (PM to CE) ratio. This measure means that, in a defined period of time, there should be one planned preventative maintenance visit and no more than one emergency repair service call. The typical PM to CE Ratio would be 1:1 or better. With expert scale service in place the number of PM service visits would always exceed the emergency repair visits.

Do not pass on expert scale service in favor of a cheaper alternative

All too often, business owners pass on expert scale service and instead opt for a cheaper alternative. This can result in lost dollars and production due to inaccurate weights and unexpected breakdowns. Invest in the proper care of your weighing equipment by contracting with a service provider with the proper expertise, who will take the time to provide quality inspection and repair service as well as the proper documentation to ensure maximum accuracy and uptime.

02 Apr

Increasing Warehouse Productivity is Essential for Meeting New Consumer Trends

Warehouse productivity is critical to responding to recent consumer buying trends, like online shopping and consumer demand for rapid delivery. Optimizing routine processes is an important way to improve efficiencies in the warehouse.  Using mobile weighing technologies to reduce truck time at the dock can have one of the greatest effects on a company’s key performance indicators (KPIs).

Seven ways to increase warehouse productivity

Scale products play a huge role in increasing productivity. For example, mobile forklift scales increase the on-time delivery percentage and number of orders per hour, while counting scales improve order accuracy percentage and increase the lines picked. Pallet jack scales reduce the cost per order. All in all, the right scale products help operators achieve overall equipment efficiencies. The scale products can reduce overtime hours and cost-per-unit (CPU), and improve the units-per-hour (UPH). Labor utilization in general can be greatly improved.

Here are seven tips for increasing warehouse productivity:

  1. To reduce the cost of doing business, purchase equipment that can be utilized in multiple areas with a variety of processes.
  2. Reduce unnecessary motion and travel to reduce cycle times. Equipment that allows operators to collect information quickly without unnecessary motion or travel will improve the process.
  3. Look for methods and equipment that reduce human interpretation. Scanning of barcodes, sharing information over the network, and combining information from several processes are ways to improve.
  4. Improve staff training. Technology can improve any organization if the people are properly trained to the process and equipment operation. Train, train, and train again, to get the best return on one of your biggest investments — people.
  5. Ensure good communication. Communication is critical in human interaction. It is also vitally important in processing information within the warehouse environment. Equipment that shares mission critical data through Bluetooth or Wi-Fi quickly shares information with billing and tracking systems and will improve warehouse operations.
  6. Keep an eye on new procedures or technologies. Always look to implement new procedures and look to modern technologies – or different ways of applying old ones – to save both time and effort in daily warehouse operations.
  7. Measure performance. Make sure operations capture and manage critical KPIs. Understand and track critical productivity and costs on shipped orders — cost per box and cost per line shipped. It is essential to measure and understand baseline information to be able to assess and put in place cost reduction measures. Remember, you cannot improve if you do not measure!

There is a clear relationship between warehouse productivity and profit

Here’s a theoretical example of a medium size company with 40,000 pallet movements a year in which 12,400 pallet movements require weighing. By using the Fairbanks BlueLine WF Series fork scale on their forklifts they would be able to save 3 minutes per weighment compared to moving the load to a typical floor scale location. That small per weighment improvement could save about 37,200 minutes, or 620 man-hours in one year. Using an average warehouse rate of $35 per hour, the company would achieve a yearly cost savings of $21,700 ($1,808 per month). The profitability gain would be more than $13,000 per year, even after factoring in the cost of the mobile fork scale as well as maintenance costs.

If you are looking to complete tasks more quickly to improve efficiency and productivity in a warehouse, consider incorporating a mobile weighing device into forklifts.

 

01 Mar

Role of Weighing in Produce and Livestock Agricultural Settings

When it comes to crop production, scales are used in formulation of fertilizers, insecticides, herbicides, and hybrid seed production.  For livestock, scales are used in formulation of feed and check-weighing animals for rate of gain on different types of feed. In the packing plant, mono-rail scales are used for checking the yield (checking the carcass weight compared to the live weight), checking the shrink (loss of moisture weight in the cooler), and weighing the primal cuts of the final product. At the end of the cycle, scales are used in retail/wholesale buying/shipping of the final product.

There are a few differences in how scales are used in produce versus livestock settings. Produce scales tend to be used more seasonally. When the river opens for navigation and during harvest, they have very heavy usage; the other 35 weeks of the year they face more moderate usage – say not more than 20-30 trucks per day. Produce sales are in a truck, so where the load is placed on the scale is controlled.

Livestock is a much higher priced product. For example, meat is over $1 per pound on the hoof, while corn is worth about 6 cents a pound. This results in smaller graduation sizes – 5 pounds for livestock versus 20 pounds for grain. Since livestock is “on the hoof,” the scale can be anywhere on the platform, with more motion from the animals moving around.

Changes in the wind

I foresee that weighing operations will soon be much more involved in tracking the product through the food chain. For crops, users will have to know if the product was genetically modified, treated with any herbicides or insecticides, and stored properly so as to prevent damage. Livestock applications will be involved in tracking the animal from birth to slaughter, and determining if the animal crossed any borders, or came from an area where disease was present.

Another new weighing application on the horizon that I am keeping my eye on is higher resolutions than allowed by NTEP. Instead of the 10,000 divisions allowed by NTEP, I have been seeing customers looking for 20 up to 50,000 divisions.  One common application for higher resolution is making feed. A large part of the batch might be inexpensive corn or beans, where a large grade size is fine. But then there are very potent and expensive vitamins and antibiotics that have to be more precise.  Now this requires a smaller prefix scale.

Factors to consider when choosing a scale for produce/livestock agriculture environments

Here are the top things I think you should look for in a scale: Accuracy, repeatability, sensitivity, reliability, and serviceability. Remember, most customers in this environment deal with a very small profit margin on huge quantities. They need reliable, accurate weights without having to give the scale a lot of tender loving care. It should be like a chunk of ground that weighs!

If you don’t select the right scale, you may be in for aggravation and inconvenience. If the scale is broken, or condemned by the state Weights and Measures Division, arrangements must be made to use someone else’s scale. This sometimes results in the users not trusting the scale – thinking they may be cheated by inaccurate weights.  If the weights generated by the scale are not reliable, they are useless. This usually results in replacing the inaccurate scale with one that is.

Economic or productivity losses due to using the wrong scale

Due to the cyclical nature of agricultural scale use, an inferior scale will almost always fail during heavy usage – just when it is needed the most. This often results is users repairing, rather than replacing, the scale due to time constraints. These repairs are often more costly because of overtime labor and “air freight rush” for parts needed to get the scale back up and running as soon as possible. Often the failing scale is then replaced in the off-season – which means all the money spent getting the scale repaired is wasted.

I have had customers that think of scales as a commodity like #2 field corn – all the same. This sometimes results in buying the scale based on the cheapest price. And that is a scale made as cheaply as possible, without taking long-term precautions to avoid getting a scale with a lot of deflection in the platform. The scale will work at first, but with every weighment, the platform weakens until it suffers from metal fatigue and has to be replaced. Or, to lower the cost, they select a pit scale built with very little rebar but then get a scale that fails because of low strength.

There are many examples of recent sales I made that I originally lost out on 20-25 years ago to a competitor with a cheaper price. One sale of a pit type truck scale went to a competitor selling a fabricated steel lever system that cost about $4500 less. The steel lever system rusted away and the pit the scale was in had multiple problems from frost pushing the walls in. The customer ended up paying to have the scale removed, the pit demolished, and the scale replaced at a cost of $115,000. There are not very many places you can invest $4500 and get a return of $115,000 in 25 years!

Scales play a major role in produce and livestock agricultural settings. Think of the scale as an investment in your business, not as a cost of doing business. With the very real cost of repair labor, inflation, downtime, a wise customer should buy the very best scale made — regardless of price. In the long term, a small price difference is negligible.

29 Nov

Investing in Packing Line Equipment Ensures Accurate Measurement and Improves Revenue

Most customers will tell us that their top priority is not shorting customers. They say they add more to a customer’s box to ensure it meets state and federal laws that require accurate statements of weights. Without an accurate scale, many end up shorting themselves!

Take the example of a 40-pound box of sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes grow in many sizes, and they all go into one box, but if you don’t have a scale to know for sure that you are putting 40 pounds into the box, you may be better off giving the customer that one extra potato that puts them over the stated amount. You don’t want to, but if you short a customer one time, you will never get that business back. You don’t want the customer to say, “You gave me 39 pounds and 14 ounces in this box – You shorted me two ounces!”

Maybe giving away one extra potato is fine, but you don’t want to give the customers several potatoes, because then you start losing profit.  Consider a 40,000-pound lot — 4000 boxes at 40 pounds each. Without a scale, you might pack 1.5 pounds over what should have been in the box. That would be 6000 pounds given away, and profit that should have been in your pocket!

Only an accurate piece of weighing equipment can eliminate that problem. While there is a cost involved, there is no question it will save you money in the end. Consistently giving customers extra product for their purchases will make customers happy, but it is not in the producer’s best interest.

The term “accurate scale” does not mean an inexpensive bathroom weighing scale. While it may be fine for low-end weights, low-end scales are not legal for trade. They are intended for occasional use.  A bathroom scale is simply not made to handle the kind of weight that results from weighing 40,000 boxes a week.  It is either going to break, or start weighing inaccurately.

To ensure that you get accurate weights, use a top-quality scale built for heavy weighing. In addition, to ensure accurate weights, have the scale inspected and calibrated regularly. This is critical. That way you are eliminating inaccurate weights.

For example, we recently worked with a North Carolina produce supplier that had established its own packing facility after previously sending out their sweet potatoes and watermelons to be packed elsewhere. They were using a basic “eyeballing” method to fill boxes. To make sure they didn’t short their customers, they wound up overfilling the boxes and shorting themselves!

The new facility ships using two box sizes: a 40-pound carton and a 500-kilogram (1100-pound) box. In a bulk line, the sweet potatoes are washed, graded, and sized. As they are sized, workers fill up the 40 pound carton boxes, “guesstimating” their weight and then putting on the lid. Fairbanks recommended they install a Fairbanks Series III general-purpose bench scale with built-in rechargeable battery and integral pillar-style instrument. A roller ball top was recently added, so workers never have to pick up the boxes.

Operators placed the Series III bench scale with roller ball top at the end of their conveyor line. They fill the 40-pound carton box and slide it down the scale. The scale weighs up to 150 pounds in increments of .05 pounds. If the box weighs more than 40 pounds, operators remove potatoes to get as close to the target weight as possible.

For the large 500-kilo boxes, they only visually estimated the contents, filling them up to the top to make sure each box held more than the required amount. They knew they would be giving away some product, but wanted to make sure there was at least a little extra. But after six months of “guesstimation,” they became concerned they were really shorting themselves. After all, each box could be off by as much as 20 kilos (44 pounds), so they were potentially giving away about 1000 pounds of sweet potatoes in each 25-box shipment!

For this application, Fairbanks recommended the use of an Aegis 4-foot by 4-foot, 5,000-pound industrial mild steel floor scale. The scale is equipped with an FB1100 Series instrument, which comes with a highly visible 2-inch backlit LCD screen. The instrument is mounted on the wall above the scale. It can sit on the forklift, so when the box is set, operators can see what it weighs from the forklift.

The customer says that instead of packing 520-540 kilos per box, they can now get it down to about 503-504 kilos, just enough overage to ensure they meet the required weight. They estimate that removing the excess paid for the cost of the floor scale in about one week.

 

15 Nov

Scale Maintenance Programs that Pay for Themselves

Across a range of industries, companies can lose thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars annually if scales are inaccurate. While scale calibration and maintenance costs can seem high, with an annual price tag of up to $1,000 to $3,000, the best scale calibration and maintenance programs more than pay for themselves by correcting costly inaccuracies. In fact, these programs can even help to ensure a complete ROI on the cost of the scale itself!

To be most effective, a scale maintenance program must have five key components: the use of a state-licensed service provider; conducting calibration using state-certified test weights with written calibration and test report for proof of accuracy; a thorough testing process; visual inspection services and minor repairs; and detailed reporting. By implementing scale maintenance programs with these five key components, scale owners can expect to keep costs down and profits up through scale accuracy and timely maintenance.

While some service providers require that any minor repairs and adjustments found to be necessary during the calibration be taken care of by a separate visit and charge, the most comprehensive programs by service providers enable technicians to make these repairs and adjustments as part of routine calibration visits. In addition, some providers offer on-line portals for 24/7/365 access to a repository of customer calibration reports.

Use a state-licensed service provider

It is important to understand that the state weights and measures organization is the only entity that can issue a scale certification. A commercial scale company cannot certify a scale – but it does have the authority to recalibrate and reinstate an inaccurate scale that has been “tagged-out” by the state – as long as the scale company is state-licensed and registered in good standing.

Conduct calibration using state-certified test weights

Calibration must be performed with state-certified test weights. An established scale service company typically has its entire inventory of test weights tested and certified annually, in accordance with state weights and measures standards.

Beware of service companies that test only a portion of their overall weight inventory each year. Though this may save costs for the service provider, it can cost you a lot in the long run if test weights are inaccurate during calibration. Here’s a tip: All certified test weights bear a stamp from the governing state weights and measures entity, and you can request a copy of the test weight certification from your scale service provider.

Make sure testing process is thorough

To test a weighing device properly, testers first have to determine the length of the platform and the total number of sections along that length. Each section contains a scale load point and therefore a load sensor. The accuracy of each of these load points is critical to overall accuracy, and so should be a focus of the testing process.

Incorporate visual inspection and repairs

A thorough scale maintenance program must include visual inspection, followed by any necessary repairs. A good service company should conduct a free visual inspection and have the ability to perform minor repairs while on-site for the maintenance visit. Most scale owners understand that it is better to repair and address issues when they are small, rather than wait until they are big and expensive.

Thorough reporting

A good scale maintenance program will provide thorough reporting. Each maintenance inspection should include a written report documenting test results, and including both before and after calibration, as well as a summary of finding and recommendations.

 

18 Sep

New technology can help you adapt to changing customer labeling and packaging demands

Customer labeling and packaging demands are changing every day. We see customers using labeling more and more – and in many different stages from pre-production through retail packaging of finished goods.

Why is this? The use of clear and concise labels with key information and barcoding allows customers to track their work in process. By monitoring all the production stages they can gather and use data to improve their processes. We are also seeing labeling used in conjunction with data collection to generate pallet manifests and bills of lading. It all adds up to using data to increase efficiencies and profitability.

While the trend is present in most industries, processes and requirements vary greatly from industry to industry, so how this trend presents itself varies too. For example, the food industry is seeing a push for “clean labels,” making certain that consumer data on the label is easy to understand, clear, and concise. Other industries are looking for labels to reflect a product’s technical data or dimensional specifications. Labeling is used in the recycling industry to track materials and weights.

One example of where this comes into play is for our customer Laubscher Cheese, which was facing extremely short lead times and the need to adapt to many different items and pack sizes. Laubscher really needed to be able to quickly update the information displayed on label templates. Using the Fairbanks LabelBank/DataBank system, they could modify the information appearing on the label template extremely fast and with minimal pauses in production. This let them reduce or even eliminate their need to carry inventory of costly pre-printed labels. With the ability to customize and print on demand only the labels they need, they realized a very quick return on investment.

Laubscher also needed accurate collection of data that could flow easily into reports, so they adopted Fairbanks Ledger Web Reporting to show process flow, production output, yields, and more. LabelBank/DataBank and Ledger Web Reporting are also well suited to other industries. We have active customers in meat processing, dairy products, recycling, industrial manufacturing, and even government coin press operations, to name a few.

Customer labeling, packaging, and data collection needs are constantly changing and evolving. As they do, Fairbanks will continue to develop better ways to meet those needs. Whether it’s additional features to Ledger Web Reporting that make it easier to access information, or new modules for the LabelBank/DataBank software, Fairbanks’ goal is to make a customer’s labeling and data collection needs an efficient part of their process.

12 Sep

You can decrease weigh times by up to 50 percent in pallet jack applications

The mobile weighing market has changed dramatically over the past few years. Much of the change is driven by huge shipping companies and distribution centers that manage their throughput with pallets or skids, although any operation moving in the neighborhood of 20,000 pallets per week is looking for better mobile weighing operations. The reason is simple: a traditional floor scale takes up valuable floor space and in many manufacturing and warehouse environments floor space is at a premium.

In response, Fairbanks Scales Inc. recently released an entire line of mobile weighing products. Examples include the pallet jack scales – a scale that is integrated into a pallet jack; forklift scales, and scales for a wide variety of warehouse trucks.

Another recently developed option is the portable U-shaped floor scale, for example the Fairbanks’ Yellow Jacket Yellow Jacket U-Shaped floor scale. Unlike traditional floor scales, the U-shaped floor scale eliminates the need for floor scale ramps or a pit frame to sit the pallet or skid on the weighing platform.

Operators simply move the pallet into place over the scale, lower the pallet jack so the load is resting on the scale, capture the weight, and then raise the pallet jack to easily move the pallet or skid to its next location. This reduces weighing times by up to 50 percent by eliminating the time-consuming step of pulling the pallet jack out from underneath the pallet, which can be difficult with traditional ramped floor scales.

Another bonus is that the scale also eliminates the unsafe man-handling required to remove a pallet jack from underneath a pallet using a traditional floor scale with a ramp.

I can illustrate the point with a story about U.S. Toys, a Kansas City company that operates a 750,000 square foot distribution center. This might seem like an enormous amount of space. However, over time they started running out of room around their truck shipment preparation area. They had several traditional floor scales. Although the floor scales were effective, they weren’t efficient for their growing needs.

They liked the idea of the U-shaped floor scale design in Fairbanks’ Yellow Jacket scale. Within the first week after installation of the Yellow Jacket U-shaped floor scale, the U-shaped designed proved to be faster, easier to use, and safer in terms of ergonomics.