24 Jan

Tips for Choosing the Best Scales for Your Warehouse or Factory

Weighing is an integral process in warehouses and factories and it is essential that operators carefully consider scale selection to ensure the most efficient operations. If part of your operations include plastics, you must immediately check out these state-of-the-art and cost-efficient plastic Fabrication machines.

Weighing is used for a wide variety of warehouse/factory operations. Major weighing processes include general auditing; order, case, and pallet picking; evaluating rack loading limits; trailer loading; and dimensional (DIM) weighing, also known as volumetric weighing.

General auditing includes weighing parcels for proper classification, storage, repacking or shipping.

Order picking may include either basic case picking or pallet picking. Basic case-picking operations usually use a hand pallet jack (or motorized pallet truck) with a scale and pick cases out of bulk floor locations. The scale is used to verify that an item has been picked for an order. Basic pallet picking is the most common method for full-pallet picking. Orders are picked one at a time. Forklifts are used to retrieve the pallet load and stage it in a shipping area for a specific order. Using a forklift scale improves efficiency, decreases pallet handling, improves safety, and allows a load to be placed directly into an outbound trailer or container providing a total weight as the trailer is being loaded.

Scales are also used for rack loading limits to ensure weight limits for racking are not overloaded, maintaining a safe work environment.

As with pallet picking, using a forklift scale for trailer loading improves efficiency, decreases pallet handling, eliminates traffic to and from a static scale, and allows a load to be placed directly into an outbound trailer – providing weight information as the trailer is being loaded.

Last up is DIM weighing, collecting the dimensions and weight of a parcel for determining proper loading or shipping charges. By using shipping rates focused on package size as well as weight, shippers will be able to operate more efficiently and ultimately benefit from using smaller package sizes or loading trailers more effectively.

While there is little difference in weighing technology between warehouse environments and other industries, these scales should be specifically designed for the equipment utilized. Scales can be designed into forklifts and pallet jacks or added as specific requirements. Other differences may include how the scales interact with existing systems, and how they process weight data along with parcel data.


Considerations for choosing a scale for a warehouse or factory

Process or application – What weight information is needed and at what accuracy is it needed? Where is the weight data used in the process? How can the data be utilized with the highest degree of certainty with the least amount of errors? How can it be accessed most easily?

Durability – Can the scale handle the environment process in which it operates?

Accuracy – Is it the right scale for the job, providing the degree of accuracy required to meet process requirements?

Certification – Does the scale have the proper National Type Evaluation Program (NTEP) certification needed for use in a legal-for-trade process?


Benefits of selecting the right scale

Selecting the right scale has a big effect on achieving a good return on investment (ROI) for the equipment. The benefits of selecting the right scale include improved process speed, less traffic (to a static scale), improved order accuracy, the ability to capture data in real-time through use of Wi-Fi, a safer environment, and a properly executed process.

Selecting the wrong scale could result in reduced process speeds, bottlenecks, traffic congestion at a static scale, errors in order accuracy, and an improperly executed process.


Weighing operations must adapt to changes in the marketplace

Choosing a new logistics facility or distribution center (DC) site involves evaluating a number of factors and considering numerous details. The best way to start is by thoroughly examining the elements that combine to support business needs, including weighing and scale operations.

Manufacturing and raw materials sourcing play a major role in site selection. One reason is that bulk raw materials are typically expensive to transport relative to their value. Manufacturing consumes considerable resources, including raw materials, energy, and labor. As a result, companies locate manufacturing and fabrication operations near those resources.

The sourcing/production side of the supply chain usually starts anywhere low-cost materials, labor, and production are available. The options narrow, however, when inbound logistics and distribution functions enter the equation. The earlier in the process a company considers logistics, the more likely it can design supply chain costs and performance to withstand external or internal disruption.

The distribution side of the supply chain is nearly a mirror image of the sourcing/production decision, but it is driven by the location of high-value customers. Key factors, such as the number, type of customer, and condition of roadways, rail lines, inland waterways, and airports directly affect the ease, consistency, and cost of the flow of goods from the source.

Looking at these factors, especially given the disruption now being caused by e-commerce, weighing applications will need to become part of the warehouse and operational processes and provide levels of improvement going forward.

01 Jun

Calculating and Eliminating Weighment Loss

Whenever weight is used to determine the revenue gained from sale of a product, inaccurate weight readings can pose a big problem. Weighment loss is the lost profit caused by inaccurate readings of weighment transactions. Though these losses may start small, they build up over time to cause big headaches. Thankfully, we have some helpful tips for identifying causes of weighing inaccuracy and remedying them before profit losses accumulate!


Weighment loss can be caused by a number of factors:

  • Continual wear on both the weighing platform and the electronic components of the weighing equipment can begin to reduce reading accuracy.
  • Using inaccurate stored tare weights affects the calculation of the product weight.
  • Environmental effects, including the buildup of mud, ice, or snow under or between the pit and scale platform are a concern if using outdoor scales.
  • Using division sizes or weighing increments that are too large reduces the accuracy of the readings.

Tools are available to estimate potential revenue loss caused by common scale issues. For example, Fairbanks offers a tool that can show potential revenue loss by even very minimal inaccuracies.

The good news is that weighing inaccuracies and resulting weighment loss can be identified and corrected before profit losses accumulate. In some cases, scale users notice an inaccuracy, especially if it is not in their favor. Having a known weight on a scale, such as a loader or yard tractor, provides some idea of potential weighment loss. In other cases, scale service technicians may be the first to identify weighing inaccuracies during routine or unplanned maintenance.

The best approach to discovering weighing inaccuracies, identifying specific causes, and preventing extensive weighment loss, is to call in an expert service technician to inspect the physical weighing platform and components, and to regularly compare current calibrated values with those previously certified. Some equipment will even alert the user when a scale is ready for a maintenance review. Finally, it is important to use the appropriate scale for the job to ensure accurate readings.

Contact Fairbanks today if you need help determining whether your current scale is right for your weighing needs, to schedule an appointment with an expert service technician, or if you suspect that weighing inaccuracies are cutting into your profits.

15 May

Moving from an indicator to an instrument — why you should make the switch

An indicator displays weight output and a printed ticket, along with one or two basic features.  With all of the information on an individual ticket or output, running reports requires additional equipment and software.

An instrument, by comparison, offers increased functionality to provide more options for data collection.

Data collection is growing rapidly in importance across the globe, and has become the strongest driver out there when evaluating an instrument.  Today’s instruments can capture transactional information, control scale traffic, and offers multiple options for data output.  For data capture alone, a scale instrument IS a good investment in the future.

An instrument is essentially a computer, containing all the information it collects. It allows users to export data, categorize it, report on what customers are pulling from the scale, and even gather load-specific vehicle information. Some models have diagnostic capabilities that keep track of the condition of load cells, and report any problems. Most have a keyboard that allows users to enter text during a transaction. Even if you are starting out small but plan on expanding in the future, it’s worth getting an instrument to take advantage of the data and reporting capabilities that have become so important to doing business.

In addition to data collection, scale instruments offer the ability to communicate from different ports. For example, you can print a ticket, then display an email, and even send the information to a programmable logic controller (PLC).
It’s important to point out that the return on investment (ROI) for purchasing an instrument can be very high. Note the annual costs of being off by even one division (20lbs for example) per truck. Annual product loss varies, depending upon the commodity value.

One example of the power of new scale instruments is the Fairbanks FB2550. With this “Cadillac” option, a single FB2550 can drive up to eight scales, network up to four other FB2550s, provide custom output through serial and TCP/IP configurations.  In addition, it can support a total of five networked FB2550s to support existing scale layouts for inbound / outbound weighing; sharing the transactional data between all five instruments. Other features include advanced diagnostics with a variety of email notifications that tell end users when it’s time for maintenance. If the scale is equipped with Intalogix™ technology it can report individual load cell failure.

The FB2550 has many special application modes and accessories that allow it to adapt to customer application needs. For example, it comes with several enclosure options to fit the environment and space needed. You can choose from rack-mount, desktop, NEMA 4X for wash-down models, or panel mount to install into a wall. In in outdoor areas with frequent exposure to the elements there’s the FB2550 Driver Assist Terminal (DAT).  This model allows for a pole mounted installation at the scale and is great for unattended operations, which is becoming more and more popular. Using the FB2550 (DAT), doesn’t require a scale house or weighmaster and transactions can be emailed anywhere. The fully unattended instrument forces navigation, so it does not allow for the screen to get caught up between customers. This option would be excellent for those who want to run remote scales. Going back to customer adaptation, unattended behavior is a mode that any of the enclosures can use, however it works well for driver-at-scale interaction.

For customers wanting their first instrument and looking for a single scale model, the FB6000 is a good alternate.  A little less powerful than “the Cadillac,” option, it allows only a single scale solution but still provides in/out weighing with traffic control, and supports Gross Tare Net weighments.  It provides a high intensity 16 segment display for easy readability of weight, and scrolling prompt entry.  This instrument is a well-tuned and economically placed alternate that supports both an analog and Intalogix™ scale package. It too can detect individual load cell failures when equipped with Intalogix™, however it doesn’t send email and there is no device-to-device networking like the FB2550.    Like its high-end cousin, the FB6000 also has a variety of other data reporting functions and allows real-time report viewing and export to the spreadsheet friendly CSV format.

26 Apr

Turkey Processor Gets A Holiday Present

Our LabelBank/DataBank Rapid Bar Code Labeling System has gone into many interesting spots, but for Whitewater Processing Company, a turkey processing company located in Harrison, OH, it can almost be considered a holiday miracle. It was installed quickly by Associated Scale, an Authorized Fairbanks Scales Distributor, which meant Whitewater Processing was able to use the new system for the very busy holiday season. Fairbanks also supplied ledger web reporting software, and will be providing annual software support and remote support.

Replacing Whitewater’s handwritten system with the new LabelBank/DataBank solution improved their recording efficiency and increased production output. As an added holiday bonus, it promoted better branding for their products.

Whitewater managers recently gave the system “two thumbs up” after using it to process their holiday production load. The system includes two stations, each with a platform, an Intermec PC43d label printer, and Fairbanks Scales’ FB4000 Solution Series Instruments running LabelBank.

Associated Scale installed DataBank in a network configuration on a networked PC, along with ledger web reporting. Associated Scale also provided customized scanning and reporting software for the PC that added features to the Fairbanks Scales web reporting software. Whitewater had extremely positive things to say about Associated Scale’s service, and also praised the reliability of the Fairbanks solution.

The LabelBank/DataBank Rapid Bar Code Labeling System is an Ethernet-ready turnkey system for industrial bar code labeling, which combines easy to navigate factory-installed bar coding software with a networkable touch screen instrument and a high-speed industrial thermal bar code printer. Optional software allows users to custom format labels. The system offers virtually unlimited product information storage, remarkable data storage and communication capabilities, and a configurable backup.

The graphically-enhanced LabelBank labeling software interface features easy controls and printer communications. LabelBank comes with four commonly used box label formats designed to meet most bar code labeling requirements for boxes or pallets.

15 Apr

The Counting Scale Solution

Counting scales are an essential piece of technology for any business selling a large amount of product at once. When counting large amounts of small items to sell (such as nails or screws) it’s important, to be able to count them quickly and accurately. This is where counting scales come in. To count each individual piece manually takes much too long and is a massive waste of resources. With a counting scale, all of this waste is erased. As their name implies, counting scales count by weight. By weighing a known number of parts and entering that known number into the scale, the scale can divide for the precise weight of each piece, which is used to determine the accurate count of subsequent weight measurements of like parts.

The Problem

Despite their obvious superiority over other counting methods, counting scales do have one small issue that can cause inefficiency: individual items of the same kind may have slightly different weights.  Even products that are mass produced, like nails or screws, can have subtle differences in composition and size, which, of course, results in tiny differences in weight. This can lead to inaccurate piece weights if the number of pieces used to determine the piece weight is too small. If the piece weight for a product is inaccurate, all subsequent weights recorded by the scale could be slightly off. This effect is negligible when counting small numbers of pieces, such as 10 nails. But when counting hundreds or thousands of pieces of one product, these slight differences in weight can make a significant difference.

The Solution

The problem described above can be solved by using a larger sample size. Basic statistics states that the difference between pieces contributes less to the overall average when more pieces are measured at once. A large sample size reduces the effect of non-uniform weights between pieces, which ensures a more accurate piece count and in turn reduces overall counting error.

Using a large sample size to find your piece weight for any product can take a long time, however, as manual counting is still needed initially. This is where Fairbanks Scales’ technology enters the picture.

Fairbanks Scales’ Omega Counting Scale

Products like Fairbanks Scales’ Omega Counting Scale (OCS) and Product Look Up (PLU) software make using large sample sizes feasible. Our scales can store information electronically; piece count weights can be measured once and stored, rather than weighed again each time a new count must be taken. This drastically reduces the time needed for each count. Our Omega Counting Scale can store hundreds of piece weights with the help of the PLU manager software, so every product and its associated information can easily be accounted for.

It all comes down to the larger sample size, which is only a practical solution when using modern counting scales such as one of Fairbanks Scales’. Once a company can consistently use these larger sample sizes in their measurements, their accuracy will be drastically improved, and overall efficiency will be increased. As long as the Fairbanks Scales Omega Counting Scale is in the picture, counting inefficiencies need no longer cause stress or worry.

03 Mar

A web interface for your truck scale will improve your invoicing efficiency—and eliminate those annoying trips out to the scale in the rain and snow.

I can’t say enough positive things about web interface technology for truck scale instruments. Remote access using your existing Ethernet infrastructure is a breeze, so it’s a mystery to me why relatively few companies have adopted it. What it costs in dollars will quickly be made up for by faster invoicing and getting a better handle on the resources you need to get a job done.

Yes, I know some people call it simply a “nice to have” convenience factor to have immediate access to scale data. And yes, it may be difficult to quantify the return on investment for a web interface. But if your invoicing is based on transactions and you need to know how much has been delivered, a web interface is essential.

Efficiency and convenience

Being able to remotely access your instrument to obtain transaction data is a real boon to efficient operations. You can reach into your instrument directly from your PC and get a report immediately. No more getting up from your desk, walking to the scale (which can be in another office in the same building or down the street next to the scale), manually printing out a report, and then inputting the information for analysis. No more taking a stack of tickets and sorting them by hand. And no more trudging through the snow and ice to get the information you need before trudging back.

Instead, with remote web interface you get information in a file that can be opened directly in your spreadsheet program and analyzed any way you want. With a few clicks, you can determine the total number of transactions and who the high volume customers are. You can get the information to answer any transaction-related questions without having to shut down the instrument and take away from your scale productivity.

There are other methods of course, but they all have limitations and inherent restrictions that hinder their usefulness. Serial communication methods are hampered by distance limitations.  For example, the RS-232 standard for serial communication transmission of data only works within a distance of 50 feet.  Plus, with RS-232, the speed at which data can be accessed is also limited. A web interface avoids both of these restrictions, allowing for remote access at network speeds.

What do you need to get the benefits of web access?

To fully realize the benefits of web access, you are going to need an operating Ethernet network infrastructure, including a local area network (LAN). If you want to communicate among different physical sites, you will need a wide area network (WAN). But, if neither exists, there are still inexpensive ways to provide a stand-alone private network between your PC and the scale instruments.

So, all in all, it is easier and faster to use a web interface to get your data from your desk on your PC instead of trooping out to someone else’s workspace to do part of your job.

The Fairbanks FB2550 instrument offers this type of web interface. In addition, customers can update their customer files, product files, and stored tare weight files remotely from their desk using the web interface, instead of pushing buttons on the instrument. Another side benefit is that Fairbanks technicians can log in to the scale instrument with a tablet or PC and perform diagnostic checks, troubleshooting and even calibrations and configuration tasks.

20 Jan

Celebrating 50 years with the World Ag Expo

One of the shows I love to be a part of is the World Ag Expo, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary February 14-16, 2017 at the International Agri-Center in Tulare, California. World Ag is the largest annual agricultural exposition in the world, with more than 1,500 exhibitors and 2.6 million square feet of exhibit space.

It has something for everyone, from displays of the latest in farm equipment, communications, and technology, to free seminars on topics important to dairy producers, farmers, ranchers, and agribusiness professionals. Members and attendees are constantly looking for the best practices to keep the industry healthy, strong, and growing just like their products. And such a bargain – just $15 per attendee.

By the looks of it, this year’s World Ag Expo seminar program is focusing more and more on new technology to help farmers compete. The seminar called Mapping Drones in Precision Ag: How to Get Started, caught my eye. Experts from a major global commercial drone company will discuss agricultural-based drone use, especially how mapping fields can benefit farming operations.

Another seminar, Global Opportunities for U.S. Manufacturers in a Rapidly Changing World, is something I know agricultural businesses will benefit from. The experts will discuss how U.S. agribusiness must develop innovative export marketing strategies to help them survive in today’s world market.

Other seminars that caught my eye from an equipment point of view include those on irrigation tools and techniques, water issues, and the rise of mechanization.

Of course, Fairbanks Scales will be on hand to show off what we bring to the table — or should I say what we bring to the field — for the agricultural market, including products that improve sanitation audit scores and increase overall food safety. We will have our Talon line of heavy-duty Truck Scales, Aegis Floor Scales, sanitary design QuickSilver Stainless Steel Platforms, and the 1124 Series Portable Utility Scale. Drop by Booth #D2/E1 to take a look.

While they may not be as sexy as a drone, scale equipment for agricultural operations can have a major effect on the bottom line. For example, we recently helped one Tennessee hay farmer select the right scale for his business – a scale that can withstand the farm’s challenging weather conditions and maintain safety for his employees, while also allowing him to collect the data he needs to help him double his production in the near future.

We are excited about all the innovations in the agricultural industry and look forward to participating in the World Ag Expo as it celebrates a half-century of progress. We’ll see you there on February 14th!

13 Dec

Improve Efficiency and Accuracy in Counting Applications – Know How to Maximize Your Counting Scale

In any business venture that sells vast amounts of product at a time, fast and accurate counting methods are essential. The smaller the product and the more items processed at once, the harder it is to keep track of accurate counting. This can waste time in man-hours, and money in incorrect counts. In the past there wasn’t much to be done about these problems. But today’s new technology can handle what the old could not. Here are some ways to make sure you get the most accurate and efficient count from your counting scales.

When counting large amounts of small items (such as nails or screws) it is important to be able to count them quickly and accurately. Counting by hand is time consuming and subject to human error. Counting scales use the weight of a known number of parts to calculate the weight of each piece. This weight can then be used to determine the count of subsequent weight measurements.

When using counting scales, there are two common problems that cause inefficiency: inaccurate piece count weights and the fact that accuracy can be affected drastically if the parts counted are not exactly the same weight.

Often there are small differences in weight from piece to piece. This effect is negligible when counting small numbers of pieces, such as 10 nails. But when counting 100s or 1000s of one product, this effect is exacerbated and can cause significant miscalculation. Any miscounting causes problems for a company. Undercounting shortchanges the customer and causes customer dissatisfaction. Overcounting shorts the company, causing consistent loss of profit.

Inaccurate pieces count weights cause similar problems by not getting an accurate weight for the individual pieces in the first place. The initial mistake spreads to each subsequent count and can cause major miscalculations before it is caught and corrected.

Both of the problems described above can be solved by the same solution: larger sample size. The larger the sample size, the more accurate average weight can be measured. Basic statistics states that the difference between pieces contributes less to the overall average when more pieces are measured at once. This both ensures a more accurate piece count weight and reduces the effect of non-uniform weights between pieces.

At one time, counting scales were expensive, and if companies wanted this type of accuracy they would rent scales once or twice a year for periodic inventory. Fortunately today’s scales are affordable to own and are able to make taking large sample sizes worthwhile for companies that use counting scales and software.

Products like Fairbanks Scales’ Omega Counting Scale (OCS) and Product Look Up (PLU) software make using large sample sizes more feasible than in the past. Now that counting scales can store information electronically, piece count weights can be measured once and stored. Taking the time to carefully weigh a large sample size in the beginning will increase overall accuracy, and will eventually pay for itself in profits that were previously lost due to miscounting.

It all comes down to the larger sample size. Modern counting scales provide companies with a method of using larger sample sizes in measuring piece count weights without losing money to extra man-hours. Once companies can consistently use these larger sample sizes in their measurements, accuracy is drastically improved and overall efficiency increases. All of this saves companies time and money, and helps make their operation run smoothly and reliably.

25 Oct

Tips for scale calibration – Follow these best practices to ensure scale accuracy

Scale accuracy depends on the way a scale is used and cared for. Weather, use, and wear can change the accuracy of a weighing device, which is why periodic calibration is so essential. Here are a few tips to help you minimize losses from a poorly calibrated scale.

Before listing my suggested tips, I want to make sure readers understand just how much seemingly minimal errors can cut into profits over time. Take the Acme Aggregate Company example shown below, in which two hundred pounds may appear miniscule, since a typical truckload of sand or gravel can exceed 80,000 pounds. However, when one does the math, the truth is revealed – an annual revenue variance of about $345,000.

#1 – Select the proper calibration frequency   

The proper calibration frequency is based on two factors: the requirements of law and the value of the commodity – In other words, how critical is the accuracy of the weighment? Yes, calibrate more often for copper than manure, or if the weight is critical to a process (like for batching, mixing or recipe work). Also calibrate more frequently if the scale is under a mixer or agitator with a lot of vibration, because that is more likely to drive the calibration out of bounds.

Most people typically calibrate their scale once a year, just before the state certifier rolls into town to verify the weights on a scale. I really recommend at least twice a year; and consider even more frequent calibration if you have high value commodities or high volume applications. If being off by 20, 40, or 60 pounds makes a big difference to the bottom line, consider monthly calibration, with spot checks in between.

# 2 – Conduct calibration using 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. Preparing the weights and delivering them to a metrology laboratory for testing requires an enormous amount of time and money, so it may be tempting for some service companies to skip this important step. All too often, weights may be condemned and un-certifiable. Start by verifying with your service provider that their weights have been certified.

# 3 – Service before calibrating

You will save yourself a lot of headaches by scheduling regular service with an authorized scale calibration firm just prior to state inspection by weights and measurements personnel. Avoid the real risk of red tagging, when the state inspector says the scale is so far out of bounds that it can’t be used for business until it’s remedied.

# 4 – Select a reputable calibration service company

Set up your periodic routine calibration plan with a reputable calibration service company. And make sure the company conducts the inspection in accordance with NIST Handbook 44 regulations for commercial weighing applications. A simple drive over and a sticker will not suffice and could be a total waste of money and time.

It is also important that your service provider uses a professional test report process that performs the NIST calculations without the service technician having to perform them. The best systems are application based and reduce test reporting errors ultimately supplying the scale calibration report without human errors.


# 5 – Make sure the calibration follows key steps

Using a truck scale as an example, the scale company should conduct the calibration this way:

  1. Drive over the vehicle scale with a specialized test vehicle looking for repeatability.
  2. Unload a specialized certified weight cart that will travel over each section to ensure all sections weigh exactly the same.
  3. Drop onto the scale up to 25,000 pounds of certified test weights for a final calibration test.

# 6 – Collect the proper documentation from each test

The scale owner should always ask their service provider to provide:

  1. Service provider’s Weights and Measures License number.
  2. Copy of certified test weight documentation for conformance and traceability.
  3. Information on licensed technicians performing test.
  4. A written test report that covers:
    1. Equipment specifications
    2. Section test readings
    3. Overall calibration with “As Found” and “As Left” readings
    4. Maintenance or Acceptance tolerances used
    5. Whether the scale passes or fails


16 Sep

New packing line equipment helps produce supplier improve revenue

We recently helped North Carolina produce supplier, Corey Produce, with weighing issues that “cropped up” after they established their own packing facility. The company had been sending sweet potatoes and watermelons to be packed elsewhere, but decided to cut out the middleman last year. The Robersonville, North Carolina farm was using a simple (but inaccurate) eyeballing method to fill boxes. To ensure it did not short its customers, Corey wound up overfilling the boxes and shorting itself instead!

The new facility ships in two box sizes: a 40 pound carton box 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.

For this application, Fairbanks recommended that Corey 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 to this popular scale, so workers never have to pick up the boxes.

Operators placed the Series III bench scale with roller balls at the end of their conveyor line. They fill the 40 pound carton box and slide it down the scale. The scale will weigh up to 150 pounds in increments of .05 pounds. If the box weighs more than 40 pounds, operators remove potatoes to get as close the target weight as possible. The scale is used with a large 1-inch backlit LCD display enabled with auto shutoff timer and an RS232 serial interface.

For the first six months, Corey packed the large 500 kilo boxes, visually estimating 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. Most of the sweet potatoes are being exported to the Netherlands, so they felt it was important there be no question of accuracy.

After six months of “guesstimation,” they began to be 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 FB 1100 Series instrument, which comes with a highly visible 2-inch backlit LCD. 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.

Corey 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.

This year Corey also began packing watermelon in a separate packing facility within the same building and purchased new scales for this operation. The watermelons are fed down a long belt, past brushes that clean off the sand from the field. After that they go down another long belt with seven scales that are used to weigh them and separate them into three different sizes, which makes it much easier to ship the sizes required by specific customers.

In addition to supplying the scales, Fairbanks also handles setup and calibration. This has proved to be a great benefit to Corey, especially given the rigorous scale calibration process required by the food safety audit they have to conduct for watermelon and sweet potato operations. Fairbanks also performs calibration once a year before the sweet potato and watermelon seasons start just to check the scales and make sure they are ready for the season.