The sooner you get scale data into your accounting or ERP system, the faster you can invoice customers or assess your costs and expenses. But what’s the best way to do so?
First, a word on just what data you will be collecting. I would say that the key transactional data needed are who the driver is, the account numbers (truck #, trailer#), the product being weighed, date and time the truck weighed in and out, and the weight.
As for methods, one common method is the low-tech way – by hand. With this method, scale operators take the pile of duplicate tickets printed that day and hand it over it to a clerk or accountant, who manually keys the transactional data into a database or accounting system to generate invoices for what they bought or sold.
Another method commonly used is use of several instruments that generate a transaction report by customer or commodity. A third method is downloading scale information from the scale onto a flash drive or USB and then taking the information inside for use by the accounting department. Then there are many software packages that connect directly to a personal computer – these may (or may not) export cleanly into accounting software.
But the clear gold standard is a networkable system that gets data directly from the scale into the accounting software with no need for manual intervention. I highly recommend this method because the more accurately and quickly you can get scale data into your accounting system, the easier it will be for you to make business decisions – the right decisions.
And I don’t think cost is nearly the drawback it may once have been. You can now get a high-level of automation and networking at a very affordable price that will help you transition from manual data entry into a back-end or ERP system. This kind of equipment can even interface with Internet protocol (IP) cameras and get video images to go along with your tickets.
In my experience I’ve found that what’s keeping more people from implementing such a system often comes down to fear of the unknown, and maybe a basic lack of understanding or even a lack of confidence in their ability to deal with a new technology. Another thing I hear is that the scale house is a long way from the office, and the scale owner does not want to incur the cost of getting connectivity from the office. Even that’s no excuse anymore – wireless, short haul modems, or even cellular technology, are all proven, readily available, and affordable technologies that can get you connected.
So to sum it up, I recommend the use of networked systems to get transactional data out of the instrument and into the accounting system. This will give you the ability to make more real time decisions about what’s happening in your business.