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.