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.
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.