Weighment loss, the profit lost from inaccurate readings of weighment transactions, is a serious issue. Each loss may be small in and of itself, but they build up over time.
It can happen in any industry, but heavy capacity industries are the hardest hit. One great example is the waste management industry. Waste disposal is charged by the ton, so if scales that weigh those tractor trailer trucks transporting trash to a landfill are off even slightly, it can affect the bottom line revenue – a lot! Other affected industries include aggregates, raw materials, and large trees being sent to lumber mills for processing.
Here are two real life examples of how seemingly minimal errors substantially cut into profits over time. The first was an aggregate company that weighed 500 trucks per day, five days per week. The company had a weighing inaccuracy of only 200 pounds per load, which is really miniscule, since a typical truckload of sand or gravel can exceed 80,000 pounds. But at a product value of $26.50 per ton, the total lost annual revenue was – wait for it – $344,500!
Another example is based on a product with a value of $.05 per pound and 100 weighments per day (assuming 300 working days per year.) A simple error of only one increment (20 lbs.) led to $30,000 in annual product loss! The losses really mount as the estimated value or the increment error increases.
Tools are available to estimate potential revenue loss due to scale issues. For example, Fairbanks offers a Weighment Loss Calculator that can show potential revenue loss from even very minimal inaccuracies.
What causes weighment loss?
It can be a challenge to figure out just what is causing the weighment loss, but there are few usual suspects.
First up are equipment issues:
- Continual wear on both the weighing platform and the electronic components of the weighing equipment can begin to reduce reading accuracy.
- Using inaccurate or expired stored tare weights can affect the calculation of the net product weight.
- Buildup of mud, ice, or snow under or between the pit and scale platform on outdoor scales.
- Using a division size or weighing increment that is too large reduces the accuracy of the weighment.
Aside from equipment issues, the number one cause of weighment loss is not maintaining the scale properly. Generally speaking, the more the scale is used, the more frequently it should be inspected, maintained, and recalibrated. The maintenance program should include use of a state-licensed service provider; using state-certified test weights with written calibration and test report; a thorough testing process; visual inspection services and minor repairs; and thorough reporting.
Division sizes can affect weighment loss
Weights must be accurate only to within 20 pounds of the actual weight, so if you use a 20-pound division size, an item that actually weighs 190 pounds can be placed on the scale and may legally register as weighing anywhere from 180 to 200 pounds. To deal with this issue, Fairbanks recently began offering a 10-pound division size on some of its truck scale products.
Preventing weighment loss
To uncover specific causes and prevent weighment loss, the best approach is to use a factory trained service technician to inspect the physical weighing platform and components, and to regularly compare current calibrated values with those previously certified.