The online shopping experience is fueling the “need for speed” to meet customer demand for quick delivery. Distribution, manufacturing, shipping, and warehousing facilities are quickly responding to the trend by adopting new mobile weighing technology, which provides a means of weighment at the point of loading and unloading. This type of real-time weighing drastically reduces material handling time. At the same time, mobile scales can immediately communicate a wealth of business and logistical data, eliminate inefficient traffic patterns, and improve safety by reducing traffic congestion.
One example is Fairbanks’ new WF Series forklift scale, which allows operators to capture the weight of their load without deviating from their normal work flow.
The WF Series design has advantages over other solutions. For example, hydraulic systems can be difficult to install. They are not as accurate as the WF Series and cannot be used in commercial applications.
Carriage plate forklift scales are also much more difficult and time consuming to install. In addition, scales that incorporate the weighbridge into a secondary carriage plate change the forklift capacity center-of-balance. The “scale” on the carriage plate design is piggybacked on the forklift carriage plate. The carriage is what moves up and down, left and right, angles down and up; in short, the carriage plate scale will see a lot of movement. For the scale, this isn’t a problem, however there is a cable that runs from the scale to the instrument, which is inside the cable. Scale technicians say that more than 80% of the damage is caused by this cable. It also takes a lot of time to route this cable from the carriage plate to the instrument in a way that will prevent damage; however, any time cabling is exposed can be a catch point.
Contrast that to the WF Series, which uses Bluetooth technology between the scale (weigh forks) and the instrument, so there are no wires to damage. The WF Series also has other options for communication with a company’s existing enterprise resource planning (ERP) and warehouse management system (WMS).
The WF Series is factory calibrated, so in non-commercial applications, the WF Series is ready-to-you immediately after installation is completed. In most commercial applications, the scale simply needs to be placed-in-service without need recalibration.
Return on investment
Ultimately, it all comes down to answering the question, “How will this help me?” The following scenario based on information from a medium size distribution center should shed some light on this question.
- 40,000 pallet movements a year*
- 12,400 movements require weighing (either checking incoming goods or outgoing shipping weights)*
- 3 minutes saved with WF Series compared to floor scale**
- 37,200 minutes, or 620 man-hours saved (per year)**
* Information from leading warehousing magazine article
** Educated guess
Now let’s use this information to find out the ROI.
Saving 620 man-hours a year translates to a cost savings of $21,700, based on labor costs estimated at about $35 per hour. Purchasing two new WF Series scales would cost around $9,198.00, plus about $500 in maintenance costs. This breaks down to an actual savings of $12,002. Under this scenario, the ROI for year 1 would be 224%, about 5 months. This does not account for the monetary value of the additional 16 square feet of floor space gained because you won’t be using floor scales!