Whether it is gross vehicle weight with overweight protection or specific commercial content weight collection data, an on-board scale can greatly increase profits for the bottom line.
By Jack Ewing

Drivers can view GVW and axle weights in the vehicle cab with an on-board scale—instantly know when you are approaching overweight limits.

Now more than ever, optimizing payload is the name of the game. Whether it be a front loader, rear loader, side loader or roll-off, optimization is key for any fleet. Loading to full weight capacity without exceeding legal limits continues to be profitable and a safety booster, and in today’s new world environment, this takes on even greater importance. Less is more and by consistently loading to the proper weight limits a fleet can greatly increase their profits. In the refuse market, vehicles will achieve greater profits, stronger resale values, less maintenance costs, liability and mileage to disposal sites and higher levels of safety. On-board scales for all vehicle types can provide the real time weight data needed to know when optimum capacity has been reached and further-more when not to exceed it.

Benefits of On-Board Scales
Less Wear and Tear
Greater profits are achieved by optimizing the weight of every load, every day. Less trips to the disposal site and, thus, more time on the route reduces the number of lost hours that can add up over the days, weeks and months. An on-board scale displaying real time payload weight will indicate to the truck’s operator the exact time to head to the disposal site, not leaving too soon to avoid under using the truck’s intended weight capacity and also not leaving the route too late, incurring the myriad of issues that transpire when a vehicle is overloaded.


Front end loader with in-weigh motion scale to collect each commercial container’s weight along the daily route.

This real-time weight data provided throughout the day’s route by an on-board scale can also assist in routing decisions. Route and weight trends can be evaluated from knowing when in the route specific truck types reach certain weight capacity levels within an organization. This can lead to less travel time and miles to the disposal site and, thus, more time spent on the route.

Reducing the amount of time trucks are in the shop for repairs means more time that is spent working and less vehicle maintenance costs. An on-board scale that displays group axle weights, gross vehicle weight (GVW) and NET payload in the cab for the operator to observe will reduce overloaded related maintenance for the vehicle. Not exceeding the suggested manufacturer’s weight tolerance for the truck’s body itself and other truck components such as the suspension, engine, tires, etc. means that these truck components will be less likely to fail, meaning more time earning profits versus time in the shop.

Resale Value
Hauling organizations that desire to resell packer bodies after a specific age limit also enjoy the benefits that an on-board scale can provide over the years of that truck’s service. Not only can the benefit of the scale’s presence on the truck itself increase the resale valve of the vehicle, but the use of the scale by the original purchaser can also help reduce the wear and tear on the truck’s various components, ultimately increasing the longevity of the vehicle for the next owner.

Accident Reduction
Vehicle accidents are dreaded words in all modes of transportation, but as is documented, the Refuse market, due to the type of work and the environment in which it occurs, inevitability lends itself to a higher level than the industry standard. A portion of Refuse market accidents can be eliminated by not exceeding the vehicle’s recommended hauling capacity. The stopping distances increase as trucks increase in weight and increase exponentially when the recommended vehicle weight capacity is exceeded. Thus, overloaded vehicles are more susceptible to being in an accident than underloaded vehicles. This increase in vulnerability is further enhanced by the fact that various components such as brakes, transmissions, engines, suspensions, etc. function differently when the recommended weight tolerances are exceeded. An on-board scale provides the driver with the needed weight knowledge to eliminate overloaded related situations and, ultimately, vehicle accidents.

It is also common for an organization’s liabilities to increase when it is found that an overloaded vehicle is in an accident. Fines and penalties tend to be higher in such occurrences. Additionally, the public’s perception of an organization can be greatly damaged for years to come.

Options on the market exist for the type of on-board scale that can be used for overload protection. Depending on the manufacturer, the information and data delivery method provided can vary. Suspension mounted, air pressure and deflection sensor systems have the advantages of providing group axle weights, in addition to GVW and NET payload weight information. Hydraulic pressure, body-based load cell and pin load cell systems are also options for GVW and NET payload only. Suspension mounted systems tend to provide the best value with load cell and pin load cell systems typically being higher priced investments, as well as higher cost for maintenance occurrences.

Weight sensors on each axle group allows drivers to view GVW and axle weights on the cab display.
Images courtesy of AIr-Weigh.

Scales for Front End Loaders
A second style of weighing system, specific to front end loader (FEL) vehicles, can greatly improve profitability of commercial routes. Where overload protection systems such as the suspension mounted air and deflection sensor systems offer the versatility to be used on nearly any Refuse market vehicle, front end loader scale systems are a specific application just for these types of vehicles. Typically, sensors are mounted on either the arms or the forks of the FEL to weigh each commercial load as it is lifted and dumped in the truck.

These FEL systems are for profitability optimization on commercial routes. They are used to audit entire, or segments of a commercial route with the desire to determine which specific, individual accounts are profitable at their current price structure and which ones may not be. The FEL on-board scale systems achieve this by weighing commercial containers content weight for every can lifted during the day’s route. A baseline average container content weight is then established for each commercial customer’s container, which can then be used to evaluate daily, weekly and monthly results. The associated disposal cost for this average weight is then compared to revenue being generated through the servicing of the account and then a profitability analysis of the current situation indicates the course of action regarding future pricing for that customer. Refuse account managers can use this data when evaluating contracts, recycling rates and pickup rates. An FEL on-board scale is a probability tool that any fleet size can reap the benefits from.

Empower Your Drivers
Whether it is gross vehicle weight with overweight protection or specific commercial content weight collection data, an on-board scale can greatly increase profits for the bottom line. Data is knowledge and this could not be truer than when it comes to weight. Stop guessing when it comes to weight and empower your drivers, fleet managers and account managers with the ability to make better business decisions with weight data. | WA

Jack Ewing is Air-Weigh’s (Eugene, OR) National Refuse Sales Manager and has more than 20 years of experience in on-board scales within the Refuse market. Air-Weigh On-Board scales are designed and manufactured in the USA for the global refuse market. Air-Weigh’s on-board scale solutions are used by refuse fleets of all sizes and provide the necessary weight data for not only GVW, but also individual commercial content weights. Jack can be reached at jack.ewing@air-weigh.com.