Truck Scale Case Study

Emery Winslow Scale helps Waste Industries the right “weigh” at their transfer stations.

American Scale, a 19-year-old independently owned scale company, is a distributor for Emery Winslow Scale Company (Seymour, CT) and several other manufacturers in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. American Scale became involved in the waste industry through John Leak, President of Leak & Associates—a general contractor that has specialized in the waste industry since 1996, building transfer stations with pit scales and performing retrofits and upgrades throughout their history. Several years ago, Leak & Associates had a project in Virginia, in which a municipality had electronic truck scales in the load-out tunnel at their transfer station: they would dump the trash onto the tipping floor, load the trailers that were parked on the scales below, and then haul them off to the landfill. There were two major problems with the typical truck scales. First, the electronic scales were constantly malfunctioning because the environment that they were in was always wet and rodents would chew on the scale wiring, forcing the company to spend thousands of dollars on repairs, replacement electronic load cells, and expensive recalibration services. Secondly, there was no practical way to remove the scale platforms (also known as decks or weighbridge modules) to clean the pits of the accumulated water and debris which affect scale accuracy and damage load cells.

To seek out a different solution, Leak turned to Mike Walton of American Scale, about the need for pit scales that would actually work in this harsh application, without needing to repair them on a constant basis due to failed electronic load cells, cables or summing boards. Walton told him that Emery Winslow was developing a scale with removable platforms that use their proven Hydrostatic load cells and they would thrive in that type of environment.  This would effectively eliminate the problem of load cell failures from water, high pressure wash down, flooding, power surges, lightning and even rodents, since there are zero electronic components under the scale deck. The removable platform feature would solve the second big problem: access to the pits for cleaning. The ultimate result of these conversations was Emery Winslow’s introduction of the Hydrostatic RoadWeigh II Quick-Clean Axle Scale for the waste industry.

Electronic Load Cells
Scale platform easily lifted for total pit cleaning access. No tools required, no need to call a scale service company.

The waste industry is a particularly harsh environment, especially at a transfer station facility where operators want to load their trailers while they are on a scale, so that they can make sure they are not overloading or under-loading the trucks. The typical way to do this is to put a scale at the base of that tipping floor; however it doesn’t take long before the scale pit is completely full of water and debris. “Because it is often the low point of the facility, all the water, drippings, juices, gunk, mud, and everything else ends up in that scale pit,” says Rudi Baisch, Vice President at Emery Winslow. “Electronic load cells just can’t handle that environment; water wicks into the load cells, power surges and lightning take their toll, rats chew and damage the load cell cables, and it all adds up to expensive service calls, repair bills, replacement of load cells, and costly recalibrations year after year. Even more troubling, is that while the scale is waiting to be repaired, trucks still need to be loaded, and they are more likely to be either under-loaded (not cost effective) or overloaded (danger of getting fined) because the scale is not working. Replacing electronic load cells is a huge business in the waste industry.”

A Better Solution

Hydrostatic load cells are completely non-electronic, operating on a very thin film of fluid. A pressure signal is sent to a transducing and totalizing device in the scale house that converts the pressure to a very precise electronic millivolt signal for operation of a typical digital weight display, just like every other electronic scale. “From the neck up, Emery Winslow scales are just like other electronic scales,” says Baisch. “They have a digital weight display, you can operate your printer, communicate with your computer or PLC, and connect to large remote displays. But under the scale platform in the harsh environment there are no wires, no cables, no electronic components whatsoever. The series 136 Hydrostatic load cells (PermaCellsTM) are 100 percent guaranteed for life against failure from water, flooding, high-pressure wash down, direct lightning strikes, rodents, welding currents and power surges. That is what makes the Hydrostatic scale so reliable and durable,” says Baisch, “and why it has the lowest cost of ownership of any scale product on the market today. They also hold their calibration significantly longer than typical electronic scales.” This translates to huge savings for the end user, reduced maintenance costs and tremendous reliability, year after year.

“When Leak first contacted us about scales, he was working on a new transfer facility and they needed a solution for the scale issues they had been facing,” says Baisch. “We worked together with John, and came up with this removable platform design. We realized that we had built a similar scale for an air cargo facility a couple of years previously, where the scale was going into a pit and they needed a way to get the scale platform in and out of the pit very easily. Our engineers designed a special alignment mechanism that allowed us to do that, and we were able to apply that removable platform design (now patented) to solve the problems at the transfer stations,” says Baisch. “The result was the most significant and innovative new truck scale design for the waste industry in decades: The Hydrostatic RoadWeigh II Quick- Clean Axle scale. These are the scales that were purchased and installed through our local authorized distributor, American Scale, and which have been so successful for the past 10 years.”

First Installation: Huge Success

At the time, Leak & Associates and Joyce Engineering discussed the issues and potential of the newly designed pit scales with Montgomery Regional Solid Waste Authority, whose transfer station facility is located in Christiansburg, VA. The facility had the older traditional electronic scales so a retrofit installation would be required. After considerable consultation and engineering analysis, a Retrofit Pit Scale Bid Package was assembled. Leak & Asssociates performed the retrofit, installing Emery Winslow Hydrostatic RoadWeigh II Quick-Clean axle scales. According to Walton, “They have been working great for over 10 years now. Our customer cleans them out quarterly and we come in right after to verify calibrations on the four tunnel scales and the inbound and outbound truck scales. We rarely have to adjust calibration on any of them. Emery Winslow’s scales have worked so great that a few years ago this same customer asked us to remove their electronic 70-foot truck scales from another manufacturer that were being used for the inbound/outbound weighing, and install two 70-foot Emery Winslow Hydrostatic truck scales. As a result, they have eliminated all of their emergency service calls, saving them many thousands of dollars a year in repair bills.”

Cleaning and Maintenance

The patented Quick-Clean truck scales are smaller than a full bridge truck scale, sized to weigh each axle group of the truck and trailer. The platforms are available 10′ or 11′ wide, and 10′, 12′, or 15′ long, and two or three of these scale platforms are installed instead of one big 10′ x 70′ scale. One platform is for the rear tandem axles of the trailer, the next scale platform is for the drive axles of the truck and the front scale platform is for the steering axle of the truck.  So the truck is still getting fully weighed, but now it is getting weighed on three small scales instead of one big scale. The customers can lift the individual scale platforms right off the Hydrostatic load cells with their own onsite payloader or backhoe, exposing the entire pit for cleaning, as often as they like. No special tools are required. Then, they can place the scale platforms back onto the load cells, making use of the patented alignment mechanism. They don’t need to call their scale service company and recalibration is usually not needed. “Before the Quick-Clean, there was no good way to clean a scale pit; it was impossible to pick up a 10 foot wide, 70 foot long scale and clean under it without ordering a crane, calling your local scale service company, and wasting a whole day or more to take the scale apart and put it back together and recalibrating it, and hoping that nothing got damaged in the process. We have some customers now that pick up the scale platforms once a week or once a month after-hours when the facility is closed to traffic. It only takes about 10 minutes for them to lift the scale platform out of the pit, and 10 minutes to put it back in place. In between, they can take as long as they need to wash down the pit (and load cells) with a firehose or vacuum truck,” says Baisch.

Walton agrees, “The scales were designed so the customer can lift the platform out of the pit, clean it out and set it back in place without getting a scale service company involved. The way that the scale is designed, with the patented alignment mechanism, they cannot get it wrong. The scale will work every time and it will not affect the calibration. We encourage our customers to clean the pits at least quarterly because they will always fill up with trash and that will in time affect the weight.”

Barnard concurs, “The best part is that we can pull the actual decks off and pull them out of the scale pit, clean the pit and put them back in without having to re-calibrate the scale. It’s all up to the people at the transfer station to keep it clean and keep it going.”

Baisch points out that the expected life span of any scale depends on how well they are maintained, and how often they are cleaned. “If a scale platform is constantly submerged in water and debris, its life span will be shortened. The Quick-Clean scales are much easier to maintain, they make it easy to keep the pit clean, and easy to keep the pit drains clear and open. These things all help to increase the life of the scales in this tough application.”

Working with Waste Industries

With the experience and history of working with Emery Winslow Scale and American Scale behind them, Leak & Associates introduced the newly designed Hydrostatic Scales to Waste Industries. Waste Industries is a regional waste management company with a footprint that ranges from Delaware to Georgia. They operate multiple hauling locations, transfer stations and landfills within their service area.

One of Waste Industries’ issues in their transfer stations was that the scales they were using in the load-out tunnels were not holding up and costing thousands of dollars annually in repairs, replacement load cells and recalibrations. In order to offer a better solution, Leak took the next step and spoke with John Barnard, currently a General Manger for Waste Industries in South Carolina, telling him about the Hydrostatic Quick-Clean scales from Emery Winslow. At the time, Barnard was working as a consultant for Waste Industries on a couple of transfer stations, during which time they began to have issues with their pit mounted truck scales in the load-out tunnels. The transfer station was designed so that all the liquids from the transfer station would drain into the scale pit, go through the oil water separator and then into the sewer system. The result was lots of water and liquid sitting in the scale pit, and the electronic load cells and cables needed to be replaced frequently. “The electronic scales don’t work when you run liquids into the scale pits; eventually, you fry the electronics and you are replacing the load cells all the time. We were replacing load cells often enough that we were interested in coming up with a less expensive option,” says Barnard. “John introduced us to the Hydrostatic Quick-Clean scales from Emery Winslow and we decided to give it a try and see how it works.” Leak arranged for Waste Industries personnel to talk to others in Virginia who already had the Hydrostatic scales, and hear first-hand about their experience with the product. Soon after, Leak contacted American Scale in Charlotte and bought the Emery Winslow RoadWeigh II Quick-Clean Truck scales from them and retrofitted them into the facility.

As a result, Waste Industries used the design-build experience of Leak & Associates coupled with American Scale and installed the Emery Winslow’s Roadway II Quick-Clean models into their new transfer stations, starting with the Fayetteville, NC project. They have now been in place six years and the facility has not had any trouble with them. In fact, Waste Industries was so happy with the results, that they installed them in two additional new facilities as well as the design-build retrofit of Piedmont Transfer Station, SC and Southside Transfer Station in Fayetteville, GA. All facilities were constructed by Leak & Associates and the scales were installed by American Scale. Opening in 2016, Leak & Associates and Waste Industries completed the City of Durham’s new Double Pit Transfer Station. “During the design-build phase of projects after the Fayetteville, NC one, I met with Waste Industries’ VPs and site manager to discuss the functionality of the scale and how it has been performing. They were extremely pleased with the performance and the ability to load each truck to a maximum in order to go down the highway not hauling light loads. That is a huge part of their industry. They monitored it extensively and their decision was to install these scales in the next facility, and the next and so on,” says Leak.

Baisch also has only heard good things. “Waste Industries USA is very happy with the product. That is evidenced by the fact that they bought 10 more scales of the same type and now it’s Montgomery Regional and Durham where they installed multiples of these scales.”

Future Scales

Because these scales work so great, Waste Industries installs them every opportunity they get. “They are getting results; they don’t have overload tickets (fines) because they know what they are putting in the trailers and they really love them,” says Walton.

Emery Winslow’s Roadway Quick-Clean Axle Scales have been in Waste Industries’ Fayetteville transfer station since September 2010, at the J&B Transfer Station since February 2012 and at the Durham Transfer Station since November 2015. Says Barnard, “In the future, if we put pit scales in a transfer station, Hydrostatic is only way to go, otherwise you are dealing with a bunch of fried electronics. They are certainly spot-on with the trailer weights and the displays are very easy to read; there are scoreboards on the wall and operators know what each scoreboard is supposed to tell them. As long as they get the trash on the trailer with those numbers on the scoreboard, you’re pretty close to perfectly loaded and away you go. From that perspective, it makes life much simpler.”

For more information, contact Rudi Baisch, Emery Winslow Scale Co., at (203) 881-9333, ext. 115 or e-mail [email protected].