Onboard weighing systems—the one tool that gives customers a real advantage for the precise weighing of each load, the ability to fully use extra trailer capacity and immediately determine the distribution of the weight on the axles.
By Howard Baker
Transfer trailers are workhorses in the waste industry. They have one job—moving as much solid waste material from one location to another daily. They do not get neatly loaded with pallets or carry consistent or uniform loads of freight. They are loaded by front loaders, grapples or grizzlies that load them with all sorts of refuse material. Then the loader operator attempts to level the load and pack it, using his loader. Usually while one trailer is getting loaded there is another one waiting, so it is important to do the loading correctly the first time and keep things moving.
Once the trailer is loaded, it is driven to an outbound scale. If there is not one onsite, it needs to be taken to a scale offsite to be weighed. If the trailer is overweight, it will not be allowed to leave. It will be taken back around so some payload can be removed and then back around to the scale to check its weight before it can leave the facility. If the trailer is underweight, but not too severely, it is usually sent out with its underweight payload.
In both scenarios, the weight distribution on the truck and trailer is unknown. Even an underweight load if not properly distributed can be illegal. The weight distribution is important because each axle group has a legal maximum weight it can carry, and those axle weight limits are strictly enforced. Every time a unit must be sent back around and then re-weighed it eats up time and costs money. More time is wasted if there are one or more drivers already waiting to get loaded ahead of you. You wind up waiting your turn.
Onboard Weighing Systems
While many trailer manufacturers have been successful in working to reduce the weight of their trailers to accommodate heavier payloads, they have not really focused on the one tool that would give their customers a real advantage and would allow those customers to precisely weigh each load, use that extra trailer capacity and immediately determine the distribution of the weight on the axles.
The tool needed for loading properly and taking advantage of increased payload capacity is an onboard weighing system. One that can accurately and immediately show the loader operator or the driver the precise Gross Vehicle Weight and the individual axle weights. Some onboard weighing systems can also automate lift axle functions and distribute weight proportionately on the axles. Not only does using an onboard weighing system speed up the loading process, but it also helps to ensure safety on the road and reduces driver stress.
Any company involved in the business of hauling solid waste should consider the benefits of using onboard scales. They can increase operational profits, improve safety and reduce equipment down time. Features for lift axle control, fully automated weight distribution, data transfer and OBC integration are all things that can be regulated or used when using the right onboard weighing system.
What to Look for in an Onboard Weighing System
One of the first things you should look for when choosing an onboard scale system is how much experience does the company have in dealing with your type of truck or trailer. Customer support should also be a priority with the company you choose. Some companies have experience working with air ride suspensions, but have limited experience with mechanical (spring or walking beam) suspensions. Some of the questions that should be asked during the process are:
• How many years the company has been working with spring ride equipment?
• How long does it take to install a system?
• Is any vehicle modification required?
• How difficult is it to repair/replace a sensor?
• Is the system easy to calibrate and how often does it need to be adjusted?
• Is there someone to call when you have a question?
• Are parts readily available?
Data communication should also be available so weights can be transmitted in real time. A weighing system should also be able to display weights for individual axle groups, along with Gross Vehicle Weight or Net Payload weight. Auxiliary axles will often need to be monitored and automated and this should also be available. Can the system distribute weight proportionately on axle groups? This feature is required in certain areas. Currently some of the strictest weight compliance regulations are found in the Canadian Provinces of Ontario (SPIF Regulations) and in Alberta, but many U.S. states have lift axle(s) weight distribution requirements for both tractors and trailer.
A weighing system is only beneficial if the operator finds it simple to use and reliable. Durability should also be a key factor. Your system should require very little maintenance. A weighing system should be easy to calibrate and should not require frequent recalibration. Components should be readily available and easy to replace when necessary.
A system should also have the following options:
• Alarm Options—Used to let an operator know when the vehicle is approaching either a legal axle(s) weight maximum or a legal Gross Vehicle Weight maximum.
• Target Option—Used to disable a function or enable an alert when a vehicle reaches a predetermined Target Weight.
• Printing and Data Transfer Options—Allow a vehicle’s weight information to be printed, shared or saved.
• Wi-Fi Option—Extremely popular with fleets swapping trailers or loading multiple units at a single location, operators self-loading their units and for the simplicity of installation, (no wired or plumbed connections needed between tractor and trailer)
Ask the Right Questions
Any owner operator or fleet manager getting ready to purchase a new trailer should make sure to ask about an onboard weighing system with features like the ones mentioned in this article. Any in-service trailer can also be easily retrofitted with the same type of high-quality onboard weighing systems. | WA
Howard Baker is the Owner and Managing Partner for Cleral USA, which is the National Distributor for Cleral Inc. weighing system in the U.S. Howard has more than 10 years of experience with Cleral starting out as Cleral’s Western Regional Representative prior to becoming the U.S. Distributor. He has worked closely with Cleral learning the scale business through hands-on experience, customer feedback and through his relationship with Cleral’s knowledgeable staff. Cleral is an innovator in the manufacturing of onboard scales for the transportation industry. For more than 20 years they have focused on developing unique sensor technology that will improve the performance and efficiency of any trailer and make it more valuable. While many onboard scale companies have focused on trailers with air ride suspensions, Cleral has 20 years of experience and research in working with both spring ride and air ride suspensions. Their systems do not use load cells and can be quickly and easily installed on any spring ride or air ride trailer. Because their systems have been designed for harsh weather and rough terrain, they are able to withstand the daily rigors of waste hauling. Howard can be reached at (866) 901-7372 or visit www.cleral-usa.com.