Why Are Waste Operations Installing On-Board Scales?

Given the high cost of time and equipment, on-board scales are having a dramatic impact on the efficiency and the profitability of operating a truck. Following are the key benefits that on-board scales offer.

Rick Talbot

Given the rising cost of operating waste collection vehicles, it is becoming more important to evaluate the use of on-board weighing systems to reduce operating costs, meet new safety standards and improve fleet efficiency.

Electronic on-board scales are not new. They were introduced more than 30 years ago into trucking applications where monitoring gross vehicle or payload weight was necessary, but platform scales were not readily available.

Over the years, improvements were added to these early electronic on-board scales. Load cells were improved and specialty load cells were developed for fifth wheels, center hangers, single points and most other types of spring suspensions. Strain gage based air sensors were added for an increasing number of air ride suspensions and suspension transducers for spring suspensions. Hydraulic sensors were designed for vehicles equipped with hydraulic lift cylinders. Today, on-board scales can be installed on any truck or trailer with air, spring or mixed suspensions.

Key Benefits

Based on this product evolution, the applications for on-board scales are rapidly expanding and are found in almost every trucking industry. Organizations using on-board scales are reaping benefits far beyond just monitoring gross vehicle weight to avoid overweight fines. Given the high cost of time and equipment, on-board scales are having a dramatic impact on the efficiency and profitability of operating a truck. Following are the key benefits that on-board scales offer.

Vehicle Efficiency

Optimize residential and commercial vehicle efficiency by hauling the maximum legal payload on every trip to the landfill or transfer station without going to a platform scale.

Eliminate Overweight Fines

Drivers will always know their gross vehicle and axle weights to avoid overweight ticket fines and possible CDL restrictions.

Transfer Trailer Load Weight

Load transfer trailers to the maximum legal weight quickly at the loading point, without waiting in scale lines or driving to the nearest platform scale. Never have to off-load and then re-load to get it right.

Eliminate Travel to Certified Scales

Never have to travel to a certified scale and pay fees to know your weight.

Costs and Vehicle Life

Reduce maintenance costs and increase vehicle life by hauling loads that the vehicle was designed to carry. Many maintenance managers claim that on-board scales pay for themselves with reduced engine, brake and structural maintenance costs.


Increased safety by keeping weight within legal limits allowing braking distance to remain constant and tracking around corners to be more predictable.


Eliminate liability exposure due to increased braking distance from overweight vehicles.


Measure commercial or recycling pick-up weights to optimize pricing and/or provide recycling rebates.

Customer Service

Improve customer service by providing individual pickup or container weight information to better ensure your commercial customers that they are being billed fairly.


Increase revenue by more accurately charging individual customers on heavy load pickup and delivery operations.

Driver Retention

Increase driver retention by assuring a safe load and no exposure to overweight fines.

Operation Efficiency

Improve operation efficiency by recording weights, load cycles, dump cycles and route/service times. With the increasing use of on-board computers, wireless communications and GPS equipment, weight information can be collected and transmitted in real time back to the home office.


When waste operations consider the benefits obtained from on-board scales, they typically calculate their payback to be from three to 12 months. This will shorten in the future as the cost to haul without on-board scales continues to increase due to the following industry trends:

  • Increasing competition and the need to improve efficiency and reduce costs

  • Increasing enforcement of overweight regulations

  • Increasing need to reduce liability exposure

  • Increasing difficulty finding and retaining competent drivers

  • Increasing demand for more information

Significant Benefits

On-board weighing systems can provide significant benefits to waste companies, however, it is important to talk to a knowledgeable supplier with a wide range of products and experience installing and supporting on-board scales. There are many types of scale technologies and it is critical to obtain honest feedback as to the best scale to use to meet your specific requirements.

Rick Talbot is Marketing and Sales Manager for Vulcan On-Board Scales (Kent, WA). He has more than 30 years of experience in marketing and product development for technology companies. He has been with Vulcan On-Board Scales since 1992. Rick can be reached at (800) 237-0022, ext. 140 or visit the Web site at