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What’s trending in scales and weighing?

By |  April 14, 2021
Joe Grell

Grell

Joe Grell entrenched himself in the weighing industry long ago.

Now in his 39th year with Rice Lake Weighing Systems, Grell has long subscribed to the idea that scales are ultimately the cash register for businesses that require them. Pit and quarry operations undoubtedly fall into this area.

“A lot of scale owners view the purchase of a piece of weighing equipment as a liability when, in fact, it’s the device that measures the commodity and allows you to apply a price to that commodity,” says Grell, who serves Rice Lake as vice president of heavy capacity. “Without a scale, you can’t do that.”

Game-changing technology

More lately, the weighing industry is undergoing one of the more significant changes Grell has experienced. The change is the introduction of the Internet of Things, which provides users with valuable insights about their equipment in real time.

“If a scale starts operating at less-than-optimum conditions, everybody involved in the scale knows about it,” Grell says. “They get a text message or an email.”

Scale distributors are among those receiving these alerts, Grell adds, and their involvement positions them to provide higher levels of service.

“For the end user, it eliminates a step where they no longer have to call the scale dealer for service,” he says. “The scale dealer knows immediately that there’s a problem, and they come out to fix it.”

With scales, Grell says the Internet of Things opens up a whole new door of possibilities for managing routine maintenance.

“For instance, scales have to typically be calibrated anywhere from one to four times a year in this industry,” Grell says. “There’s nothing worse than the scale service company showing up at 2 o’clock on a Wednesday afternoon, and all of a sudden trucks start backing into the street because they can’t access the scale.”

Now, Grell says users can more easily schedule maintenance during convenient times of the day.

Other benefits

Rice Lake Weighing Systems' Joe Grell says the Internet of Things opens up a whole new door of possibilities for managing routine scale maintenance. Photo: P&Q Staff

Rice Lake Weighing Systems’ Joe Grell says the Internet of Things opens up a whole new door of possibilities for managing routine scale maintenance. Photo: P&Q Staff

Tracking calibrations and their full history is also easier through the Internet of Things, according to Grell.

“The reason we do calibrations is things wear out over time,” he says. “Or, maybe debris gets lodged under the scale. So if you have to make an adjustment when you drop the weights on, this system records that adjustment.

“If you come out four, six or eight times in a row and every time you’ve had to make an adjustment, that’s unusual,” he adds. “It might indicate end of life for that particular asset. It might indicate that this scale is worn out and been in service for 20 or 30 years – and it’s no longer reliable. So we can spot those things way ahead of time. It’s all done over the cloud, so a service manager can view the scale remotely and view all of the key factors in the scale without having to take a drive out to it.”

With remote access, service managers can assess the parts they’ll need and make necessary preparations long before making the service call.

“I see that as a real game-changer in the industry,” Grell says. “Just like the Ring doorbell is changing home security, taking advantage of the Internet of Things will result in a different way of doing business in the construction materials market.”

In-motion scales

The Internet of Things isn’t the only change making its way into to the weighing industry. In-motion truck scales could become more mainstream in the next few years if they’re made legal for trade, according to Grell.

“It currently isn’t legal for trade because there is no provision in government regulations for in-motion, legal-for-trade truck scales,” he says. “But work is being done at the national level right now to change that. That’s why in the next two to three years when the laws are amended to allow for in-motion, legal-for-trade truck weighing, there are manufacturers who are ready to meet that need.”

Kevin Yanik

About the Author:

Kevin Yanik is the editor-in-chief of Pit & Quarry magazine. Yanik can be reached at 216-706-3724 or kyanik@northcoastmedia.net.

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