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Apr 16, 2013

Common Issues and Problems with In-Motion Conveyor Flow Scales

What is an in-motion flow scale?

In-motion conveyor flow scales are used to gather total accumulated weight that cross a conveyor scale.

Flow scales can be very helpful in keeping track of your plant’s efficiency and production; but without proper use and care, they might not be giving you the numbers that you are looking for!

Conveyor Scale

Here are some things to look for:

A flow scale is an in-motion conveyor scale that measures the total amount of weight that crosses the in-motion conveyor scale over a given period of time.

Flow scales are not designed to weigh discrete individual products, but rather the accumulated total of many.

Imagine a 100 foot long sausage crossing a two foot long flow scale and the flow scale adding up 50 two-foot weight measurements and you get a rough idea of how a flow scale works to give you the 100 feet weight total.

Moving Product

A rule with flow scales is that the product on the conveyor can’t be moving with respect to the belt that it is on.

This is why things like eggs, for example, could be difficult to total a weight for. Since eggs are oblong and tend to roll on a belt, they would most likely roll backwards remaining on the scale longer than they should. This could throw off the total weights significantly over time.

You could avoid this by finding ways to fix your product in place on the conveyor or by slowing the belt down possibly.

Belt Buildup

If your product or plant has any sort of residue involved, there is a good chance that buildup on the conveyor belt could skew your numbers if left unchecked or unaccounted for by automatically zeroing the scale, during breaks in the flow.

Because of this, belts should be cleaned regularly if you are processing certain products.

Otherwise, it is quite possible that the extra weight from the buildup could continuously add to your totals which could cause some serious errors depending on how long it is left like that.

Conveyor Scale

Any scale requires good zero tracking, but flow scales are particularly sensitive to this aspect.

Partially due to belt buildup and other various factors, it is likely that eventually the scale will not be completely unloaded and rezeroed.

To solve this dilemma, you should have a big enough break between product to be able to re-zero the scale every 5-15 minutes depending on how much buildup and other things occur.

If you take care of all of these issues, you are one step closer to truly accurate data collection for your plant.

Take care of your machines, and they will take care of you!

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Apr 5, 2013

Difference Between Dynamic Conveyor Scales & Checkweighers

We do our best to help our customers choose the right product when they need something, but it always helps when they understand key differences between our products.

One of the big topics that tends to confuse people is the difference between a checkweigher and a conveyor scale.

Conveyor Scale

In-Motion Conveyor Scale

Both of these machines function on the same weighing principles but cover different tasks. Both take averaged weighments over a period of time as a product passes over the scale.

A conveyor scale is simply a dynamic scale.

It weighs the product in-motion and reports that weight back to an indicator, database, or remote terminal. It has a simple function and can integrate seamlessly into almost any plant.

A checkweigher is similar, but it goes one step further by integrating more specific features. It commonly has an infeed and exit conveyor integrated into it, whereas a conveyor scale is often standalone.

The checkweigher gets its name because it checks each product to make sure it passes a set of weight limitations.

If the product doesn’t pass those limits then it is rejected on the exit conveyor.

It is also capable of doing this utilizing multiple lanes per scale which is not the case for conveyor scales.

By comparison, a checkweigher also provides the ability to control processes more easily.

in-motion checkweigher

In-Motion Checkweigher with Alarm Light and Diverter

It can feed the information that it gathers from weighments and send signals telling the packaging systems to adapt the amount of product being packaged if there are consistent weight issues, saving the company on product waste.

Basically, the conveyor scale fits into any conveyor system and collects weight data that can be reported wherever you would like, but the checkweigher goes that extra mile to combine built-in conveyors with instantaneous checks for quality control.

There are a lot of subtle differences with all of our products, but if you come to us with a need, we’ll most likely be able to figure it out for you.

Still, we know that its better that a customer be confident when buying.

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Apr 5, 2013

In-Motion Conveyor Scales

It seemed simple enough. Buy a load cell that is certified Legal For Trade, mount it in an isolated framework beneath a conveyor platform, connect it to a Legal For Trade weight indicator, and you’ve got yourself a conveyor scale.

“Why are all my blocks of cheese off by at least a pound?” the Production Manager asked me.

“If something seems too good to be true,” I responded, “it’s probably too good to be true.”

There is much more to a conveyor scale than taking a conveyor and connecting it to scale components that are designed to weigh statically.

Conveyor Scale

Conveyor Scale with Interface

I explained that dynamic weighing, or weighing in-motion, is a complicated process.

To make a genuine conveyor scale requires rapid-fire weight sampling over the live section, averaging that sampling, filtering out undesirable information, and running the proper mathematical algorithms.

We might make it look easy, but there is much more to it than meets the eye.

Additionally, in order for a conveyor scale to be certified as Legal For Trade, it must go through the rigorous processes prescribed by the National Type Evaluation Program, or NTEP.

It is not enough to take components that are approved by NTEP for one use and combine them together for an entirely different purpose.

Conveyor scales have many uses in industry today, from capturing weights for a label to measuring production when spaced, individual products proceed on a line.

Conveyor Scale

Simple Conveyor Scale

A conveyor scale can be attached to other devices to make it appropriate for other applications.  For example, a sorting or grading system can take the weight information from a conveyor scale and direct those items to different destinations according to pre-determined criteria.

Similarly, a conveyor scale is not the same as an in-motion checkweigher because a conveyor scale itself does not have a built-in divert or reject mechanism.

Simply put, a conveyor scale takes weighments in motion.

An in-motion checkweigher has the added ability to reject items that do not fall within pre-defined weight tolerances.

Again, do not try to connect a conveyor scale to diverts or reject mechanisms on your own.

Get the right conveyor scale with the right software program connected to the right peripherals to get the performance that you want and need!

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Apr 2, 2013

Two Big Reasons To Choose Legal-For-Trade Conveyor Scales

conveyor scale

Stainless Steel Conveyor Scale

We promote a lot of legal-for-trade products, but people still ask us why they would choose an NTEP-approved conveyor scale over another.

There are essentially two main reasons why going legal-for-trade is a smart idea.

1 – Labeling

If your conveyor scale is linked to any sort of labeling system where the weight is printed on the label itself, regulations state that you have to use a conveyor scale that is certified legal-for-trade.

We have customers that want us to install a labeling system that is linked to a preexisting scale, but sometimes we just can’t do that because their scale equipment is outdated and doesn’t meet the NTEP standards.

It would be a liability because we have to adhere to a strict handbook of standards published by the NIST.

The only time that using a non-legal-for-trade scale for weight-labeled products is when the labels are fixed weight.

This is because the weight does not have to be spot on as the price is a fixed rate, not dependent on the weight.

It just needs to meet an appropriate minimum weight.

It still helps to have a legal-for-trade conveyor scale for fixed weight because it will be accurate enough to ensure that you aren’t distributing too much product.

Even small amounts of product being given away can build up over time.

2- Recalls

We recommend using a legal-for-trade conveyor scale for a pay-by-weight operation.

Using a non-legal for trade scale leaves you with an unverified weight-checking method.

conveyor scale

Aluminum Conveyor Scale

When the weight you promote on your labels doesn’t match what the consumers are actually getting, a recall is necessary to save face, but it is drastically expensive compared to the purchase of a high-quality legal-for-trade conveyor scale.

A product recall could end up costing you in the six-figure range, while a conveyor scale costs a mere fraction of that.

It really does pay to go with legal-for-trade as it is the ultimate insurance for an accurately measured product.

You will likely experience complete return of investment in a few short months, so why not give it a shot?

We have several industry-proven, legal-for-trade conveyor scales that you should look into!

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Mar 25, 2013

Quality Still Important for Conveyor Scales

When you are researching the purchase of a new food-grade conveyor scale do you find yourself sacrificing quality for a lower price? How much of a role does quality and craftsmanship play in to your purchase decision?


Aluminum Conveyor Scale

In the past 20 years, we have watched the radio and TV repairman fade away, the days of seeing the local hardware store’s work bench full of appliances in need of repair is all but a thing of the past.

Have we become a throw away society; is quality and craftsmanship not as important to us as consumers today? According to Consumer Reports, in the 1990s if an item cost less than $30.00, people wouldn’t bother to fix it, but today that has risen to about $100.00.

There is a remarkably large number of conveyor scale manufacturers in the market today offering you a vast number of conveyor scales designed to do just about any task you desire.  It is no wonder you are tempted to choose the lowest costing conveyor scale you find!  All conveyor scales are made the same right?  Not true!

Quality is still important when choosing a Conveyor Scale

Price should never be the deciding factor when purchasing a conveyor scale for your plant.  Choosing a quality manufacturer that will stand behind your conveyor scale purchase is where the real ROI is made. You have probably been here before: You purchase a piece of equipment only to have it break down after a short period of use. You call the manufacturer but can’t get a satisfactory response. They send a serviceman out after a few days but he doesn’t have the parts, so they are ordered and he will return when they arrive.  That piece of equipment has just cost you more money than you care to know.

Never under estimate quality prompt service

Now let’s say you purchase a conveyor scale system from Vande Berg Scales. We have been servicing and manufacturing equipment for plants like yours for over 45 years. The conveyor scale you purchased has been thoroughly tested and calibrated for accuracy and reliability before it ever leaves our manufacturing facility. In the event that the scale has a malfunction, you have the assurance that you can call us and a friendly knowledgeable service team member will be there to answer your questions! In the event that a service technician needs to be sent onsite for the repair, you can be comforted by the fact that they are knowledgable about the conveyor scale you purchased, so they bring the correct parts along to finish the repair in one stop.  Even after the repair, they will be willing to offer your plant personnel tips on operating and maintaining your conveyor scale.

Stainless Steel Conveyor Scale

Stainless Steel Conveyor Scale

Consider the total cost of your conveyor scale purchase.

With all this said, unlike the discounted conveyor scale, the Vande Berg Scales conveyor scale will pay for itself over time. We put the conveyor scale system you purchase through a stringent quality assurance inspection so that any repairs and other quality issues are corrected before you receive it at your plant. This attention to detail and quality will reduce installation and start up time, saving you labor and production costs once the conveyor scale arrives.

Even after you take ownership of your new conveyor scale system, it will continue to pay for itself. You will have piece of mind knowing that if the scale malfunctions for any reason, we are available 24/7 to get you up and running with as little interruption as possible. This will save your plant on labor cost not having personnel waiting on production because of downtime.

Points to consider

  • The lowest priced conveyor scale is not always the lowest costing one
  • Quality is still a very important factor in choosing a conveyor scale manufacturer
  • Don’t discount prompt quality service; it will save you in the long run eliminating downtime!
  • Estimate the total cost of your conveyor scale purchase before choosing
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