July 07, 2015

How to Choose an Onboard Wheel Loader Scale

Today's quarry and aggregate business is more competitive than ever. Your ability to loadout more accurately and efficiently than a rival operation can be the difference between being a material producer and being your area's material producer of choice.

As with most anything, the key to success is having the right tools. That's why onboard payload scales have become a necessity for quarries big and small. Today's scales are reliable, economical, and as easy to use as the typical smartphone. Once implemented, they quickly help quarries minimize errors, optimize payloads, and reduce cycle times. And just as importantly, they enable operators to stay focused on what they do best — moving material.

However, the market is full of choices and opinions that may make investing in scales seem confusing. So we compiled this list of the five most important things to be aware of when considering onboard payload scales for your operation:

  • Accuracy – An onboard payload scale needs to produce plus-or-minus one percent accuracy or better. Though it sounds small, a margin of error any higher than one percent can easily cost a busy quarry thousands of dollars per day. Your scale should also guarantee accurate performance regardless of common variables such as temperature changes throughout the day, site slope, and the operator's technique or previous experience.
  • Extended Features – Beyond payload optimization, the right scale will include features capable of increasing efficiency in other areas, too. Good examples include the ability to total a machine's payload for a full workday or longer, automatically calculate bucket payload without operator intervention, and easily adjust the last bucket to a specific target payload.
  • Data Management – Data is the new hammer — it's proven, straightforward, and useful in many different situations. And the better your data is, the easier it will be for you to keep machines and operations running smoothly and efficiently. On-board loader scales — such as the LOADRITE™ L2180™ for Deere K-Series Four-Wheel-Drive loaders — have the advantage of being preconfigured to integrate seamlessly with the machine's other technology. That means you'll be able to track payload data in tandem with other critical factors, such as fuel consumption, maintenance history, and location. Newer scales will also feature easy reporting functions and options for adding and/or customizing data-capture fields. You may also want to consider the availability of onboard printers for making information about individual trucks and loadouts immediately available to drivers and other personnel who need it.
  • Connectivity – Reliable Wi-Fi and/or cellular connectivity between the office, equipment, and the scale house is integral to eliminating downtime and improving processes and customer service. A scale that enables you to connect from the office in real time will help you quickly identify underproduction, understand why it's happening, and do what's needed to get output back on track. In addition to those capabilities, the most state-of-the-art scales — such as the LOADRITE L2180 — extend that real-time connectivity even further, enabling operators to receive customer orders in the cab immediately after they're requested at the scale house.
  • Support – Any scale you purchase should include a good warranty, installation by a skilled technician, and responsive post-installation technical support. Some equipment manufacturers are making these services standard features on their machines. As mentioned above, John Deere now offers K-Series Wheel Loaders with the LOADRITE Payload Weighing System included, eliminating the uncertainty over buying and installing aftermarket scales. Deere also offers loaders that are prewired to make scale installation easier and compatible with a machine's Ultimate Uptime and John Deere WorkSight™ technology.

Onboard payload scales give quarries new levels of accuracy, efficiency, and productivity that weren't possible until now. And whether you're in the market for wheel loaders pre-equipped with the technology, or interested in retrofitting older machines, today's scales will provide the exact tools you need for optimizing payloads, speeding cycle times and truck turnaround, managing and analyzing data, and improving workflow.