Automated Scales May Cut Costs, Increase Flexibility

Automated scale systems are designed to speed up vehicle processing. It reportedly can lessen human error, provide a more flexible intake schedule and cut costs.

Combined with radio frequency identification and key pad capability that allows the driver to include additional information, it can be an effective tool - with the consideration of certain factors.

Tom Ramlet, former residuals manager of the Metropolitan Council Environmental Service, Minneapolis, said an automated scale system worked for his operation because he weighs a product converted from wastewater solids as it leaves the plant.

For an investment of $15,000, which includes the consulting fee, hardware and software, Ramlet said he was able to save $30,000 a year by eliminating a salaried position.

But what about other operations that need to monitor what is hauled into the landfill or recycling center?

Jim Manley from Information Systems Inc., Baltimore, said unauthorized hazardous waste dumping at a facility can be a potential problem, because the scalemaster is no longer present to monitor what is being dumped at a sight. Before automating a scale system, he recommends that companies weigh their options.

Consider using the system only for selected haulers at selected times. Or, install a video camera system above passing trucks for surface observation.

Keep in mind that many municipalities require haulers to cover their load on the highway to prevent littering, negating the camera's benefits.

While this is an issue to consider, haulers generally are not checked thoroughly at the scalehouse anyway, said Wayne Zwolinski of SuperSource, Para-dise Valley, Ariz.

"The law is very specific as to what you're supposed to be dumping, and there are other people at the site to monitor activity once the trucks go past the scalehouse," he said.