Scaling is one of the trucking industry's biggest pain points. Most shippers don't have their own truck commercial weight scales on site and drivers usually have to drive out of the way to find a scale to use. This can be a huge burden for the carrier and driver that costs fuel, unnecessary drive time, and overweight violations.
Since roads are a huge infrastructure cost to any country, enforcement is determined to come up with new and easier ways to catch violators to avoid road damage. Some of the ways DOT are catching overloaded trucks are with weigh stations, portable scales and weigh-in-motion systems.
With the advancement of technology, onboard scaling systems are able to let drivers scale their own truck while getting loaded. This helps to save drive time and stay legal while being on the road. Here are some things to think about when looking for an onboard scaling solution.
Do my costs justify the price of an onboard truck scale?
Many drivers never get close to maxing out their gross or axle weights. If you are scaling a truck 1-3 times per month the cost of adding onboard truck weight scales may not be worth the investment because the payoff date could be years away.
If you are scaling your loads 2-3x per week you could be paying between $1,300 - $2,000 per year per truck on scale tickets. An onboard truck scale solution could pay for itself in as little as 3 months in these cases.
Does my fleet have spring or air suspensions?
This is a critical question to answer because it will determine how much a scaling system will cost and if it is even worth it for your application.
Spring suspensions require strain gauges to measure how much the spring flexes when it is under different loads. These types of systems cost the most and require professionals to take your truck and trailer out of service so they can be modified for installation.
Air suspensions are much easier to work with. All you need to do is add a pressure gauge or pressure sensor in-line to the air bags to read the pressure across the suspension. These systems should only take about 10 minutes to add and don't require a professional to install.
Will onboard truck scales work with my fleet?
The bigger your fleet is, the more advanced your onboard scaling solution will have to be for drivers to easily use it.
For a single owner/operator, a standard needle pressure gauge can help closely estimate how much is loaded on each axle. Many drivers using this method typically max out their axle weight and note where the needle is on the gauge. If the needle doesn't move past that point, they should be legal.
However, if your company has multiple drivers using any combination of trucks and trailers, needle gauges become less effective. Gauge readouts aren't the same for any truck or trailer. 60 psi may represent very different weight from truck to truck, and drivers are not likely to take the time learn what every gauge means on every asset.
For larger fleets, digital truck scale read outs are essential to get the drivers' cooperation in using an onboard weight truck scale. If your fleet drops-and-hooks to different trailers you will want to make sure that your onboard scale can accommodate the use of different trailers. Digital readout gauges are more expensive, and the cost adds up when you have to install on one every asset.
Bluetooth scaling sensors are one of the best and most cost-effective ways to get accurate weights from every asset inside the cab without having to learn anything new. Wireless sensors can transmit pressure readings to an in-cab device or app on a cell phone. These provide a weight reading almost instantly. All the driver has to do is tell the app which truck and trailer they are using, and they will get weight readings based off each asset's specific calibration.
Will my drivers use the truck scales as intended?
If you make an investment in a new system, you will need to make sure that all of your drivers are onboard and using the scales to solve the problem you are trying to fix. Helping drivers adopt new technology can be slow to start, but new habits take time. Encouraging drivers to take the desired actions and rewarding them when they do can make forming new habits a lot easier.