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How to Choose the Right Checkweigher

June 4, 2019
Mark Navin, Spee-Dee Packaging Machinery Inc.
Mark Navin, Spee-Dee Packaging Machinery Inc.

Optimizing your packaging line doesn’t always mean increasing speed. Sometimes, it’s about accurate and precise product fills and weights. One way to optimize your operations and ensure accurate production is to integrate a checkweigher into your line.

A checkweigher will help ensure the correct weight of product is filled in every package, every time. This helps save costs by eliminating costly product giveaway and helps you meet mandated product weight variances. In addition, checkweighers enable you to analyze your operations with fill and package rates and weight measurements, ultimately helping you to continuously fine-tune your operations over time.

To choose the ideal checkweigher for your operations, consider the following:

Machine Design. Look at the overall design of the checkweigher as it determines how operators will use the machine. The design also determines overall reliability and accuracy of the weight measurements. An ideal checkweigher will have a strong, stable design that is mechanically stiff to ensure weight control.

Next, look at the frame material and construction. A welded frame can have stress points that impact accuracy. A non-welded frame may be less sanitary depending on the application. A checkweigher without hollow bodies on the frame helps prevent bacteria from forming during production.

Last, consider the overall footprint of the checkweigher. Do you have room to add this size of machinery to your line? Checkweighers with a smaller or non-existent electrical cabinet are generally smaller and easier to add on the plant floor.

Controls and Ease of Use. Like other plant equipment, checkweighers should stand up to the varied conditions of a plant environment. Industrial-grade components should work accurately after repeated cleaning, maintenance and general operating conditions over time.

In addition, the checkweigher should be easy to operate and control. Software that allows operators to create recipes on a variety of SKUs and packages is ideal. For complete ease-of-use, choose a checkweigher with non-proprietary controls that will allow you to easily customize the checkweigher’s parameters for specific applications. Some checkweighers, including PLC-based checkweighers, make it easy to communicate with other systems in the plant and provide easily accessible data, which is important to optimizing operations.

Secure Connectivity and Data Collection. Security is a concern for every operation. While you want security, you still want a checkweigher that is easy to connect. By design, PLC-based controls eliminate the need for special coding and permissions since it communicates with Ethernet. A dedicated Ethernet connection will help keep checkweigher data and production information safe behind the firewall.

Data collection helps improve fill accuracy. Once a checkweigher is connected to a plant network, it has the ability to collect thousands, or even millions, of data points. You can use this information to find variances to further improve accuracy. Look for a checkweigher that allows you to download data in a useable format. Ideally, it will provide a sortable file such as CSV file via email or USB, or direct download.

Easy Calibration. A checkweigher isn’t adding anything to your operations unless it’s calibrated. Here, checkweighers fall into two categories: strain gauge and Electro Magnetic Force Restoration (EMFR) technology. Strain gauge weigh cell calibration is a manual, time-consuming process that can drift over time, requiring routine maintenance by a service technician.

EMFR technology, however, has no moving parts or components that can drift, eliminating practically all maintenance. Calibration is completed by machine operators or plant maintenance staff via software in a few minutes.

Weigh Cell Technology. Strain gauge and EMFR checkweighers also differ in accuracy and how well the checkweigher measures package weight in motion. Typically, to determine a baseline weight, you take several weights over time to determine an average weight.

Because there are no moving parts with EMFR, checkweighers that utilize this technology stabilize faster and can exponentially obtain more measurements in the same period of time. This ultimately increases the accuracy of EMFR checkweighers over strain gauge checkweighers.

Considering the above points will help you determine the best checkweigher for your operations. While there are many other features to consider, it comes down to these five major factors to help you optimize your packaging line and overall operations over time.

Mark Navin is a strategic account manager for Spee-Dee Packaging Machinery Inc. For more information, call 877-375-2121 or visit www.spee-dee.com.

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