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Preventative Maintenance to Reduce Downtime of Truck Scales

April 6, 2015

Truck scales are amongst the most robust of all commercial weighing systems. They are built to withstand extreme loads, yet consistently provide accurate measurements. These heavy-duty weighing systems are repeatedly subjected to a wide variety of stressful operations on a daily basis, ranging from weighing cattle feed to construction materials, and even fluids.
    The constant stress of such heavy usage requires its own share of preventative maintenance to ensure that the truck scales perform consistently over long periods of time. Weighing equipment that has been serviced properly is less likely to give inaccurate readings - a problem that can have a direct financial impact like under or over-billing customers, or excessive freeway tolls.
    Conducting regular checks and replacing parts that are wearing out, or approaching the end of their serviceable life can also reduce the chances of damage. Breakdowns while the scales are in use can be a major setback. Other than the disruption in your schedule, they can result in additional expenses if one malfunction causes another working part to break down.

How Can You Conduct Preventative Maintenance for Your Truck Scale?
Having the right service and maintenance contract is imperative for avoiding these undesirable situations. However, several measures can be undertaken by the operator to improve the reliability of the equipment. For instance, you could conduct in-house maintenance checks on the truck scales on a regular basis. These go a long way towards ensuring you have less unexpected downtime. Fairly often, it's the little things that create major problems, like parts getting jammed with dust, debris, etc. While it might now seem like it's a big deal, the immediate effect would be inaccurate readings, and in the long run it could cause load cell failure.
    Regular maintenance tasks can be divided into several categories based on their frequency, and these are discussed below:

Daily Tasks
You should visually inspect the platform on a daily basis to ensure that there is no debris. Also, check the side and end frames for fouling, and confirm that the digital display is zeroed before vehicles are loaded onto the platform. The vehicles should board the platform slowly and avoid braking hard. When the vehicle is brought to a halt, the wheels should be properly centered on the scales.
    For pit-mounted installations, you need to ensure that the drainage system is clear of any blockages and any automatic pumps are operating correctly. If rubber T-sections are in use, their position should be verified. On surface-mounted truck scales, adequate clearance needs to be maintained between the superstructure and the ground.

Weekly Tasks
The load-cell assemblies should be scrutinized thoroughly on a weekly basis. Any debris built up needs to be removed carefully, without damaging the load-cell cables. You should also carry out weekly checks of the weighing capability of the scale with a loaded vehicle. The vehicle should first be weighed when it's parked at the center, and then parked at each end of the platform. The readings should be compared, and there is a difference of more than ±2 in the indicated divisions, they should be reported and corrective measures taken to avoid inaccuracies in the future.

Monthly Tasks
You should check pit-mounted truck scales every month for possible water logging, debris build-up or any damage to the leading edge of the foundations. The platform’s side and end frames should also be inspected. In case the platform appears to have shifted more than the acceptable limit since the last inspection, the maintenance service provider should be notified.
    Thoroughly clean and jet-wash the truck scale to remove any loose debris above and below the platform, and avoid disturbing the load cells or weighbars. Rebalance and reset the truck scale, and then carry out the weekly weighing test to check for erroneous readings. This test should be conducted both before and after cleaning. The results of these “before” and “after” tests should be compared, and any discrepancies that arise should be immediately reported for corrective action.

Twice-Yearly Tasks
On a bi-annual basis, perform a thorough check for structural damage on the truck scale, like cracks or 'play' in the moving parts and joints. Any evidence of damage should be immediately reported to your maintenance service provider, so it can be fixed right away before further damage occurs. For surface-mounted scales, similar checks should also be performed on the load cell cables.

Additional Checks
Even though modern truck scales are protected against lightning strikes, it is essential to check truck scales for damage after thunderstorms. Moreover, you shouldn't undertake any electrical welding on structure without first consulting the service provider, since it could seriously damage the load cells and weighbars.
    While these regular checks can increase the lifespan of your truck scale, they are in no way a replacement for a planned maintenance contract. You should definitely have one in place to cover breakdowns, repairs and replacements, as well as regular scheduled inspections. Consult a reputed service provider while shopping for a truck scale or get in touch with one for regular preventative maintenance on your existing scales and weighing equipment.

    Kevin Hill is a technical expert and heads up the marketing efforts and provides technical expertise to the sales and service teams at Quality Scales Unlimited in Byron, CA. He can be reached at [email protected] For more information on Quality Scales Unlimited, visit www.scalesu.com.