Photos by Todd Williams, Cardinal Scale Photographer
Founded by W.H. Perry, an experienced scale industry man, Cardinal grew out of a need at the time for a line of special-capacity scales as the country was undergoing a construction-era boom in the nation’s highways and infrastructure in the early 1950s. As the company grew, Perry began discussions with L.R. Murphy who pioneered an all-steel large scale design that was a major revolution in the industry. Previously, all large-size scales were comprised of cast iron in designs that were not easily changed and were also difficult to be transported from their manufacturing sites.
In 1958, an agreement was struck between these two companies and they soon began collaborating, marketing all-steel, welded truck and axle load scales throughout the country. In 1973, Cardinal acquired Murphy and integrated the operation, with full-service plants in Webb City, Sacramento, and Denver. Eight years later, Cardinal acquired DETECTO, a smaller-capacity scale manufacturer from Brooklyn, New York, founded in 1900. Over the years, Detecto had developed a well-respected name in the manufacture of scales for grocers, markets, the shipping industry and the medical field.
“These product lines and Detecto’s expertise were valuable additions to Cardinal, which quickly moved all manufacturing of Detecto scales to Webb City,” says Jonathan Sabo, Cardinal’s vice president of marketing. “Today, Detecto represents about half of Cardinal’s overall business, so this acquisition essentially doubled the size of Cardinal Scale and was instrumental in the overall growth of the company.”
Perry passed away over 10 years ago, but his vision and impact on the company are still felt to this day. The company is currently in its third generation of management and Matthew Stovern, who is married to Perry’s granddaughter, Aston, was named president one year ago.
“Cardinal Scale is launching the largest number of new products in the history of the company this year, so the future is bright for the corporation,” says Sabo.
Born and Raised in a Small Town
Cardinal’s manufacturing plant and corporate headquarters comprise over 350,000 square feet in the small town of Webb City—its home base since Perry founded the company.
“It was very important to him for Cardinal Scale to be located in Webb City,” explains Sabo. “W.H. Perry was a loyal Webb City citizen, born and raised there, and served on all the city boards and planning committees. As the company grew, he could have moved it to a larger metropolitan area, but chose to keep Cardinal Scale in the same small town where he grew up.”
Cardinal has been a vital economic boon to Webb City and it tries to give back to its community whenever possible. Beyond Perry’s loyalty to his hometown, the company’s location is beneficial for several business reasons. The centrally-located manufacturing facility in the middle of the country allows for centralized shipping to any location within the continental United States.
In addition, Sabo notes that Cardinal Scale employees bring a hard-working and loyal Midwest work ethic with them daily and show up early and stay late to make sure their work is done well to keep the company competitive. “These aspects would have been more challenging in other parts of the U.S., so Perry’s concern and loyalty in keeping the company in Webb City ultimately paid dividends in terms of business rewards.”
Emergence of Load Cells
Cardinal has been manufacturing its own load cells since the late 1980s, including compression, shear beam, center point, bellows, single point and tension types. During the early 1960’s, Cardinal was one of the first companies to offer electronic scales using state-of-the-art load cells—a major evolution from the former mechanical beam designs used in scales until that point.
“The advent of the load cell allowed Cardinal to offer full electronic scales and mechanical scales fitted with a single load cell and digital weight indicator in addition to our full mechanical scales,” says Sabo. “Later, Cardinal developed the all-steel low-profile scale that has become the industry standard.”
Cardinal built its own dedicated, VCAP-certified load cell production facility in 1999. The company is unique in the industry in that it manufactures its own strain gauges and hydraulic load cells. The load cells are environmentally-sealed, stainless steel, and NTEP and OIML certified for optimal quality.
“This unique in-house ability to completely control the entire product’s engineering and manufacturing has let us determine our own destiny,” says Sabo. “In the last 10 years, Cardinal Scale has additionally developed the Guardian hydraulic load cell, which led the way to building the Guardian hydraulic truck scale, offering the longest-lasting truck scale on the market.”
The cornerstone of Cardinal’s business, ARMOR truck scales, is a result of decades of continuous improvements in building high-capacity vehicle scales. Machined precision manufacturing is evident throughout the scale for the ARMOR’s interconnecting scale decks and no-bolt access covers. Since Cardinal is a single source manufacturer for all the peripheral equipment, dealers and customers only have one call to make for sales, engineering and tech support on the scale, indicator, remote display, and software.
Sabo calls Cardinal dealers the lifeblood of the company. “They’re vitally important to everything we do,” he says. “We engineer and manufacture the ARMOR truck scale to make their life easier for a quick, hassle-free installation combined with a long-lasting, durable weighbridge. “Our dealers are commonly quoted as saying they love Cardinal truck scales because ‘you can set it and forget it.’ They know they’re not going to be called back repeatedly for warranty defects and breakages if the scale is used in the prescribed manner.”
Cardinal has sold truck scales in every single state in the country and ships truck scales internationally to locations such as Iceland, Iraq, and throughout Latin America and Europe. Additionally, Cardinal has recently been manufacturing and marketing a containerized version of the ARMOR truck scale (model EWM) for non-North American installations that bolts down the center and can fit into an open-top cargo container which means there are no limitations on where the ARMOR truck scale can be shipped to cost effectively.
In addition to being the first all-steel truck scales, Cardinal’s truck scales were also the first self-contained scales allowing them to be moved from jobsite to jobsite. They were also the first scales designed specifically for off-road highway construction use. As a result, Cardinal’s designs are now the most widely copied truck scale designs worldwide.
Made in the USA
Cardinal’s manufacturing processes are so fascinating that it even captured the attention of Hollywood. The company has been featured on the Science Channel’s “How It’s Made” three times for various scales, including the ARMOR truck scale.
According to Sabo, about 45 team members are involved in the building of any one truck scale. With a product this complex, multiple steps in the manufacturing process occur simultaneously for faster throughput. The process starts with engineering—mechanical, electrical, software programmers, draftsmen and industrial engineers—while material management resource personnel allocate parts for production.
For the weighbridges, saw operators cut the steel tubes or I-beams while laser/turret press operators simultaneously work on load cell stands. Punch press and brake press operators are involved manufacturing their respective individual parts of the truck scale. As the weighbridge deck is coming together, welders, fabricators and robot operators are part of the production.
Paint prep is performed by other production employees. Cardinal uses a high-quality, UV-protected epoxyde cross-linked polyester anti-corrosion industrial tan powder paint baked on at 350-400 degrees Fahrenheit. This coating is a high-performance, powder paint that dries to an extra tough semi-gloss finish with maximum resistance to alkali, abrasion, moisture, and severe weather conditions and industrial environments.
After the truck scale deck surface is prepped, all steel parts are washed with a multi-stage, high-temperature, high-pressure cleaning system that uses a phosphate chemical containing an anti-rust agent. A slight rinse is then applied to the truck scale deck to prep the scale deck prior to painting. This chemical bath prior to paint ensures the entire weighbridge is cleaned thoroughly and ready for optimal paint adhesion.
“Our extensive cleaning process prior to painting ensures every ARMOR truck scale has paint applied uniformly and thoroughly, so the scales ship out with premium quality, long-lasting paint that will repel against rust,” adds Sabo.
The final assembly is completed by assemblers, before the truck scale is shipped on one of Cardinal’s fleet of semi-tractor trailers to the dealer’s jobsite.
“Additionally, Cardinal offers customized software applications from our in-house team of programmers for our indicators so dealers can offer this service to their customers,” says Sabo.
On average, its takes about 140 man hours to manufacture the basic platform of an ARMOR truck scale which is built in sections. A typical (70 ft. x 11 ft.) model 13570-EPR truck scale comes in three modules, or four sections, that are 23 feet six inches long each.
Cardinal’s company motto is to manufacture everything in-house to the extent possible. It manufactures its own strain gauges, load cells, printed circuit boards, weight indicators, remote displays, unattended kiosks, vehicle recording software, peripheral equipment, connectivity, scale diagnostics and the truck scale itself. The company’s software programmers also have over a dozen truck scale mobile apps available for Android and Apple phones.
“Almost everything in the ARMOR truck scale is made in the USA,” says Sabo. “Only some individual electronic board components such as displays, membrane keypads, resistors, capacitors, and a few connectors are not.”
Features of ARMOR Truck Scales
Cardinal’s ARMOR truck scale design uses commercial strength structural members and plates whose size and layout are determined by the use of Finite Elements Analysis (FEA) which simulates stresses in the structure under the design load.
“The scale has a slightly bowed deck allowing for efficient water shedding and combats weighbridge deflection during operation,” says Sabo. “The design is modular so we can easily adopt it to custom size requirements many customers have.”
ARMOR truck scales carry a five year deck-and-below quality warranty that warrants the equipment manufactured against defects in material and workmanship. Cardinal’s Guardian hydraulic truck scales carry a lifetime load cell warranty to offer the longest-lasting truck scales available on the market.
Manual and robotic MIG (Metal Inert Gas) welding are both done on the standard ARMOR truck scales. This type of welding process uses an electric arc to form between a consumable wire electrode and the workpiece metal, which heats the workpiece metal, causing them to melt and join. Along with the wire electrode, a shielding gas feeds through the welding gun, which shields the process from contaminants in the air. There are between 1,200 to 1,600 welds on a typical ARMOR truck scale and 60 bolts used on average per scale. About 500 feet of wiring also goes into each ARMOR truck scale.
Rat-proofing conduit comes standard on all ARMOR truck scales. It features standard rodent protection via both rigid and flexible steel conduits, making it a snap to wire. Rigid steel conduit piping spans underneath every weighbridge and flex conduit is utilized in the load cell stand access area to cover the load cell wiring.
The ARMOR’s interconnecting scale decks are fabricated with precision-cut machined components for exacting quality.
To lessen the effect of a lighting strike, installers are advised to use single point grounding since this has shown much better results than having multiple ground rods.
“We have even found that, if possible, it works best using the same ground point as the power distribution into the building,” Sabo says. “And, of course, the junction boxes and load cells themselves contain transient suppression components to strip the energy away from the sensitive analog components.”
Additionally, Cardinal’s Guardian hydraulic truck scales contain no sensitive electronic components within the truck scale deck itself, since only hydraulic fluid is used, so they can withstand lightning strikes and water damage without losing load cells. The Guardian hydraulic truck scale offers superb accuracy and longevity in hostile environments. The Guardian’s pressure transducers, housed in the external totalizer cabinet, are fluidly coupled to their SST hydraulic load cell counterparts and convert the pressure signal into an electrical signal which is sent to the scale’s digital weight indicator in the scale house.
Cardinal’s junction boxes are USA-made, stainless steel, and environmentally sealed against weather. Cardinal also manufactures its own PCBs (printed circuit boards) in-house for truck scale junction boxes. Cardinal j-boxes provide excellent surge protection to guard against lightning strikes and voltage spikes. Typically two junction boxes are included with every ARMOR truck scale—the universal section seal/trim box and the transient suppression box. The dealer is given the option of how they want to configure the scale. The boxes are interchangeable and give the dealer the option of having controls at the truck scale or inside the scale house.
Prep Work Before the Scale Arrives
There is some necessary prep work before a scale arrives to its location. Foundation kits and blueprints ship out first. The concrete foundation and piers are poured in advance of the scale arriving. Cardinal’s fleet manager coordinates all aspects of delivery with the dealers to ensure the truck scale arrives when a crane is waiting onsite and the dealer and end-user are ready for installation.
The structural integrity of ARMOR truck scales are engineered to meet the required overall capacity and CLC (concentrated load capacity) for weighment. The foundation concrete and soils underneath the scale need to be formulated to meet the same requirements.
“It’s recommended that a business have a geological engineering firm test the soil and concrete to verify it would adequately support the required loading of the scale,” says Sabo. “Foundation pier and pit drawings are furnished with each ARMOR truck scale standard along with minimum soil and concrete requirements.”
One of the great things about buying a Cardinal truck scale, says Sabo, is its multiple load cell options. Most Cardinal truck scales utilize the stainless steel DB double-ended shear beam load cell with proven double-link suspension system.
“These load cell stands ship pre-installed from the factory and facilitate a free-floating deck,” he says. “These stands provide a self-centering even distribution of the load. Other popular Cardinal truck scales use the stainless steel SCA compression load cell. And if customers wish to upgrade to the Guardian truck scale, hydraulic load cells are utilized that are warranted for the lifetime of the scale and impervious against lightning strikes and water damage.”
Cardinal Scale Manufacturing Co., with factory and headquarters in Webb City, MO, is a family-owned and privately-held company with dealers in 110 countries. Cardinal Scale Manufacturing Company provides a one-stop shop for all of the customer’s weighing needs with an extensive product line of scales and weighing systems, including a wide selection of peripheral equipment. The company was awarded the Missouri Governor’s Exporter of the Year Award in 2008 and has been featured on TV’s “World’s Greatest!” and “How It’s Made.” Cardinal Scale offers the widest selection of truck scale applications and technology available from one source.
For more information, visit www.cardinalscale.com.