Many industry regulars may be under the impression that in-motion scales and checkweighers are what they are and have not really changed that much for decades. But manufacturers like AP Dataweigh, Cardinal Scale Manufacturing and Mettler-Toledo Hi-Speed are at the forefront of design innovation and technology application for modern checkweighing needs, as well as for future adaptations and problem resolutions for their clients and those they supply.
This “open” aspect of the company’s systems is especially innovative industry wide in that it is not based on locked, black-box technology that only the OEM can access. Van Duzen explains, “We designed it to be open so our end users can go to their local scale companies and the service providers with whom they are already familiar and have them perform calibrations, service, etc.”
Van Duzen believes that this represents one of the biggest current problems with checkweighers because they mostly have been “locked up” industry wide. “End users have had to rely on going back to the OEM for service, calibration and parts.” He says that this makes for a “service based sale,” and the other OEMs are able to charge “more than an arm and a leg” for servicing, updating and even calibrating the machines. These Open Architecture systems take that equation out of purchasing a checkweigher and it can potentially save end users thousands of dollars just on one call alone!
Another innovative feature of the company’s product line is the ability to upgrade the machines. “Thousands of end users have paid massive sums of money only to be told by their checkweigher OEM that the machine is obsolete, no longer has replacement parts, and they are forced to purchase a new one,” Van Duzen explains. AP Dataweigh checkweighers can be upgraded in most cases to meet the ever changing demands of its customers. “We always try to avoid making our machines have the potential of becoming obsolete,” he adds.
Other unique applications offered in its catalog of in-line checkweighers include Print and Apply labeling, barcode and product sortation, combination checkweigh and metal detection, as well as combination checkweigh and X Ray options.
Always looking toward the future, AP Dataweigh is presently working on a new checkweigh controller that will take 3200 samples from a standard, strain-gauge load cell per second and deliver 1600 usable readings per second. “We believe this will be a game changer across the checkweighing world,” says Van Duzen.
But sometimes technology is not the only innovation that can positively affect business outcomes; a progressive manufacturing philosophy can also produce similar results. Van Duzen believes that attention to customers’ specific needs and designing unique systems to meet those needs can be groundbreaking as well. “Where our competitors make the customers tailor their lines to match ‘off the shelf’ checkweighers, we do the opposite—we design the checkweigher around our customers’ needs.”
Cardinal Scale has been making strides in weight display adaptation as well as wireless internet connectivity. Founded in 1950, it is one of the largest privately held scale manufacturing company in the USA. In 1980, Cardinal Scale acquired Detecto Scale, which greatly diversified its ability to produce scales and other related products to most all other market segments.
The checkweigher that utilizes this technology is the Model 190 Storm, whose weight display incorporates selectable color schemes to make it one of the easiest scales to recognize acceptable weights fast and accurately. When the weight is under target, the display is yellow. Then when the accepted target weight is hit, a vivid green is displayed. Finally, if the weight target is exceeded, it shows a bright red color. “You can imagine in language-barrier environments, this enables supervisors to greatly economize day to day employee training and maximize production,” Cox notes.
Cardinal Scale also incorporates Wi-Fi technology into its checkweighers, providing the ability to send target weights for selected products directly to the scale, or to monitor weight for reporting requirements. This greatly heightens accuracy, which in turn, helps manage cost control. Cox explains, “For example, with the accelerated costs in food products, precise weight in packaged products is so important to the success of the supplier, whether in production or the prep line in fast food markets.”
One recent checkweighing-related issue directly addressed by Cardinal Scale was how to prevent damage to its products during the cleaning process. In fact, the company created the Model 190 Storm with this consideration in mind. Because it is IP69 rated, this model can be cleaned with high pressure washing and detergents. Not surprisingly, this design convenience is currently in high demand for both the food and chemical industries.
Innovation is an ongoing focus, and the company is constantly developing new and exciting solutions. For example, in this age of mobile apps, immediate data collection, and monitoring of weights, Cardinal Scale has launched a multitude of applications based on its customers’ requirements. “We recently developed a scale and Wi-Fi connection for an Apple iPad application to monitor food waste in cafeterias and restaurants here in the US and also now in UK-based operations,” says Cox. In fact, the Cardinal and Detecto Scale brands continue to grab the attention of its customers for their new and exciting product developments. “We are proud to be a developer and manufacturer of weighing equipment, now and for the future,” he concludes.
Speed is yet another important consideration in the evolution of in-motion checkweighers, and Mettler-Toledo’s appropriately named Hi-Speed division is at the forefront of producing these fast and accurate machines. Hi-Speed’s rapid-paced products and their equally swift and impressive capabilities can move your brand down the lane(s) at miss-if-you-blink speeds. Its systems are comprised of automatic scales that weigh individual packages (or parts) at rates up to 800 ppm, and weights in excess of 100 kg. John Uber, product marketing manager, further describes their standard functionality. “Our equipment is typically placed in a packaging line somewhere after a filling operation, and the checkweigher identifies the package going on the scale, determines the best weighing algorithm for the speed, weight and available time to weigh.” He adds that it then measures the weight and classifies the package as accept or reject, and if reject, it sorts the package from the stream of good products.
One new product line that has addressed this is the C3000 Checkweigher series. “This is a global product and it was a result of a collaborative effort between our two checkweighing companies—Garvens and Mettler-Toledo Hi-Speed,” Uber notes. Garvens is Hi-Speed’s German sister company, which has built high precision checkweighers for many years. “These products are built more with durability in mind and the combined design in the C3000 is the best from both sides—it is a high precision, highly durable machine that can be applied around the world,” he adds.
It is no surprise that overall production safety is yet another important consideration that manufacturers must take into account. Uber describes how and why Mettler-Toledo Hi-Speed is one of the industry leaders in safety. “Like all packaging equipment, the requirements for safety compliance have increased dramatically in the last five years, so we have developed an Equipment Safety Process that our customers have recognized as one of the best in the industry.” By building safety protocols directly into its products, the company preemptively helps its customers meet their obligations to make their work environments safe.
Uber admits that customers inevitably encounter various checkweighing problems and challenges every day. “Each of our customers’ products has their own distinct characteristics, whether it is weighing to an accuracy of 5 mg or supporting products that weigh over 200 lb, but we are always ready to adapt our applications to resolve any issues and challenges that may arise.”
As costs, industry demands, production regulations and technologies continue to change, manufacturers like these three must continue to adapt to the needs of their customers. With their innovations in data communications, safety, speed, upgrading capabilities and wireless connectivity, these companies represent the current height of design innovation and adaptability for in-line and in-motion checkweighing. For this increasingly dynamic and technologically driven world, with its expanding global economies and continual pressure for measuring to be more and more accurate, rapid, and universal, AP Dataweigh, Cardinal Scale Manufacturing and Mettler-Toledo Hi-Speed have positioned themselves as not only the foundation of checkweigh manufacturers, but the future leaders and innovators in a constantly evolving and sometimes unpredictable industry.
You can read more of Christopher’s work at www.cussat.com.