A Volvo L350 wheel loader is shown equipped with a VEI loader scale.
This Komatsu WA450 equipped with a loader scale is able to more accurately load dump trucks.
Wheel loaders are the recognized workhorse around most aggregate operations – better known for the grunt work of moving tons of material than for their delicate touch. But according to Bob Pritchett, customer sales & support representative at General Equipment’s service center in Bismarck, ND, the simplicity and accuracy of today’s loader scales are helping to turn even the heaviest loaders into a precision instrument.
“With these scales, our equipment customers are using their loader bucket like a giant measuring cup,” he reports. “Pit operators appreciate the speed they can achieve over truck scales. But the efficiency is in making sure that their customers are getting exactly what they ordered – never under and never over.”
General Equipment is the regional dealer for RMT Equipment, the North American distributor for VEI Loader Scales. Although the loader scales are not rated as legal for tender, VEI’s current models weigh and record loads with +/- 1% accuracy. “These scales are easy to use and they provide good detailed reports at the end of the day,” Pritchett asserts.
He notes that almost every aggregate site he visits is now using loader scales. Asphalt producers also use the scales to match government specifications for their material mix with the loaders.
"Bounce" enables on-the-fly weighing
Now the parts manager at the Shakopee, MN branch, Pritchett’s colleague, Jason Wilkie, was previously in the field selling and installing VEI loader scales. A few years ago, Wilkie saw the trend developing toward fast, accurate in-motion weighing.
“Operators were really attracted to these scales when VEI introduced its 'bounce compensation' feature," he comments. "Older style loader scales required the machine to find a level place and to stop moving so it could weigh the load. With bounce compensation, the new scales can really get accurate weights 'on the fly.' You just keep loading, and the scale captures all the data automatically.”
Wilkie notes that the accuracy of the scales is equal to the accuracy of the truck scales used by most facilities. “Occasionally, we see a slight discrepancy between the weights recorded by the loader scale and the truck scale. In that case, we just recalibrate the two together so all the reports reflect the same numbers. The weights in the bucket match the weights in the truck.”
As loader scales have gotten more precise and robust, they have also gotten smarter.
The most popular model from VEI, the helper7 Series 2, can now track data and produce customized load tickets for over 680 separate customers, 80 different product names and 19 destinations, including details such as the weight and volume of the total truckload, number of buckets, destination and machine code. The information can be printed out instantly with the helper7’s built-in printer, and also transferred to business computers by way of an optional USB key or TrackWeight wireless modem.
For smaller operations that require equal accuracy without all the data, the Millennium model offers a simpler, lower cost alternative. “Operators who aren’t experienced with loader scales or computers like the Millennium because it’s so easy,” says Wilkie. “It only has three buttons to push.”
VEI also offers models for other equipment, including small loaders, skid steers, forklifts and dump trucks. The new helper21 model introduces a palm-sized payload management system complete with wireless data communications. To support multi-site operations with centralized accounting and operations management, RMT Equipment developed the TrackWeight web-based reporting system that is able to capture and integrate the information from all VEI loader scales in a customer’s fleet.
Support simplifies weighing solutions
Of course, any technology is only as good as the support behind it. As such, General Equipment includes setup, installation and service support in the selling price of the VEI scales. While the basic installation isn’t complicated, having the units calibrated by experienced service staff ensures that the loader is fully ready to work on delivery.
“We can do it very quickly because of our familiarity with different machines," Pritchett states. "When we do, it’s simpler for us and for the customer.”
Service support was a key factor when General Equipment switched to VEI from its former line. “We contacted RMT Equipment when our customers became dissatisfied with the factory support we were getting. It’s been a partnership with RMT ever since," says Pritchett.
"We know that eventually every piece of equipment will have a problem, so the support needs to be there," he continues. "With these scales, due to their simplicity in overall design, we can usually answer customers’ questions ourselves over the phone. If not, we simply call RMT and [one of the] customer service people walks us through to the solution.”