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Streamlining Your Scalehouse Operation

Anyone who has ever run a scalehouse operation knows how difficult it can be at times. You are dealing with many transactions, producing customer billings, people physically signing in and out, and traffic issues as well.

Most of the scalehouse sites which are running today have been poorly designed, both in terms of traffic patterns and efficiency of operation. Unfortunately, most of the new scale sites being established today are not being designed properly either. Companies are typically trying to work their operation from inside a remote, larger building as opposed to a small, separate structure located between the two scales.

At one site we observed, the scale operator works inside a building which is located away from the two scales. Because of this layout, the drivers actually have to cross one scale to go in and pick up their tickets, then return to their truck by crossing that same scale. This is a potentially dangerous situation which brings up another point: keeping both the drivers and your own staff safe and productive. If you lay out your site incorrectly, you will sacrifice more than just your revenue.

When establishing a new scalehouse or redesigning an existing one, you should design a facility for two scales, an inbound and an outbound scale, even if you only start with one. You need to think about traffic patterns and how quickly you will be able to move trucks through the site, even if that isn't an issue at the beginning.

Then there is the siting of the scale itself. The scale should be set up so that one operator from within the scalehouse can service either scale, inbound or outbound, as needed. This means the scales should be off center, not even with one another; when the driver approaches the inbound scale and stops, the cab should be at the window of the scalehouse. Likewise, the outbound scale should be set up the same way, when the truck approaches and is totally on the scale, the driver should be right at the window. That way one operator can go from one side to the other with a sliding window and handle the majority of the trucks.

If you will have trailers coming through the site, you must have scales long enough to accommodate them. This may not be a requirement in your state at the moment, but eventually it probably will be. For instance, the state of New York used to allow you to do a double weigh system where you could weigh the front axles first and roll them off, then roll the back axles on to weight them, and put the two weights together as the total truck weight. The state of New York is now frowning on this practice; they expect you to have the whole vehicle on the scale at the same time. Therefore, you are going to have to make changes, so you may as well make the right changes now and rebuild your site properly.

If you are also operating a transfer station, you may wish to consider installing a pit scale, where outbound trucks carrying material would exit your facility. This will significantly reduce the volume at your outbound scale, enabling you to move out both kinds of outbound trucks more quickly.

As far as computer system requirements are concerned, the computer and printer should be accessible to the operator, who can then work very easily from one side of the scale to the other. If you have an extremely busy operation, you should have a system that is multi-user; one person can handle the inbound and another the outbound when the volume demands it.

Another thing that you should consider is the ability to tag vehicles, if they have RFID's on them. The sensor should be located at the beginning of the scale so that when the truck initially goes on the scale, the sensor will pick up the vehicle right away; by the time the truck gets to the scalehouse itself the operator will know who that truck is, where it came from and, if they have a specific container on there, what size that is, and so on.

Yet another important aspect of your computer system involves the stragetic placement of video cameras throughout your facility. Having a taped record of the composition of each load that crosses your inbound scale is an excellent way of making sure your customers are bringing in what they say they are bringing, without your personnel having to conduct a physical inspection.

You can do most or all of these things in order to optimize your scalehouse operation, but you must plan for them; you can't accomplish them with haphazard planning.




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