Truck Scale Automation

What is Grain Scale Software?

You know exactly what a truck scale is, but what exactly does the phrase grain scale software entail?

ABC's of Grain Scale Software

Automation at your scale increases efficiencies and profit, by eliminating manual processes at your facility

Better traffic control, communication, and accuracy speed up your truck scale lines, allowing you to accept more grain in the same amount of time

Customizable software that enables site-specific configurations tailored for your facility, with the ability to expand when your business grows

 

Automation at the scale involves using PCs and software connected to hardware devices at or near the truck scale. It significantly reduces operator involvement, stress, and mistakes that typically happen with manual inputs. Reducing the time each vehicle ties up your truck scale will boost your efficiency.

Grain Scale Software

Software is the foundation of scale automation, and all of the other pieces are built around it. Grain scale software captures data that is crucial to your accounting department in order to accurately invoice, bill, make payments, etc.

For the most part, at one time this information was handwritten on a paper scale ticket. Today, the software captures the data on the ticket entry screen, creating an electronic scale ticket.

 

Well-written grain scale software:

  • Is easy to understand
  • Has the ability to capture all critical grain-related information
  • Requires the operator to gather pertinent information before a ticket process
  • Includes features that make processes quick and efficient

Grain Truck Scale Devices

Radio Frequency Identification or RFID tags and readers create an electronic connection between the ticket on the PC and the truck in process. When the connection is complete, you can incorporate additional actions and information to take place without operator intervention.

RFID readers can be either short-range (credit card-style) or long-range with fixed tags in the truck or on the trailer.

In essence, RFID supports unmanned checkout and prevents incorrect stamping of the final weight. Well-designed RFID technology accommodates both regular customers (to prevent entering the same information each time they return) and vehicles/drivers who will only use the facility occasionally.

 

Typical actions when a driver swipes an RFID tag:

  • Default information creates a ticket
  • The scale captures the truck weight and enters weight onto the ticket
  • The ticket is moved to another operational location
  • A message displays on the message board to the driver
  • Delivery or loading equipment turns on automatically
  • The ticket prints when the entire process is complete

Message Boards

Placing electronic message boards in strategic locations to communicate with drivers is imperative. Messages appear automatically (without scale operator intervention) when a ticket is started and as information is added. The driver can visually see their ticket ticket, so they can catch any mistakes before they leave the facility. Message boards also display other information, such as receiving hours or current commodity prices. In any event, they can even invite drivers to park the truck and come in for a free cup of coffee!

 

Typical message board locations and information include:

  • At the remote probe showing customer name, commodity, and grade factors
  • At the inbound scale showing live weight, captured weight, customer name, grade factors (if the probe is at the scale), permission to proceed to the pit, and pit assignment
  • At the outbound scale showing live weight, captured weight, process instructions, and signature prompts

Remote Condensed View of Tickets in Progress

Remote monitoring of ticket information (Pit Monitor) displays data during the scaling process to employees at pits and loading areas. This allows employees working in these areas to know which trucks are processing.

Information that displays can include which commodity they are picking up or unloading, as well as grade factors and binning assignments. This minimizes the need to repeat or misunderstand two-way radio communication.

Management can also see the current truck process immediately and determine whether they need to intervene to reduce a backlog of trucks.

Grading Interface

Grading machines tie in so electronic transmissions apply directly to scale tickets. Then, the operator keys in any manual evaluations. In addition, the automatic grading fields enable manual changes from occurring. Although, if changes can take place with management verification.

Signature Pads

If operational procedure requires a driver’s signature, electronic signature pads digitally capture signatures and apply them to scale tickets. Signature pads can be at the kiosk adjacent to the scale (allowing the driver to sign from the vehicle), or in the office if the location prefers.

Ticket Printing

Printing reports is standard, including processes that are not automatic. During automation, printing triggers automatically and generally happens at a kiosk so the driver does not leave the vehicle to get documentation.

Truck-on-Scale Fraud Protection

In-ground truck scales can sometimes misalign trucks and that can affect the accuracy of weights. For example, if a tire of a truck is partially on the scale and partially on the adjacent apron, the weight will be inaccurate. With this, the electronic perimeter senses this and captures the correct weight.

Plant Controls Interface

Occasionally, the data gathered at the scale can be useful to the plant control system. In a few applications, you can give bin assignments at the scale ticket, which control the plant routing and even starts the equipment. In addition, it can validate if a truck is the correct vehicle, before allowing equipment to start.

Cameras

Still shot cameras can take pictures of trucks and/or license plates when you take weights or at other points in the process. Some sites choose to add a camera to the kiosk, to capture a picture of the driver when weighing their truck.

Results from Grain Scale Software

It is best to view scale automation as a set of tools. Depending on your application, you may need only one or two. Other applications may require the entire set. Either way, the results can be significant.

Do you know the cost of incorrect binning, due to radio communication misunderstanding?

In addition, the total cost of applying tickets incorrectly, incorrect first weights, or cross-weighing trucks is unimaginable. Therefore, automation helps resolve these types of problems. It is important to consider when determining if grain scale software is appropriate for your facility.

Take the Next Step to Add Automation to Your Facility

Now that you know the ABC’s about grain scale software, do you still want to learn more? We’d love to discuss ways your operation can adopt practical automation at your facility. Complete the form and one of our team members will be in touch with you.

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