On-board truck scales are proving to be very valuable assets to fleets, particularly those who transport items like grain, aggregates and livestock, where it pays to “weigh as you go.” The scales are helping fleets maximize their payload capacities while reducing operating expenses.

Scott McCulloch, marketing manager at Right Weigh, Inc., says in his company's experience, the industry is moving away from expensive, complicated load scale systems. “We've seen dramatic sales growth in the last several years as a direct result of this market shift. Fleet owners are outfitting their equipment with scales that are less expensive, easy to install and simple for the average driver to calibrate and use effectively.”

Priced from $95-$265, Right Weigh's analog tractor and trailer load scale systems give fleets a fast R.O.I., McCulloch reports, while still providing them with the weight information needed to maximize loads and stay legal. Three months ago, he notes, the company launched a new line of gauges that are filled with a low-viscosity silicone to prevent corrosion, and absorb vibration and pressure spikes for added durability.

The liquid-filled gauges, McCulloch explains, have an operating temperature range of -40° F to 140° F, and can be mounted in or out of a protective enclosure. As with all Right Weigh air scales, he adds, the new liquid-filled ones utilize on-the-face calibration to provide accurate weight readings within 250 lb. or better.

Air-Weigh Scales' customer support manager, Jim Morton, says that with freight currently being down, fleets “want to maximize efficiency by weighing as they load,” eliminating the need for driving out-of-route miles to get to load scales prior to every trip or worrying about being found overweight at a weigh station. Air-Weigh offers median-priced truck air scales with in-dash LCD gauges that display digital weights in 20-lb increments.

A key advantage of Air-Weigh scales, Morton advises, is two-point calibration that allows for calibration of the scales “with the trailer empty as well as fully loaded, ensuring accurate readings throughout the range of values. Our scales also offer fleets drop-and-hook capability, by providing for two-way communications of weight information between a trailer and tractor when each is equipped with an Air-Weigh system.”

Recent enhancements added to Air-Weigh scales include a J1708 interface, which enables onboard communications systems that connect to the J1708 data bus to pick up weight information as well. The manufacturer also offers an RS232 output mechanism as an optional way of connecting to an onboard computer, and last year Air-Weigh introduced a steer axle deflection sensor option that can be used for onboard weighing in straight trucks and tractors without air suspensions.

For trucks, tractors and trailers with air suspensions, TruckWeight Inc. offers a wireless truck scale called the Smart Scale. Peter Panagapko, TruckWeight president, says today's fleets have a better understanding of the significant cost benefits of onboard weighing. Criteria important to them in making the best buying decision “includes a solid return on their investment into an onboard scale without the risk of running into a lot of downtime due to maintenance from wire corrosion, which historically has been the primary cause of onboard scale failure and high maintenance costs.”

According to Panagapko, the TruckWeight Smart Scale addresses many fleet concerns. It's completely wireless and requires no spare parts. “The Smart Sensor, which communicates within a 500-ft radius,” he advises, “takes only ten minutes to install and drivers can drop and hook trailers in a minute with the handheld receiver. Each sensor has its own unique digital identification number, making it possible for the truck to wirelessly know which trailer is attached to it.”

Scheduled for release early in 2008 is a new TruckWeight Receiver Module (RM), which Panagapko says will connect to a truck's existing onboard communications device. In addition to providing weight and trailer ID information, the RM will serve as a path for receiving tire pressures, cargo temperature and humidity levels, security data, and more, “all through one low-cost device.” RM, he explains, will be compatible with all existing TruckWeight onboard scales.

Two new Vulcan On-Board Scales products have been recently introduced by Stress-Tek. The first is a scale designed for use in the McNeilus concrete mixer truck. According to the manufacturer, the scale uses load cell technology for the most accurate weight measurements and can be used as a stand-alone system or combined with an onboard GPS system. The company has also introduced an onboard scale for dump truck applications that features Vulcan's V300 meter for in-cab displays.