Looking at the latest updates in weighing technology

Written by: Steed Webzell | Published:
Axtec weighbridge

Whether it is weighbridge or on-vehicle technology, accurate load measurement is an increasingly vital part of the waste and recycling industry. Steed Webzell reveals the latest thinking.

According to Avery Weigh-Tronix, the recycling industry revolves around weight. Whether the goal is to optimise profit, pay precisely for the materials deposited or purchased, or simply to offer an added level of security, scale equipment capable of reliable and repeatable weighing is essential for improving billing accuracy and the bottom line.

Weight information is also key to tracking the amount of waste collected, monitoring inputs and outputs during materials recovery, and recording disposal quantities. A scale system capable of legal-for-trade weighing is an invaluable asset, as revenue is commonly based upon the weight of commodities purchased or shipped.

Avery Weigh-Tronix provides a range of legal and non-legal scales, but the benefits of the former extend beyond legality. Legal-for-trade approval can also be seen as a badge of reliability; proof that a scale can provide repeatable weighing of goods, ensuring customer satisfaction, precise billing and accurate inventory records.

Weighbridges remain a popular tool, allowing managers to carefully monitor each transaction by capturing initial weights and load details. Avery Weigh-Tronix weighbridges come in either steel or concrete to suit the application, and can be surface or pit mounted.

Among recent weighbridge installations is Northamptonshire’s first publicly available ‘drive-over’ facility at the Wellingborough Council Depot operated by Wellingborough Norse.

Supplied by Axtec, the weighbridge is strategically situated for M1/A14 traffic and will help local transport companies save hundreds of pounds in overloading fines and downtime incurred travelling to out-of-county weighing facilities. A cost of just £15 is incurred to weigh a typical commercial vehicle.

Axtec’s weighbridge is fast too, allowing a six-axle tractor and trailer combination to be weighed in just 40 seconds, and obtain individual axle and gross vehicle weight to an accuracy of ±0.25%. The driver simply drives over the flush-mounted platform at a constant speed of 2.5mph before obtaining instant weight figures from a digital read-out.

“The Axtec dynamic weighbridge has been a shrewd investment for us,” says Bernard Gallyot, operations director at Wellingborough Norse. “This installation will bring some substantial efficiencies to our mixed bulk recycling operation, saving us time and money travelling to an off-site weighbridge many miles away.

Improving recycling rates

Furthermore, the weighbridge presents us with a commercial opportunity by provide a service to hauliers who now have a local, cost-effective solution to their weighing requirements.”

Further south, Weightron Bilanciai says it has been selected by a leading metals and recycling company in Barking as its new weighbridge supplier. Recently installed is a Weightron 15m Eurodeck weighbridge featuring robust steel beams and a Durbar steel skid-resistant deck.

The low-profile, modular design offers versatility in terms of weighbridge length, width and capacity, and can be supplied with either analogue (CPR) or digital (CPD) stainless steel canister load cells (C3, C4 and C5 accuracy).

Among a number of recent initiatives championed by Weightron Bilanciai is itemised waste management. The industry recognises that the only fair way to manage waste in multi-stream environments is to charge according to the amount and type produced – colloquially known as ‘pay as you throw’ (PAYT).

As pressure increases for companies to improve and optimise their waste recycling, specialist weighing technology is providing valuable tools that simplify the whole process in a range of commercial applications.

Not only is this providing important fiscal data for waste cost distribution, but there is empirical evidence that recycling levels are increased when such systems are implemented.

Advancing technology

The Weightron waste weighing and management system allows waste contractors, facilities management companies and landlords to accurately record different waste streams such as paper, card, food, metals, plastics, sanitary waste, medical waste, glass, ink and batteries, and charge for the waste produced on an individual basis.

At the heart of a typical system are one or more low-profile LPS platform scales and colour touchscreen terminals running Weightron’s Winweigh software. The software can link directly with proprietary waste management systems, providing data for invoicing purposes.

Every waste bag collected throughout the building is labelled with a barcode sticker containing information relating to the address and waste type (RFID tags can also be used).

When the bags or containers reach the area where the main waste receptacles are housed, the waste producer simply logs into the system, scans the barcode to capture the data and places each bag on the scale.

This data, captured within Winweigh, is then used to provide detailed real-time data on waste movement together with analysis of waste production and recycling levels.

The introduction of PAYT in the municipal sector has been a popular topic of discussion recently. One major development is that vehicle manufacturers are now supplying vehicles with lifting gear already prepared for the installation of weighing equipment.

This initiative dramatically reduces the costs associated with retrofitting kit to older vehicles, as no additional fabrication is required, while the amount of time that vehicles need to be off the road is also reduced.

According to AMCS, weighing system technology has also improved, particularly with regard to reporting capability. By way of example, the AMCS Vehicle Data Hub and in-cab On-Board Computer for PAYT operations are now being paired with Volvo self-driving waste trucks.

Eyes to Europe

Volvo Group, together with Swedish waste and recycling specialist Renova, is testing a pioneering autonomous refuse truck that has the potential to be used across the urban environment. The project explores how automation can contribute to enhanced traffic safety, improved working conditions and lower environmental impact.

Volvo’s autonomous truck uses a surveying method called LIDAR to measure distance to a target by illuminating that target with a pulsed laser light and measuring the reflected pulses with a sensor.

“There is amazing potential to transform the swift pace of technical developments in automation into practical benefits for customers and, more broadly, society in general,” says Lars Stenqvist, chief technology officer at Volvo Group.

“The digitalisation of the waste and recycling industry is unstoppable,” adds Mark Abbas, chief marketing officer at AMCS Group. “We see more and more technological innovations finding their way into the sector. Technologies such as autonomous driving, real-time optimisation, digital engagement and e-commerce are driving operational efficiency, improving safety and increasing customer satisfaction.”

Back in the UK, London-based Westminster Waste has just ordered its third refuse collection vehicle (RCV) equipped with bin-weighing equipment to enhance its PAYT service, exemplifying the growing demand for technology of this ilk. In future, bin weighing technology will be part of the standard specification for all new vehicles in the company’s fleet.

Westminster Waste took delivery of its first RCV last year, a Euro 6 DAF CF 440 FAX 8×2 chassis fitted with the Enviroweigh bin-weighing system from Vehicle Weighing Solutions (VWS).

A second bin-weighing-ready vehicle was purchased soon after as part of the company’s ongoing vehicle replacement programme to upgrade the fleet with the latest Euro 6 compliant trucks.

Dave Tucker, director at Westminster Waste, says: “The VWS bin-weighing system allows us to monitor the weight data for every bin. Moreover, we can easily upload the information to our back office system, allowing us to quickly present accurate weight information to our customers.”

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