Megan R. Nichols,
Freelance Technical Writer
Speed and accuracy is the name of the game when it comes to weighing raw materials and freight in a warehouse setting. How do you achieve both, though? It's not impossible, but it will require some clever optimization and the right equipment for the job at hand. If you haven't yet made a good faith effort to optimize your warehouse weighing systems, here's a look at how to get it done.
Consider Lift Truck Scales for Simpler Workflows and Safety
A lot of your weighing equipment is stationary, but there are compelling use cases for investing in lift truck scales, too.
First, incorporating weighing equipment into forklifts and motorized trucks provides the operator with a clear and instantaneous reading on the freight they're attempting to lift. This helps ensure they don't try a lift that exceeds the vehicle's rating.
Second, having an on-the-spot reading for the weight makes it easier for either the equipment operator or the warehouse management system to flag the appropriate bin location or staging area for the load, based on its needs and handling requirements.
Third, you stand a good chance of streamlining your warehouse workflows, since even large loads of materials or products can be lifted and weighed in one easy step, and then taken directly to the appropriate destination.
Conveyor Belt Scales for Logistical Control
Moving inbound and outbound goods in warehouses almost always requires an investment in conveyor belt or roller systems, but these are far from simple material handling implements. With the addition of conveyor belt scales, they become part of your larger logistical apparatus and even your safety efforts. A conveyor belt with an integrated or aftermarket scale system can help in several ways:
• Automatically stops the conveyor belt if a load is detected that is too heavy or out of compliance
• Alerts employees downstream of "team lift" items when an oversized parcel or load of material is detected
As with other types of scales, ensuring this equipment stays accurate even in high-impact areas of your warehouse might require regular calibration.
Know Your Pallet Scale Types and Choose Accordingly
The term "pallet scale" can refer to a number of different types of weighing equipment. Choosing the right one for your facility requires some consideration. A general-purpose pallet scale may be good enough for your distribution or warehousing operation, but there are other variants worth considering:
• Pallet beam scales are popular in warehouses that specialize in goods with irregular shapes and sizes.
• Pit-mounted pallet scales require in-ground installation and sit flush with the ground. This allows employees to roll or drive product over the scale as they pass through an area, potentially reducing the number of specific weighing areas for which you'll need to allocate space.
• Pallet jack scales simplify the basic concept of the lift truck scale. Employees can lift, transport and weigh a load of products or materials in just a couple of steps, compared with first moving the product to a fixed location for weighing.
Pallets are always going to be a mainstay in distribution centers and warehouses. Your pallets themselves are another matter worth considering. Plastic pallets can be more expensive than wooden ones, but they last longer — and they also present a reduced risk of breakage or missing parts, which could mean more accurate weighing operations.
Reconsider the Layout of Your Weigh Room and Other Weighing Areas
In addition to choosing and then getting the most out of specific types of scales, it's also a good idea to revisit the layout of your weighing operations, areas and dedicated weigh rooms. Here are some best practices for weighing areas you should keep in mind:
• Design with one-way flow in mind so personnel and materials don't get confused or misplaced.
• Come up with layouts and workflows that keep perishable and nonperishable goods separate, as well as hazardous and nonhazardous materials.
If your trade involves raw or loose materials, keep in mind that put-back totes need a place that's out of the way and where they won't be confused with other work in progress.
Tie It All Together With the Right Software
There are several other types of weighing equipment that find extensive use throughout warehouses and supply chains. One of these is the onboard truck scale, which provides the opportunity to either weigh incoming freight straight off the truck or to complete one final check on outgoing materials before the vehicle leaves the dock.
When scales can be incorporated into any number of areas and processes, and even vehicles, it means the facility needs a multifeatured warehouse management system to collect and organize all this operational data. Achieving proper documentation for compliance, making the most of your warehouse space and keeping employees safe and efficient are all great reasons for taking a fresh look at your equipment and even the software that powers it.