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Scale manufacturers are responding to recycling customers needs by introducing new systems for unattended weighing, rugged scales for harsh environments, low-cost security cameras and ever more sophisticated tools for gathering, weighing and tracking and recyclable materials.
At Cardinal Scale Mfg. Co. in Webb City, Missouri, its new Guardian truck scale employs a pressure-to-electric converter system to create a hydraulic scale highly resistant to water, lightning and other damaging influences. Stephen Cole, OEM account manager, says the Guardian is particularly well suited for push pits where recyclable materials are dumped onto a floor and then pushed into a truck situated on a lower level. "You can imagine the amount of water and sludge that ends up on that scale," says Cole. "Being virtually waterproof, using hydraulic pressure on electric sensors, it's a great scale to go in there."
Cardinal has also begun offering lower-cost security cameras for unattended scale stations. "You can have a security camera that ties a snapshot of the truck along with the ticket and includes the weight and everything," Cole says. Using inexpensive DVD recorders instead of long-play videotape recorders makes this an inexpensive option. "We can add a security system onto one of our computer packages for maybe $1,200," says Cole. "You're able to accomplish a lot more for less money."
For Keith Lowe, national sales manager for LTS Scale Corp. in Twinsburg, Ohio, his EnviroScale line of scales has been attractive to recycling operations. The EnviroScales mount on recycling material collection trucks, attaching to tippers to measure weight on individual curbside cans. RFID tags embedded in the cans allow the use of charge-by-weight approaches. "The RFID tag can be related to an address," Lowe says. "Now you can basically track everything that comes through that container on subsequent pickups and download that information to a PC."
Trucks with dual tippers require a separate EnviroScale on each tipper. In addition, recyclers have to provide RFID tags for containers. Lowe says these cost $4 to $5 each, depending on the quantity purchased.
An even more mobile solution comes from Carolina Software Inc. in Wilmington, North Carolina. The company, which is known for its WasteWorks and WasteWizard software systems, introduced a handheld computer that helps recycling operations use computerization with scales that aren't networked. The Windows-based, battery-powered WasteWalker device also provides backup in case electric power is out, says Jon Leeds, vice president for the company.
"It has about all the same input options as WasteWorks," Leeds says. "You can enter customers, vehicles and materials from a scale if you have a platform scale. It's connected via Bluetooth to a printer so you can get a receipt to your customers." WasteWalker lets you enter up to five lines of information about a transaction, so you can handle multiple recyclable streams, such as newsprint, bottles and cans in a single transaction. After entering transactions, you bring it back to the office, put it in a cradle and it dumps the information to a central computer system.
Carolina's WasteWizard automation software, which allows for unattended operation of recycling weigh stations, has been improved. The company enhanced materials options to allow operators to make relationships between inbound and outbound materials. For example, inbound cardboard and outbound bales of cardboard, although the same basic material, need to be treated differently. WasteWizard can now handle those types of connections, Leeds says.
"The addition of our camera system is one of the big things," he adds, echoing Cardinal's Cole. "When a driver punches his code into the keypad and creates a transaction, it prompts a camera system to take pictures of whatever you want." A photo of the driver, license plate or other information is combined with text from the ticket and cataloged. "Later if there's some question about who the driver was or what the load was, you can go back and look it up by ticket number and see the ticket text and picture combined," Leeds says.
After early promise, last year ended on a quiet note for scale manufacturers selling to recycling customers. Holtgreven Scale & Electronics Corporation's typical product for a recycling operation would be a 70-foot by 10-foot steel deck truck scale tied to a computer system and perhaps with a scoreboard displaying weights and other information. Len Holtgreven, president of the Findlay, Ohio, company, said sales have been slow lately. "It's been up and down and it appeared it was going to finish but it's dropped off again," he says.
One issue that could be giving customers pause is concern about security for the wireless data transfer systems offered by some manufacturers, including Holtgreven. These issues are being addressed by trade groups and standards committees, however, and manufacturers say recyclers are starting to embrace innovations that have proven themselves.