First publishedin Aggregates Business Europe
Tamtron has said that on-board weighing can allow productivity to be more closely monitored
Development of new technology and bespoke software is helping both mobile and static weighing solutions to improve efficiency in quarries of almost any size, Claire Symes reports.
While weighing operations may not directly impact on the quality of the aggregates themselves, the process of weighing is an important task in the operation of any quarry.
"Weighing essentially provides a quarry with a cash register," explained Avery Weigh Tronix
global product manager Chris McAllister. But how that weighing process is carried out has changed significantly with the development of new technology that is not just reducing paperwork but also improving flow through the loading area and safety too.
"The weighbridge sector is quite a stable industry - the factor that affects it most is the rising cost of steel," said McAllister. "However, there is a general trend in the weighbridge sector for more unmanned systems and more data collection.
"The main developments have been more about the peripheries rather than the weighbridge itself," explained McAllister. "The demand and development for more control systems and data transfer has exceeded any changes to the weighbridge design itself.
"One thing we have seen over the last five to six years though is the move from pit-mounted weighbridges to surfacemounted units, so from a structural point of view this has increased the demand for safety features," he said. "This has led to people opting for wider weighbridges too - most are 3m wide but the move to surface-mounted systems mean people want more room if they get out of the cab. Steps and hand rails have also become standard features, which were never needed before
"The weighbridge is basically a load cell so there is very little room for development, even in terms of accuracy. Most offer increments of 20kg; although 10kg increments are possible you start to then get environmental factors such as wind affecting the accuracy from day to day.
"The development is more in the area of marshalling with barriers, wireless technology and remote displays, as well as the possibility of un-manned weighbridges. Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) technology has enabled much of this development."
According to McAllister, one of the major trends in the UK is the call for the on-highway trucks to be fitted with their own weighing systems. "A lot of quarry companies in the UK will not allow trucks onto their sites unless they are fitted with such systems," he said. "They allow the weight of the load to be checked during the loading process and help to save time by avoiding the need to add to a load after the truck has driven up to the weighbridge and prevent overloaded trucks too.
Generally weighbridges are modular and a quarry will use two sections joined together to create a single weighbridge but there are occasions when a quarry may want them to act independently. "We have had experience of working with one UK quarry operator which had issues with axle loadings being too high, so we split the sections of the weighbridge to give the quarry the axle weight as well as the overall load," said McAllister.
Transfer of the data collected by the weighbridge via remote systems and collation by computer systems has driven use of automatic invoicing and very few quarries now use paper systems.
With regard to future development of weighbridges, McAllister said that there is some discussion of digital versus analogue but the choice depends on the market. "Digital systems offer more diagnostics with the ability to interrogate the load cells remotely but they are also more expensive than conventional weighbridges," he said.
Weighbridges are a quarry's cash register as well as monitoring truck loading