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The voice of the skip hire, recycling and waste industries in the UK & Ireland.

Weighing systems

@Griffith Elder The waste and recycling industries revolve primarily around materials and their weight.

Weighing systems serve an important function for any waste or recycling business. The waste industry is  immensely regulated and comprehensive reporting is expected across the board.

The high levels of legislation and documenting means that weighing has to be a viable option, as well as a stringent  part of the reporting procedure.

Weighing machines are a key factor in the waste and recycling chain and need to not only provide a good return-  on-investment for buyers, but also need to be efficient and accurate for the reliable collection of data.

Bin-weighing is now a crucial part of private and public tenders and contracts, making it even more critical than  ever for waste managers to implement the correct machinery into their business.

Waste and recycling companies that have a strong focus on the importance of weighing, will undoubtedly improve their business practice and their overall bottom line.

Ultimately, the performance of the weighing machine will have a direct impact on the organisation.

On-board weighing systems

On-board weighing systems can check the weight of your load before it leaves its pick-up point and can ensure that the waste collected is not overloaded. By maximising the weight and distributing evenly, drivers can be assured that they are within the law.

According to a study on heavy vehicle on-board weighing (http://goo.gl/jBq8TZ), one in three checked vehicles is overloaded by 10-20%. Vehicles that are overloaded can have a detrimental impact on the safety of the roads, wear and tear and the environment. What businesses don’t realise also is that extra weight on lorries can be an unfair advantage to competitors.

Present European legislation (Directive 96/53/EC) is continually seeking to improve its current priorities when it comes to dimensions and weights of large-vehicle loads.

Safety is paramount when transporting waste. It is a pre-requisite of the Health and Safety Executive Guidance Document (Waste and recycling vehicles in street collection) (http://goo.gl/NZkime) that drivers should:

  • Know the gross vehicle weight (GVW) (GVW takes into account the weight of the vehicle plus passengers and additional weight)
  • The vehicles payload
  • How to operate weighing equipment

Knowing these three factors will help the driver to correctly calculate how much waste can be moved.

It is also required that a full risk assessment is carried out before the transportation of waste to ensure that the work can be carried out safely.

Overloaded vehicles

Vehicles that are overloaded can result in significant problems, including brake failure, ineffective suspension and heat generated to tyres – causing blow-outs.

Overloaded vehicles can also present other hazards and risks, including waste spilling onto public roads and even problems with the tipping of the waste when at the destination.

Overloaded vehicles can also result in drivers ‘jogging’ the waste (by shunting the lorry) to adjust the waste and redistribute it for easier tipping. This ‘jogging’ motion can result in damage to the vehicle and is prohibited in the majority of law-abiding waste sites.

Having the correct weighing system from the outset reduces the need for any of the above mentioned problems.

Benefits of on-board weighing systems:

  • On-board systems offer increased opportunity for productivity. Higher loads can be lifted more safely within the constraints of the settings
  • Statistics and data can be reported immediately and in real-time. This bypasses any ambiguity and enables effective reporting to both the customer and head office
  • The majority of on-board weighing solutions are highly accurate and the gauges within them precise
  • Having the correct weight on the vehicle ensures overall safety and prevents any overloading

Industrial weighing systems

In October 2014, the final version of the regulations for the materials recycling facility (MRF) Code of Practice for England and Wales came into effect.

This regulation now requires that all MRFs which process more than 1,000 tonnes of mixed waste annually must measure the input, output and residual waste streams and their level of quality. This is done in quarterly intervals and then the material composites need to be measured.

With such stringent measurements and requirements as set out in the legislation, having a weighing system which is capable of measuring waste specifically is the key to ensuring waste businesses meet their targets and objectives.

Benefits of industrial weighing systems

  • Industrial weighing scales are designed to withstand the most robust environments
  • Weighing systems can assist in the most accurate reporting of waste in real-time, ensuring effective business and the reselling of the recyclables
  • Some weighing systems come with identification technology, enabling the waste to be recorded accurately into streams, e.g. plastics, food, card, metals etc.


Weighbridges can be fixed or portable, depending on the needs of the business. Made usually of concrete or steel (or both), the definition of a weighbridge sounds simple. However, the technology behind them is highly innovative.

Again, regulation is a key factor in waste businesses that have weighbridges. The Weight and Measures Act states that no one may operate a public weighbridge without specific certification issued from the Chief Inspector of Weights and Measures.

To obtain this certification, it must be proved to the chief that you have a thorough understanding of the weighbridge, are aware of ‘scams’ that you could be exposed to, an understanding of accuracy and its importance, are able to complete and fill in tickets and documents, and have a certain level of maths skills.

Benefits of weighbridges 

  • Can be static or portable
  • Are highly durable and built to withstand harsh environments
  • Some come with an ‘adder’ module for larger weighs, reducing the cost for replacement equipment

What should business owners be looking for when purchasing any weighing system?

  • Accuracy

Accuracy is key when using a weighing system. When operating a waste or recycling business, your billing and reporting needs to be meticulous. Flaws in your weighing data can result in anomalies in your recording, which can lead to loss of revenue and even worse, breaking the law, albeit unknowingly.

Accuracy is essential. Precise weighing can avoid serious business problems, including over or under calculations; which can result in loss of profits, overcharging, loss of business, loss of goodwill and even in some extreme cases, prosecution.

  • Software

The correct software will convert your raw material weight into useable and actionable business intelligence. Your software needs to be up-to-date, compatible and designed to work mutually with your weighing system. Depending on the software package you choose, will depend on how simple or complex your reporting is. Some software will run on standalone computers and others will be integrated into the system. Your software solution will depend on a number of factors, including training, capabilities of staff and the overall needs of your business. Your supplier should explain what software solutions will be best for you whilst discussing weighing systems.

  • Compliancy

Waste businesses face times of complex challenges when it comes to compliancy and therefore they need to ensure that when integrating a new weighing system into their business, the machine is accurate, reliable, clean, effectively captures and retains data and operates efficiently; all of which will contribute to compliant waste loads.

  • Calibration

Your weights need calibrating on a regular basis to national standards. This ensures that as a business you receive the correct certification to operate within the constraints of the regulations.

There is a heightened demand in the UK for traceability. Certificates of calibration are issued once the weights and equipment have been tested. Business that don’t have a focus on calibration run the risk of inaccurate weighing and therefore not being compliant.

  • Durability

Weighing systems must be built to withstand the harsh conditions at a waste site. Weighing machines should be able to cope with the weights in question but also the environmental factors at waste sites, such as pollutants. Implementing a durable system that will withstand the conditions will contribute to a positive return on investment over time as ultimately, it will reduce repairs, downtime and inaccuracies.

Case study:

With the huge disparities in the sizes of waste from business to business, many waste operators require a weighing solution which is bespoke to them. Weighing manufacturers often have to present solutions, which are unique, rather than universal, to the end user.

Recycling, renewable energy and waste management company Viridor recently turned to a leading manufacturer to provide a solution when precise payload data (and a ticket) for every load was required by the customer.

Gary Elms, Regional Vehicle and Plant Engineer, Viridor said: “We approached the manufacturer, who agreed to design a solution for us.  Under normal circumstances we use under-body weighing, but for this sewage waste contract, the customer needed to know exactly what was being collected from each site and each load, so we needed a different approach.”

The manufacturer got in touch with a specialist vehicle engineering company and exchanged drawings. Their Power-Reach Skiploader had been designed for ultimate durability with all equipment ‘locked down’ on the chassis and limited space; therefore  making it too complex to incorporate under-body weighing equipment.

Weighing solutions expert, Julian Glasspole said: “We have been designing and manufacturing load cells and vehicle weighing equipment for over 25 years, so this was right up our street and we were more than happy to help out.  We didn’t want to take up any more space on the existing lifting block so decided to incorporate a load cell into the top of the lifting arm.  We engineered our weights and measures approved T95 load cell, which is used in our axle weighbridges, to be able to be used for skip weighing.”

The T95 load cell has built in electronics that send the recorded weight data wirelessly to a hand held device kept by the vehicle operator.  The operator can then wirelessly print out a ticket inside the cab.  The equipment also helps to ensure that the vehicle isn’t overloaded.

Continued Julian: “It’s extremely accurate, doesn’t affect the lifting mechanism whatsoever and we can retrofit vehicles very easily.”


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