Hidden Costs of Owning a Truck Scale – Questions You Should Ask Before Purchase.
When evaluating the type of truck scale and scale supplier you will use for your operation, it is important to keep in mind and evaluate the potential hidden costs of owning a truck scale over an extended period of time. An informed truck scale buyer considers more than just the initial purchase price when comparing scale systems. While price is important, it is the accuracy and reliability of the scale that will have a direct impact on the owner’s bottom line for decades to come. Selecting a reliable scale that may have a higher price upfront can lower many years’ worth of maintenance and repair costs.
Questions to Ask Truck Scale Suppliers:
- Ask your scale salesperson to take you to visit a nearby site with a scale system similar to the model you are considering or are interested in.
- Ask to see a site that has had its scale for a considerable amount of time. A site visit can provide insight into the true ownership experience.
You may find it helpful to ask specific questions about:
- Maintenance – what standard preventative maintenance is required?
- Unplanned downtime – How much has been experienced? Have they needed to replace any load cells or other components? Were repairs acted upon swiftly by the service provider?
- Calibration – How long does it take?
Truck Scale Project Costs & Lifetime Maintenance Cost of Ownership
Upon initial installation of a truck scale, the highest cost for the project is typically the weighbridge. Though many companies focus their sales presentation on the weighbridge, it is typically a low-maintenance item when compared with other parts of the scale such as the Load Cell System.
As you can see, over the life of the scale the Load Cell System is typically where the majority of maintenance costs will occur. Ownership costs for the load cell can be related to a situation in which a component has failed, or where the scale requires readjustment or recertification. Knowing that Load Cells are the main source of truck scale maintenance, repair, and downtime costs, it is wise for truck scale buyers to focus sales discussions more on the load cell systems. Therefore, think about reliability of the load cell upfront. Designs and features that protect against scale failures can be well worth the initial investment and has the greatest potential to save the owner money over the life of a scale.
Questions to ask about Truck Scale Load Cell Systems:
- What are the different type of load cell systems available?
- What is the difference between Ananlog, Hydraulic, Digital, Analog/digital hybrid, and POWERCELL load cell systems?
- What is the difference in accuracy?
- How does each system respond differently to environmental impacts such as:
- Lightning damage
- Frost-heave, ice damage, or debris build-up
- Water damage
- Changes in temperature?
- For load cell systems that utilize junction boxes and cable connections, what can be expected when there is:
- Moisture in a junction box
- Failed connections in a junction box
- Damage to a load cell cable (rodents, accidental severing, etc.)?
- How do the different load cell systems hold up over time in regards to:
- Moisture ingress damaging internal components
- Physical damage and corrosion
- Physical wear due to misalignment or poor preventative maintenance
- Leaking hydraulic fluid (hydraulic systems)?
Truck Scale Contracts & Warranties
Eventually, you will review contracts and purchase orders. Read over all the documents before you sign them to make sure you understand their content.
- Are features and services that you think should be standard, considered extra-cost add-ons by the other party
- Are you certain that all prospective vendors are quoting to similar specifications and capabilities?
Your scale should come with a manufacturer’s warranty. As a customer, this is an area in which you should take time to evaluate options, as warranties can vary considerably. Some manufacturers offer a very limited standard warranty with expanded warranty coverage at an added cost. Take the time to actually read the fine print of the warranty and analyze the following categories.
3. What does the warranty cover?
Determine the specific level and duration of coverage for the following:
- Types of components covered
- Types of failures covered
- Replacement parts
- On-site labor
- Travel costs for technicians
- Lightning (typically addressed in its own section in the warranty)
There may be certain components that are excluded from the warranty, or that may be covered under their own separate warranty, such as printers.
4. How long is the warranty?
Some manufacturers prorate their level of coverage as the scale ages. That means their warranty may only cover a percentage of any covered repair after a few years.
5. How responsive is the manufacturer to warranty coverage?
Does the scale manufacturer have a local sales/service entity or distributor? If not, someone may need to be dispatched from another location. It may be up to you to consider the “what ifs” and determine how responsive you think a company will be in an emergency situation.
Be aware that some scale companies generate most of their profit from performing scale service. Those companies may sell customers new truck scales at a very small profit margin, hoping that they will make their profit on servicing and repairing the truck scale later. Seeing a very low purchase price, some scale buyers purchase service-prone systems that leave them budgeting large amounts of money each year for service and repairs. That is one of the reasons to look at more than just the initial purchase price when buying a truck scale.”
Although, all truck scales will eventually require service. Most truck scale owners want to have a reliable partner for service and a plan to ensure the scale’s performance for minimal lifetime maintenance costs. The time it takes to develop this plan can be well worth the effort in the resulting peace of mind. As the saying goes, “The bitter taste of poor quality lingers long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.”
If you are interested in purchasing a new truck scale, TOLEDO CAROLINA has experienced personnel that can answer your questions. Contact us here.
Get the details in writing. Click the image below see how POWERCELL PDX compares to alternative truck scales.