Keeping track of your salt

Published:  05 January, 2012

Julian Athawes, MD of Halomec, introduces a new integrated weighing and inventory reporting system for salt loading, that could give councils an extra edge in planning and managing their winter service.

Julian Athawes, MD of Halomec, introduces a new integrated weighing and inventory reporting system for salt loading, that could give councils an extra edge in planning and managing their winter service.

Supply shortages and the rising cost of salt are turning this staple of our winter service into something of a precious commodity. Councils were better prepared this past winter, stockpiling a third more salt than in the previous year. Even so, the first winter snap came early, with deep snow and prolonged icy conditions, a reminder of just how difficult it is to plan winter service and optimise salt stockpiles.

Last year's Winter Resilience Review urged councils and contractors to maximise the cost-effectiveness of winter service operations. It also underlined the need for precise and accurate use of salt, among other things.

While these issues rely heavily on efficient use of salt spreaders, there are other areas of salt handling that can contribute to better tracking, evaluation and planning of material inventory and usage.

An innovative on-board scale and data reporting system from New Zealand-based weighing company, LOADRITE, is now available in the UK, designed specifically for loaders used to charge gritters.

As well as providing extremely accurate weighing of materials, the Road Boss system has unique integrated software with versatile reporting capabilities. It tracks volumes of product loaded and returned, linked to the spreader and gritting run, adding a valuable extra dimension of data to inform and improve winter service management.The system combines the LOADRITE rugged, high specification scale concept, giving + 1% accuracy, and its Material Management SystemTM (MMS) software. Both are tested and proven for heavy industries and in harsh operating conditions, including ice and snow.

Weighing accuracy

The Road Boss scale is based on LOADRITE's L-2180 scale. It offers high level weighing accuracy, regardless of lift speed and loader movement, through a complex combination of multiple-point triggering, speed compensation and dual pressure measurement.

The design incorporates FACT (Friction & Ambient Compensation Technology), LOADRITE's system that adjusts throughout the day to cope with environmental and machine changes that can affect weighing performance.

The FACT capability is supplemented by a rotary trigger, which also enables the scale to have an adjustable weighing zone and multi-point weighing. In its most advanced configuration, the L-2180 can weigh within +0.28%, making it the most accurate loader scale on the market.

There is also an Active Tip Off function for last bucket adjustment, making it easier for the operator to alter the weight loaded into a truck.

With response time crucial in mobilising winter service vehicles, the Road Boss scale assures high accuracy even at speed, supporting greater efficiency in loading gritters to correct capacity. Loading cycle times are reduced, as are underweighs requiring extra visits to the stockpile. Loaders can be run more economically, incurring lower fuel costs and tyre wear.

Integrated software

The Road Boss scale alone gives a big boost to productivity, but this is only half the story. Its integrated MMS software, developed specifically around the needs of winter service and municipal fleet management, harnesses a rich cache of data on salt usage to further enhance process evaluation and improvement.

The winter service team can track stockpile volumes within 1% accuracy and report on the amount of product in any stockpile at any given time. Performance data can be accessed for each spreader, including product usage per lane kilometre and number of loads per event. This allows managers to analyse salt usage on particular runs to optimize material the next time, so that the job can be successfully completed with the minimum of waste.

The system can generate reports, based on the amount of product used, during a specific snow or ice event. Managers can also accurately track how much product each operator, or contractor, uses and the road kilometers they cover.

Simple to use

Although the technology is cutting edge, the Road Boss installation is simple to use. The operator can keep a watch on vehicle loads using the large, easy-to-read buttons and back-lit screen on the in-cab console.

Operating features include an alert if uneven surfaces or speeds are affecting weighing performance. The two-step reporting format is simple, too. The user selects the report type and period, with options for printing, exporting to other programs or sharing data via internet systems.The software offers database functions, allowing searches, filters and sorting of records by loader, data type, location, and other useful criteria.

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