Prairie Dawg Practical
by Tim Holmberg, DEMI Equipment
Can I weigh the productivity of my efforts while processing aggregate materials, even as I stockpile it on the ground? How accurate can a weighing system be, and will someone I’m producing or working for be able to confidently pay me without either of us wondering if I’ve been under- or overloaded? Without having to be refunded or compensated later, once all the material has gone through certified scaling processes?
Let’s take a few minutes and discuss aggregate weighing options on the market today. Our second topic of discussion is “loading.” What types of loading equipment for aggregate materials are available other than the typical rubber tire pay-loader? The entire industry seems to be pushing toward becoming fully autonomous one day, so does the loading or load-out process of aggregate materials fit into the autonomous category, or is this just conceptually-based? Is the loading of bulk materials while weighing at the same time possible? Can this combined process help to eliminate overloaded transport vehicles and costly associated penalties?
Believe it or not, there are many providers of weighing equipment for the material production process. One of the longer running versions that can be purchased rather affordably are referred to as belt scales. These are sold by a variety of manufacturers.
Do I have a favorite? No, not really, but as in all things, I’m typically looking for one that offers a great value with an easy installation process and is user-friendly in terms of recalibrating whenever required for maximum accuracy.
Oftentimes, belt scales require a recalibration to maintain accuracy. If the conveyor it is installed on does not have a gravity type of belt tensioning system or take-up device, then every time the conveyor gets tracked or trained and the tension on the belt changes, it can no longer be considered accurate. When the belt tension changes, it throws off the sensitivity of the weigh bridge. The best solution is to install a belt scale on a conveyor that already has or will have a gravity take-up system.
From everything I know about or hear of belt scales, they can be extremely accurate when checked by load-out truck scales or even triple checked with in-loader bucket scales. All three working in unison make for very accurate record keeping in the office, which combats against disgruntled customers who think they may have gotten the short end of a deal.
Loader bucket scales are another resource for weighing material, but typically in a load-out situation only and not really intended for the production side of an operation.
Another form of aggregate or bulk material scale would be a hopper belt feeder or metering bin fitted with load cells. These can accurately batch weigh material and even load it out into an automated loading system for railcars or trucks.
Lastly, the use of these load cells and large scale silos with clam-gate metering can fulfill the autonomous process that all locations desire to achieve one day. This type of system allows one to store many different sizes and types of materials, each in their own drive-under silo allowing for the truck or train car operator to punch into the computer the material and amount they want and then place themselves in the correct position. Through sensors and other directional devices, they can load themselves without the use of a traditional bucket loader.
This process has already been implemented in some larger organizations. This type of automation allows them to keep the volume produced on schedule 24/7. So yes, the two subjects of weighing and loading can definitely be standalone items but when combined and working in unison can become the wave of the future. This technology – drive-thru aggregates – is waiting right around the corner or may even be on the corner for many industries to access.
If you enjoy these random aggregates and quarrying equipment-based subjects, tune back in for more topics to come. Send me a subject or topic you would like brought to light and any associated questions you would like to have discussed and I will gladly provide my best answer based upon my specific point of view and personal experience.
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Tim Holmberg / 2915 Idea Ave. / Aberdeen, SD 57401