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There is a wide variety of equipment available on the market today to account for the countless applications in which weighing is either required or beneficial. There is also a wide range of quality within each specialized sub-group of equipment. Being as educated as possible is the first step in ensuring that you get the equipment that meets your needs today, and that will last and grow with your company for years to come. Below are some basic terms and definitions as they relate to the process of weighing to get you started...
Weigh: to determine or ascertain the force that gravity exerts upon a mass (person, thing or grouping) by use of a balance, scale, or other device.
Gross: the total weight of a mass (person, thing, or grouping) including any vessel / hopper / tank, etc. in which the mass is held while weighing
Tare: the weight of any vessl / hopper / tank, etc. in which a mass is held while weighing to be deducted from the gross weight before during or after weighing.
Net: the weight remaining after the tare weight has been deducted from the gross weight. The weight of the contents of the vessel / hopper / tank, etc.
Scale: a device used for weighing (determining the weight of) a mass (person, thing or grouping)
Load Cell: an instrument used in many mid to high range weighing systems. Excited with voltage with a predictable response signal under loading.
Indicator: a device used in many weighing systems to power load cells and interpret the return signal. This signal is summed in multi-cell systems. The indicator allows for calibration of the system with known test standards, and often communicates with PC's, printers, PLC's, etc.
Capacity: the maximum load for which a scale is designed.
Resolution: the displayed accuracy of a scale system.
Below are common names for some of the major categories of equipment available today, as well as a brief description and suitable operating environment.
Analytical Balances-low capacity, high resolution. Best used in controlled laboratory environments on a solid weighing surface.
Precision Balances-low to mid capacity, mid to high resolution. Best used in controlled to semi-controlled environments on a solid weighing surface.
Bench Scales-mid range capacity, mid range resolution. Best used on a solid weighing surface, away from any air currents, fans, etc.
Counting Scales-varying capacity, varying resolution. Sometimes other categories of scales have a built-in counting feature, but counting systems are primarily centered around a mid range bench scale, with a low capacity sample scale and/or a bulk counting scale wired to it for maximum versatility. Best used on a solid weighing surface, away from any air currents, fans, etc.
Check-weighing Scales-mid capacity, mid resolution. Often include an Over / Accept / Under indication in the form of light or sound. Used in static operations or dynamic 'in-motion' systems to spot check product weights and reject anything that falls out of tolerance.
Crane / Hanging Scales-mid to high capacity, mid to low resolution. These scales are designed for overhead weighing, often times involving cranes and heavy loads. Sometimes tanks or hoppers are hung from tension style load cells and mated with indicators or process controllers. Often found in foundries and industrial production environments.