Utilizing Forklift Scales to Increase Productivity

We worked with an agriculture company that was having troubles obtaining information in an efficient manner. They were using forklifts to load pallets onto a floor scale to weigh the skids. This company had 2 floor scales and 5 wireless remotes, one for each forklift. The skids were weighed on the floor scale and a button from the associated forklift remote was pressed to associate the weight with the floor scale. All 5 forklifts were weighing skids from different lots and storing measurements on an indicator. When the lot was closed out, meaning all 10 skids from each of the 4 coolers were weighed, a different button was pressed on the forklift remote to print the accumulated report on one of the scales. The measurement information on the indicator was erased and sent to a PC to be stored.

The issue was that 5 forklifts were fighting over 2 floor scales during their busy season. This, in turn, resulted in less productivity and wasted time.

We worked with the equipment manufacturer to customize a software system that will allow any of the 5 forklifts to pick up a skid from any of the 3 lots. The customer is able to weigh the skid on the forklift itself which then stores the weight data in the indicator. Once a lot is closed out, data is sent to a central PC wirelessly and a report can be printed out. Grand Rapids Metrology took an outdated system and upgraded it. We created a custom software that would wirelessly communicate with a central PC, and we retrofitted a forklift scale carriage to an existing forklift to allow for weighing right from the forklift itself!

This saved the company significant time, costs and energy while increasing productivity and profit margins. Imagine it being your busiest time of the year and not being able to keep up with demand and production. You would be losing money.

If you are using a forklift to bring material to a floor scale repeatedly, you are using an outdated system. If your forklift scale doesn’t send data wirelessly, you are using an outdated system. Contact us to bring your system up-to-date.

Increasing the Efficiency Rate of Water Consumption in Agriculture

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United States, Agriculture accounts for 70% of all water consumption; however, the efficiency rate of that water consumption is very low. Most of the water drains off or is evaporated. Only a small percentage of that water consumption is actually used for plant growth.

What effect does this have on the Agriculture industry? A lower efficiency rate results in wasted resources and decreased productivity. As fresh water supply becomes increasingly limited as the years go on, it is imperative for the Agriculture industry to strategize ways to increase water consumption efficiency for sustainability.

A University measured plant performance based on efficient water consumption. Their goal is to secure future food production no matter what climate challenges are faced. Potted plants were monitored continuously for their water consumption during growth and weighed in ambient conditions.

The measurement system needed to be resistant to temperature noise to provide reliable and accurate results. Load cells that were specifically tailored to greenhouse conditions were used to track small increments in weight over a long period of time. These load cells withstood the temperature fluctuations and high humidity environmental conditions. This measurement system is expected to save costs by optimizing nutrient delivery and boosting crop yield, due to early detection of stress and reducing water and fertilizer use.

Though this was not a Solutions Project GRM was involved in, this goes to show how metrology is used to solve various problems. If you’d like to decrease wasted resources, increase productivity and efficiency, we’d love to help you strategize! Our Solutions Team specializes in process automation and custom measurement systems to meet your specific goals.

 

 

SOURCE:

“Load Cells Help Optimize Water Efficiency In Stressed Climate.” Weigh & Measure, Apr. 2019, pp. 10+.

A Customized Drum Filling System

 

A premier producer of cemented carbide, diamond and cubic boron nitride products contacted GRM to engineer a complex drum filling system. A process was planned to have powder sifted through screens to categorize it by size into the appropriate drum. They needed a method of process control where an operator would not be required to watch each drum as it filled. An automated system was implemented to prevent overflow and error.

To free up their time and resources, we installed 3 scales under roll conveyors to maximize process flow. The scales measure the density of the powder and are programmed to send a signal to shut the system down once a threshold is met. A custom software is programmed inside the indicator to control the vibratory feeder and inform users which drums are full.

The installed software is 100% customized to their specific measurement process. This automated system saves time and resources, minimizes error and allows the operators to focus on more imperative matters.  Contact GRM to discuss how we can optimize your process!

 

Don’t let Technology pass you By

Chart recorders are in the past.
Data loggers are the new best thing, and they’re environmentally friendly!

 

 

First thing’s first, everybody wants to know about cost and how they can save money. Data loggers and chart recorders have similar start up costs, but then you factor in maintenance. Chart recorders are made from mechanical components which require a lot of care. The charts and pens need to be replaced often, their power supply needs to be checked and replaced, and chart recorders need to be calibrated every year. Data loggers need to be calibrated every two years. Data loggers save time, money, and resources.

Data loggers archive numerous readings to generate long-term trend analysis. All of the data is digital which makes it easy for storage and organization. Some facilities require data to be stored for a few years, using chart recorders would end up generating thousands of papers and an organization catastrophe.

Data loggers are small electronic devices that are used to measure and monitor conditions. They collect a wide range of information including humidity, temperature, ph level, voltage, water level, pressure, carbon dioxide levels, and more. Their resolution, accuracy and response rate is much better than chart recorders, and you can still quickly view the data on the display.

Data loggers have a circuit board that includes memory storage, sensors, and a battery. Data loggers are supplemented with a software which allows users to view and present the data in a variety of different formats. Users can set reading rates, alarm thresholds, delayed start and stop functionalities, create reports, and download data from the software.

Any industry that requires regulatory compliance or depends on a tight process, needs to implement data loggers into their facility. A few of the top users include scientists, equipment engineers, quality assurance technicians, and facilities managers. Automated data collection prevents product loss, provides quality control, and demonstrates regulatory compliance.

For more information or quotes on data loggers, give us a call!

 

 

Sources:

Accucold
Dickson

Precision Counting in 30 Seconds

When we think of the colors red, yellow and green, a stoplight probably comes to mind. In the weighing industry, these colors have different implication. The iconic color trio can not only be found at intersections but also in stacked light indicators. At GRM, we often attach these indicators to scales to help customers visualize the accuracy of their weighing process.

A recent solutions project allowed Grand Rapids Metrology to use these indicators and a high resolution, digital scale to demonstrate the speed and accuracy of our counting capabilities.

With a stacked light and an Avery Weigh-Tronix ZK840 fully programmable counting scale, Grand Rapids Metrology’s Solution Team was able to make precision counting easier than ever. Watch the latest custom solution meet our customer’s exact needs!

 

 

Does your operations call for precise counting of parts or product? Or maybe a visible stacked light would go a long way on your production floor? If so, Grand Rapids Metrology is able to set up a counting application to your requirements with unparalleled accuracy.

Send us a message and let’s start your solutions project today!

Simple Steps to Automate Your Precise Weighing Process

 

A recent project gave Grand Rapids Metrology the opportunity to automate a customer’s manual process. We’re breaking down the project and explaining simple steps you can take towards automating your own weighing process.

 

PROJECT


An international analytical instrument manufacturer had a slow, manual weighing process that was costing them unnecessary time and money. The customer used an outdated scale and, to make matters worse, the scale was not the appropriate resolution for their specific application.

Cue Grand Rapids Metrology.

STEP #1: Look at your own weighing process. Is it performed manually? Do you have the appropriate equipment for your application? If you’ve identified issues within your process, let us know and we’ll be happy to solve them. If you haven’t, consider using GRM’s Process Improvement Service – we’ll find the problem and the optimal solution for you!

 

INITIAL NEEDS & CHALLENGES


Before Grand Rapids Metrology’s intervention, the company’s process of weighing product and recording data was performed manually. An employee would place the product on a scale, hand-write the information onto a label, and finally place the label on the product.

It was tedious and inefficient to say the least.

What they needed was to be able to store equipment part information in the scale so the operator did not have to continuously write in the data. Similarly, the outdated scale needed to be replaced and it’s replacement needed to have a suitable capacity and resolution.

The manufacturer also required a custom programmed label to be printed after the weight was taken. The label would provide traceability for their products.

A challenge we faced was determining the customer’s desired sequence of operations.

STEP #2: Know your process. Think of your ideal sequence of operations — once you’ve envisioned it, we’ll figure out the rest.

 

SOLUTION


GRM knew the most efficient use of the customer’s resources would be to automate the weighing/printing process. This would aim to save time, increase accuracy and alleviate man-power.

The solution would use an Avery Weigh-Tronix ZM405 digital indicator with a high-resolution base. The indicator would communicate with both the base and the printer.

Our Solution Team was able to program the indicator to follow the exact sequence of operation the customer needed. The high-resolution base allowed GRM to provide the customer with the accuracy they required. Likewise, our team’s design of the printed label included all of the necessary part information.

Now, the only thing the operator has to do is enter the product’s part numbers into the indicator and place the label on the product.

You can see the operator entering equipment part information before adding products to the scale.

 

STEP #3: Consider using equipment that is able to communicate with one another. This can help eliminate any transitional steps that may have been done manually.

 

RESULTS


The instruments manufacturer was very happy with GRM’s solution. After a few minutes of training, their team was operating the scale and indicator with ease.

The proper sequence of operations the customer initially desired occurred with the use of the ZM405 and GRM’s innovative solution. The products were now traceable because of the use of custom printed labels.

Could a new printing process or an equipment update improve your operation?

STEP #4: Let’s talk about it.

“Rewriting” the Food Industry with Custom Solutions

Project


A national food products manufacturer located in Michigan had issues with their scales and printing program. The company was a long-time customer of Grand Rapids Metrology and was well aware of our extensive scope of metrology capabilities, including weighing solutions.

The system used prior selected a product to be weighed and then printed a label that was placed on a corresponding storage tote. The current label did not contain enough data to meet the customer’s needs. They contacted GRM to edit their existing system so it could include more relevant and timely information on the printed label.

Initial Needs & Challenges


In order to comply with specific food-industry regulations, the food product company needed to add Date of Manufacture and Lot Number. A Lot Number identifies the product’s expiration date, scale and shift.

An initial challenge was to determine how the current program was operating and what needed to be modified to accomplish the customer’s project. To do this, our engineer’s downloaded the existing program from the scale units. After the download, the team noticed several modifications had previously been made to the program which presented challenges when it came time to edit the program’s operation.

Solution


After addressing the needs and challenges of our customer, Grand Rapids Metrology developed a solution focused on rewriting a portion of the existing program to clean up the previous modification. During the rewrite, our team added the Date of Manufacture and Lot Number to meet the customer requirements of the revised labels. The Days until Expiration information was not printed but stored as data within the system. From that, the Expiration Date was automatically calculated.

Here is the label crafted by GRM and used everyday by the customer:

The data produced from GRM’s label is very specific and time-bound. Before this solution, the customer printed a label with much less information, as seen here:

Results


After Grand Rapids Metrology’s weighing solution was implemented, the program rewrite and label modification gave the customer traceability on labels regarding the Date of Manufacture, Expiration Date, Line Number and Shift.

Aside from fulfilling the customer’s requirement, the rewrite meet labeling standards set forth by food industry regulations. The new program also eliminated human error in the calculation of the expiration date and alleviated the tedious work of the manual calculation. The customer was so pleased with the results they asked GRM to implement the program for two additional scales at their facility.

Making operations quicker, more efficient and more accurate is what we do! To start a solution project of your own, contact us and we’ll help make your life a little easier.

[Video] In-Motion Checkweighers: The Perfect Accept-Reject Solution

[tbc_video_embed url=”null”]Checkweigher systems can accurately weigh 650 pieces of product per minute moving over an conveyor belt or assembly line! For production floors, that speed and certainty are of utmost importance. For operations that don’t employ in-motion checkweighers, how do you ensure the weight is correct and the speed is at its full potential?

Before we examine precisely what a checkweigher conveyor can provide, check out this quick demonstration video from our shop floor in Detroit:

This is an OCS Checkweigher system set into service by Grand Rapids Metrology. Now it’s obviously not sending widgets through at a speed 650 pieces per minute. This system is equip with the ability to customize features including the speed of the belt and the mechanical arm. As you can see, the system moves the widget along a conveyor belt where it is accurately weighed. An appropriate range of weight, or tolerance, can be set through the easy-to-use, touchscreen monitor. As the widget it weighed, the in-motion checkweigher will identify if it’s weight is in or out of that set tolerance.

In the video, we see that the first widget makes it successfully to the end of the conveyor. It’s was within tolerance, however the second widget was pushed off the conveyor by the mechanical arm. This widget had a weight that was either over or under the pre-set tolerance.

Now, the in-line checkweigher above was in Grand Rapids Metrology’s shop and not yet running at our customer’s site. To get an even better idea of how these systems work, watch this video of product being weighted and consequently accepted and rejected as it moves through the line at one of our customer’s facilities.

Did you catch some of the products flying off the line? The conveyor belt is working with the in-motion checkweigher at such an incredible speed that it was easy to miss. The system was able to accurately identify that those products weighted too much or too little and responded accordingly.

A checkweigher can add tremendous value to a production floor. The speed and accuracy these systems produce are unlike any human operated process. Companies who’ve employed checkweighers consequently free up manpower, improve efficiency, increase quality, and reduce costs of operations and lead times. This particular customer saw a return on investment within a few months and they’ve never been happier with their weighing process.

Looking for a solution of your own? Grand Rapids Metrology has an entire division devoted to solving problems and enhancing procedures. View our previously implemented solutions here or contact our Solutions Team Member, Terry Benjamin, at terry.benjamin@grmetrology.com, to start improving your process today!

Creating Logistic Efficiencies

PROJECT


Grand Rapids Metrology was contacted by a logistics company who worked with automotive parts. They sought a process that could be done in-house and would increase the accuracy of their logistic procedures and movement along the supply chain. Before GRM’s intervention, the company contracted this process to a third-party which increased cost of their daily operations.

INITIAL NEEDS & CHALLENGES


This firm focused on pre-staging automotive parts for vehicle assembly. They received parts from their suppliers then performed a physical transfer of pieces from the supplier’s packaging into their own packaging. The issue was the company often received an incorrect number of pieces from their supplier. This resulted in inaccuracy and lost time and money to fix the recurring error. Ultimately, the company saw a need for a piece weight and total package weight solution.

SOLUTION


GRM’s solution employed five systems; two floor scales and three bench scales. The process now weighed each piece of material once it was in a box. An indicator would display the number of objects in a box, if the number in the box was correct, a stacking light would signal green. If the number of objects was incorrect, the stacking light would signal red. Regardless of the colored signal, a label would be printed and applied to the package with a barcode indicating part number, part count, etc. If the weight and part count was over or under the requirement, the logistics firm could inform their suppliers that their shipment was incorrect. This system ultimately aimed to ensure accuracy to the number of parts based on weight measurements.

RESULTS


This was another successful solution! After Grand Rapids Metrology’s implementation, the system reported to increase accuracy and efficiency, save time, and lower costs.

Numerous aspects of this applications can be adopted in other industries. For a manufacturing or handling company, the label printing and barcode scanning application can be incorporated. For a company that utilizes a filling process, a stack light could be implement to maintain and verify a procedure.

To find out how GRM can improve your day-to-day operations, please contact of Solutions Team member, Terry Benjamin, by email at terry.benjamin@grmetrology.com or by phone at 616.249.1210.

A Load Cell & PLC Solution

An agricultural company Grand Rapids Metrology has a long-standing relationship with contacted us with a need for a customized solution. Based near Grand Rapids, MI, they previously had four silos in place that incorporated a fast load out system which was originally crafted by Grand Rapids Metrology. Throughout the years as technology advanced, the system needed updating. The customer trusted Grand Rapids Metrology to continuously work with them and update the fast load out system numerous times.

In recent years, the company invested in eight more silos each with a capacity of roughly 225,000 pounds. GRM partnered with a third-party contractor to install the eight new silos and solely installed four new load cells under each silo with indicators, one dedicated for each group of four silos. The previously updated fast load out system was replicated and implemented twice during this project totaling to three systems with twelve silos. Our extensive relationship and knowledge of this company has allowed us to scale to their growth and continue to implement such projects.

One of the company’s biggest requirements for the new system was the desire for printed tickets to include the product name and product code. GRM has vast experience with Ethernet IP and PLC (Programmable Logic Controller) communication as well as incorporating PLC’s and indicators. We were able to create communication between the PLC and the scale indictor utilizing Ethernet IP which allowed the printed weight tickets to include the product code and product name, just as the company had hoped.

A challenge encountered during the process was working to certify the company’s outgoing products on their trucks for Legal for Trade. GRM worked closely with the customer and the State of Michigan to fulfill the requirements of having products Legal for Trade, one of those being an accurate weight measurement. The new communication system and load cells produced extremely accurate results. Our Solutions Team also integrated an auto- adjusting and auto-learning pre-act system that allows the measurements of product to become more and more accurate as time goes on.

The use of load cells has applications in numerous industries as does a communication system similar to the Ethernet IP and PLC one utilized here. For inquiries about our custom engineered solutions, please contact of Director of Operations, Terry Benjamin by email at terry.benjamin@grmetrology.com or by phone at 616.249.1210.