Thursday, 17 December 2015

It's nearly our birthday!

Axtec will celebrate 25 years in business in 2016.

That’s a quarter of a century of Axtec making and installing axle weighbridges. And inevitably a lot has changed since then.

Not only have some of our customers, and indeed old friends, come and gone but many companies who thought axle weighing was easy have done the same.

Throughout our 25 years we’ve learned an awful lot as well. We’ve spent much of the time and considerable sums of money on researching axle weighing. It’s led to a number of firsts.

The first and only weighbridge test vehicle specifically designed for calibrating axle weighbridges.
The first and only OnBoard Load Indicator that customers can calibrate themselves.

The first and only dynamic axle weighbridge which can be offered as a Public Weighbridge.

The first and only OnBoard Indicator which can show views from cameras.

The list goes on.

And because we know what does and doesn’t work, we’re not afraid to tell people that certain types of system won’t suit their needs. More than once we’ve walked away from a project when we haven’t got the right solution or the customer insists on the wrong solution.

Some, like the weighbridge test vehicle, we’ve discovered are essential for ensuring an axle weighbridge is installed and calibrated correctly. It’s not possible to get an accurate installation without it.

Others, like the dynamic weighbridge being Approved for Public use, mean that our customers can get a direct cash benefit by being able to charge other hauliers for using it. And thus adding to their bottom line.
A lot has changed since we introduced this in 1991!

The fact that so many companies have entered this field and then vanished again over the last 25 years shows that the investment in research was no wasted. Only when you to fully understand what is going on when weighing axles and applying that to customer’s needs can you make a product that is accurate and built to last.

And knowing what you are doing also means you know when to walk away from a job and when your product isn’t the right one.

Which means we’ve turned down plenty of opportunities over the last 25 years as well. All we want is a successful installation and a happy customer.

 Those companies no longer with us didn’t fully understand the complexities of what they were doing, probably made promises they couldn’t keep and paid for it in the end.

So, here’s to another 25 years of making and installing axle weighbridges and, of course, even more research.

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Another interesting weighing execise

As mentioned a number of times in this blog, weighpads are frequently enquired about but rarely the right system for the job. 

Sometimes though they really are the best product for the job as long as the user is aware of what they can and cannot do.

Recently we were approached by a customer who had been trialing weighpads from other manufacturers and been disappointed with the results. The reliability of one product was an issue but what was concerning them most was the lack of accuracy.

We decided that the best way to assist would be to visit them and show them how to do it properly. Not only would this demonstrate the correct procedure for using weighpads but it would also illustrate how time consuming and labour intensive it can be to get an accurate weight.

Using our contacts with DVSA, arrangements were made to visit one of their enforcement sites so that we could ensure accurate weights on the perfectly flat concrete approaches but also so that we had a calibrated axle weighbridge for comparison purposes.
Portable Weighpads - ideal for some jobs when used correctly.

The whole exercise, weighing just one vehicle, took a whole morning with five people on site. As a minimum three people are needed; one to drive the vehicle and two to manoeuvre the weighpads,  but at least the exercise was done correctly and accurate, repeatable weights obtained.

One of the most interesting elements of the task was taking the weighpads off the perfectly flat concrete approaches and using them on an adjacent piece of ground with a slight incline. We did this as, having proved the pads were accurate in ideal conditions, it was useful to try them in a more typical working environment.

The difference in results was quite marked. Using the weighpads correctly on a perfectly flat concrete approach produced good results but using them on a piece of ground on an incline meant that weight distribution was changed and different axle weights recorded.

It was a very good method of not only demonstrating how accurate weighpads can be when used properly but also the limitations of them as a product.

This particular customer was delighted that we’d taken the trouble to demonstrate not only the pros but the cons of using weighpads and, now they are fully aware of what is involved in doing it right and what the pitfalls are of doing it wrong, an order is on its way to us.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Weighing containers? A dynamic weighbridge can help.

Container weighing has been in the news lately.

The International Maritime Organisation have amended their Safety Of Life At Sea (SOLAS) convention so that from 1 July 2016 all containers being loaded onto ship must be weighed.
The amendment is designed to prevent accidents when containers fall overboard due to the centre of gravity being too high. But it’s also been known for a stack of containers to collapse due to incorrect loading or even for a ship to break in two.

The consequences don’t bear thinking about so the new amendment makes perfect sense.
With the need to weigh containers comes the requirement to invest in equipment. But which is the best method and how much will it cost though?

There are numerous ways to weigh a container; some loaders at the ports have built in weighing devices and if the tare weight is known, the weight of each individual item can be measured as it is put into the container. The latter method preferred when a container is made up at the port itself with items from numerous shippers.

Another quick and easy method is to weigh the truck using a dynamic weighbridge. We weigh many container trucks on their way to the port on the axle weighbridge in our yard.
It takes 40 seconds to weigh on a dynamic axle weighbridge

It takes about 40 seconds to obtain a weight from a dynamic axle weighbridge and to an accuracy of 0.5%. So even if the empty truck needs to be weighed first to get a tare weight, it’s not a long procedure.

Having invested in a dynamic axle weighbridge though there is scope to make money from it.

As the Axtec system is the only one of its type which can be Approved as a Public Weighbridge, other hauliers can be charged for using it. And the axle weighbridge thus becomes a source of income, between £6-£10,000.00 per annum in the case of our own system.

Which means, in this case at least, the investment needed to weigh containers pays for itself in about three years. And the accuracy is more than enough to satisfy the needs of the new regulations.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Where's the best place to buy an axle weighbridge?

Buying everything you need from one source is a great idea. 

We all go to, or in many cases these days, order online from a supermarket. And it makes perfect sense when you’re buying a standard product which is always the same week in, week out.

The manufacturers pride themselves that their baked beans or loaves of breads will be to the same high standard a very single time you buy one. And for them an outlet that stocks a large range of generic products is ideal.

But what if you want something a bit more specialised? Something made to order? Something that needs to fit your exact requirements?

In those cases you’re better off visiting a specialist. Someone who knows the product inside out and is used to making them to suit rather than churning out hundreds of the same for mass consumption.

There are some scale companies who work a bit like a supermarket. Showing every weighing product imaginable on their website and leaving the customer to decide what’s right for their needs. That can work fine if all you need is a bathroom or kitchen scale which will just come out of the box and work.
A correctly specified and installed axle weighbridge

But is that the best way to buy something that can be influenced by outside forces such as approach levels or vehicles suspension? That needs to be properly operated and needs specialist installation?

Is it such a good idea to just buy something from an online ‘supermarket’ without getting the specialist knowledge needed to ensure you get the best from your purchase?

Unfortunately, we have come across many sub-standard installations where customers have been persuaded that buying an axle weighbridge is as straight forward as buying a tin of beans. Poor or often no advice is given and thus poor results are obtained.

Most customers wouldn’t dream of buying a piece of highly technical equipment from a company which wasn’t a specialist in the field but there will always be some people who are tempted by the apparently low up front price available from a ‘supermarket’.

The results in the long term though are usually more costly than having invested time and money in sourcing an axle weighbridge from a specialist who will not only ensure that you buy the right system for your needs but make sure it is installed and operated correctly as well.

A supermarket, despite being excellent at many things, just isn’t geared up to offer that level of service.

Friday, 2 October 2015

Best advice always for customers we can't help.

Well the RWM is over for another year and it’s time to get working on the enquiries, of which we had plenty this year.

And some very interesting ones there were too. Especially the client who was going to demand his money back from a competitor for selling him something not fit for purpose.

We have a strict policy of not taking orders for equipment that won’t do the job. We turn down quite a bit of business because we feel that in the long term,  selling something which isn’t right for the application does more harm than good.

It’s a sure fire way of ruining a hard won reputation and a sure fire way of wasting a customer’s time.
Two of the enquiries we took at the RWM fall into that category.

Both customers were very keen on our product and on the face of it, it suited their needs well. But discussing their needs on the stand is not the best way to determine if the system will be right for them.  So we paid a visit to both sites last week to take a closer look.

One of the big advantages of our Dynamic Axle Weighbridge is that it takes up very little space so on the face of it, a yard with little room would be ideally suited for an installation. Another big plus is that the system has only a shallow pit with corner access covers so is very easy to keep clean.

Both customers were operating vehicles up to and including 8-wheelers in the skip hire field but unfortunately both were operating from yards which would prove tricky to equip.

One was very limited for space which meant their operation would halt during the installation process. The other was on such a steep an incline which, whilst it could be corrected, would have meant an enormous bill for the construction work.
Not all sites are as suitable as this one for an axle weigher

So we advised the customers of the issues, difficulties and costs and gave them information on alternative options from other manufacturers which might suit them.

Which meant we walked away from the business.

There are some companies who would have tried to make the system fit. Or perhaps not told the clients all the potential costs involved in the installation.

Of course there are upsides to turning away business as well. Customers know they will get an honest opinion from us, can trust our judgement and be sure that they won’t be sold something that doesn’t suit their needs.

And those people are usually quite keen to recommend us to others who we may be better able to help, so in the end everyone’s a winner!

Monday, 14 September 2015

Waste weighing? One customers tale.

The RWM is THE exhibition for anyone handling or processing waste in any way, shape or form. 

So with the Show starting at the NEC tomorrow (15 September 2015) and running for the three days, it seemed appropriate to tell a story of how we improved efficiency for one of our customers in this sector.

H W Martin is one half of a public/private sector alliance that each year processes over 60,000 tonnes of dry recyclable materials collected by the council from the City’s 715,000 residents.

Six days a week material is delivered to the three acre site in Hunslett, where a team of 40 people sort it into its various categories using a highly mechanised system, with over 95% going for re-use. The constant flow of vehicles required a system for the fast and accurate weighing of both inbound and outbound vehicles to trade standards.

Limited space ruled out a conventional plate weighbridge but a better option was found with our dynamic weighbridge. This occupies a floor space of only 3 by 1 metres and vehicles are weighed in motion as they pass over at about walking pace.

Inbound and outbound axle weighbridges were installed as the site operates a one-way system with separate entrances and exits.

Further efficiencies came from the integration of the data coming from the two weighbridges with ISYS software. Data can be consolidated and stored for reporting and accounting purposes and weighbridge tickets can be instantly printed out. The use of a CCTV system to read number plates provides additional back-up.

 Our own in-house construction team undertook the work, which involved preparing the pits into which the weighbridges are placed and ensuring an absolutely level approach to them.
Fast, accurate axle weighing using an Axtec Dynamic system

The Axtec dynamic is the most accurate of its type in the world and has official certification that verifies accuracy to within 0.25%.

This is the same system that is the choice of the government body DVSA (Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency) for its national network of vehicle weight enforcement weighbridges.

So pleased were H W Martin with the finished result that they asked us to construct the pits for the loading conveyors, which also needed to be carried out to a very high standard of accuracy.

So if you’re looking for a fast, accurate, space saving solution for your waste weighing application, come and see us on stand 5P151 at the NEC this week and we’ll be pleased to show you what we can do.

Friday, 28 August 2015

Weighing waste? See you at RWM in September.

 The biggest waste and recycling exhibition in the country is just around the corner. The RWM Show is on at the NEC from 15-17 September for those that didn’t know.

It’s a terrific opportunity to meet with clients old and new and discuss the latest thinking and technology in recycling.

Monitoring waste throughput is vital these days. Almost every week we receive a tender from a local authority or private contractor for equipment to weigh waste.
And many of those applications can be served using an axle weighbridge.

The traditional plate weighbridge has an important role to play. There will always be applications where a large platform is essential. Those that need to weigh the vehicle as it’s being loaded for instance, but our Dynamic Axle Weighbridge can do everything  a plate weighbridge does and more.

And a smaller dynamic weighing platform could offer a number of advantages.

Space is always at premium these days. Just look at the old yellow platform weighbridge in the background of the picture and how much space it takes up compared with the axle weighbridge in the foreground.
An axle weighbridge - much less room needed.

The small footprint of an axle weighbridge means that it takes up very little space in the yard. Unlike a traditional 15m surface mounted weighbridge which will need about 47m of clear space to allow for vehicle approaches, ramps and the weighbridge itself.

Trading Standards advise us that the most common reason for a weighbridge to have its Approval revoked is debris building up under the platform. A large plate weighbridge might need the hire of an expensive crane to move the platform for cleaning.

The axle weighbridge has a very shallow pit and ours has corner pockets allowing most maintenance to be done without removing the platform.

But being a small platform, if really necessary, the whole thing can be lifted clear of the pit using a forklift or similar. The type of lifting facility most operators have readily available on site.

Be warned though – not axle weighbridges achieve the required standard allowing them to be Stamped for buying and selling.

The Axtec system is though. And in fact it achieves the necessary accuracy to be offered as a Public Weighbridge too.

So it could earn some money for your operation..


We’ll be on stand 5P151 at the exhibition if you’d like to come and have a chat about your waste weighing needs.

Monday, 17 August 2015

Van Overloading - a Solution.

According to recent figures, the number of vans on the road now tops 3 million. And registrations in March were up 24% on the same month last year.

That’s an awful lot of people moving away from bigger vehicles and trying to do the same job with something smaller.

There a lot of advantages of course. No tachograph, no special training needed to drive one and they can frequently go where a bigger vehicle might not be able to.

But the rise in the use of light vehicles is causing some concern especially when nearly two-thirds of vans stopped by DVSA have a serious defect. In addition almost half of vans fail their MOT first time.

It’s one of the dangers of trying to use a smaller vehicle for a job that was traditionally done by a larger one. Of trying to cram a quart into a pint pot.

With the growth of vans on the road comes a rise in the calls to regulate them in the same way that HGV’s are. Unsurprisingly the operators don’t think the idea of an ‘O’ licence for vans is a good idea but, as so often happens, legislation maybe forced on the industry if they don’t regulate themselves.
The startling statistic that a whopping 93% of vans that were stopped were overloaded might bring that day forward.
Axle Weights Checked on this van and NOT overloaded!

So what can be done?

We’ve written before about van overloading as that at least is something we can help with.

An Axtec OnBoard Load Indicator is inexpensive to buy, but more importantly the customer calibration facility means routine maintenance costs are eliminated.

It can be connected to a tracking device so that those with larger fleets can be alerted to an overload, in real time in some cases.

Fitted on site by one of our directly employed technicians in less than half a day, disruption to the working day is kept to a minimum.

With many vans being used as little more than mobile tool boxes with staff that have no professional driving qualification, it’s little wonder that so many of them fall foul of the enforcement authorities.

But there are solutions out there and many professional van operators are already our customers. 

Hopefully more will want to show how professional they are and how serious they take the problem of overloading and stave off the threatened legislation.

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Is 99.9% was good enough...

Achieving 99.9% accuracy in anything would seem to be pretty impressive. 

But according to some research done a while ago, it may not be good enough.

Apparently, 99.9% accuracy would mean that the US Postal Service would mis-handle 18,322 items per hour. Doctors would write 20,000 incorrect drug prescriptions per year. Manufacturers would produce 5.5 million cases of fizzy drinks that were flat. And two planes per day landing at Chicago O’Hare airport would be unsafe.

These statistics and more are freely available on line. Just Google “If 99.9% was good enough” to check yourself.

Accuracy then is key but just how accurate is your axle weighing system?

Weighing a heavy goods vehicle on a system that is accurate to 2% might sound impressive. But 2% of what?  Two systems which claim to weigh to within 2% can actually have wildly different accuracy.

For a percentage to be meaningful, you have to know what 100% is. But the weighing machine doesn’t know what 100% of the axle weight is. If it did, why not display it?
An axle Weighbridge - but how accurate it it?

So what does the 2% refer to?

When scale manufacturers refer to accuracy as a percentage, they mean a percentage of the capacity of the weighing machine.

If a machine has a capacity of 30,000kg with an accuracy of 2%, it means it will weigh to within 600kg.

If a machine has an accuracy of 2% but a capacity of 15,000kg then it will weigh to within 300kg.

Both machines have the same accuracy statement but the lower capacity machine will offer twice the accuracy

And weighing your vehicle on a system that was only accurate to within 600kg would leave it very vulnerable to a prosecution for overloading.

We strive for the greatest accuracy we can when designing a system. Our dynamic axle weighbridge for instance can achieve an accuracy of 0.25%. With a capacity of 20,000kg, more than enough to weigh the heaviest vehicle on the road, that means an axle will be weighed to within 50kg.

Some manufacturers like to muddy the waters by quoting OIML Class numbers or even not quoting an accuracy figure at all.

So how accurate is your axle weighing system? If you think we can help check for you then we’d be happy to do so.

It might prove to be an eye opening exercise.

Thursday, 30 July 2015

You’ve got to know what you’re doing with weighpads.

We had another interesting call the other day from a long standing customer. 

Having invested heavily in our OnBoard Axle Load Indicators to avoid overloading, he was naturally perturbed to be told by someone that the front axle on a 3-axle rigid was apparently overloaded even with the vehicle empty.

Keen to establish the facts we sent a trained engineer with a set of calibrated weighpads to ensure that all was well. Sure enough, we found nothing amiss with the OnBoard Indicator working well and displaying all of the axle weights accurately.

Certainly the front axle was heavy with a large crane mounted just behind the cab but even at full load it was still legal.

One interesting aspect was the amount of apparent overload; a tonne is quite a significant difference between what was being indicated and what the customer had been told the axle weighed. Given that considerable time and effort had been taken to design the vehicle prior to it being ordered it seemed unlikely that the calculations were out by such a wide margin.

Upon investigation we discovered that a third party had weighed the vehicle using a set of portable weighpads .This inevitably worried our customer as we had set his OnBoard Indicator up using a set of weighpads, standard procedure when we are calibrating a new system.

To set the customers mind at ease we arranged for the vehicle to be weighed at a calibrated enforcement axle weighbridge  and, sure enough the weights obtained there proved that the front axle wasn’t overloaded.
Portable weighpad. Is it being used correctly?

The conclusion we all drew was that the third party who had weighed the vehicle had done it incorrectly; not unusual if, as many people do, the weighpads are used incorrectly by simply placing them on the ground and parking an axle on them.

It’s more complex than that and you have to know what you are doing.

Having satisfied our customer that his OnBoard Indicator was correct and that we had correctly set it up using our weighpads we have now arranged for the other company to be trained in how to operate weighpads properly and avoid any future issues.

Regular visitors to this blog will know that the subject of weighpads and their potential pitfalls comes up quite often. Weighpads are an excellent tool that have many uses but they have to be used in the right circumstances and in the right way if they are to provide accurate information.

Friday, 10 July 2015

Van overloading - a hot topic

Some recent research by Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles found that nearly half of van drivers are driving their vehicles overloaded.

They also discovered that about half of companies don’t monitor the weights on their vehicles and that more than half of drivers don’t know their maximum weights.

You can read the full item here.

Overloading a van has a detrimental effect on nearly all the major components – brakes, steering, clutch, tyres and suspension. In short it’s highly dangerous and might even invalidate the insurance should the van be involved in an accident.

During some of our own research into overload logging software, we ran a 3.5t van fully laden for a couple of weeks. The driver, a highly experienced Class 1 driver, noted how unstable the vehicle felt and how unresponsive the steering was.

In short, he didn’t feel safe driving it even though it was just within its design limit and he was used to driving much bigger vehicles.

But if the statistics are to be believed then well over 1 million of these vans could be being driven on our roads every day, possibly with the driver unaware.

Unfortunately ignorance is not a defence and with VOSA finding that 89% of the vans they stopped in 2014 were overloaded, that’s an awful lot of fines and penalty points handed out.

Fortunately not all operators rely on the ignorance defence and contact us for a solution.
No van overloading here!

The Axtec OnBoard Load Indicator is fitted to more 3.5t vans than everything else put together.

Fitted in half a day without adding any significant weight  to the vehicle Axtec OnBoard will show the driver both his axle weights and his gross weight instantly. No knobs, buttons or switches just a clear, simple, colour display showing legal weights in green, anything over 80% in amber and all overloads as flashing red.

For managers, the system can store incidences of overloads or connect to a tracking device with some able to provide information in real time.

Axtec OnBoard is inexpensive to fit and, with a unique customer calibration facility, inexpensive to own as well as no service engineer needs to visit for any routine re-setting.

And with the system fitted to his van, the driver knows at every stage during his day what the axle and gross weights are and know he’s running legally and safely. So the ‘ignorance’ defence need never have to be used again.

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Who sold you that then??

 Buying the right tool for any job is important and buying an axle weighing system is no different.

If you needed to weigh a vehicle to 2% accuracy, you’d buy a weighing system that was accurate to 1% and feel pretty confident you’d made a good choice, correct?

You may be surprised to learn that that’s not always correct.

All scale manufacturers express accuracy as a percentage of the capacity of their machine. So a 10,000kg capacity weighpad with an accuracy of 1% could be up to 100kg out and still working to specification. If you had two weighpads, the pair could be up to 200kg out and still within specification.

Now consider weighing a 32 tonner one axle at a time. That’s four axle weights you’ve recorded all of which could be 200kg out. So that’s potentially an error of 800kg on the whole vehicle.

But what if you needed to weigh an unladen 32 tonner to within 2%? Assuming your 32 tonner weighs 12,000kg unladen, you need to weigh it to within 240kg.

So you need to weigh your chassis to within 240kg but you’ve been sold a system that will only weigh it to within 800kg? Sadly it happens all the time and we read about just such an occurrence only this week.

It’s something we would never do.
Is this the right system for your needs?

Contrast that with the visit we made to a site in Birmingham last week. A customer was very keen on our product and wanting the latest technology. The system would have fitted in his yard and could have produced accurate axle weights.

However, it became clear during the discussions that there were issues with the site. Turning circles, site access and similar which meant that our system wasn’t going to be the best option. So we explained the issues to him and pointed him in the direction of a company with a product better suited to his needs.

We walked away from a sizeable order.

Selling the wrong product for the task is something we would never do. We know our products, their accuracy, their pro’s and their cons, and we thoroughly investigate the customers’ needs.  And if our systems are not right for the job we will say so.

Who would you rather deal with? An organisation that will sell you anything just to make a quick buck or because they don’t have the in depth knowledge needed or one that will give you an honest opinion on what is right for your job?

We think it’s the right thing to do and means you really will get the best vehicle weighing system for your needs.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

I don't know how we managed without it.

We’ve heard that not once but twice from two separate, totally unrelated customers this week.

They were both referring to the dynamic axle weighbridges we had recently installed for them and, more importantly the cost benefits they had achieved.

Both of these customers had been using local weighbridges and had thought that the investment in their own axle weighing system would be hard to justify. But with the need for accurate axle weights growing and their local Public Weighbridges only capable of providing gross weights, both customers decided to take the plunge.

And now they have reduced their ongoing costs and added to their bottom line.

The cost for using a Public Weighbridge can be quite high, we heard of someone charging £24 per vehicle recently, and if you have to weigh several vehicles a day or, in the case of a body builder, maybe several times during the build process, the costs soon mount up.

The Axtec Axle Weighbridge Saving Time & Money
Often the total cost in weighbridge fees isn’t noticed until a whole month or years worth are added up together. That alone can be quite an eye opener but there are all sorts of other hidden costs too.

Finding a driver with an hour or more to spare every time a vehicle needs to be weighed isn’t always easy and he’s being paid whilst doing nothing very productive. What happens if he gets to the local weighbridge and it’s being serviced? Time wasted and yet your vehicle still needs to be weighed.

Wear and tear on the vehicle and fuel are further hidden costs that sometimes don’t get taken into account but all add up.

When the costs of not having your own axle weighbridge are all added up then the justification to install one is quite an easy decision to make.

But it’s not just the cost it’s the convenience. Public Weighbridges are often closed when hauliers or bodybuilders need to use them. Where do you go to weigh your vehicle when you’re working on that rush job over the weekend or late at night?  And the service can be withdrawn at any time as has happened with so many local authority owned ones in recent years.

No such problems now for the two customers mentioned earlier. They have their own facility on their doorstep available 24/7.

Like they said, how did they manage without it?

Friday, 1 May 2015

How much does YOUR supplier know about axle weighing?

There aren’t any really big global players in the field of axle weighing. One reason is that it’s a bit of a niche market and not something that is required by all.

Another is that it’s more complex to get right than it appears.

So many companies don’t understand how much work is involved in accurately weighing axles. After all, how hard can it be? Just put four load cells under a piece of metal in a hole in the ground and away you go.

Or just measure the distance between chassis and axle and hey presto you’ve got yourself an onboard weighing system.

Knowing about weighing systems isn’t enough though. A detailed knowledge of vehicles, suspension systems, the application and place of use are all vital.

Some manufacturers have even gone so far as to claim that they make systems which don’t need calibrating such is their lack of knowledge of the subject.

With an onboard load indicator that simply can’t be the case and shows a fundamental lack of understanding about what is going on.

All the most cost effective onboard systems monitor the vehicle’s suspension. This provides enough accuracy to prevent vehicles from being overloaded. But what happens when the vehicles suspension wears as it inevitably will simply by being used?

Any onboard indicator measuring the suspension will start to indicate incorrect weights. It’s not the fault of or caused by the load indicator but is simply a reaction to the vehicle being used. The suspension will lose it’s ‘newness’ and move a lot more in reaction to loads.
What happens to these springs when they wear?

Thus a simple means of correcting the change in weight is required. It’s a routine task that will need doing from time to time, typically every six months.

If the customer can do it himself, then it greatly reduces the cost of owning the system. If you have to call for a service engineer to come and do this routine job then the cost could be considerable over the life of the vehicle.

It’s not just the cost. Keeping vehicles in the yard waiting for a service engineer is inconvenient and costly in itself. The vehicles ought to be out doing the job they were bought for.

And what if a vehicle is in for repair or otherwise unavailable? Does the engineer come back another day, at additional cost, just to calibrate the onboard indicator?

Making re-setting a simple customer function is quick, cheap and convenient.

It’s not unusual for manufacturers who claim to make axle weighing systems to be ignorant of what can affect accuracy. It’s something we’ve seen many time over the years.

Or maybe they’re not ignorant? Maybe they’re trying to hide the real cost of owning equipment? Or possibly claiming that a competitor is using components which cause inaccuracy?

It’s more likely to be ignorance and is the reason we have seen so many companies come and go in the axle weighing game in our time.

Friday, 10 April 2015

Some statistics and how to avoid becoming one of them

A couple of interesting statistics hit the transport press this week.

Firstly, the number of PG9’s issued in 2014 was quite eye opening. The figures for London alone for instance show that 41% stopped during the year were issued with an immediate prohibition. Another area, Yorkshire and Humberside, had more than half the vehicles issued with a PG9 were immediate prohibitions.

Secondly, DVSA is rolling out a ‘next generation enforcement’ regime which will increase the targeting of operators as opposed to carrying out random checks. A no brainer really given that for 2013/14 the prohibition rate for random checks was 10.2% and for targeted operators, 37.1%
How many of those were inadvertent overloads it doesn’t say.

Targeting the rogue operators clearly has to take priority and the inconvenience and cost of a prohibition they suffer is the least they deserve.

Unfortunately, being prohibited with an inadvertent overload has the same expensive, time consuming and inconvenient effect on those operators trying to run legally.

Sometime ago we were approached by a client who found that being caught overloaded really did have serious consequences. He had been approached to supply his product for a makeover TV program with all the kudos and exposure that would generate.

Unfortunately, the vehicle he sent to the job was overloaded and, prohibited at a weight check en route, he missed his delivery, missed his free exposure on TV and no doubt gave the program makers a headache to boot.
Avoid overloading with the Axtec OnBoard Load Indicator

Then of course there was the inconvenience and cost of sending another vehicle and driver to take part of the load followed by the inevitable fine. And having offended once, he changed from being an inadvertent offender to a targeted operator which means more time consuming contact with the authorities.

This customer had been completely unaware of the legislation and indeed the weight of his products. He wasn’t a ‘cowboy’ to be targeted but had through ignorance inadvertently overloaded the vehicle.
The way to avoid this happening to him again was to fit one of our OnBoard Load Indicators.

Fitted to the vehicle, the driver gets his front, rear and gross weights presented to him in colour on a clear, graphical display with any overloads highlighted in flashing red. Flashing red is a danger signal in just about every country in the world and we have been told by operators with a high proportion of foreign drivers that even they understand it means there is something wrong.

Someone in fact pointed out to us the other day that in the natural world, red is seen as a colour of danger understood by even the dumbest of animals and something to be avoided or prevented.

We’ll be at the CV Show at the NEC next week (Stand 5A111), together with all things transport related, so if you want to come and have a chat about how to avoid inadvertent overloading and not becoming one of DVSA’s statistics we’ll be pleased to see you.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Almost time for THAT show!

It’s that time of year again and the excitement is starting to grow. Excitement isn’t too strong a word either as we all prepare for the CV Show 2015.

It’s a great industry event and a ‘must do’ for anyone involved in commercial vehicles.

Whatever you’re in the market for it will be on show at the NEC and whilst much buying is done on line these days, there’s still nothing quite like being face to face with a customer or for the customer to physically see and get his hands on the product.

This is essential especially if you’re in the market for a technical product like an axle weighbridge.  Whilst it’s tempting to buy something cheap on line, the horror stories we hear from people who have tried that are legion.

It seems that some of the chassis manufacturers won’t be at the show this year, possibly because they have no new products to launch and their new Euro 6 models were on show last year. Of course they have to make their own minds up how to spend their budget but we feel that the CV Show really is the place to be.

You may not have a new product to show but it seems to us a great way of showing your wares to potential customers who are currently buying a competitive product.

Often it’s the only chance during the year to meet up with old contacts as well as meet new customers.

But old contacts can be a great source of business as well. Often too busy when their in the office, a brief chat on an exhibition stand gives them the opportunity to explore new ideas and maybe expand on what they already have.

The customer who wanted to move his instrumentation without it costing the earth was one.  Ducting to the new location was going to be expensive and cause massive disruption to his operation but when we told him about our wireless capability the whole job became much more achievable and cost effective.

Without visiting us at the show he wouldn’t have known we had that capability and we would never have known he was thinking of changing his operation.

Then there are the guys who are looking to improve the service they are getting. We speak to numerous customers who didn’t talk to someone face to face, bought something off the internet and regretted it. Fortunately we’ve got 30+ years experience in axle weighing and there aren’t many issues we can’t solve.
An axle weighing system for any application at The CV Show

So if you need advice on what is the right, and most cost effective, system for your needs, head down to the CV Show at the NEC next month. Even if it's not an axle weighing system you're looking for, there will almost certainly be an expert there with the solution for you.

We'll be on stand A5111 so for all things axle weighing feel free to come along and say hello.

Monday, 2 February 2015

So how do you find out if you're potentially in need of an axle weighing system?

So who are the companies that really need an axle weighing system? And how do they know they might need it?

The first of those questions doesn’t really have  a specific answer. The second one we can gladly help with.

Often, whether there is a need for axle weighing or not is in the eye of the customer. Some organisations insist that their business simply couldn’t operate without an axle weigher. Others, often in the exact same industry, running virtually identical trucks, frequently from the same industrial estate and to the same towns, are equally adamant that they don’t need axle weighing equipment.

In most cases though, those organisations have either never been caught overloaded or more crucially haven’t considered the financial benefits of installing a system.

We have posted details of customers who have reduced journeys by a third by installing an axle weighbridge, others about customers who have found increased payload has meant the systems have been paid for in a matter of months followed by extra profit on the bottom line thereafter and others where the system has added a very handy source of extra income.

The variety of potential users is vast. From a one vehicle organisation which organised bible study exhibitions to the largest logistics companies in the world, we have supplied them all with axle weighing equipment. And every one had their own important reasons for installing a system.
Avoiding an overload on a single 3.5t van is just as important for that operator as maximising the load on a fleet of maximum weight artics is for another.

And no one axle weighing system is right for every operator as can be seen from previous posts.
So we offer a free consultancy service to talk through the customer’s requirement. This is vital to establish exactly what he is doing, what he wants from the system and what is the best equipment for the job. Sometimes that consultation leads us to recommend a supplier of a different type of system. Even sometimes recommending not buying anything at all.

How do you know which axle weighing system is best for you?
There is no typical customer for an axle weighing system. They are all different, all with different fleet profiles and different requirements. So getting the best advice on what is available, what it can do and whether it will actually do the job is vital.

With experience in this specialist field spanning over thirty years and covering the full range of the product requirement from design to manufacturing, installation and final commissioning all done by in-house professionals, the technical advice on offer is unrivalled in the country.

Axle weighing and axle weighbridges are all we know.

And the best thing is the advice is free.

Whatever you’re running, whatever your industry and whatever your aim - just the one van or a large fleet of artics, organising specialist exhibitions or moving the biggest machinery in the country, avoiding overloading or wanting to squeeze the very last kilogramme onto the truck - the advice is always free and always the best we can give.

Friday, 16 January 2015

Getting the right tool for the job...

If the latest DVSA figures are correct, overloading is still the top offence committed by operators of Light Commercial Vehicles.

It may seem a minor offence but an overloaded vehicle is very unstable and very dangerous. Putting too much weight on a van effects all the major components on the vehicle - steering, brakes, suspension, tyres, clutch  - which must have an effect on the performance.

And if the performance of the vehicle doesn’t concern you surely the excessive fuel and repair bills caused by overloading would?

What is sometimes overlooked is that even though it was only an overload on a light commercial vehicle, the penalties for overloading them are the same as for heavier vehicles. And whilst they are not on the ‘O’ licence, any offences caused by light vehicles will affect your application or any renewal.

We know from our own experience, we run service vans for instance, that light commercial vehicles are very easy to overload. As we are the sole provider of service to the national network of DVSA axle weighbridges and thus come into contact with them on a daily basis, it would be highly embarrassing if any of our vehicles were found to be overloaded.

So we have fitted the vans out with the Axtec OnBoard Load Indicator.
OnBoard Load Indicators - right for your LCV's?

Axtec OnBoard shows front, rear and gross weights on a colour display all of the time. No knobs, buttons or switches for the driver to fiddle with or break and thanks to its unique customer calibration facility keeps maintenance visits to a minimum and service costs low.
But an onboard load indicator may not be the most cost effective solution.

Only yesterday we were approached by a company about the Axtec OnBoard. Running 14 vehicles from two depots the system would certainly do a job for him and protect his vehicles from overloading out on the road. But after talking it through with him it became apparent that there was a less costly option.

As he was taking full loads from his depots to jobs and returning empty apart from  some small amounts of scrap, a static single axle weighbridge in each yard would offer him greater benefits.

The Static Single weighs any 2-axle rigid vehicle and this customer is running 14 vans. The cost of installing a Static-Single at both his depots is less expensive than equipping every van with an OnBoard Indicator.

Another benefit is that he wouldn’t need to equip every new van he bought with a system. Once the Static-Single is installed, it’ll last for years and even if his fleet grows to include larger vehicles, the system is designed to cater for anything up to and including 18 tonners.

It was only by investigating what he did, how his operation worked, where his fleet is based and what is plans for the future might be that we were able to specify the correct solution for his needs even though it is only light commercials he’s using.