Many carriers and shippers face high fines for overloading vehicle axles. Several ways exist to avoid the problem:
- hire lawyers and challenge fines in court,
- lower the total weight of transported cargo,
- buy scales for measuring the axial loads of laden vehicles,
- simulate loading in specialized software.
Each of these decisions is associated with costs, one-off and monthly. A lawyer needs a salary, and an increase in freight traffic requires more lawyers, whereas many fines cannot be disputed in practice. Reducing cargo weight raises the cost of transportation and, oddly enough, does not guarantee the absence of axle overload. On the contrary, the center of gravity of the load is often shifted towards the tractor, increasing the probability for the second axle to be overloaded.
There are two acceptable solutions: using scales or a program. Let’s compare them.
1. Speed of loading. One weighing of the truck takes 10-15 minutes. If an overload is found, it is necessary to change the allocation of cargo: unload, reload and weigh again. Several such attempts, 3-4, take 500-800% more time than one loading. Using the program will not allow repeated overloads, and loading simulation takes 1-10 minutes.
2. Accuracy. Professional scales have a declared accuracy of 2% given that the user complies with all the requirements for installation and measurement. Some manufacturers warn explicitly that the measurement error in real conditions can reach 10%. The scale readings made on-site are not guaranteed to recur at a point of weight control, and there is no way to prove which measurement was made with greater accuracy. In contrast, the program estimates without error, according to the formulas, this is an entirely provable calculation for a particular vehicle. The program calculation is useful in disputing an overestimated reading of any scales.
3. Accounting for restrictions. Permissible axle loads depend on roads, season, number and type of axles, the distance between axles and type of wheels. All these factors must be considered when weighing and deciding on the shipment. The program automatically sets restrictions and will not allow them to be exceeded for a particular vehicle. But scales do not indicate precisely when the overload occurs, the operator should make judgements, meaning that a human factor makes the process prone to errors.
4. Several points of unloading in the route. For each stop, measurements have to be retaken, because the remaining cargo rests on the hitch and the second axle of the tractor, thus likely to overload them. If you do not simulate the allocation of the remaining cargo in advance, you risk overloading the axles even with lower tonnage carried.
5. Vehicle planning. Often you need to understand how many and which type of vehicles are required to send a particular order, or how much cargo can be transported by available vehicles. Obviously, the scales are useless for this task.
6. Price. Scales are much more expensive than a program subscription, the price may exceed $15000, and besides, require an operator to perform weighings. Only the program can be used by any specialist of the enterprise, whether it is a sales manager to determine the order, a specialist in the logistics department or a warehouse employee. The program is easy to use, it takes several hours to learn. The costs of owning the scales and using them without a program increase significantly due to the need to reload products and reduce the weight of the shipped cargo.
7. Can the program be wrong? No, it cannot. Of course, we conducted multiple tests to compare program estimates with the scales readings. The results showed that the program could not only predict the readings of the scales but also improve the adopted loading schemes, increasing the loading weight by 25% without axle overload.
Scales are a means of measuring, representing an actual situation. Scales cannot be used for loading planning while optimizing the loading scheme by trial-and-error is very expensive. Multiple reloading attempts will result in a much longer loading and lower carrying volume.
A program is a means of “designing” loading, you know in advance how to arrange the load in order to carry it at the maximum capacity. If you already have scales, a one-time weighing of the most loaded vehicles before departure double-checks that everything is loaded correctly.