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Agribusiness company improves uptime by upgrading old vehicle scales

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article image POWERCELL PDX load cell

Family-owned agribusiness company Littlejohn Grain upgraded their old railroad scales with POWERCELL PDX load cells from METTLER TOLEDO to improve uptime and reduce maintenance costs.

The Illinois-based company deals in corn, soybean and wheat and operates six grain storage facilities. During peak season, grain from local farms is delivered to Littlejohn facilities almost continuously, with roughly 500 truckloads of grain being weighed on vehicle scales every day. Grain is also shipped out by rail to end users from Littlejohn's railyard facility in Martinsville, Illinois, with their railroad scales weighing as many as 30 trains of grain annually.

Malfunctioning scales caused by the ever-present rodents at the facility presented a major problem for the business. Gnawing through the load cell cables, the rodents often shut down the scales with weighing operations resuming only after the cables and load cells were replaced. Additionally, the railroad would charge Littlejohn Grain daily demurrage fees of $10,000 per train on the tracks when the scale was out of service. The maintenance costs plus the demurrage fee significantly increased the overall costs of running the vehicle scales.

Faced with these scale-related issues, Littlejohn Grain found a simple solution to reduce maintenance costs and enhance uptime for its well-used vehicle scales.

Turning to their local METTLER TOLEDO distributor Koenig Scale for a solution, Littlejohn was advised to upgrade their railroad scale with POWERCELL PDX load cells rather than continue to replace damaged equipment. POWERCELL PDX load cells have heavy-duty cables covered with braided stainless steel to resist rodents. For added protection, Koenig routed the cables through flexible metal conduit. In the unlikely event of a damaged cable, POWERCELL PDX quick-locking connectors let technicians replace the cable without the expense of replacing the load cell.

POWERCELL PDX load cells from METTLER TOLEDO once again came to Littlejohn Grain’s rescue shortly after the railroad scale upgrade, when their Martinsville facility's truck scale collapsed into the scale pit due to an overstressed extension lever. While the scale was down, trucks had to be rerouted to another facility to be weighed and unloaded, then shipped back to the Martinsville facility at significant additional cost.

To get the scale back up and running at the Martinsville facility, Koenig again recommended POWERCELL PDX load cells. Converting the scale to the new load cell technology promised to save both time and money with the load cell installation proving to be quicker, easier and less expensive than repairing the damaged lever system. The new technology also allows the facility to install a wireless remote display that can show incoming customers weighing results for completely transparent processing.

Littlejohn’s train and truck scales have been performing well since the upgrade with no maintenance issues; the company also plans to integrate the scales with a personal computer for more efficient weigh data processing.

Doug Littlejohn expects to save about $10,000-$16,000 a year from the two installations. He adds that five other scales will also be upgraded over time.

(Adapted from an article originally published in Material Handling Network.)

Image: POWERCELL PDX load cell

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