Bench Scale 101: What You Need To Know

Silver Bench scale

When most people think of a scale, the first thing that comes to mind is that bathroom device that they step on each morning, but the applications go much farther than that. From supply chains to agriculture, there are many industries that require an accurate measurement of their cargo’s weight, and they use a bench scale to get it. 

Especially useful in tight spaces, bench scales come in many different shapes and sizes. Weight limits, sizes, and adherence to NIST weighing standards are just a few factors to consider when choosing the right scale for your application. Proper maintenance can keep your scale balanced over time. Ready to learn all you need to know about bench scales? Read on!

What Is a Bench Scale?

Like all scales, the purpose of a bench scale is to obtain the weight of an object, but these scales are usually small enough to be placed on a platform or bench. Because so many applications use bench scales and require specialized features, each bench scale can be very unique. Some differing features include:

  • Weight limits. Floor and deck scales measure larger weights, and truck scales and railroad scales weigh massive freight, but bench scales usually have a maximum weight capacity of several hundred pounds. Some bench scales are designed for gram-sized measurements, and have limits of only a few pounds or less. 
  • Size. Some bench scales may only take up a few square feet of space and can fit on a workbench or countertop, while others may be large enough to hold parcels or livestock, and will remain stationary on the floor. 
  • Building material. Applications in the pharmaceutical industry may only need a lightweight material like plastic or aluminum, but food grade or manufacturing industries may need a rugged material like stainless steel to hold up to the job.
  • Compatibility. Some scales may only take isolated readings, but others can be linked to computers, other scales, or barcodes for further data storage. At American Scale, our technicians can link your bench scale to any compatible device.  
  • Units. Some applications may use the metric system and weigh their goods in grams or kilograms, while others may measure in ounces or pounds. Your bench scale should display weight using the units of measurement you need — and to the accuracy that you require.

Backup batteries, waterproof performance, and the presence of a stand are just a few other features to consider, so weigh out your options carefully before you find the scale that fits you. 

What Are Bench Scales Used For?

Btek bench scale

There are many industries that depend on a bench scale to function. Some residential applications rely on them as well. Some of the most common industrial bench scale applications include:

  • Chemical Plants. Industries involved in chemical processing must obtain very accurate measurements of the substances they use. Without this accuracy, something could go very wrong. Smaller bench scales can deliver accuracy up to several tenths of a milligram, and work well for exact chemical weights.
  • Laboratories. Research centers and laboratories also need exact measurements for their processes, but space may be more limited than at a chemical plant. A bench scale can meet demands for accuracy, and also for compactness. 
  • Recycling centers. Recycling centers often use floor or conveyer scales to weigh large quantities of waste as it moves through their site, but centers that receive metals like copper or aluminum may use large platform or bench scales to determine an item’s value. 
  • Manufacturing lines. When manufacturing certain products, weighing the final part can help determine if it was built correctly or not. Accurate weights are an essential part of non-destructive testing (NDT) and quality assurance, and bench scales ensure that a product was fabricated to spec. 
  • Warehouses. Shipping rates are often determined by a parcel’s weight, which is calculated by using a bench scale. Warehouses can also assess their inventories by using their scales for product counting, something which we’ll take a closer look at later. 
  • Breweries. Breweries and other food packaging facilities must use exact quantities of each ingredient, and they use bench scales to craft the perfect brew. Distilleries across the Louisville, Kentucky area regularly make use of bench scales to weigh their mash, ensuring uniformity in every bottle. 
  • Farms. Just as brewers and food processing companies measure their ingredients, farmers must also weigh out feed for their livestock using bench scales. If they are large enough, bench scales are used to weigh farm animals, too.

Other applications can include concrete or asphalt plants, and sites that mix liquids like paint or resins may use bench scales as well. 

Counting Scales

Btek counting scale

Some bench scales only measure an object’s weight, but others are smarter, and can help your facility’s operation even more. Counting scales are similar to bench scales, but they count vs. weighing the item or can sometimes perform both functions. They do this by allowing the user to weigh a part, and then dividing the total weight by the individual value to determine the number of parts in the whole. 

For example, suppose a company manufactured screws and was expecting a shipment of 1,000 screws to arrive. After weighing a single screw and inputting that value into the scale, it will not only weigh the package of screws placed upon it, but divide that value by the individual weight, giving the true number of screws in the shipment. This gives manufacturers a way to precisely track their inventory, so that they have exactly as much as they planned. 

How To Use a Bench Scale or Counting Scale

The process is quite straightforward, but there are several features you should be aware of to properly operate your bench or counting scale. Some scales will have different displays or capabilities than others, but the most common bench scale features are:

  1. Power. In addition to simply turning the scale on, some bench scales have a rechargeable battery to keep them running when the power goes out. If your scale doesn’t operate after pressing the power button, make sure the proper power supply is in use.
  2. Mode. Many bench scales can weigh an item in multiple units, and this feature allows you to toggle between them. Possible options may be mg, g, kg, lbs, oz., ct, dr, MM, T, and many others, so make sure you’ve chosen the right unit first. 
  3. Count [also known as pieces (PCS)]. Users may weigh an individual item, store the value of that weight, and weigh the remaining quantity of the item to determine how many there are. They may have to specify the total number of units expected to be counted.
  4. Tare. Users can employ this feature to calibrate the scale so that it excludes a given amount. This is especially useful when excluding container weights, as these can be subtracted off automatically if they are weighed before the rest of the sample. 

After weighing each sample, users should reset their bench scale, so that it will return the proper value next time. 

Calibration and Maintenance 

In addition to resetting your bench scale after each use, there are several other steps that users may wish to take to keep their scales precise. Placing your scale on a level surface is essential in obtaining an accurate value, as any angle will result in an incorrect reading. Users should also clean their bench scale to ensure that no debris has accumulated on the plate. This is an especially common problem in industrial or farming applications — and proper scale calibration is essential as well.

At American Scale, our technicians can also perform repairs, calibration, and maintenance on your bench scale to optimize its performance. Damaged load cells, electronic failures, or worn out plates may all need serviced over time, and our team has the expertise not only to repair damaged components, but to align your bench scale with the proper NIST calibration standards

Where Can I Find a Bench Scale Near Me?

Application may have the greatest influence on the type of bench scale you choose, as this will determine the features you need, and the conditions your scale must withstand. Some decisions may be obvious.  A bench scale used in a laboratory should be lightweight and may need a counting feature, while an industrial scale should be larger and rugged. Other design considerations may be less clear. The technicians at American Scale are familiar with the requirements of many industries, and will be happy to help you choose a scale that’s right for you. 

How American Scale Measures Up

Just as bench scales are used across so many industries, they can also be sourced through several different suppliers. American Scale soars to the top of that list, and supplies scaling solutions to all sorts of companies in need of an accurate weight. We’ve been supplying Illinois, Indiana, and the surrounding Midwest region with the scales they need since 1992, and our experience gives our seasoned technicians the expertise it takes to find a solution that meets your needs. Contact us today, and see how we measure up.