5 Things to Consider When Buying Food Production Scales
Like any industry, food production requires accurate weighing scales for many parts of the manufacturing process.
With food production, having a reliable, professional weighing scale to hand is particularly crucial – because an incorrect measurement of ingredients, for example, can completely change the taste of the product that is created.
The market is flooded with cheap weighing scales that market themselves as kitchen scales or catering scales - but how do you know what to trust and what will let you down? In this blog post, we look at five key things you should consider when buying food production scales. If the scales you’re looking at don’t shout about the kind of features and benefits we mention below, they may not be the scales you need.
1. Is the accuracy good enough for the application?
Most people, when buying weighing scales, will look at the capacity of a scale to ensure it’s adequate for their weighing needs. A much smaller percentage of those people will look at the readability, too.
Food production scales can be needed for many different types of weighing jobs – from a platform scale weighing pallets of apples prior to be used for apple pies, to small kitchen food scales for weighing out cake ingredients in a patisserie.
In theory, the more accurate the scale, the better the results. Bear in mind that the higher the capacity of the scale, the less fine the readability is. But also bear in mind that, sometimes, a scale can be too accurate; if the readability is too fine, say below 0.1g, then the environment that the scale is used in may cause the reading to fluctuate slightly. In this case, although the scale is very accurate, the results can become less reliable.
If you need help with understanding what accuracy you need for the job you need the scale to do, Get In Touch with us.
2. Does the scale have a good warranty period?
It’s likely that a higher quality scale will have a longer warranty period. You’ll find most professional industrial scales and food production scales will have a one year or two year warranty; higher quality scales may have longer.
Bear in mind also that a scale with a longer warranty period may command a noticeably higher price. The key in most cases will probably be weighing up the cost of the scale versus how long it will be covered by warranty.
Many food manufacturers will go for a high quality professional scale that’s maybe mid-range in terms of price and quality; they will then expect to replace that scale after, say, 5 years if required.
With this in mind, check what kind of service support you can get with the scale, as this will prolong its lifespan, as well as help to maintain a high level of accuracy every time it’s used. The cost of servicing and the cost of replacing should both be considered alongside the length of the warranty.
3. Is the scale suitable for harsh conditions?
The vast majority of customers purchasing food scales will opt for IP-rated products. IP refers to ingress protection, and the higher the number, the greater the protection against water and dust ingress.
For food production environments, scales will invariably need to be cleaned down regularly – at the very least, at the end of the working day. A scale without protection against water and dust ingress is more likely to be damaged when it’s washed down, and its working life considerably shortened.
An IP65 or IP67 rating will be adequate for most food scales; however, if the scale will need to washed down frequently, and with plenty of water, IP68 is more suitable. For jet washing and hosing down, scales are available with an IP69 rating.
Depending on price, many customers will choose an IP68 scale like the Inscale IWS Waterproof Bench Scale, purely for peace of mind.
4. Is the scale easy to use for fuss-free weighing tasks?
No business wants to waste time training employees on how to weigh – therefore, the easier the scale is to use, the quicker you and your team can get on with weighing.
If it’s simply weight that's needed from the scale – that is, you won’t need functions like percentage weighing, checkweighing and parts counting – there are scales available that focus on the basics.
It also helps if the scale has a large, clear display, visible in most lighting conditions, as this makes it easier for users to read the weight.
On the other hand, you may want to check for features like selectable digital filtering, animal weighing and hold. All three of these functions basically perform the same job – they slow down (or in the case of a hold function, actually freeze) the fluctuations in the weight reading, resulting in a more stable weight, which is easier to see, acknowledge and record.
5. Is it a trade approved scale?
There are a number of weighing applications in the food production industry that require trade approved scales. This is important to know and understand as cheaper scales are unlikely to be trade approved – and the use of unsuitable scales can result in hefty fines.
Trade approved scales should be used when money exchanges hands based on the weight of the goods. So, for example, if you’re a butcher selling meat by the kg – and the price is set per kg – the meat must be weighed out using a trade approved scale.
You can find out more about trade approved scales in this blog post – or, if you’re unsure, please Get In Touch with us.
Want to know more about waterproof scales for the food production industry? Find out more in this blog post, Do I Need a Waterproof Weighing Scale for Food Production?