Automation Software & Engineering, Inc. (AS&E) developed and implemented a truck scale automation system for a major manufacturer. The system provides truck drivers direct access to check-in and out of the facility via a kiosk at all perimeter gates. All existing routine functional requirements for inbound and outbound trucks regarding shipments and deliveries are included in the automation system.
The automation of this process creates significant cost savings by reducing labor hours and minimizing shipping errors. The automated scale interface system eliminates the need for scale clerks. It also implements multiple automated verification checks to ensure the correct product is being shipped which will substantially reduce human error. The system will achieve full payback in approximately six months and will then result in operational savings in excess of one million dollars annually for the manufacturer.
The key automation component enabling truck scales to become unmanned stations are touch screen, self- serve kiosks that are used by truck drivers to check into and out of the plant. The customized kiosk software distinguishes trucks arriving to pick up product from commodity trucks making deliveries or removals from the facility. The check in/out process records the time of entry and exit, the scheduled gate and time, the license plate number and the truck weights. A specialized license plate reader system is utilized at each kiosk location to capture the rear trailer license plate. After validation, the data is transmitted to the corporate database. Once all required transaction data has been entered, the kiosk prints a scale ticket with a barcode containing all pertinent transactional data permitting the truck driver to proceed to the proper destination.
Enhancements were made to shipping process in order to reduce the number of incorrect shipments. The basic conceptual strategy was that errors would be reduced by adding multiple electronic and visual components to the process. Actions included adding a barcode to the BOL cover sheet, marking and identifying specific loading locations along the building, installing barcode readers at each loading position to verify truck/load identification, creating real time tablet displays for the shipper and tractor drivers that identify storage locations and associate each load with the correct loading position, and installing LED signs at each loading position to display the numbers for each product to be loaded on a specific truck.
Additionally, network video recorders (NVR) each utilizing multiple cameras were installed at all truck scale locations to record all activity. Both live and historical views are available. Searchable bookmarks are written to the NVR’s including criteria such as load ID, scheduled location and time.
When exiting, the driver scans the inbound scale ticket and the barcode on the BOL cover sheet in order to confirm the correct load has been picked up. All data is transmitted to the corporate database. Once confirmed that all information is correct, newly installed barrier gates automatically open. The gates close once the scale weight clears.