Montana Department of Transportation Reduces Maintenance Costs With Avery Weigh-Tronix Scale Equipment

Montana Department of Transportation Reduces Maintenance Costs With Avery Weigh-Tronix Scale Equipment

The Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) oversees 26 weigh stations which weigh more than half a million commercial trucks each year. These vehicle weight measurements are also reported to the US Department of Transportation.  When weighing vehicles to verify compliance with state and federal laws, MDT’s goal is to provide a service to tax payers by protecting our highway infrastructure. To fulfill its goal, it is crucial for MDT to employ reliable scale equipment for efficient and accurate weighing performance.

Costly downtime

In October 2008, a truck scale at the Billings Westbound Interstate 90 weigh station—one of the busiest commercial truck sites in Montana—had a major failure. This was the first among other axle-weighing scales that also experienced breakdowns, resulting in costly repairs and extended downtime.

The scale failure at Billings was due to an extreme overweight vehicle crossing the scale.  The scale was 25 + years old and was damaged beyond repair.   Montana was also experiencing severe corrosion in other scales due to the harsh environment and aging of the scale equipment.  This resulted in frequent, expensive repairs.

Accurate vehicle weighing in a high-traffic area

When looking for a new scale and components, MDT searched for equipment that could provide accurate measurements for a wide range of vehicles in high-traffic areas, while also having the strength and durability to withstand heavy loads over a long period of time in the harsh, corrosive environment.

To help select a new weighing solution, MDT recruited Rocky Mountain Scale Works, which provides design, consultation and support services for any type of scale located throughout Montana and portions of three other states.

Galvanized for corrosion protection

“We recommended the state of Montana switch to a truck scale that was all steel, but fully hot-dip galvanized for corrosion protection and extremely long life,” said Jim Rather, President of Rocky Mountain Scale Works.

Specifically, Rocky Mountain Scale Works and MDT selected a heavy duty axle weighing scale. Designed for the frequent heavy use that the Billings weigh station experiences, the sandwich-steel deck scale is rated to a 200,000 lb. maximum capacity. The galvanization—which coats all internal and external scale surfaces—protects it from the harsh environments.

Programmable weight display

“We also recommended replacing the weighing instrumentation with the Avery Weigh-Tronix Model E1310 digital weight display-controller for better reliability, speed of operation and easy to read display.” added Rather.

The Model E1310 indicator-controller was tailored to meet MDT’s specific needs, with a high-speed, programmable refresh rate of up to 60 times per second. With a large, highly visible  1.5-inch-high by 5-inch-wide backlit screen, the indicator displays the axle weights in a format which is easily visible up to 20 feet away.

“The new indicator is a lot easier to read, and it displays the weights far faster than other weight displays we’ve used.” said Chris Williams, Weigh Station Operator.

3 million measurements with no downtime

Since the installation of the new scale and indicator solution at the Billings weigh station, more than 1 million vehicles have passed over the scale and the new weighing system has made more than 3 million measurements without failure.

“We have not had any maintenance issues to speak of with the scales since they have been installed,” said Dan Bisom, Motor Carrier Services Supervisor at MDT.  “With efficient equipment, we can focus on other areas of service here at MDT.”

Financial evaluation leads to state approval for future sites

The department has also purchased Avery Weigh-Tronix equipment to address scale issues at other weigh stations. While the new Billings I-90 weigh station scale was being installed, MDT was also experiencing significant maintenance issues at other weigh stations. After a financial evaluation, MDT realized that the Avery Weigh-Tronix scales were the most cost-effective and reliable product to meet its specific needs.  Consequently, MDT went through a state approval process that would allow them to use Avery Weigh-Tronix electronic scales and equipment for future construction projects.

MDT has since installed Avery Weigh-Tronix scales at permanent scale locations at both Eastbound and Westbound weigh stations in Haugan and at Armington Junction, which are three sites that have had a history of high maintenance and costly repair issues.  Before the new equipment was installed, the maintenance costs at the three sites exceeded $19,000 over a three year period.

No maintenance issues

“Upon installing the Avery Weigh-Tronix electronic scales, we have had little to no maintenance or repair issues at these sites,” Bisom said. “The only cost we have had was one of the scale decks was adjusted at minimal cost.

Other Avery Weigh-Tronix equipment has also been installed at the Clearwater Junction, Havre, Conrad, Lima, and Harlowton weigh stations, with further plans to install scales at its Helena, Broadus, and Bozeman weigh stations.

“We don’t worry about Avery Weigh-Tronix scales not working,” Bisom said. “We are replacing our high maintenance and aging scales as funding is available.  Also, as problems with our old indicators and displays arise, we replace them with Avery Weigh-Tronix indicators and displays.

“We couldn’t be more satisfied.”


Rocky Mountain Scale Works is a distributor of Avery Weigh-Tronix products in North America, to find your local distributor, please contact us