Weighing Technology: What Is a Load Cell?

If you’ve ever wondered how scales accurately measure weight, load cells are the unsung heroes behind the scenes. But what are load cells, and how do they work? Read on to learn about the pivotal role load cells play in weighing instruments.

What Is a Load Cell

Load cells are small devices used in scales to convert force or weight into an electrical output. There are different types of load cells, each with its own unique specifications and applications. Strain gauge load cells are the type most commonly found in industrial scales.

How Do Load Cells Work?

Load cells use material like wire or foil that changes shape when force (the weight of an object) is applied to it. The change in shape, or deformation, creates an electrical signal that can be measured and converted to weighing data. Unless overloaded, the load cell will return to its original shape once the object is removed from the scale.

In more detail, here’s a simple rundown on how strain gauge load cells work:

  • Deformation: You place an object on the scale, and the force of the object’s weight is applied to the load cell(s). This force slightly deforms the load cell’s material.
  • Strain Gauge: Attached to the deforming material are tiny electrical resistors called strain gauges. These resistors change their resistance when they stretch or compress.
  • Change in Resistance: As the load cell material deforms, it causes the strain gauges to stretch or compress, changing their resistance. This resistance change corresponds to the weight applied to the scale.
  • Electrical Signal: The load cell connects to an electrical circuit that monitors the strain gauges’ change in resistance. The change is converted into a voltage or current.
  • Weight Calculation: The voltage or current is used to calculate the object’s weight based on the known relationship between the force applied to the load cell and the change in the strain gauges’ resistance.
  • Display: The calculated weight is displayed on the scale’s screen in a common unit of measure like pounds or grams.

Load Cell Accuracy

When installed and calibrated correctly, load cells are extremely accurate. There’s a reason why almost all electronic scales today — from basic kitchen scales to heavy-duty industrial scales — use some type of load cell. If they weren’t accurate, we would use a different, more reliable technology for weighing.

Signs a Load Cell Needs to Be Replaced

Load cells are crucial components in scales, but they can wear out or lose their accuracy over time. Signs there may be something wrong with your load cells include:

  • The scale won’t return to zero. If you overloaded your load cell, it may be misshapen, which will prevent the scale from returning to zero after you remove the object. Overload damage is often permanent, and you will likely need to replace your load cell.
  • You receive inconsistent readings. If your scale is consistently giving you different readings for the same item, there may be an issue with the load cells. Depending on the problem, you may be able to calibrate the load cell or you may need to replace parts.
  • The load cell is physically damaged. If the load cell is cracked, dented, bent, or otherwise damaged, its performance might be impaired.
  • You frequently have to recalibrate your scale. Scales need routine calibration services to ensure accurate weighing data. However, if your scale constantly needs to be calibrated or fails to calibrate correctly, there could be a load cell issue.
  • Your scale has zero drift. Zero drift is a gradual change in the zero reading over time, even without weight on the scale. The load cell may no longer be stable and need replacement.

If you notice any of the above issues, you should contact your local industry expert for assistance. They should be able to help you determine if the load cell needs to be replaced or if you can get away with repair or calibration services.

Quality Scales with Quality Load Cells

The load cell might be the most important part of a scale, so you want to ensure you have scales that start with a foundation of quality, reliable load cells. At UniFide CST, you can find high-quality industrial scales from brands you can trust, like Mettler Toledo and Rice Lake. Whether you need a floor scale, counting scale, truck scale, or something else, we have the right solution for you. Get a quote today.

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Why Do Trucks Get Weighed?

Driving down the highway, you’ve probably seen exit signs indicating a weigh station. With a passenger vehicle, you don’t need to worry about stopping to get weighed.
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Why Do Trucks Get Weighed?

Driving down the highway, you’ve probably seen exit signs indicating a weigh station. With a passenger vehicle, you don’t need to worry about stopping to get weighed. But that doesn’t mean you aren’t curious about truck weigh stations and why they exist.

Keep reading to learn all about weigh stations, including why trucks are weighed and how truck weigh stations work.

Why Are Trucks Weighed

Trucks are weighed for three main reasons: safety (weight limits), taxes, and profits. The weigh stations you see along the highway are mainly for safety, but businesses also need to know truck weights to determine the taxes they owe and monitor the load to ensure profits.


Anyone who has driven past a semi-truck understands how huge they are. Not only is the truck itself heavy (usually about 35,000 pounds with an empty trailer), but it can also fit a lot of cargo. Whether it’s books, produce, or pillows in the trailer, all that weight adds up!

There are other heavy trucks to think about, too. For example, cement trucks can weigh between 20,000 to 30,000 pounds and carry about 40,000 pounds of cement. That’s a lot of weight putting stress on the road.

Trucks are weighed to help ensure they aren’t overloaded. An overloaded truck can present a safety hazard — both to drivers on the road and infrastructure. Extremely heavy trucks have greater stopping distances, may be more difficult to control, and can damage roads and bridges.


We rely on trucks to transport goods and materials all over the country, but their weight (even when not overloaded) puts extra stress on highways, bridges, overpasses, etc. So, truck carriers must pay heavy vehicle use taxes that go toward maintaining roadways. Truck weight is used to determine the taxes owed.


Truck weight allows business owners to monitor their inventory as it travels across roadways. Operations managers can use the weighing data to increase productivity, streamline the transportation process, and ensure customers are billed appropriately. Tracking truck weight can also help companies catch potential issues like theft or fraud.

What Is the Purpose of Truck Weigh Stations?

Weigh stations (called “chicken coops” in trucker lingo) are checkpoints for weighing heavy commercial trucks and vehicles. These stations are often run by the Department of Transportation (DOT) or state Highway Patrol. They help ensure vehicles meet DOT regulations, like not exceeding the federal maximum gross weight of 80,000 pounds.

How Do Weigh Stations Work?

In most cases, trucks and commercial vehicles over 10,000 pounds are required to stop at a weigh station if it’s open. Weigh stations are not open 24/7, but there will be signage indicating whether the station is open or closed.

At the weigh station, a truck scale is used to determine the vehicle’s weight. With some scales, the truck has to stop on the scale as it’s weighed. Newer scales have advanced technology that allows trucks to simply drive over the surface. Trucks that are overweight may face heavy fines. A truck could even be held at the station if it’s considered unsafe.


Weigh stations aren’t always just about weight, though. Some trucks are subject to fuller inspections. Officials could request to see the driver’s paperwork to check the trucker’s credentials, the logged weight to ensure it matches the current weight, and the driving log for safety compliance. They might also take a closer look at the vehicle itself to ensure all the systems work well.

Industrial Truck Scales and More from UniFide CST

Weighing stations help ensure the safety of truck drivers, other vehicles on the road, and infrastructure. But trucks don’t have to wait until they come across a weigh station to check their load. With on-site and portable truck scales from UniFide CST, business owners can confirm the weight of their trucks before they ever even hit the road. Contact us today for a quote.

More Blog Posts

Weighing Technology: What Is a Load Cell?

If you’ve ever wondered how scales accurately measure weight, load cells are the unsung heroes behind the scenes. But what are load cells, and how do they work? Read on to learn about the pivotal role load cells play in weighing instruments.
Read More →

Scale Taring for Sucess: Maximizing Efficiency and Accuracy

Regardless of your industry, you want precise weighing data for your products — excluding packaging and other non-product weight. Taring your scale is the best way to ensure one-off or repetitive weighing with maximum accuracy. But, as you’ll soon see, scale taring can be used in multiple ways to improve weighing productivity and accuracy.

What Does It Mean to Tare a Scale?

Taring an industrial scale adjusts the weight of the current load to zero. So, if you place a plastic container, cardboard box, or even a whole truck on a scale, pressing the tare button subtracts the weight of that container and reverts the displayed weight to zero.

You can start loading the product, and the scale will only measure the product’s weight. As a result, the scale automatically removes the tare weight (container weight) from the gross weight (total weight) and displays only the net weight (total minus container).

Why Is It Important to Tare the Scale?

Tare weight, sometimes called unladen weight, is the weight of empty containers or transport vehicles. It allows you to get an accurate net weight for products or materials. Taring the scale is vital when estimating shipping fees, tolls, and the baseline price of products.

How Scale Taring Helps Different Industries

While taring is essential for providing accurate weighing data, it can also help increase operational efficiency and better support your bottom line. Here are just a few examples of how tare weight can help different businesses.

Weighing Out Manufactured Products

Using the tare function makes filling containers with a specific weight far easier. Instead of manually adding the product weight to the packaging, let the scale do everything for you.

Here’s a simple example. Say you want to measure precisely 2 lbs of your manufactured product and package it into a cardboard box. You would follow these steps:

  • Place the cardboard box on the scale (the scale shows its weight).
  • Press the tare button (the box weight is subtracted, and the scale shows zero).
  • Load the product until the scale displays 2 lbs.

There’s no need to separately weigh out your product before placing it in the box. Plus, if you’re using uniform boxes with the same weight, you don’t have to tare each time, making it faster to fulfill multiple orders.

Efficient Shipping

Taring the scale provides tons of benefits and increases efficiency in our everyday lives without most people even realizing it. For example, the shipping industry relies on taring systems to calculate the amount of shipped goods without removing them from the truck for manual measuring. If all goods had to be measured individually, shipping times would be dramatically longer and supply chains would get jammed up.

Benefits for the Healthcare Industry

Hospitals and elderly care facilities also benefit from scale taring. By taring wheelchair weights, medical staff can get accurate patient weights. Without this function, nurses would need to weigh the patient with the wheelchair and manually subtract the weight, which is time-consuming and leaves room for error.

Enhanced Productivity With Repetitive Weighing

You can also pre-program the tare weight for repetitive weighing. As a result, your production and packaging can become far more efficient. When applied correctly, the tare function can make almost any facility more productive and profitable. It’s a simple feature found on most weighing scales, but it dramatically impacts industries of every stripe.

Taring the Scale for Easier Chemical Or Powder Mixing

If you need to mix powdered or liquid compounds with precise measurements, you can use the tare feature to speed up the process. You don’t need to measure each ingredient separately before mixing them. The tare function lets you measure each component while you load them in the mix, streamlining the process and improving productivity and your bottom line.

Say you need to combine 1 oz of Chemical A with 0.5 oz of Chemical B. You could tare the container to remove its weight. Then, add 1 oz of Chemical A and tare the weight to zero again before adding 0.5 oz of Chemical B to the mix. The process is much easier than manually measuring all the weights, including the container weight.

How Is Tare Different From Zeroing the Scale?

The zeroing function sets the scale to zero without any added weight. While taring the scale subtracts unwanted weight, zeroing the scale is a calibration.

The zero function should be used to recalibrate an empty scale if it’s slightly off, not to subtract the weight from containers. If you zero the scale with a container on it, the scale no longer knows its true zero and may provide inaccurate measurements moving forward.

If your scale’s calibration is off, you can turn to UniFide CST. We provide ISO-Accredited scale calibration services to keep you compliant with the Department of Agriculture and Trade & Consumer Protection. Request our calibration services, and our technicians will get you back on track.

How to Tare a Scale

Using a tare function on digital scales is straightforward. Load the container or any other weight you want to disregard, press the tare key, and the weight will reset to zero.

Mechanical scales can tare a limited weight by sliding a tare bar left and right between its limit points. Digital scales are more convenient and faster to use since you don’t have to balance the tare weight manually.

Whether using a digital or mechanical scale, you need to be careful not to overload the scale by accident when taring. The total weight of the container and its load shouldn’t exceed the scale’s maximum capacity.

Trust UniFide CST For Maximum Accuracy And Reliability

Don’t let inaccurate scales affect your operation. UniFide CST carries a wide range of precision scales designed to meet your needs with exceptional accuracy and reliability. Contact us today to learn how our scales can help you achieve precise measurements in your operations.

Industrial Weighing with UniFide CST

These weigh modules are a powerful solution to a number of process opportunities!

The Art of Percision: Industrial Scale Calibration

When it comes to industrial weighing, precision and accuracy are paramount. Whether you’re in manufacturing, logistics, pharmaceuticals, or any other industry that relies on weight measurements, it’s important to ensure that your scales are properly calibrated.

In this blog, we’ll weigh the facts on industrial scale calibration, its significance, and why you need to calibrate weighing scales. We’ll also explore how to calibrate scales and why turning to a trusted provider like UniFide CST for quality industrial scales and industrial scale calibration services can benefit your bottom line.

What is Scale Calibration?

Industrial scale calibration is the process of adjusting and verifying the accuracy of a weighing scale to ensure that it provides reliable and consistent measurements in an industrial setting. This calibration process involves comparing the scale’s readings to known reference weights or standards. If there are discrepancies, the scale is adjusted to correct them, ensuring that it provides precise and accurate measurements.

Why Do Scales Need to Be Calibrated?

Ensuring Accuracy

The primary purpose of industrial scale calibration is to guarantee that a scale produces accurate weight measurements. This is essential for maintaining product quality, complying with industry standards, and preventing costly errors.

Quality Control

Calibration helps maintain product quality by ensuring that ingredients are weighed accurately during manufacturing. Even minor discrepancies can lead to significant quality issues in industries like pharmaceuticals and food production.


Many industries are subject to regulations and standards that require precise weight measurements. Calibration ensures compliance with these regulations and helps avoid fines or legal issues.

Why Calibrate? The Importance of Accuracy

Accuracy is a fundamental requirement in many industries and directly impacts the bottom line. Here’s how calibration ensures accurate and reliable weight measurements:


Calibrated industrial scales provide consistent measurements, reducing variations in product quality and minimizing waste.

Customer Satisfaction

Accurate weight measurements lead to reliable product packaging. Customers can trust that they are receiving the correct quantity, which can enhance their satisfaction and trust in your brand.

Cost Savings

Avoiding errors in ingredient measurements and complying with industry standards can save your business money in the long run by helping to reduce waste and prevent costly recalls.

How Do You Calibrate Scales?

Calibrating industrial scales involves precise steps, including zero-point calibration, span calibration, and linearity testing. These procedures ensure the scale’s measurements are accurate across its entire range. While some users may perform basic calibration tasks themselves, it’s often best to rely on professional scale calibration services for industrial settings.

Industrial Scale Calibration Services

Professional industrial scale calibration services offer a few advantages:

Expertise: Trained technicians have the knowledge and experience to calibrate industrial scales accurately and efficiently.

Traceability: These services ensure traceability to international standards, providing confidence in the accuracy of your measurements.

Certification: After calibration, you receive a calibration certificate, documenting that your scale meets industry standards.

UniFide CST: Your Partner in Industrial Weighing

In the world of industrial weighing, the significance of industrial scale calibration cannot be overstated. It plays a pivotal role in maintaining accuracy, complying with regulations, and ensuring customer satisfaction. Miscalibrated scales can lead to costly errors and negatively impact your business operations and profits!

Partnering with a trusted provider like UniFide CST can ensure that your scales are accurately calibrated, guaranteeing precision and reliability in your weighing processes. UniFide CST offers a wide inventory of quality industrial scales that meet various industry needs, and we provide expert industrial scale calibration services to guarantee that your scales remain accurate and compliant with industry standards. Contact us today for more information.