Common Causes of Load Cell Malfunction

Common Causes of Load Cell Malfunction

Load cells are at the heart of how a weighing system works. A truck scale, for example, lives or dies by its load cells, so keeping them operational is an operator or manager’s first order of business.

But all too frequently, load cells fail. They undergo events that may reduce their functionality because they are easily the most vulnerable part of a weighing or scale system. Figuring out what went wrong is as important as figuring out how to fix it because if you know what happened, you can hopefully mitigate the chance that it’ll happen again in the future.

There are a few common causes of malfunctions in load cells.

Overloading Capacity

One of the most common causes of load cell damage comes in overloading the capacity of the scale.

Scales are rated based on what their load cells can bear. Going over that limit can result in severe deformation of the load cell itself, which could do anything from making it less accurate to rendering it inoperable altogether.

It’s really important to stick within the rated weight allowances for your load cells in your weighing system. Overloading a scale is easily one of the most common reasons our scale repair technicians get called out into the field.

Moisture Damage

Moisture can wreak havoc on a load cell’s electronic components as well as cause corrosion that can impact the structure and integrity of the load cell body – as well as the rest of the scale system.

In California, certain parts of our state are more prone to moisture infiltration than others. But even in the drier areas, moisture damage can occur fairly easily if you’re not prepared.

Check often for moisture collecting in and around your scale system. This is particularly important for older systems, as moisture can more easily infiltrate a system the older the scale is, due to warping and general wear-and-tear over time.

Chemical Ingress

Chemicals can perform much of the same damage as water if they get into a load cell environment or container. But, they can also more heavily corrode a load cell and ruin its components and structure.

Make sure chemicals are stored securely away from the weighing area, and make sure nothing leaks from anything being weighed, such as trucks carrying a load of chemicals or other fluids.

Electrical Damage

Lightning strikes and electrical power surges can severely damage a load cell and render it inoperable.

Grounding and shielding can both mitigate the risk of electrical damage to the load cell component. A properly-installed in-ground truck scale is protected from the bulk of what a lightning strike can do. Above-ground units are more vulnerable.

For non-lightning-related damage, make sure the electrical connections feeding power into the weighing area are properly rated and not stretched beyond their capacity. Too much power going into an underrated area can result in a dangerous surge.

How Can You Tell If Your Load Cell Is Damaged?

There are several indicators that something may be wrong with your load cell, such as:

Zero drift

Not being able to calibrate the scale

Not being able to reset the scale

No reading at all when the scale is being operated

Readings that are inconsistent and variable

A certified scale repair technician can troubleshoot the scale and the load cells to ascertain if there’s any damage or anything in need of repair, and can take the steps needed to make repairs. It may require a complete unit replacement, though, depending on the severity of the damage.

Need more information? Contact us today!