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L2180 vs. L3180

The differences between two of LOADRITE’s most popular wheel loader scales explained

LOADRITE scales are the best in the business when it comes to on-board weighing on loaders. But choosing the correct one might be a daunting task. Thankfully, whenever a K&R technician comes to install a loader scale, they’ll have options and can help you choose based on your needs. It never hurts to have some background knowledge though. There are quite a few different loader scales LOADRITE has to offer including the L2150, Force, and Sprint models, but this article will only cover the L2180 and L3180 models.

Why use a loader scale?

Before we start diving into the differences between the two models, it’s worth taking a look at what a loader scale is meant to do. A loader scale is meant to weigh the material in the bucket of a loader while it’s lifting. A landscape supply or quarry charges customers based on the weight of the material loaded. Construction sites must weigh material they are hauling away to make sure their trucks aren’t exceeding the weight limit of the roads they are driving on.

The traditional way of weighing this material is to essentially guess how much material you’ve loaded into a truck and drive the loaded truck over a weigh bridge. It can be a giant headache and time waster when a truck drives over the weigh bridge to find that it is overloaded. The truck driver either has to return to where the loader is and unload some of the material or, worse yet, the driver will hop on the back of the truck and manually dump material out of the truck. Needless to say, it’s a huge advantage to put a scale on the loader itself and get an accurate weight before the truck even hits the weigh bridge.

Overview of the two scale systems

The L2180 and L3180 are made up similar components. They both have a weight indicator. This is mounted in the cab of the loader like a fuel gauge. The indicator is the brain of the system. It reads the information from all other components in order to display weight and other data on the screen. It’s also responsible for storing this data. In the case of the L3180, it also transmits that data to a cloud where it can be accessed in the form of reports by managers (the L2180 can also transmit data but it needs an additional piece of equipment, more on that later).

Transducers

Parts of the L2180 scale system: 1. Pressure Transducers 2. Trigger 3 Indicator 4. Slope compensation 5. Printer 6. Data Communication

Both the L3180 and L2180 utilize two pressure transducers. These are responsible for measuring the hydraulic pressure in the cylinders of the loader.  These are relatively small, which means less chance they might get caught on something and damaged. The transducers also utilize a bleed block which allows mechanics and technicians to remove air from the lines without spilling oil (safety and ecologically responsible as well as a huge time saver when any maintenance on the loader is necessary).

Sensors

The L2180 utilizes a rotary trigger whereas the L3180 utilizes two angle sensors. Both are used to track the position of the loader arm and trigger the indicator to read the weight of the material in the bucket. Having two angle sensors has the advantage of being able to compensate for the slope or tilt of the machine and is therefore a little more accurate. The accuracy difference isn’t very much, but when it comes to this kind of work, every little bit counts. The angle sensors are compact and fully enclosed, whereas the rotary trigger is mechanical and bulky in comparison. In some operations, like waste transfer, debris can get caught in the rotary trigger causing damage resulting in downtime or lost production.

The differences between the L2180 and L3180

In this section, we’ll go over the differences between the two systems in depth and how that may affect your choice between the two scales.

The Indicator

As we talked about earlier, the indicator is in the cab where the operator can view the weight and other metrics. Both the L2180 and L3180 indicators are made to stand up to the harsh environments they are utilized in. They both have large display screens and robust buttons, although the L3180 utilizes a rubbery type of button.

The Screen

The Large L3180 Touch Screen

The screen on the L3180 is a touch screen. This is very useful for navigating menu options in the indicator. An example of this is when the operator needs to select the product they are loading. In the L2180 you would have to navigate to a menu item using arrows and numbers on its keypad (similar to an old flip phone) from there they select the product from the list with the same keypad on the indicator.  On the L3180, the operator simply needs to tap on the screen where the product is listed and select the new product from the menu that pops up, all on a touch screen. This is more akin to how newer smart phones work.

Connectivity

The L3180 indicator has built in Wi-Fi and GPS. This makes it easier to connect the L3180 to InsightHQ (the online reporting software available with all LOADRITE scales). In order to connect the L2180 to IHQ, you would need to purchase a communication controller (currently the LD354). When the indicators are connected to IHQ, they can transmit all the data stored in the scale. This includes products, weights, customers, truck numbers and a number of user defined data fields that can be customized to your particular operation. This data can be used to generate reports on a daily, weekly, monthly, or as-needed basis.

Trimble’s online reporting software “Trimble Insight” provides real time data for any Loadrite scale. The L3180 can connect to the software without extra equipment.

The L3180 is specifically designed to connect to IHQ. Therefore, the indicator itself provides few options for printing reports and data. The detailed reporting is all taken care of by the IHQ software. The L2180 has the ability to print more detailed reports right from the indicator (provided you have the LP950 printer hooked up). This can be an advantage if you don’t want to purchase a subscription to the IHQ software. Although, once customers have tried the software, they rarely want to return to printing reports straight from the indicator.

The Algorithm

The indicators also house the weighing algorithm. In the L2180, the bucket gets to a certain height (dubbed the Trigger Point), and the indicator performs all the calculations at that point and gives the operator a weight. The L3180, by comparison, has an algorithm which measures in real time throughout the lift. Once that bucket hits the trigger point, the weight is recorded.

An advantage to this is that the trigger point on the L3180 can be changed at will, whereas the L2180 needs to be recalibrated when changing the trigger point. Though rare, there are some instances where this is necessary. An example of this is if the operator is loading on a grade or slope, and the trigger point is set to 8 feet in the air, the operator may feel it is unsafe to raise the loader arm that high and therefore the trigger point would need to be set to a lower height. Again, this is a rare occurrence. The technician who installs your scale will survey your operation before setting the trigger point and will be able to set the trigger height appropriately. Still, if your operation varies from time to time, it may be necessary to change the trigger point.

Trigger / Angle Sensors

The L2180 utilizes one LR908 Rotary Trigger. This trigger moves and touches the boom of the machine. It can track boom position, and boom speed. They are very sturdy mechanical devices, but they are mechanical all the same which means they have the potential to wear out at some point (although this is very rare).

The L3180 utilizes two LR970 Angle sensors that work in conjunction to capture the x and y tilt on the machine. One is mounted to the chassis and one on the boom. The sensors look at the distance between each other to figure out boom speed, position, and the slope of the machine. As mentioned earlier, this gives the scale system the ability to compensate for when a loader is working on a slope.

Mechanicals and other differences

The L2180 is essentially an analog system. One of the consequences is that every sensor has its own cable running into the cab and into the indicator. The L3180 utilizes CAN Bus communication which means all the sensors can be daisy chained to one cable. Less cabling means less opportunity for something to snag or break. This also allows for better diagnostics. You can see if a component is getting ready to fail easier. With the L2180 system, you may have to wait for a part to actually fail before you can address it.

The L2180 has a tip-off feature which the L3180 doesn’t have. This is useful in the event the operator has too much product in their bucket and have already passed the trigger point. The operator can hit the tip-off button and shake material off of the bucket. It’s not as accurate as an actual lift but can still give you a good idea of how much weight you have in the bucket. The L3180 doesn’t utilize this feature. Instead, it gives you a preview of the weight before the bucket hits the trigger point. This allows the operator to shake off weight from the bucket before the bucket hits the trigger point.

The L2180 also features a dedicated operator data field. This functions similarly to a time clock will where the operator has to log in whenever they use the scale. The L3180 doesn’t have a dedicated operator field, however it’s possible to use one of the many user-defined data fields instead. It’s not quite as straight-forward but is still fairly easy to utilize.

So… which one?

As you’ve probably gathered by this article, the L3180 is essentially the new version of the L2180. There are but a few features that haven’t been improved with the new L3180. Therefore, the answer to “which scale should I choose” is usually the L3180. You might want to stick with the L2180 is if your operation is already using the L2180 on other machines. This means less of a learning curve for your operators and therefore no downtime to your operation.

Another reason you may want to choose the L2180 is the printing capability mentioned earlier. The L2180 has the ability to print out detailed reports using data stored in the indicator. The L3180 does not offer this same flexibility, however, when the L3180 is connected to IHQ, the reporting exceeds the L2180’s native ability.

 

Thanks to Brent Horton, K&R Technician, for the valuable technical knowledge of the LOADRITE scale systems

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Joe Steiger’s Take on Trimble LOADRITE

We sat down with Channel Manager Joe Steiger to talk about why people put scales on heavy machinery and what advantages Trimble LOADRITE scales provide.

Can you tell us a little about yourself and what you do for Trimble LOADRITE?

Sure! I am the sales channel manager for Trimble LOADRITE Eastern North America. So, we have three dealers in Canada, I cover two of those: Silver Top and All Weigh which serve everyone from Manitoba to the Atlantic, and then all the eastern U.S. LOADRITE dealers. They serve everyone East of the Mississippi and a little west of the river as well.

As a channel manager, my job is sales support for our LOADRITE dealers. That means doing sales development calls, submitting discounts, warranties, doing ride-a-longs, corporate visits, updating websites, and basically anything to help support dealer sales.

I was with LOADRITE when it was still an independent company out of New Zealand and then about six years ago it was purchased by Trimble. So, I’ve been a Trimble employee for six, but I’ve been with LOADRITE for about eight years.

Can we get a little history on LOADRITE?

Loadrite started over 30 years ago in Auckland New Zealand. Two engineers literally got together in a garage and started putting together some components to do on-board weighing. They used a hydraulic pressure transducer and some position sensors so they knew where the boom arm was moving and those guys figured out a way to come up with an algorithm to display, up in the cab, what the weight was. They built one of the earliest versions of the Loader scale. That would have been around 1976 or 1977. There were a couple of other companies which came out with Loader scales around the same time, but it’s hard to tell who exactly was the first.

What are some of the advantages in having a scale on your machine?

The very first thing that comes to my mind is the data that comes off the scale is used by multiple people. It’s used first by the machine operator. He gets his daily, hourly, and minute by minute KPI’s. He gets feedback immediately by seeing what the weight of that bucket is. So, that’s great, and he can use that information to make sure he achieves his whatever benchmark was set.

InsightHQ, Trimble’s reporting software, allows operations managers to see data from their entire operation on their phones.

As you move up the food chain you have supervisors, managers, and superintendents. Those people can get weekly, daily, and hourly reports. They can see what’s happening with the processes they have in place. So, a supervisor might have two or three pit-loaders and they can see what’s happening with all three machines.

The third layer is the folks that are doing process improvement and financial analysis. Those guys all the way from upper level management to performance improvement people can also start looking at that data. An example might be a someone wanting to check maintenance on the machines and see how many lifts the machine is performing.

So, the obvious implication is the operator of the machine can improve their performance, but the fact of the matter is that this payload data affects a lot of different people all the way up and down the food chain.  That’s the biggest advantage of having a scale. It’s that no matter what you are charged with doing in an operation, you can use the data to monitor and improve your end of things.

If I have one scale on one machine how much money, on average, am I saving?

You know, one of our dealers always uses this example: You have an hour gauge, a fuel gauge, a hydraulic pressure gauge, but you don’t have a weight gauge on your machine until you put a scale on it. Because they were not measuring before, we don’t have a good basis to give an exact ROI since we don’t know what their previous performance was. That being said, we can easily say 5% to 15% improvement.

We did do one study for an excavator application. This was a 24-hour mine site. They had two different operators on two 10-hour shifts. The daytime operator would load 3 buckets into a big mining haul truck. The nighttime operator would take 4 buckets to fill the same truck. This had never been recorded before.

The LOADRITE X2350 Excavator Scale Indicator
The LOADRITE X2350 Excavator Scale Indicator

After we put a scale on, upper management found this out and were very upset at the nighttime operator for taking four passes. Come to find out, once we started digging into the data more, the nighttime operator was actually faster and more efficient than the daytime operator. The daytime operator had to dig really hard and stress the machine out to get three full buckets. Whereas the nighttime operator did four very fast pretty full buckets. And so, he was faster, more efficient and wasn’t as hard on the machine. So, they had the daytime operator switch to a four-pass operation similar to the nighttime operator.

There are all these great anecdotal stories I could tell you about how it’s changed the way people are doing things, but until you put a scale on and get your first measurement, you can’t make any improvements.

Why choose LOADRITE, aren’t there other scales out there?

Two things, we feel like we have made THE top of the line hardware. The product itself is the industry standard meter in accuracy and dependability. The other thing is a great dealer network that supports these products. Our dealer network can literally touch every part of the globe from the arctic circle to the tropics. Now, we’re not always the cheapest, but when you build the absolute best product supported by the very best people you get something worth investing in.

How did LOADRITE become part of Trimble and what are some of the advantages this has brought to the brand?

It was about 6 or 7 years ago. Before that LOADRITE was an independent New Zealand company.  I think one of the main factors was Trimble had limited technology in the mining and quarry industries, but they had everything in their tool bag to process products that came out of a quarry. So, they wanted to leverage that vertical market of the rock coming out of the quarry, being processed, delivery to the construction site, and built into some sort of way of building or other major infrastructure.

One of the new products LOADRITE was just introducing was the X-Weigh, excavator payload system. This was groundbreaking, no one else had that product and that fit nicely in with Trimble’s other dealers.

So those were two big advantages for Trimble, they got a company that had an excavator scale and was in the quarry and aggregates business as an industry leader. This really sets Trimble apart from its competitors.

We have many advantages now that we are part of Trimble. Just a couple weeks ago one of our Loadrite dealers leveraged the breadth of all the other Trimble technology to make a sale. The customer had the choice between two scale systems and knew that we were competitive on price and warranty. The customer ended up picking the Trimble Loadrite dealer because he was impressed with Trimble as a whole. He was already using other Trimble gear including their grade control on some of his construction machines, as well as some of their survey applications. He knows the technology doesn’t all talk together right now but he knows that’s where Trimble is going in the future. So, he has the advantage of less training issues, and less dealer issues because he’s working with dealers that are in the same family.

We’ve also gotten more resources for R&D. Trimble spends 17% of their annual budget on R&D. Most companies might only spend 10% on R&D Budget. We get some of those resources on the Loadrite side that we didn’t have before. This is partially to be able to integrate some of our products and software into the bigger picture and partially so we can use the marketing collateral

What are some new products you’ve been excited about from the Trimble LOADRITE line and why?

So, the newest product, which is still in the Beta, is Trimble Insight. It’s going to be the successor of InsightHQ. Trimble Insight is our web reporting tool, that’s where all the payload data goes and

The Trimble Smart Haul System

can be viewed in near real-time. It’s going to make the ability to monitor what’s happening at a given site and give you actionable data. For example, if these product belts aren’t at a certain level, you’ll know there’s a problem with the crusher. Or if the crusher is a certain level, you’ll know there’s a problem at the pit so you can go investigate. The system is going to help employees make better faster decisions and help them in their daily performance.

Trimble Smart haul is a really good feature for any type of mass hauling quarry, or pit hauling operation. Right now, it only works with excavators but we’re going to be connecting it to wheel loaders soon. The system is a really powerful tool to manage not only payload, but cycle times of both the excavator and the truck that they’re loading. There’s a huge percentage of operating budgets that goes into the pit loaders and pit trucks, or excavators and loading fleets. With the Trimble Smart Haul platform, it allows Companies to optimize the payload that’s going in and minimize the cycle times that they’re turning those trucks around.

And then there is the E-Series which is the new waste platform. I’m pretty excited about getting into that industry here in North America. We’ve been in the waste business in New Zealand and Australia for maybe 20 years but now in North America there are more pressures on the capacities of landfills, the cost of transportation, and the safety issues around waste trucks. The system isn’t super flashy, but it just makes really basic common sense. It’s really going to affect everyone in the chain in that waste hauler business. The maintenance manager has concerns, the fleet manager has concerns about the route and capacity of the truck, and the sales manager is concerned about the pricing they’re putting on customer’s accounts. It all comes down to that P&L if they’re going to be a successful waste hauler, and that payload system on those trucks is just a no brainer.

Anyone that’s hauling something across the road needs to make sure they’re optimized. Sometimes these trucks will stop in the middle of the day and drive to a landfill to dump because their routes are so heavy and so bulky, they have peel off the route. Using this technology, you could potentially manage your route where you don’t have to pull a truck all 5 days. It’s all these little things that can save these companies money and that’s what LOADRITE is bringing to the industry.

The LOADRITE E2750 in the cab of a FEL Garbage Truck
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