Photos from the Field: Heavy-scale workshop

NCDA&CS employee Glen Farmer drives a test cart into position during a weigh-station inspection June 13.

Most summer travelers pass by the state’s eight weigh stations without a second glance. But for long-haul truck drivers and other transportation vehicles, weigh stations are an important stop that ensures the safety of all travelers. Instrumental to that safety is a thorough inspection by the NCDA&CS Standards Division.

Last week, the NCDA&CS Standards Division hosted about 25 highway patrol officers, DOT officials, state and federal inspectors for a three-day workshop to review new requirements for heavy-scale inspections. On Wednesday, the group visited the Hillsborough Eastbound Weigh Station on Interstate 40, which weighs about 150,000 vehicles a month, for a hands-on demonstration of the new inspection technique.

Each truck that passes through the weigh station is measured on three independent scales, the steer, drive and trailer, named after the part of the truck that is weighed. The three weights are combined for a total load weight. DOT officials cross reference the total amount with weight requirements. In extreme cases, an overweight truck may be pulled off the highway until the load can be lighten.

To inspect the scales, the team first checks the automatic zero tracking. The tracking allows scales to return to zero if light and temporary weight is applied, for instance during a rain shower. The scales at the Hillsborough station will automatically track up to 80 pounds.

Next, the team brings out the “moon rover.” The moon rover is a six-wheeled, gas-powered, steel test cart that weighs exactly 5,500 pounds. A hydraulic arm is used to fill the cart with certified 1,000-pound and 500-pound weights. After the rover is filled, it is moved to different quadrants on each scale and weighed.

Wednesday’s inspection revealed two of the three scales were out of compliance. The scales were shut down until the DOT and Highway Patrol could contact the scale service provider for repair, after which the scales will be retested for compliance.

Weigh-station scales are just one of the areas inspected by the Standards Division. The division also inspects all commercial scales used for retail or wholesale transactions, packaging for correct measurement or weight, scales for mulch and produce during peak seasons, milk, take-out scales at buffet restaurants, gas pumps, ice factories, drug scales for law enforcement, terminal meters and taxi cab meters, just to name a few. To find out more about the types of things the Standards Division inspects, go to www.ncagr.gov/standard.

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