Precision, robustness, and reliability are the building blocks of safe food production. From monitoring fridge temperature to gauging ATP, AMP, and ADP levels, these three qualities should determine any factory team’s choice in equipment.

Scales are no different. Correctly choosing a set of high-quality scales will assist your team in a wide range of applications (e.g. weighing ingredients, washdowns) – while the wrong choice will lead to malfunctions, mismeasurements, and non-conformances.

Before you read this article, we want to be completely open and say that, at Klipspringer, we’ve been a supplier of industry-leading scales and balances for several years. Yes, we are biased towards our own range. But we’ve written this article to better inform food production teams about choosing high-quality scales – even if that means not choosing Klipspringer scales.

Read on for a complete guide to food industry scales, based on the questions our customers most commonly ask us.

What is a Washdown Scale?

A washdown scale is a weighing scale that can be used for applications where it is likely to get wet, or require washing down. Washdown scales are usually IP-rated, with IP67 and IP68 the most popular levels of ingress protection for washdown scales.

Hygiene teams benefit massively from this. During daily washdowns or deep cleans, a large amount of expensive, non-expendable equipment is at risk. Ingress-protected scales means that hygiene teams have one less thing to worry about.

What are Waterproof Weighing Scales used for?

These scales are used for weighing tasks that may also lead to the apparatus getting wet.

Typical applications for waterproof scales are food production and catering. A common cause is weighing products that are moist or wet, such as raw meat or recently washed vegetables.

As with washdown scales, weighing scales need to be washed down regularly to keep them hygienic. Waterproof scales are IP-rated for ingress protection, the most common being IP68.

It is important to clarify that IP65 is not waterproof, only water resistant. The infographic to the right illustrates the protection offered by each level of IP rating against both solid objects and moisture.

Credit: Cath Strawson (Klipspringer).

What are the different types of scales?

Waterproof scales

Water ingress is an exceedingly common cause of equipment malfunction – particularly scales, balances, and probe thermometers – in food production environments.

Triggered by rapid cooling processes, steam from machinery, and hygiene washdowns, water ingress is near-impossible to completely eradicate. Fortunately, IP-rated waterproof scales offer greater protection against water ingress than bog-standard scales.

In other words, IP-rated waterproof scales should last much longer than a standard weighing scale when used in environments exposed to high levels of moisture.

The reliability and longevity of waterproof scales increases their value for money (compared to standard scales) by reducing replacement frequency, and therefore increasing cost effectiveness in most scenarios.

Washdown scales

IP65 and IP67-rated scales are usually referred to as washdown scales. Logically, IP65 and IP67 certification offer a lower level of ingress protection in washdown environments than IP68.

However, this should be reflected in the price – IP65 and IP67 washdown scales cater to hygiene teams with thinly stretched budgets, while IP68 scales are for those looking to make a longer-term investment in a more expensive piece of equipment.

Food scales

Food scales is the generic term used to encompass the majority of scales used in the food industry. In essence, food scales are weighing scales used for weighing food.

Applications of food scales include weighing ingredients, produce, or foodstuffs prior to despatch. Needless to say, precision and robustness are non-negotiable requirements for a food scale.

An additional feature certain models of food scale may have is an IP-rating against water and dirt ingress.

Catering scales

Similar to food scales, catering scales are used to weigh ingredients – but in kitchens, rather than on factory floors or despatch areas.

The quality and price of catering scales varies widely, with dozens of suppliers on the market. However, catering scales are generally cheaper due to the less demanding nature of a kitchen compared with a production or factory environment.

For enhanced reliability and a longer working life, we always recommend IP-rated catering scales for weighing in kitchens.

Trade-approved scales

Trade-approved scales are EC-approved weighing scales used to determine price based on weight.

EC Type Approval can be granted to all electronic scales and most mechanical non-automatic weighing instruments. The instrument has to meet the essential requirements contained in the EC Directive 2014/31/EU, which is in force under UK law.

Identifiable by an ‘M’ logo on their label, either on the side or bottom of the scale, trade-approved scales undergo rigorous testing to ensure that their design is up to the required standard.

Unsure whether or not you require trade-approved scales?

Where weight determines price, trade-approved scales must, by law, be used in the UK. This applies if you are buying or selling any form of goods based on weight.

UK law states that trade-approved scales must be used for this purpose, and that using non-approved scales could result in fines of at least £1000.

The Gladiator Model (stainless-steel casing)

Stainless-steel scales

Two features characterise stainless-steel scales.

Either the scales are made with a stainless-steel casing and weighing pan, or with a stainless-steel indicator, pan, and column. Examples include the Gladiator Model (left).

These scales are used in environments where they are likely to get wet or dirty, as stainless steel is easy to clean. Stainless-steel scales are usually IP-rated, meaning greater protection in washdown environments, and stainless steel itself is far less likely to corrode than mild steel.

ABS plastic vs 304 Food Grade Stainless Steel Scales

Casing material is a key factor in choosing your scales, in particular deciding between a plastic casing or stainless steel.

ABS plastic is a strong, durable material useful for instruments used in industrial applications. It remains rigid and tough even at low temperatures – offering a balance of heat, chemical, impact and abrasion resistance.

304 food grade is the most common form of stainless-steel used around the world.

Generally favoured by the food production and catering industry, 304 stainless-steel has superb corrosion resistance against most oxidising acids.

The ABW8 Model (ABS plastic)

Such durability makes 304 stainless-steel easy to sanitise, and essential for scales used in washdown areas. Compared to ABS plastic scales, stainless-steel scales also have a more professional appearance.

What are the benefits of Calibrated Scales?

Put simply, these food scales have been calibrated or re-calibrated by a supplier with an in-house lab and team of expert calibrators. This is especially important if the scales measurements are used in an application where incorrect readings could risk food safety.

If you have any questions about food scales, from IP ratings to EC Type Approval, our knowledgeable team are more than happy to help: 01473 461800.

In a recent interview, our Laboratory Manager Radek Tameczka explained the ins and outs of the calibration process, which applies to equipment as crucial as data loggers, pH meters, and – of course – scales.

If you would like further guidance relating to the solutions mentioned in this article, the Klipspringer team would be happy to help. Share your details below.