BASCULAS SORRIBES S.L. is a 22-employee Spanish Company which has produced bridge scales since 1914. Prior to this Application Experiment (AE), the scales were controlled with off-the-shelf electronic boards purchased from a third party and fitted to the equipment by the 4 employee electronic assembly department. This approach placed the Company under a large technological dependence and reduced their competitiveness, as it was difficult to make product modifications to fit the customers needs. It also gave the Company a poor technological image against competition who already had their own electronic modules.
The total Company revenues are 1,8 MECU from sales to some of the most important weighing market applications. The Company manufactures large bridge scales for trucks (most of them electromechanical although some have an electronic control unit acquired from a third party) and industrial bridge scales (some of these are also electronic). The market applications include portable, livestock, warehousing and agricultural scales. Basculas Sorribes was primarily experienced in the design of large mechanical structures with the ability to accommodate and weigh large, difficult to handle and complex objects.
The objective of the AE was to improve the accuracy of the weighing equipment while reducing manufacturing costs. In addition it was a major objective to free the Company from its dependence on third party suppliers and provide product flexibility for customisation to meet market needs.
The AE consisted of the development of a family of electronic weighing machines with proprietary electronic microprocessor based technology. The resulting product is a modular system that allows a large number of features, from automatic reading and printout of the measured weight to data logging and billing via a PC.
The microprocessor technology was chosen because it provided the required flexibility at a low cost for the volume of product. The short learning and design time were also key reasons for this technology choice.
The project duration was 10 months, one month more than planned, and this due to EMC problems that required a design iteration of the prototype. Overall project costs were 45 KECU. The Company expects to recover this investment in 20 months with an anticipated rate of return of investment of 60% per annum over the investment life of 4 years.
Básculas Sorribes is now confident in their own abilities to replicate the project, feeling ready to electronically enhance their portfolio of products. Advice to other companies is that the investment and effort have been justified by the new competitiveness of the products, the internal skills developed and the change in attitude of the Company to technological change.