Is It Time to Replace Your Laboratory Balance?

You’ve probably been using your laboratory balance for years and you’ve come to rely on it to the point where it almost feels like an extension of your own hand. But how long is too long to use the same electronic weighing balance?

How do you know when it’s time to replace your laboratory balance?

One of the most important ways to extend the life of your balance, of course, is to have it serviced by certified scale technicians on a regular basis. A factory trained scale technician can certainly make recommendations on whether it’s time to replace your device. Some of the questions you should consider are:

  • Does your balance need maintenance much more often than it used to?
  • Does your balance hold its calibration, or does it need to be re-calibrated after just a few tasks?
  • Are its weighing results consistently unstable, with drift or unexplained jumps? Have the stability and repeatability become inaccurate?
  • Are there signs of corrosion in the pan or at access points like the communications interface?
  • Have your weighing needs changed, or do you need more advanced features such as updated communications interfaces, data storage or PLUs?

Answering yes to any of those questions does not necessarily mean your balance needs replacing.

For example,  static electricity could cause drift or instability and an anti-static device such as an ionizer may remedy the issue. Vibration from nearby equipment could also be the culprit, in which case an anti-vibration table may be what you need. For optimal performance, operate your balance away from vibrations,  excessive heat or moisture, direct sunlight, chemical vapors and drafts.

Diagnosing the Problem

If you’re experiencing problems with your balance, first try the troubleshooting tips included in the product manual. You may be pleasantly surprised to find a quick fix! A service technician can rule out many problems, such as warped load cells, malfunctioning internal calibration motors or even software issues.    

If your balance requires more frequent maintenance or calibrations than it used to, you’ll have to consider lost productivity to downtime in addition to money spent on repairs or technicians.

If you’re seeing signs of corrosion, you’ll need to address possible causes of rust (often, excess moisture) before looking into cleaning it or replacing the balance just to have the same thing happen to the new unit.

Which Features Does My Balance Need?

Next, look at your current needs. Even if your balance is in working order, does it fulfill everything you need it to do? Consider the efficiencies that a newer device can bring to your laboratory operations.

Maybe you have an older balance that lacks the capability to communicate with a computer, USB flash drive or printer. Some of today’s balances even have multiple options like RS-232 and USB interfaces included on the same device, like the Adam Equinox series weighing balances.

Can your balance format Good Laboratory Practice-compliant printouts? Quite a few  analytical balances and many precision balances are capable of GLP-compliant output. When doing formulations, can your balance store ingredients? Or perhaps you need under hook weighing or density tests?  Contact us with your needs and we can recommend the right weighing scale or the correct scale calibration / service plan for your specific needs.

If you do decide the best course of action is to replace your balance, Central Carolina Scale can help you with tips to select a new one and guidance on which balance is right for you! Call (919) 776-7737 to speak with our sales department.

Using an Analytical Balance for Laboratory Applications

In this article, you’re going to learn the correct way to use an analytical balance. These weighing devices are much more sensitive, accurate, and precise than larger topload balances or industrial scales. These balances are used for low mass samples, where specific weights are needed. Before using the balance, you need to make sure that it’s level.

To do this, check the level bubble. If the bubble is located within the black circle then the balance is level. If the bubble is outside of this circle then the balance is not level. If you find a balance that is not level, carefully adjust the foot on each corner until the bubble is located in the center. In most cases, you should not attempt to move an analytical balance because they are very sensitive. If you do, then you will want to make sure the balance is still weighing correctly.

analytical balance

Before you start, you should make sure that the inside of the balance is clean and dry. You should also make sure that all of the doors are closed when you are recording your masses. This prevents air from flowing through the balance. These balances are so sensitive that even air pressure can effect their reading. Now you can begin. The balance should already be turned on with a reading of 0.00 grams on the display. If the display says something other than zero, push the “zero” button. This will reset the balance to 0.00.

The display will also indicate the units of mass. The analytical balance can report masses in several units, so you should ensure to set yours to grams in most cases. Make sure your item is clean and dry, and then gently open one of the doors. Place your item inside and gently close the door behind it. Wait for the reading to stabilize, and then record it.

To remove the item, open the door, just as before, remove your item, and close the door gently. Because analytical balances are much more sensitive than top load balances, there are a few extra precautions to keep in mind. You should never put liquid inside the analytical balance unless specifically instructed to do so. If you do have to put liquid in there, make sure you use a container that seals tightly.

If there are ever any spills inside the analytical balance, clean it up according to the manufacturer instructions. It’s not usually a good idea to add a substance to your object while on the analytical balance. A better choice would be to, remove your item, add your sample, and place it back into the balance.

If you need to make multiple measurements of the same item make sure to use the same balance each time. There is a small error associated with each of the balances so using the same one keeps it consistent so that it cancels out in the difference.

For the most accurate results, you shouldn’t handle the sample with your bare hands. You should use gloves or tongs to handle your sample because the oils on your finger can transfer to the glass, which will be picked up by the analytical balance.

You should never lean on the bench when using the analytical balance because this small difference can alter the weight slightly. Make sure that the item that you are placing into the analytical balance is at room temperature. If it’s above room temperature, it can create air currents within the balance and it can also effect the buoyancy of your item by heating the air around it. This creates an error in your results.

Using expensive and sensitive equipment can sometimes leave you unsure of how to proceed but if you follow the instructions that we’ve presented, then you have nothing to worry about when using an analytical balance. If you need assistance calibrating your scientific scale or perhaps you’re looking to purchase additional laboratory balances, please contact the experienced sales and service staff at Central Carolina Scale, call (919) 776-7737.