Lightning protection for truck scales: myths and facts you need to know

Article at a Glance:

  • Like any engineering tool, industrial truck scales are prone to lightning damage.
  • Truck scale owners need to make sure of grounding and transient systems to prevent lightning damage to their weighbridges.

Lighting is a common climatic condition during the summer months, and this period brings forth many challenges for truck scale owners. Like any other engineering tools, truck scales are prone to harsh climatic conditions, and if you think your truck scales are safe from lightning, you may have to rethink. A single lightning strike is enough to damage your weighbridges and cause equipment failure or structural damage leading to expensive downtime, repairs, and replacements. 

While it is almost impossible to avoid lightning, truck scale owners and operators can still take precautionary measures to ensure their equipment does not meet irreparable damage. In this article, we discuss how lightning damages truck scales, measures you can take to avoid severe damage, and some common myths related to lightning. 

How does lighting damage your truck scales?

If your truck scales are met with a direct or indirect (side-flash) lightning strike, it can damage the equipment in several ways. As a weighbridge, it has several inbuilt electrical components, such as load cells, junction boxes, and indicators. Lightning can damage any or all of these electrical components, leading to system failure. These damages may or may not be reparable, given the severity of the damage. 

Lightning damage to truck scales can result in weighbridge failure in several ways, like:

Power Surges: A power surge in truck scales is the addition of an overwhelming current from a lightning strike. When lightning strikes your truck scales, excessive electricity from lightning flows within the scales which results in a surge in power. A power surge can also occur if lightning strikes the ground near the scales. The power surge from lightning can completely fry the weighbridge’s circuit and make the equipment out of use.

Voltage Sag: Voltage sag or voltage dip is the opposite of power surge. You may think having less electricity may not be an issue, but having less than required electricity puts too much strain on scales, leading to system failures. 

Fried Wiring: A power surge occurs when a lightning bolt strikes your truck scales. The electrical wires equipped in truck scales are not made to withstand such high levels of electricity occurring from lightning, which will fry the cables.

This type of equipment failure resulting from lightning can also put your truck scales out of calibration, which results in inaccurate measurements. Truck scales are a long-term investment for businesses. Any complete or partial system failure is a huge loss to the investment. You can take some measures to minimize the impact of lightning on your equipment to ensure your whole investment in truck scales is not completely in vain. 

How can you protect your truck scales from lightning?

Truck scales come with several warranties and repair services that cover lightning damage. Different weighbridge manufacturers offer distinct warranty features, such as the labour cost of repair or replacement due to lightning damage. It is best to make sure what your warranty covers. While warranties ease the hassle associated with repairs or replacements in case of lightning damage, it is best to take some mitigating measures against lightning. 

Upgrading load cells with lightning protection

Upgrading your load cells is one way to prevent your truck scales from the adverse effect of lightning. Though updating your load cells may seem like an extra expense with the upfront cost of the truck scale itself, the long-term benefits of this upgrade far outweigh the preliminary cost of the upgrade. Custom-made hydraulic load cells have features to prevent lightning damage. 

Having a good grounding systems

A good grounding system is crucial to prevent scale damage from lightning. Ground systems take the excessive electricity from lightning and ground it without causing any damage to the scales. It is best to check if your grounding systems have proper installation, cable routing, and shield testing. If you need help with installation, you contact your weighbridge manufacturer to install an appropriate grounding system on your truck scale.

Transient and surge protection systems

Transient is a short phase of varying voltages that occurs due to lightning. Transient protection systems in a truck scale react to that sudden change in voltage which mitigates the likelihood of system failure in your scales. Transient and surge protection systems ensure your truck scale works at peak efficiency, even with voltage fluctuations.

Considering these measures makes it easier to mitigate the risks of lightning damage to your truck scales. To understand more about lightning and its effects on your equipment, it is best to hire the services of a weighbridge manufacturing company that understands industrial scales the best.

Some myths about lightning

  • Lightning strikes are rare, so lightning protection for truck scales is not mandatory.
  • Lightning rods are a complete solution to lightning strikes
  • Portable truck scales are invulnerable to a lightning strike
  • Lighting protection is a one-time installation and does not require maintenance
  • Lightning protection is an expensive addition and is not worth it.


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