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Weighing your options

With today’s rising ingredient costs and tight margins, portion control is more essential than ever. That’s why scales are so important in both back- and front-of-house.

Making the choice

The question is: digital or mechanical? Each type has its pros and cons.

Digital scales are faster—a top consideration when producing lots of items in a short time. Look for an easily cleanable, stainless steel weighing platform. Many digital scales are waterproof, which makes cleaning easy; some are even completely submergible. An eye-level display is also handy and a few models, like the Edlund WRD line, have a wireless readout that can be moved around the kitchen. Another key feature is a “fast tare” or “zero” button, which instantly deducts the weight of the container and resets the scale to zero.

The downsides to digital? First, they’re dependent on power cords or batteries. An extra-long cord or rechargeable battery pack may solve that problem. And the learning curve for some models may make them user “un-friendly.”

Traditional mechanical scales are easy to use and, on the whole, cheaper. Here too, a dishwasher-safe stainless platform makes cleaning simple; some mechanical scales can now be put directly in the dishwasher without disassembling. However, getting an accurate tare on a mechanical scale takes some dial readjustment (or a secondary tare needle). Also, the “pointer bounce”—the movement of the indicator while the springs slow down—makes these scales slower.

On a different scale…

If you have a self-service concept or station—such as a salad bar—consider a scale-printer combination. Guests load food into a container and place it on the scale. A code is posted that corresponds to each container, and the customer enters that code on the scale’s keyboard. The scale deducts the tare weight, calculates the food cost and prints out a label.

Hobart’s Quantum model has an ATM-style screen and telephone keyboard format. And larger scale-printer models with more sophisticated keyboards, like the Globe GSP30A, can be used back-of-house to print ingredient labels for prepackaged carry-out foods. An optional kit for the Globe lets users program label contents in a PC and download the information directly to the scale.

Manufacturer/model Size (H x W x D)Capacity (lbs.)Legal for Trade* Power Source Features
4.1 x 10.4 x 9.8 inches11NoInternal rechargeable battery or AC powerStainless steel platform, ABS case; 1-inch LED display; automatic shut-off
2.75 x 7.5 x 7 inches10YesAC powerStainless steel platform and base; 0.5-inch LED display
2 x 6.5 x 8.75 inches10YesInternal rechargeable battery or AC powerStainless steel case and platform; 0.66-inch LED display
3 x 9.25 x 9.5 inches11NoAC power or
C batteries
Stainless steel platform, ABS case; 1-inch LCD display; low battery indicator; automatic shut-off
Rubbermaid Pelouze
2.5 x 8.5 x 9.5 inches12NoInternal rechargeable battery, AC power or
9- volt battery
Stainless steel platform, ABS case; 0.5-inch LCD display; automatic shut-off


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