How to Understand Weighing Scale IP Ratings

Scales are an important part of the industrial world. They are used in most manufacturing processes, shipping and receiving, packaging, and formulation.

Just as there are many different uses for scales, there are also many different types of scales available. Shipping and receiving utilize platform scales and floor scales. Bench scales and parts counting scales are often employed in packaging operations. Drum scales are often used for formulation of chemicals in 55 gallon drums, whereas cylinder scales would be used for formulation of liquified gasses.

Those manufacturing tasks which specify extremely high accuracy in weighing would require Ultra Precision Scales. Other manufacturing tasks which take place in environments that may be flammable or hazardous in other ways would specify Intrinsically Safe Scales. Any number of alternative manufacturing situations would call for a like number of specialty scale types.

Whichever weighing solution may have been chosen, it is of very high importance that the equipment continue to operate in a trouble free manner for long periods of time. The disruption caused by the failure of the scale should be minimized. It is for that reason that scales should be designed to tolerate a wide variety of environments. To do this, they should incorporate different levels of protections from those environments.

What is an Ingress Protection (IP) Rating?

One of the ways to protect a scale is to block external materials and contaminants from entering. Some of these materials can refer to actual particles in the air, often titled as “dust”. Although some dust could be corrosive or otherwise harmful, most efforts to block the entry of dust is to avoid build up on some body part of the scale which could mechanically interfere with the weighing process.

Moisture and water are one of the largest areas of concern. The collection of water inside the scale is a potential source of multiple harmful effects. Various metallic components could experience corrosion. Trace electrical paths could form, leading to errors within the sensitive electronics sections.

While it is beneficial to minimize the ingress of dust and moisture, engineers found it necessary to develop a rating system to describe the level of protection. It is named as “Ingress Protection” or IP ratings. The rating system can define the level of Ingress Protection for a scale or other piece of equipment.

The most common standard is the international standard en 60529, published by the International Electrotechnical Commission. It provides a system of IP codes which represent different levels of protection and degrees of protection. It has been used for many years, in many different industries.

How To Read IP Ratings

The IP ratings are two digit numbers. These numbers refer to protection against objects and liquids.

The first digit references the first item mentioned above, or the ingress of solids. Most often this refers to dust protection. In other less critical applications, it could refer to ingress of larger sized particles.

Likewise, the second digit refers to protection against liquids. Typically this will refer to water, as opposed to corrosive types of liquids. Different values of this digit are aligned with different levels of protection.

Types of IP Ratings Explained For Foreign Objects And Liquids

The IP rating system describes scales as “XY”. X indicates the level of protection from solids and Y indicates the level of protection from water.

X ranges from 0 up to 6. The rating of 0 would indicate that there is no protection at all against ingress of solids. This would not be suitable for most industrial applications because almost all of these applications would have some level of exposure. A value for X ranging from 1 up to 5 signifies protection from exposure of fairly large particles, which is quite easy to accomplish, down to significantly smaller particles, including some protection from dust.

Full protection from dust would achieve a value of 6 for X. This would be considered to be dust tight. Arlyn’s line of Industrial Scales achieves this value, considered suitable for most industrial environments. The reason is that exposure to water in many industrial situations is actually quite limited.

Protection from water is often more difficult for a scale due to the electrical components. Therefore the Y value of the IP rating is different for different scales. Simply covering all openings into the scale is quite difficult, especially for low capacity scales, because this could affect the reading of the scale. Yet there are methods to still provide protection.

Similar to the X parameter, a Y value of 0 indicates that there is no protection at all from water. Assuming the achievement of being dust tight, the IP value with no water protection would be 60.

As the Y value increases, it signifies increased water protection. 61 notes that the scale is protected from vertically dripping water. 65, which is a very common rating, indicates that there is a certain amount of protection from spray coming from all directions. 66 raises the bar, by indicating that this water spray could now be high pressure, still with a small amount of ingress allowed.

67 and 68 are among the highest practical protection levels, noting that the equipment can be immersed in water, or even that it is suitable for continuous immersion. Of course continuous immersion in water is not likely to be a very important factor in choosing a scale, as that is not how a scale would be used. Nonetheless, it is still an available rating. The electrical enclosure of the scale will often be fabricated from stainless steel to achieve the higher IP ratings.

View Arlyn Scales’ Range of Dustproof and Waterproof Industrial Scales

Let us know your protection requirements, along with your accuracy and capacity requirements. Our team of scale experts will likely be able to point you to a selection of appropriate equipment.