Precise and Safe Weighing Equipment for Distilleries

explosive-environment-scale-c-1Many distilleries are often located in rural districts because they rely on large sources of pure water to process their spirits. Remoteness from city water supplies and fire departments means that the responsibility for protecting the facility from fires lies almost entirely with the distillery itself. Safety depends heavily on well-planned construction, the proper arrangement of safeguards for various processes, well-trained operators, frequent maintenance, and specialized equipment.

Because of the fire and explosion hazards inherent to an industry that handles large quantities of flammable liquids, many distilleries are classified as hazardous locations in accordance with The Department of Labor’s guideline, the National Electric Code (NEC). More specifically, these locations are usually classified as Class I Group D locations.

Another (possibly less obvious) explosion hazard comes with grain handling, milling, and feed preparations. These grains and feeds can create a combustible dust. These areas may be classified as Class II Group G locations if the dust is present in such large quantities that it poses a risk.

The Production of Distilled Spirits

Mashing and Fermenting

The first step in production of distilled spirits is the manufacture of beer. Meal is taken out of storage bins, weighed, charged with water, and transferred to mash tubs or pressure cookers where the mixture is cooked for several hours. Once cooked, the mash passes to cooker drop tubs and is pumped through coolers to fermenters along with thin stillage from the beer stills, water, and yeast. A fermentation period of about 72-96 hours ensues, which results in a beer with an alcohol content between 7 and 13%.


The beer is pumped through preheaters to the top of a beer still and flows over baffles in a counter current to the rising, alcohol-rich vapors from below. Vapor is collected and condensed, then either pumped to storage tanks as a “low-wine” with 40-70% alcohol content, or to steam-heated rectifying columns or doublers for further concentration into “high wines” with an alcohol content of 55 to 75%, or commercial alcohol with a 95% content.

Residue from the beer still is pumped to spent-stillage or slop tanks and sold or processed into stock feed. Many stills are steam-heated. Others involve vacuum distillation at lower temperatures. Vacuum and pressure-relief devices are usually provided, however, in some older facilities the residue discharges into the still building proper, creating an explosion hazard.

Distilled-Liquor Handling

Raw spirits from the stills are usually temporarily stored in black iron, tin-lined copper, or stainless steel tanks that hold anywhere from a few hundred to several thousand gallons in a closed receiver building or wine-tank room. Although these tanks have locked covers, sealed valves and fittings, they may not be air tight, particularly in older facilities. This means that there may be an explosion risk due to the alcoholic vapors present in the air.

Once sampled for proof and run through quality control tests, the spirits are pumped into different tanks in the cistern room. Proof is reduced to the desired barreling strength by adding distilled water and the final product is put into barrels. Filling equipment is generally used so that valves are automatically shut off when the barrel is full. The spirits are then left to age. Once aged, they are reguaged, blended and bottled.

The Need for Accurate Measurements

Scales are as necessary to professional distillers as the meal selected for the mash. Not only are they used to follow a cherished recipe, they’re also used to help move product from one stage of production to another through pumps and valves to bottles and shipping crates.

However, just as other electrical equipment can cause a fire or explosion, so too can scales. This is why Arlyn Scales offers distilleries and other classified hazardous locations weighing equipment that is intrinsically safe for use in these environments.

Our ArlynGuard B, C, F, and P scales have one or more components that have been tested and approved to be Intrinsically Safe for use in an impressive range of hazardous locations including:

•    Intrinsically safe for use in Class I, II, III; Division I; Groups A through G
•    Non-incedive for use in Class I; Division II; Groups A through D
•    Suitable for use in Class II; Division II; Groups F & G
•    Suitable for use in Class III; Division II

Each ArlynGuard scale is equipped with one or more of:

•    Model MKE-5-IS(-C) Digital Weight Indicator System
•    Load Cell Models 620-300-IS, 620-100-IS, 620-50-IS, 620-25-IS, 620-10-IS, 520-10000L-IS, 520-5000L-IS, 520-5000IS, 520-2500-IS, 520-1250-IS, 320-500-IS and 320-250-IS

which are FM Approved components as per Approval Standard 3600, 3610, 3611 and 3810.

Our Arlyn Guard scales provide the accurate measurements you need while operating in such a way that the risk of fires and explosions is null. There are four unique models to choose from. Each has an internal resolution of one part in 500,000 and features a large digital LCD display; rugged, heat-treated, stainless steel load cells; as well as multiple unit conversions, automatic and keyboard tare, more than 100 memory locations, and net/gross capability.

Arlyn Guard Explosion Proof Scales

Arlyn Guard B

These intrinsically safe bench scales are accurate to .001 pound at their lowest five-pound capacity and accurate to .05 pound at their highest 150 pound capacity. Platform size comes as a standard 12″ x 16″.

Arlyn Guard C

Specifically designed to weigh drums of sensitive material, these scales are available in 60, 300, and 400 pound capacities up to 1,000 pounds. The 60-pound model is accurate to .02 pound while the 300 and 400 pound capacities are accurate to one tenth of a pound. Platform sizes are either 9.25″ square or 14″ square with an extremely low profile for easy loading and unloading.

Arlyn Guard P

With either 500 or 1,000 pound capacities and accuracy to .1 or .2 pounds respectively, these intrinsically safe platform scales can fit into a wide variety of spaces. Available in aluminum or stainless steel, these scales are rugged enough to withstand rough conditions yet sensitive enough to provide accuracy to each batch of spirits you produce.

Arlyn Guard F

Our largest scale, these floor scales start at a 2,500 pound capacity and .5 pound resolution and max out at 20,000 pounds (or higher) with a 5 pound resolution. They’re also available in aluminum or full stainless steel construction. The stainless steel model is available with an optional three-part epoxy coating that protects the scale platform from scratching and rust.

Precision and Safety from Arlyn Scales

When it comes to safety and precision, no one does it better than Arlyn Scales. Contact us today to discuss your needs and find the instruments that meet them best.