Legality of selling parts by count - Counting Scales

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whiteninja

#1
I've encountered a conundrum that I cannot easily resolve. Many factories in the US sell parts by count, like hundreds or thousands of pieces per carton, but from what I see it looks like the NCWM as well as state laws imply that this activity is not legal if those parts are counted on a 'counting scale'.

What do I mean by imply? NCWM/NTEP forces scale manufacturers to put the statement "The counting feature is not legal for trade" on any scale submitted for NTEP approval. What does 'legal for trade' mean? The only thing I can find NCWM say about it is in a fact sheet for scale customers, telling them essentially 'don't trust scale dealers using this phrase, because only the regulatory authority can tell you what it means', yet they (NCWM) will not define the phrase in any publication, nor do our state laws from what I can find. If no one will define this, why force scale manufacturers to put it on counting scales?

Scale dealers (from my experience this means state licensed scale companies selling/dealing scales) will tell you that 'all commercial transactions' require 'legal for trade' scales, but counting scales are not legal for trade. My state's regulatory authority confirmed this and said that only if counting scales are used for inventory control & not commercial transactions are they exempted from regulation. One manufacturer of counting scales added that selling by count where count is determined by piece weight is illegal because of part weight variance, and told me that they could not get their counting scale NTEP certified unless they put the statement on their scale "The counting feature is not legal for trade".... yes I understand this comes from NIST Handbook 44, Scale Marking Requirements: "When a scale is installed with an operational counting feature, the scale shall be marked on both the operator and customer sides with the statement 'The counting feature is not legal for trade,' except when a Class I or Class II prescription scale complies with all Handbook 44 requirements applicable to counting features." .... but why must they make this implication that the user of the counting scale cannot legally trade (sell) the items they counted with it? :nope:

So, for all those factories in the US counting parts with counting scales and selling those parts by count... what is the legal resolution to this conundrum?

Has any Quality Manager on Elsmar ever addressed this issue in the workplace? Or has anyone experience dealing with a state or municipal regulatory authority on this issue? :cfingers:
 
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WCHorn

Rubber, Too Glamorous?
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#2
If no one will define this, why force scale manufacturers to put it on counting scales?
I think that the phrase ?legal for trade? means it can be used in commercial applications where product is sold by weight. Since counting scales are designed for sales by piece, they put a notice on the scales to assure they are not used for sales by weight. That?s my opinion, though. I don?t have standards to cite. I left a message with our scale supplier to query him on the matter. I?ll post his take when I get it.

So, for all those factories in the US counting parts with counting scales and selling those parts by count... what is the legal resolution to this conundrum?
I have never heard of a legal challenge to using counting scales. I think footnote 5 on page 2-53 may be relevant to the issue.

Prepackaging scales and prescription scales with a counting feature (and other commercial devices) used for putting up packages in advance of sale are acceptable for use in commerce only if all appropriate provisions of Handbook 44 are met. Users of such devices must be alert to the legal requirements relating to the declaration of quantity on a package. Such requirements are to the effect that, on the average, the contents of the individual packages of a particular commodity comprising a lot, shipment, or delivery must contain at least the quantity declared on the label. The fact that a prepackaging scale may overregister, but within established tolerances, and is approved for commercial service is not a legal justification for packages to contain, on the average, less than the labeled quantity

Has any Quality Manager on Elsmar ever addressed this issue in the workplace? Or has anyone experience dealing with a state or municipal regulatory authority on this issue? :cfingers:
I work for a high volume manufacturer (orders of 100 to 400,000 pcs are typical); I have never heard of any problem with using weigh-count scales, and I?ve been here for over 30 years.

I appreciate your post, though. I will keep on eye on this thread. Sorry I can't be of more help.
 
W

whiteninja

#3
That footnote in HB44 under Scales, Use Requirements, is exactly what I needed, thank you. I'm going to take this reference to my state authority I've been talking to. By the way, I didn't mean to infer that I've been experiencing any legal challenge by a regulatory authority to the use of counting scales in commerce other than the things I've been told that are outlined in my original post.... This has all been just in conversation initiated by me. I will post back when I get a response from the state authority, now that I have this footnote to work with. Thank you so much.
 
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Big Jim

Super Moderator
#4
Logic tells me that you are likely to have more errors on hand counts of very high volumes than you would with a counting scale. I suspect that the machine is more consistent with large numbers than a human.

What little experience I have had with counting scales is that they are extremely accurate, at least as long as they are properly calibrated, including linearity.
 

BradM

Staff member
Admin
#5
Logic tells me that you are likely to have more errors on hand counts of very high volumes than you would with a counting scale. I suspect that the machine is more consistent with large numbers than a human.

What little experience I have had with counting scales is that they are extremely accurate, at least as long as they are properly calibrated, including linearity.
Agreed. Not to mention it would be pretty easy to periodically test. Counting scale.

One of the keys is the overstate part. Just make sure your counting scale error leads to the understate quantity; or somehow round down some.
 

WCHorn

Rubber, Too Glamorous?
Trusted Information Resource
#6
I left a message with our scale supplier to query him on the matter. I?ll post his take when I get it.
Our scale supplier is in the dark. He just confirmed everything we've posted below, but when asked for a recommendation, he didn't have one. They don't offer any certified scales for counting; they can't.

There must be some definitions in the requirements that relieve counting scales from the requirement. Otherwise, I think I would have had some communication about the topic after 30 years.

I agree with the other posters that well maintained and calibrated counting scales are more accurate than human counting. Of course, you still have the variable of a human counting out the scale sample!:mg:
 

gpainter

Quite Involved in Discussions
#7
Make sure it stays calibrated and serviced. This seemed to always be an issue and it is amazing the variation from suppliers to different shipments. We used one for assembly hardware for our product. May need to check with your states Department of Weights and Measures. In the state of Indiana, if you sell by count, the MAV(Max. Allowable Variation) for a 1334 or more quantity is 1.5% of the labeled count rounded to the nearest whole number
 
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