Do you Need NTEP Scales?


Ok…no second guessing here. We want to be clear, so as to remove any doubt or uncertainty you may have in making this determination.

While the terms “Legal-for-Trade” and “NTEP Approved” may not mean anything to you right now, they will be extremely important certifications in the future depending on the business you’re in. No worries…we’re here to help.

Legal-for-Trade scales are intended for commercial use applications, meaning that money is exchanging hands on the basis of the product weight. These scales DO require calibration according to the standards found in “Specifications, Tolerances and Other Technical Requirements for Weighing and Measuring Devices.” This is also known as “Handbook 44.” Basically it’s a rule book, a comprehensive list of requirements that is mandatory for all scales used for commercial purposes. A new version is published every year by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Additionally, if you are conducting business within the United States, your business scale must be NTEP (National Type Evaluation Program) Approved.

When you purchase a new scale, it needs to be calibrated for use. Without calibration, the scale is just showing numbers on a display. Scale calibration ensures that the numbers on the display correlate to the actual amount of weight on the scale.

For the purpose of this particular topic, we’re assuming that you are working with a scale that is fully assembled and configured for use. Most scales purchased are “factory calibrated” and for most common low-cost materials/uses (such as checking shipping weights for in-house monitoring of bulk materials or disposal of scrap or waste) – this is close enough, even if the scale is off a bit.

However, depending on the business you are in, you may be required to abide by the state’s commercial weighing laws, or document weighing performance to comply with a custom industrial standard set by an individual business, industry or governmental entity.

Commercial weighing and measuring equipment is defined as follows, according to NIST Handbook 44 and 130: “weights and measures and weighing and measuring devices commercially used or employed in establishing the size, quantity, extent, area, or measurement of quantities, things, produce, or articles for distribution or consumption, purchased, offered, or submitted for sale, hire or award, or in computing any basic charge or payment for services rendered on the basis of weight or measure.”

For example, at the grocery store or deli, your various lunch meats and/or cheeses are weighted on a scale and sold to you at a price determined by that weight. Grocery store or deli scales are great examples of commercial scales. Other common industries which require Legal-for-Trade scales include, but are not limited to: alcohol; produce; livestock feed; firewood; liquid fuel; landscaping materials; precious metals and jewelry; mechanical and construction parts; cars, trucks and auto parts; and medical cannabis.

When selecting a specific scale for your particular business application, there is one important question that you need to address: what is the minimum and maximum weight of the product needed to be weighed by the scale? The minimum weight will inform you of your maximum division size (the accuracy level/readability) of the scale, while the maximum weight corresponds to the scales required capacity.

Regarding Legal-for-Trade calibration, a state Weights and Measures Inspector will follow up with you to make certain that your commercial scale has proper calibration. If yours is found to be out of tolerance, it is “Red-Tagged” and taken out of service. To avoid such problems, you should have your commercial scale calibrated and adjusted regularly to keep it in proper operating order.

Additionally, the surrounding work environment where your scale is located also needs to be considered since areas that contain dust, fluids, or experience vibrations, static electricity or mechanical shock can interfere with the performance and accuracy of your scale.

Lastly, it’s important to note that even the highest quality scale won’t remain accurate forever. If you use your scale several times a day and weekly, normal wear and tear will happen faster than with a scale used only a few times a week. As a result, it will need to be calibrated more often. Also keep in mind that if your business can’t afford to have even the slightest inaccuracy in weight, it is highly recommended that more frequent calibrations take place.

Product Engineering Corporation (PEC Scales) offers a wide selection of NTEP Approved scales that certify Legal-for-Trade weighing equipment, enabling you/your company to efficiently and legally conduct business operations with products sold by weight. Contact PEC Scales to help you find the right one for your business; decide on the type of calibration you need; and provide you with the calibration services and documentation you need.