Portion control scales play an integral role in most pizza operations, helping ensure consistency with topping amounts on pies. For both large-batch and single-serving recipes, portion control scales help minimize ingredient waste.

Operators can use these units to weigh many different foods, making portion control scales a versatile tool for pizzerias that also offer other menu items, like sandwiches and baked goods.

Types

Digital or electronic portion control scales promise faster weight results, increased accuracy, and an easy-to-read display. These units also include a tare feature to easily zero out the scale to account for the weight of the food vessel or additional ingredients that may be necessary. Digital scale models use electricity, batteries or a combination of both.

Some models have a raised display at eye level for better viewing. And some manufacturers offer waterproof digital scales.

Pizza operators may want to consider oversize platforms, which hold large pizzas, as well as scales with auto tare to reset the unit for additional toppings and products.

Smaller, lower-volume operations may want to consider mechanical or dial portion control scales. Also reliable, these scales require no electricity or battery power, and many are lightweight and portable. Mechanical scales typically include an easy-to-read rotating dial and platform with shock absorber for added durability. Unlike digital scales, operators can clean the mechanical type in the dishwasher.

Capacity and Construction

Capacities for these units generally range from 4 to 20 pounds, although topping weights will be on the lower side.

Scales are typically constructed from stainless steel, molded polymer and oven-baked enamel. Most platters for holding food are made of stainless steel.

Platforms

When it comes to scale platforms, pizza operators can choose from a variety of sizes and shapes to accommodate different products. These can be flat, round, square or rectangular and are available in a wide range of sizes.

Operators can choose specialty platforms or holding vessels of all types. Some scales include specially shaped platforms that can accommodate weighing in various vessels. Some types offer vessels in place of platforms. For example, pizza operations with mainly dry ingredients may want to consider a portion control scale with a bowl that would more easily contain items. Indented flat platforms more easily accommodate bowls. Scales with measuring cup platforms allow operators to measure ingredients right on the scale, saving time and increasing accuracy.

Features and Options

Depending on the type of scale and model, standard features include roomy platforms or commodity pans, sturdy bases, on/off switches for electronic scales, tare (to remove food packaging weights), and hold and 
unit buttons.

Digital types can store data, weigh items and print labels using the saved information. For example, units can store data on pizza ingredient amounts, allowing for uniform production of each pie. Scales that provide label printing offer options for restaurants selling retail pies. Capabilities include logos, nutritional labeling, reheating instructions, PLU and sell-by dates.

Scales with foot tare switch pedals offer hands-free operation for high-volume, faster-paced pizza operations. Wireless scales feature a readout screen that is not attached by wires to the platform, enabling mounting on a nearby countertop or wall for quick and easy reading.

Scale management software programs provide the capability to change a price on an item from a central location and automatically transmit this to different scales at various sites.

Purchasing Factors

When choosing a portion control scale, cleanability is a top consideration.

“You want a unit that’s easily cleanable and waterproof, usually in a wet situation, or with water resistant properties, and something that can be easily cleaned at the end of the day and periodically throughout the day,” says Dan Bendall, principal at FoodStrategy Inc., located in Rockville, Md.

Pizza operators may want to consider a scale that offers a tare weight. “If you have portions of cheese in a measuring cup or container, this subtracts the extra weight of the container so the scale measures only the weight of the cheese,” says Bendall. “Some have different tare weights that can be set. It’s also beneficial to have a scale that can switch back and forth between different weight graduations that weigh by quarter ounce and ounce, for example.”

Scale Care 

Unlike most foodservice equipment, scales are low maintenance and typically don’t require service from technicians.

“These almost have become like microwave ovens. People don’t get them repaired often — we rarely see them,” says Bob Gilpatrick, director of service at Hagar Restaurant Service in Oklahoma City.

Most include weights to ensure proper calibration. If it is off, operators can take the scale to a local service agent for repair.

Even mechanical scales are durable to the point that, unless someone drops one of these units forcefully, the scales will stand up to heavy use. “Scales are one of the most cost-effective items in any kitchen and are not a higher-dollar item,” says Gilpatrick. “For this reason, if it’s knocked off a table or becomes inaccurate, operators can pick up another. They’re pretty affordable.”

As for cleaning and care, Gilpatrick recommends wiping scales down with a mild cleaning solution daily.