Mechanical Scales vs. Digital Scales

One of the few devices that businesses allow customers to use themselves is the scale. Whether you are running a grocery store or a bakery, your customers will, at some point, have to use your scale before making a purchase. If this is the case, you will want your customers to use the best, most user-friendly scale possible (for a variety of reasons). Customers, though, are not the only people who will need to access your equipment—back-of-house workers commonly use scales in the service industry, and choosing the right scale for a specific job makes the job easier and cuts down on shrink and spoilage. The two most commonly used commercial scales can be broken down into two categories: mechanical and digital. In the section below, you will learn about some of the reasons why you might use one of these two types of scales.

What Is a Mechanical Scale?

Mechanical scales, also known as analog scales, are weighing devices that do not require a power source to operate. Most scales in grocery store produce departments are mechanical —they usually consist of a base, a platform, a spring, and a reading display (think of the kind of scale you use to weigh bananas).   

What Are the Benefits of Using a Mechanical Scale?

The first major benefit of using a mechanical scale is that it does not require a power source to function. A fully functioning mechanical scale can be used just about anywhere under most circumstances—to use the scale, simply place the items you want to weigh on the platform and take your reading from the display. Even if your operation works almost exclusively with advanced digital scales, it is always a good idea to have a backup mechanical scale in the event that your business loses its power temporarily. 

Mechanical scales’ reading displays are also analog, which means that each reading uses the same standards and measurement units—you only need to use the scale once to learn how it works and how it reads, unlike most digital scales that have numerous settings and units of measurement. If you are looking for a scale that will produce a quick read with the same units of measurement every time, the mechanical scale is a reliable, user-friendly option.

In addition to the ease of access of most mechanical scales, their rugged design and sturdy build make for a versatile weighing option. In more industrial settings where people and products move at a higher rate than a smaller operation (like a candy store or a kitchen), your equipment needs to be able to take a beating. Although digital scales can be sturdy and durable, most cannot endure the stress over time that a mechanical scale can handle.    

Finally, mechanical scales are beneficial to workers and users who aren’t too familiar with formal calibration procedures. Many mechanical scales can be re-calibrating by twisting a knob that is connected to the spring within the device. If a mechanical scale is off by even a large margin, most people with little knowledge of how scales work can re-calibrate a mechanical scale in seconds.  

What is a Digital Scale?

Digital scales, unlike mechanical scales, require a power source to function. Some are battery-powered, but other, advanced options need to be plugged into a power strip or outlet. Digital scales are equipped with a wide range of software programs and can be used for numerous functions. These options can be simple or complex based on the needs of the purchaser, and they can be used for a variety of purposes across many industries. 

What Are the Benefits of Using a Digital Scale?

Despite the fact that digital scales need to be connected to a power source to function, they are incredibly dynamic weighing devices overall, and most are equipped with more advanced weighing hardware than the average mechanical scale. Digital scales, due to their advanced hardware, provide highly accurate and reliable readings. Most can be programmed to provide readings with variable units of measurements (pounds, kilograms, grams, etc.), and many can measure even smaller units of measurement that no mechanical scale could hope to register. 

In addition to providing reliable and accurate measurements, digital scales are equipped with clear-cut user interfaces that make for easy readings. Users can, of course, still make mistakes, and more advanced digital scales often have more buttons and functions; but, when used properly, digital scales fully remove the guesswork from taking measurements. 

Most digital scales are lightweight and highly mobile; unfortunately, however, they are not as rugged and sturdy as a traditional mechanical scale. When dropped from a high enough distance, the screens, buttons, and casings can be broken or knocked loose. That said, many digital scales come with warranties, and most are strong enough to sustain a fair degree of day-to-day wear and tear. 

Lastly, many digital scales come prepared with built-in calibration and recalibration functions. If a digital scale is producing odd readings, you can either zero in the scale and weigh your item or press the calibration button and have the scale itself do the work. Unfortunately, though, if the scale does not have a self-calibration feature, it can sometimes be difficult for even an experienced user to calibrate the device.


There is no one-size-fits-all approach to purchasing the “right scale.” The needs of your business and industry will determine which scale is right for you given the circumstances. If your production team works in a high-traffic, industrial zone, it might be better to use a mechanical scale; however, many industries use digital platform scales as a happy medium. Thinking about the advice in the section above as well as the purpose, place, and function of your scale will guide you towards making the best decision for your business.

If you are in the process of finding the right scale for your company, but you don’t quite know where to start, consider reaching out to contact Yamato today to speak with a friendly expert who can provide you with the best advice possible. We have served various industries for over 100 years and we are confident that we can help you pick out the best product for your company.