Sometimes, scales and balances can list a certain number of “PLUs” or mention storing and recalling products. But what do PLUs mean exactly? How can you take advantage of PLUs for your applications? Do you even need PLUs? What scales use PLU? Are PLUs limited to a specific type of scale? In this blog post, we’ll take a look at memory functions available on weighing devices.
PLUs for Retail Applications
“PLU” stands for “Price Look-Up” or “Product Look-Up”. It’s commonly used in retail for bulk fresh product that is not packaged or whose price is dependent on weight. If you’ve ever used a self-checkout, you might have noticed flyers or a catalogue of produce with various numbers. You place an item on the checkout’s scale, and based on the number you entered, the system knows whether it should charge you for a pound of apples or a pound of strawberries. A PLU is usually needed when the items being sold look similar. For example, can you tell the difference between an Encore Peach and a GaLa Peach? Most people can’t and it would take too long to train staff, so a PLU eliminates the need for visual differentiation or name memorization. In addition, some products can be the same type (for example, Fuji Apples) but one is more expensive because it’s organic.
When a customer buys multiple apricots, the scale can calculate the total price of half a pound of apricots based on the weight of a single apricot of that kind and using it to count the amount taken by a customer.
Some retailers use specific number ranges for specific products. For example, a grocery store could decide that the numbers between 400 and 440 are only for apple varieties. Others might pick a number to specify if a product is organic.
When a scale stores a PLU, it records some information about the item. You can assign a name, description, notes, unit weight, SKU, ID, price per unit and even high and low limits, for example. Using PLUs allow users to change the scale’s configurations on the fly without manually resetting it for each different product type.
PLUs and Other Applications
While PLUs are most often used in retail scales, counting bench and floor scales sometimes feature PLUs. Non-approved and non-retail scales can still be used to manage inventory, label products not sold by weight and track packaging, shipping or receiving tasks. Let’s say a hardware store is packaging screws. They offer a lot of different types, and they can’t always recognize or remember the name, type or exact size visually. A PLU allows a scale to store some information about a product to calculate and recall information based on the original measurement. In this case, the PLU function does not recall the price (though it can include price in its database) but the product and its features themselves. Storing the product and attributes like unit weight makes counting much quicker and easier, as staff doesn’t even have to search for the product or attributes as long as they know the PLU number. PLU numbers are also quick to enter, as opposed to manually entering something like unit weight or the product’s name.
Since PLUs are based on numbers, scales that offer PLUs usually offer a fully featured numeric keypad.
Once you narrow down the features, capacity and readability you need from your scale, you should consider how many PLUs you need. If you only sell a few items, you don’t need a lot, but if you carry a large inventory, our BCT advanced label printing scale can store more than 1,000. In addition, large inventories can benefit from data communication capabilities. Manually setting up 500 PLUs on a scale can be a lot of work. You can use our PLU software for AE 504 indicators and BCT scales to import information from Excel spreadsheets to make data transfer quicker and easier. It could also help reduce the risk of errors and allow for more detailed information.
Lab Instruments and Data Storage
Lab balances don’t store PLUs, but they can store and recall recipes’ ingredients and their information to make formulation quick and easy. Our Solis stores up to 99 ingredients. Some moisture analyzers, like the PMB, can store testing procedures as well, so users can choose a heat cycle designed to properly dry a specific sample. Lab balances tend to have large displays with a lot of functions, so users can use a touch pad to enter information with a keyboard or connect the balance to a system to import data as needed. This eliminates the need for numbers. Users can also recall the ingredient, formula or test setting by browsing a list. Some lab balances offer functions with specific parameters (like statistics) that can also be stored and recalled for convenience. The balance includes databases that can be browsed.
In addition to allowing users to easily access past weighing results, recipes, formulas and settings, storing and recalling on balances makes scaling much easier. Whether it’s scaling up a recipe to make more of the product or measuring a higher quantity of the same object, using the recall function on a balance saves time and efforts when combined with features like percentage weighing.
Taking advantage of your scale or balance’s memory features is key to improving productivity. While these features are not always highlighted as necessities, they can be very useful for a wide variety of applications. When you combine them with other functions, storing and recalling results can speed up repetitive tasks and simplify complex applications. If you need help picking the right weighing instrument, we can help!