Kubota Products at Work in Zoos, Fruit Wholesalers, and Beekeepers

What Roles Do Weighing and Measuring Play in Our Daily Lives?


January 27, 2021


Whether measuring seasonings for cooking, weighing ourselves, or taking our body temperature, there are numerous situations in which we use measurements in our daily lives. In manufacturing as well, measurements are taken in all processes, from materials procurement to assembly, and the accuracy of these measurements directly affects product quality. Scales play an active role in all of these situations. Kubota has been making scales for nearly 100 years, and through its advancements using sensor and digital technologies, it continues to lead the industry in weighing instruments and systems.

This article focuses on the surprising places one will find Kubota scales at work, such as zoos and fruit wholesalers. Read more about where scales can be found in our daily lives.

Kubota Links the History of Weighing to the Present Day

Scales are instruments for measuring the weight and mass of objects. The history of scales dates back to around 8000 B.C. Documents from ancient Egypt depict people working with balances, the forerunners of scales. With the changing needs of each subsequent era, scales evolved into beam balances, Roberval balances, and spring scales, becoming essential tools for the progress of civilization.

In Japan, scales became widely used when commerce developed from the Muromachi to the Warring States periods (around the 14th to 16th centuries). Western-style scales came into use in the mid-19th century around the end of the Edo period. In 1921, the Weights and Measures Act was revised to codify the metric system, changing the unit of weight from kan to kilograms. This led to an increased demand for new scales, especially in manufacturing plants.

In 1594, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who ruled over a united Japan, codified the unstandardized units of measurement in his nationwide land survey. Standards for weighing and measuring instruments would gradually be established following this move.

Gonshiro Kubota, the founder of Kubota, quickly caught on to these market trends. At age 14 he had moved to Osaka and began training in metal casting at a foundry, and in 1924, after starting his business at age 19, he put his casting expertise to work and started manufacturing platform weighing machines and steelyard balances with upper pans. Kubota would soon begin full-scale development of industrial scales in response to the growing awareness toward weighing and measuring systems among various industries and companies.

Kubota began manufacturing steelyard balances with upper pans (left) and platform weighing machines, also known as kankan (right), in 1924.
These are Japan’s first digital load cells, with a built-in electronic circuit that enables direct output of digital signals. These innovative products could measure with high accuracy and were strongly resistant to temperature and other external factors.

During Japan’s rapid economic growth period of the 1970s and 1980s, an emergence of labor shortages led to calls for equipment automation and labor-saving. This yielded greater progress in electronic scales that could take weights using electrical signals alongside the development of conventional mechanical scales. Technologies were also expanded to automated control and data processing, and scales became more systemized. In 1994, Kubota obtained a license to become a designated manufacturer of specified measuring instruments. It would introduce a series of revolutionary products, including Japan’s first digital load cell, which enabled the direct output of digital signals from a strain gauge load cell. Since then, Kubota has consistently led the industry in weighing devices and systems.

At the root of this is Kubota’s strong wish to provide accurate weighing to support the foundation of society. This wish has been carefully handed down by successive generations to the present day.

Kubota is Here Too! Scales that Support Life in Many Ways

With an excellent reputation both in Japan and internationally, Kubota’s scales are hard at work on the frontlines of many industries. Below are three examples.

Kubota’s Digital Platform Scale Helps with Health Monitoring at One of Japan’s Largest Elephant Houses

Sapporo City Maruyama Zoo is home to one of Japan’s largest elephant houses. Built in 2018 and opened to the public in 2019, it has become a huge sensation. The scale used at this house is a digital platform scale with a loading platform for small trucks customized to accommodate the width of an elephant’s body. It can support up to 10 tons.

The Elephant House at the Maruyama Zoo was completed on September 20, 2018. Visitors can see the activities of four Asian elephants up-close. (Photos: Sapporo City Maruyama Zoo)

Accurate weighing is essential for monitoring the health of animals. This system was selected because it causes little swaying when the elephants get on it and gives correct measurement results regardless of where the elephants are placed.

The scale in the Elephant House uses high-precision digital load cell that converts the slightest strains on the metal from an object placed on top to electrical signals and quantifies them.

Fruit Selector Protects the Reputation of High-end Fruit Shops

Kanda Manhiko is a fruit and vegetable wholesaler that services premium fruit shops. Founded in 1836, it is the choice of those who really know their fruits. It uses a device called a Fruit Selector, which measures the brix of fruit by irradiating the skin of the fruit or other item with near-infrared light. Because high-end fruit shops that have been in business since the Edo period (1600s-early 1800s) specify the brix when placing orders for fruit, the Fruit Selector is used to measure each individual fruit’s sweetness to be sure that each piece meets their standards. Being able to assign a numerical value to the sweetness of each fruit serves as a guarantee of the fruit’s delicious flavor, which in turn improves the shop’s reputation. The sweet and delicious fruit available in Japan is the product of efforts by wholesalers, growers, and fruit shops that are such connoisseurs of quality, and the Fruit Selector also plays an important role in this process.

Since 2007, Kanda Manhiko has been using two types of Fruit Selector: A table-top model that reads out results with voice, and a portable model.

Liquid Filling Machine Fills Honey to the Last Drop*

  • *We no longer offer liquid filling machines that fill food products.

Fujii Bee Farm, which was founded in Asakura City, Fukuoka Prefecture in 1909, is an industry leader that manages all processes from honey production to container filling and shipment.

Fujii Bee Farm handles pure domestically-produced honey as well as related products such as royal jelly and propolis. (Photos: Fujii Bee Farm)

Fujii Bee Farm specializes in migratory beekeeping, in which nearly 2,000 colonies of bees are moved to various parts of Japan where flowers are blooming to collect honey. Kubota’s Liquid Filling Machine fills the 18-liter square cans of precious honey collected through this process. It makes it possible to fill predetermined amounts of grams at a constant speed with the press of a button. In addition, the machine provides accurate filling automatically, eliminating the need for manual weight adjustments. It has contributed to improvements in production and work efficiency.

A Liquid Filling Machine fills an 18-liter square can with honey. The machine can fill about 50 such cans per day.

Gonshiro Kubota began manufacturing Kubota’s scales nearly 100 years ago. Throughout their long history, these machines have constantly evolved and developed to meet the needs of the times while supporting people’s daily lives and industrial activities. Kubota products may sometimes be used in unexpected places, but we hope you are now aware of just how indispensable these machines are in all kinds of industries for the contributions they have made to accuracy in weighing.
We will keep following Kubota scales, which are right now working somewhere to make our lives better.