Weights & Measures Program

Device Inspections

Illinois Department of Agriculture Weights and Measures LogoA field staff of more than twenty-five field inspectors from the Bureau perform regular, unannounced inspections of all commercially used weighing and measuring devices within the state. 

The following are examples of devices inspected: vehicle, retail, railroad, fertilizer hopper, grain hopper, belt conveyor, bituminous plant, and livestock scales; retail motor fuel dispensers; truck-mounted and petroleum terminal facility fuel meters; liquid petroleum gas meters; grain moisture meters; and law enforcement scales used to enforce highway weight laws. The basis and statutory authority for all inspection activities are found in the Weights and Measures Act.

Motor Fuel Quality Sampling

Bureau inspectors annually collect samples of gasoline, diesel fuel, and kerosene for quality analysis by a private contract laboratory. Octane rating, volatility, alcohol, and water contents are all determined through this testing. Standards for testing are those listed in the Annual Book of American Society for Testing and Materials, Section 5, Volumes 05.01 through 05.05. The basis and statutory authority for all inspection activities are found in the Retail Motor Fuel and Petroleum Standards Act. In a cooperative agreement with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, inspections of Stage II Vapor Recovery Installations are performed in the Chicago-Metro area, resulting in cleaner air quality with minimal use of government resources.

Prepackaged Commodity Inspections

Prepackaged commodities, such as store packaged meat and delicatessen items and standard weight items such as boxed cereal and flour, are check-weighed on a random or complaint basis to insure accurate net weight declarations are achieved. Inspectors check for accuracy in commodity labeling and investigate consumer complaints regarding product shortages or unfair sales practices.

Metrology Standards Laboratory

The metrology standards laboratory serves as the basis for providing equity in the marketplace. The laboratory maintains custody and safekeeping of the Illinois primary standards of mass, length, volume, and temperature. These are the standards to which all other measurement and calibration services are compared. The laboratory provides measurement services for enforcement of weights and measures regulations in legal metrology by testing and calibrating all working standards used by the inspection staff. It also provides services for Illinois' business, industry, education, and government agencies in scientific metrology by testing and calibrating all working standards used in trade, commerce, and manufacturing. 

The integrity, stability, and adequacy of the laboratory's standards and equipment are monitored through continuous surveillance and are evaluated and audited by the National Institute of Standards and Technology annually. Compliance with the National Institute of Standards and Technology criteria is indicated by a certificate of measurement traceability that recognizes the laboratory as having the required quality system, facilities, standards, and staff to provide accurate measurement services traceable to the national standards. The laboratory has established a continuous process of quality maintenance and improvement that has enabled it to grow in professional stature and to offer improved services in responding to Illinois' industry calibration needs, as well as the support of trade, and the maintenance of equity in the marketplace.

Grain Moisture Meter Laboratory

Illinois farmers depend on accurate measurement of moisture contents of grain offered for sale at elevators and inland terminals. The Illinois grain moisture meter laboratory serves this need by preparing field samples of corn, soybeans, soft red winter wheat, sorghum, and popcorn with known moisture contents using the official United States Department of Agriculture air-oven method. These samples are used by Bureau inspectors to certify the accuracy of moisture measuring devices. Moisture content inaccuracies at market would result in substantial losses for Illinois' grain producers or elevator operators.

Registered Serviceperson Program

The Bureau licenses companies and individuals who sell, install, or repair commercially used weighing and measuring devices through the Registered Serviceperson Program. Before becoming licensed, service persons are examined on their proficiency and understanding of applicable regulations. Licenses must be renewed annually. A registered serviceperson in good standing may place a commercially used device into service and the device may be used in trade or commerce until a state test is performed. Anyone who sells, installs, services, reconditions, or repairs a commercially used weighing or measuring device must be registered with the Illinois Department of Agriculture.

City Sealers

A city with a population of 25,000 people or more may have a city sealer. A sealer has the authority to certify commercially used weighing and measuring devices. To be recognized, a sealer must participate in an annual training program sponsored by the Department and must submit an annual report on July 1 to the Department. The Bureau provides technical training and support to city sealers.