Maintenance: what should you consider?

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Courtesy of Waste Advantage Magazine

Refuse vehicles are an important part of the solid waste industry, and maintaining its life is crucial to how it will operate and how long, and even what safety issues will come up during the course of its run. What it really comes down to is checking the little things every day, in addition to performing one big inspection every month. By doing this you can prevent any elements that could cause a breakdown or even an accident.

Maintenance Checks
The parts of a refuse vehicle that should be checked for maintenance first and most frequently are the brakes, windshield wipers, fluid levels (oil, hydraulic, motor, power steering transmission, etc.), grease points, tires, air leaks and safety items—lights, fire extinguishers, safety vests, backup alarms and horn. According to Rick Eggleton, Human Resources, for Universal Waste Systems based in Santa Fe Spring, CA, the company’s drivers go one step further and look to see whether the packer is clean. “We check these things on a daily basis. Our trucks drive on steep hills in certain areas, not to mention at the landfill, so the truck’s ability to stop is very important.” Drew Weil, Account Representative, for Sunbelt Hydraulics (Pompano Beach, FL) agrees, “All are part of our drivers daily check-in log and should be checked before and after a route has been run.”

In addition, whenever you’re maintaining a vehicle, an inspection of everything is usually involved, including to see if any parts on the tires are loose, bolts on the drive shaft are tight and any lights are broken. These are things that drivers need to do as well as mechanics. “A driver uses the truck every day so he knows what will be wrong with it. A mechanic is only going to go on there and look at something that the driver says is wrong,” stresses Sal Tagliavia, President of Sanitation Repairs in Brooklyn, NY. “So if the driver doesn’t take the time to do the inspection, it’s going to have an effect in the long run because there could be something loose or broken. Many times these damages are preventable because, for example, if it is a loose bolt, all a mechanic has to do is tighten it up before they go out, saving time and money.”

And as far as changing the oil? It depends on how many miles you put on the truck per day; however, it should be checked at least once a month, while every other month an oil change should be performed. By maintaining your truck on a regular basis, you can prolong the life of your truck at least 50 percent or four to five years. This, says Weil, is called preventative maintenance. “If you truly perform preventative maintenance instead of reactive maintenance it can mean up to doubling the life of some equipment.”

Bob Wallace, Principal and Vice President for WIH Resource Group (Phoenix, AZ) agrees, “The objective of a preventative maintenance program is to minimize equipment failure by maintaining a constant awareness of the condition of equipment and correcting defects before they become serious problems. This program also minimizes unscheduled repairs by causing most maintenance and repair activities to occur through scheduled inspections.” If the truck is not maintained on a regular basis, depending on the driver, it takes between one and four years off of the life of the vehicle.

It even has an effective on customer service “Maintaining a regular inspection schedule results in less breakdowns and better servicing the customer. If the vehicles are not taken care of and the truck breaks down, customers can’t get service properly. Then a company has to get other trucks to go out there and it cuts into someone else’s time,” explains Tagliavia. Considering this, make sure that before the vehicle leaves the station, everything is checked. Although there will always be things that happen that are out of the driver’s control, if the small but crucial things are checked first, it can go a long way in preventing the uncontrollable.

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