Waste Advantage Magazine

Technology helps advance collection efficiency: imperceptible to the eye, yet major to the industry

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Courtesy of Courtesy of Waste Advantage Magazine

It’s common knowledge to any one of us who work in the waste management industry in North America that, until quite recently, the average citizen didn’t give much thought to the technology behind the collection truck that rolled by every week in their neighborhood. In fact, they might have been surprised to know that collection vehicle manufacturers have been producing trucks that are slowly changing the way refuse is collected, measured and treated and that these vehicles occupy the first block in the starting lane of the fast-increasing race to become environmentally-friendly.

Tapered Bodies
Collection trucks do a lot more now than just get filled with trash, compact and dump their loads. What might seem minor design changes are actually major improvements which save millions of dollars for haulers. For example, before a tapered body design on automated side-loaders, truck bodies filled with compacted trash or other materials that didn’t properly unload at the landfill. The driver would have to maneuver his truck back and forth when unloading to try to get the contents to spill and hoist and lower the body a couple of times as well. Now, sideloaders all have a body that tapers at approximately 1.5º on each side. This helps haulers save time, money and fuel by allowing the driver to hoist the body one time, dump his contents and take off that much quicker to collect another load, making it more efficient1.

The tapered body design has also been applied to split-body units. What’s a split-body? It’s a collection truck with a central wall in the hopper and body that creates two separate compartments in the truck body and makes it possible to collect two types of loads, i.e. glass, paper and cardboard; trash and recycling, etc. Unloading a split-body was even more difficult than a single compartment truck. With a tapered body—the problem is solved. Another advantage is that drivers, who previously wouldn’t collect their vehicle’s maximum capacity because of the difficulty with unloading, can now collect full payloads. Small design adjustments that carry huge benefits for haulers.

Other design innovations appear even more considerable. Front-loaders, which were once known as the behemoths of solid waste collection, are now highly efficient collection trucks that come with options allowing haulers to weigh loads as they are picked up, identify customers, follow vehicles on the road and maximize payloads. Front-loaders are used mostly to collect commercial waste generated by retail stores, office buildings, industrial complexes and restaurants and, in many cases, residential areas populated with apartment buildings.

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