Cool, calm and collected

Written by: Steed Webzell | Published:
Mercedes-Benz Econic refuse collection vehicle

Refuse collection vehicles are viewed widely as the workhorses of the waste management industry. Steed Webzell lifts the lid on the latest developments – from Euro VI-compliant machines, to smart weighing devices for ensuring accurate charging, to cyclist detection systems

Although multi-waste streams remain a challenge for most collection methods, Germany now has vehicles designed and built by Stummer, for Faun Zoeller, which have a purpose-built body for glass collection – a good example of how this seemingly mature technology continues to advance in the wake of evolving customer demand.

The dedicated vehicle for Faun Zoeller uses a screw mechanism to move collected glass into the body. As the glass is not compacted, wear on the equipment is kept to a minimum. Importantly, the lifting device allows for all types of container to be used, which brings flexibility to all waste streams, while another useful design feature is the action of the screw thread, which helps axle loading.

Additional units are now planned for the German market as the vehicles have improved both efficiency and operating margins.

In a market that is driven by the latest technology developments, Faun Zoeller can also reveal two further specialist vehicles. The new Micro HG is a small compactor that is currently employed for food waste collection. Its small body with a side lifter is a ‘tipper style’ unit fixed to a 3.5-tonne chassis, although this can be increased to 7.5 tonnes if required.

Also making the transition from the R&D lab to the commercial marketplace is Faun Zoeller’s HydraElectric (HE) vehicle.

The advantage that HE has over eco-lifters is the control of the tailgate and ejector, as well as low noise and short operations with the chassis detached. Furthermore, no special chassis options are required as the HE uses standard lifter components.

Adapting to clients’ needs

In the UK, councils are proving increasingly eager to adopt technology-led RCV solutions that can provide proven benefits. For instance, the first Euro VI Mercedes-Benz Econic refuse vehicles to join the fleet of London’s Redbridge Borough Council are outperforming expectations in terms of reliability and fuel efficiency. All 16 are Econic 2630 rear-steer models with dual-compartment Heil-Farid compactor bodies that mean they can be used to collect two types of recyclable waste – glass and paper, for example – thereby securing operational savings.

Supplied by dealer S&B Commercials and operated on Redbridge Council’s behalf by its environmental and waste services partner, Amey, the trucks are powered by 7.7-litre, six-cylinder engines that produce 220kW of power and are driven through six-speed Allison automatic gearboxes. They ride on full air suspension and are equipped with axle weight measuring systems.

“We had reservations about the move to Euro VI but the drivers underwent training on the operation of the diesel particulate filters and the trucks have given us no problems at all,” says Redbridge Council’s fleet engineer Eddie Cross. “There were also concerns about increased fuel consumption, but these have also proved to be unfounded.

“It’s difficult to provide comparative figures for RCVs because of the nature of the work, but the Euro VI Econics are certainly doing far better than we expected,” adds Cross.

Collaboration launches RCV

A new ‘narrow-track’ RCV has been developed to tackle waste collection in tight, busy, urban streets. It comes from a collaboration between Geesinknorba, Daf Trucks and the NRG Group.

The vehicle’s Geesinknorba GPM IV 17m3 narrow body and trade bin lift are mounted on a Daf LF 280 16 tonne chassis. It has a GVW of 22.5 tonnes and a payload of nearly 10 tonnes, but an additional mid-steer axle makes it highly manoeuvrable.

Mick Hill, Geesinknorba’s UK general manager, says: “The vehicle was built on tried-and-tested kit – we already made narrow-bodied vehicles. And when DAF fitted an additional mid-steer axle it produced a very manoeuvrable vehicle with a turning circle that would beat everything else hands-down.

“Put another way, it combines the collection capacity of much larger vehicle with the speed and agility on an urban round of a much smaller vehicle and a low-entry cab with great visibility. And all at a very competitive price.”

Weighing things up

Of course, many of the latest innovations in RCVs centre on weight, especially as an increasing number of industry experts think that a pay-by-weight scheme for UK households (similar to that already operational in other EU countries) is not far away.

EnviroWeigh from Vehicle Weighing Solutions (VWS) weighs bins via load cells fitted to each bin-lifting mechanism. It can be installed to all makes and models of UK standard wheeled bin lifting hoists, and is said to be accurate to within 0-5%. Moreover, it offers a host of data collection, storage, transfer and manipulation solutions for all IT infrastructures.

Manchester-based Fresh Start Waste Services began installing EnviroWeigh around one year ago.

The system can interface with the latest software, GPS and telemetry technologies, allowing for remote monitoring. In addition, live data can be transmitted via handheld PDA devices for back-office analysis, reporting and invoicing. Any faults, such as missed collections, fraudulent collections or re-routing for urgent collections, can be diagnosed in real time and addressed immediately to improve service delivery.

According to VWS, which has now sold in excess of 300 systems across Europe and the UK, the primary saving is derived from the identification and correct charging of overloaded bins. One London authority estimated a saving of some £200,000 per year from proper charging alone.

Among other recent takers of the system is Refuse Vehicle Solutions (RVS), which has just launched its own vehicle rental service that includes a fleet of trade waste collection vehicles fitted with EnviroWeigh. According to Spencer Law, managing director of RVS, EnviroWeigh was selected “because of its accuracy and reliability”.

Further innovations capturing the attention of fleet managers are those relating to safety. For example, ISS (Innovative Safety Systems) is enjoying success with Cyclear, which is designed to help prevent accidents involving cyclists. Cyclear has three main elements: prevention – a sign of a bicycle with a ‘strike’ across it which illuminates when the left indicator is activated; warning – a speaker to alert cyclists that a vehicle is turning left; and detection – an optional sequencing sensor that alerts the driver when a cyclist is approaching.

Serco is among those impressed, leading the company to install Cyclear in every one of its 117 waste and recycling vehicles that it operates on behalf of five London boroughs.

Following on from Cyclear, the latest innovation from ISS is Rearclear, which is designed to help prevent reversing accidents and collisions, and therefore save lives, by ensuring the proper use of the reversing assistant role.

Nearly a quarter of all deaths involving vehicles at work occur during reversing, with a disproportionate number caused by reversing vehicles in the waste and recycling industry. HSE recommends a minimum of one reversing assistant per crew and that a clear agreed system of signalling should be used.

Rearclear consists of a handheld device carried by the reversing assistant. Here, an ‘all clear’ button has to be pressed before the vehicle is allowed to reverse.

The device can be linked directly to a vehicle’s braking system and, if the button is released when reverse is selected, the brakes are applied automatically.

Greece philosophises about RCVs

Toumbas Special Vehicles Superstructures, a supplier of refuse collection vehicles in Greece and Eastern Europe, has supplied eight of its DT16 series 16m³ rear-loading waste collection vehicles to the municipality of Ampelokipon Menemenis in Thessaloniki Prefecture, writes Tim Byrne.

The purchase was made from a €2.2m EU funding allocation to help the municipality upgrade its existing fleet of waste collection vehicles.

The eight new refuse collection vehicles will be used to collect non-recyclable waste.

The Toumbas DT16 features a superstructure made totally of Hardox 450 steel that is expected to give a longer service life and is seen as being suitable for collecting abrasive materials. The weight saving means that the DT16 can achieve a higher legal payload.

The vehicles are mounted to DAF LF Euro 6, 4x2, two-axle, 20-tonne chassis, which feature a 280hp engine and a day cab complete with a dual passenger seat for the seating of a driver and two operatives. The DAF LF chassis also features an eight-speed manual transmission.


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