Remove Landfill Air Space With Wheels and Teeth

New design features in compactors help get the air out.

Credit: BOMAG

Location is Everything
In Montezuma County, located in the southwest corner of Colorado, the local county landfill is well positioned for business in this area that is suitably named, “Four Corners.” Along with the Colorado trash, customers bring in solid waste from three adjacent states of Utah, New Mexico, and Arizona, making the daily average of incoming waste about 100 tons.

However, since opening more than 20 years ago as a baling facility and given this repository for waste serves such a wide area, the Montezuma County Landfill managers and city officials determined that some new approaches in compaction, recycling, and waste diversion were needed to maximize its use.

Facility manager Shak Powers says they planned to move away from baling and switch over to compacting the wastestream with a landfill compactor. “The commissioners set an ultimate goal of a 30% diversion rate for recyclable materials,” says Powers, citing that the new plan now includes recycling cardboard, metal, mixed paper, and #1 and #2 plastics. While the landfill is completely enterprise-funded, Powers states that the money still belongs to the County, and the landfill works to be good stewards of it.

Operating on a 56-acre site with an anticipated 40-year lifespan, landfill officials nonetheless wanted to make sure they chose the right compactor to maximize space, and they began a thorough search for just the right equipment to meet their needs. After looking at various brands, sizes, and types in the market, they were impressed with the capabilities of the BOMAG landfill compactor from the Power Equipment Company, a distributor of the brand in Grand Junction, CO.

Power Equipment spokesperson Keith Hensel says, “We conducted a site visit to the Montezuma County landfill and performed a thorough analysis of the wastestream and tonnage taken in to then recommend the best compactor for this site.”

And the best compactor for them turned out to be the BOMAG BC 473 RB-4, weighing in at 57,000 pounds, but with attributes the landfill managers found particularly compelling for their compaction purposes.

Powers points out that the unique BOMAG wheel design “has twice as many teeth as the wheels on other landfill compactors we reviewed and the machine’s wheels are offset front to rear, like the sights on a rifle.”

With an overall width larger than the space between the wheels, the compactor has full-width coverage on a single up-and-back pass. Its distinctive wedge-shaped tooth on the wheel is designed to make short work of just about any waste material so waste is both shredded and compacted, and this dual process offers increased density, as Powers explains.

“Think of a crumpled piece of paper: yes it can be compressed, but, if it is shredded and crumpled up you will have a denser wad of paper, which is just what happens out on the landfill site—shredding and compacting.”

To further maximize efficiency, Hensel adds that a unique scraper bar design serves a dual purpose. “They clean the wheel rows in between the teeth and keep larger debris from being flipped up by the wheel and hitting the upper parts of the machine, including the operator’s cabin.”

One particular nuisance to operators—the problem of wire from fences and mattresses getting tangled up in the drive of dozers who were burying loose fill—is now solved as well.

“Before we switched to compacting, our operators had to reach inside the dozer tracks to remove this wire and we lost an hour a day with this problem. So, not only lost time, but certainly poses a safety risk. The wire cutters that are positioned between the BOMAG compactor frame and inside of the wheel virtually eliminate this headache.”

Now the municipal waste trucks, local business trailers, and residents dump their refuse directly into the cell that is being filled where first a dozer pushes it into the wastestream, and the BC 473 RB-4 gets to work in compacting. The tooth design crushes and kneads the material, and “this avoids bridging of materials which lead to air voids and ultimately lowers density,” says Powers.

Finally, the BOMAG cooling air intake is yet another plus to the operation. “The intake is at the top of the machine where the cool, clean air is located rather than at the side of the machine where the dirty, nasty air is,” says Powers. Combined with an auto-reversing fan, the compactor runs cooler and avoids overheating, even during the hot summer months.

Altogether, the BOMAG has delivered on its expectations and the County Landfill reports an overall increase in compaction density that Powers affirms is a success. “Getting 44% higher compaction with the BOMAG machine compared to baling has added 5.4 years to the life of our landfill.”

Credit: Caterpillar
Compacting with a Caterpillar dozer

Making Mountains into Molehills
Caterpillar Equipment has come a long way since 1910, when Benjamin Holt of Holt Manufacturing replaced the wheels of his steam tractors with wooden tracks bolted to chains. These worked so well, an observer noted: “The machine crawled along like a caterpillar.” And the name stuck. Ever since then, the distinctive yellow machines have played a notable role in American industrial expansion, helping to build the Golden Gate Bridge and the Grand Coulee Dam and supporting military efforts. Today, Caterpillar equipment helps to keep the environment clean and is a staple of landfill operations here and abroad.

Compacting trash to maximize the efficiency of every precious square inch of space, so there is literally none left, is a big order in any landfill. Space is the last thing operators want, so keeping the machine moving is their goal.

Waste products and applications specialist Mark Welch offers the highlights of Caterpillar compacting, citing, “With Cat waste equipment and expertise, you’re always job-ready.”

“Our machines are purpose-built for trash compaction and ideal for the challenges at landfills and transfer stations.

“Plus, our soil compactors play an important role in standard contracting in road building, general construction, and site development,” he says.

While the company has been providing customers reliable landfill compaction equipment for more than 45 years the latest K model series delivers even more, Welch says. The three K model machines include the 816K at 56,900 pounds with 284 horsepower, the 826K at 90,207 pounds and 435 hp, and our “biggest model weighing in at 123,319 pounds with 526 horsepower to handle the most demanding and toughest jobs.”

He adds that the focal point attributes of these models that make them the go-to choice for landfill compaction are the “purpose-designed tips and wheel layouts.”

“These have two benefits that operators appreciate: traction and performance. Our tip and wheel design keep the machine moving across the trash effectively without slippage and this is crucial to getting the compaction you need. We say that performance is a function of both weight and how well the machine is designed for the job. Our wheels are self-cleaning and the weight delivers the crushing power needed to maximize productivity out on the job.”

While compacting on the landfill site is essential, managing trash even before it gets there is another critical task that demands efficient waste handling. The country’s largest waste-by-rail firm, Tunnel Hill Partners of New York, is a dedicated Caterpillar customer. Tunnell Hill is known as the largest integrated waste-by-rail company in the US, whose stated mission is “to improve our community and environment through safe and reliable waste services.”

Founding partner Joseph Rutigliano says his fleet of several hundred machines is almost exclusively comprised of Cat equipment.

Safe and efficient handling of millions of tons of non-hazardous waste throughout the northeast US is not something you can leave to chance and Rutigliano says, “We buy the whole product Caterpillar line. This includes landfill compactors, articulated and rigid-frame trucks, full-size and mini-excavators, plus skid-steer, track, and wheel loaders.”

His loyalty to Caterpillar is not only “because they offer the best equipment, but also provide customer support from the landfill face to the transfer station floor. If and when you need a part or assistance they’re ready to help and fast,” says Rutigliano.

He adds that they operate their new Cat wheel loaders for “around 60 hours a week—sometimes more—and with proper maintenance, we get 10,000 to 15,000 hours of rigorous work use out of each machine.”

Two of the newest models on the job are the 950M and 966M wheel loaders, which Rutigliano says are sized right for loading and unloading at landfills, transfer stations, and recycling centers.

“The 950M is a great indoor machine with a smaller footprint that works really well in tighter quarters,” he says. “The 966M is the perfect combination of machine size and turning capability. It does the work of a 972, but it’s more compact and fuel efficient.”

Technology to Promote Efficiency
By leveraging their latest innovations, the Caterpillar company has created machinery with technology that not so long ago would have been considered in the realm of science fiction. Citing that each customer job site generates a tremendous amount of data, they can securely collect and then analyze that information “which can bring value to any operation,” offers Welch. For waste management, the Product Link/Vision Link component can be “integrated into machines and this gives timely information,” explains Welch.

“Through the online VisionLink user interface, we help customers manage their fleet in multiple capacities, such as machine location, the number of operating hours, the fuel usage, how much time the unit is idle, and any event codes they experience.”

“We also have our COMPACT Technologies as another asset. What this does is combine advancement compaction measurement and the in-cab guidance with our reporting capabilities. Together, these help you consistently meet compacting targets quickly, in a uniform fashion, and using fewer passes. The big benefit? Your increase in efficiency helps save on fuel and saves having to rework an area,” affirms Welch.

By linking wirelessly to equipment with the Cat LINK technologies, owners can see at a glance how a particular machine is performing as well as evaluate overall fleet performance.

“This helps to guide management decisions in areas where productivity can be improved—you can’t argue with the facts recorded, so it is a valuable tool to make the most of every operator hour on the job.”

Of equal importance to the line of attributes is Cat attention to safety, Welch adds.

“Operators who work in these landfill environments are always subject to risk, but our machines all have railings, ladders, and non-slip surfaces that enhance the technician and operator safety. The rearview cameras with an in-cab monitor increase their awareness of what’s going on around the machine, and all our cab mounted LED warning strobes add to safety.

“Finally, we’ve increased the comfort and safety of operators inside the cabs by pressurizing and filtering the air. This is always important, but at waste management and landfill sites it’s essential to keep out harmful contaminated air and dust particles,” says Welch.

Keeping the interior sound at low levels and providing heated and ventilated seats all contributes to a comfortable working atmosphere which he adds can “keep the operator’s attention on the job at hand, and not distracted by noise and physical discomfort.

“And when you’re not distracted, there’s less chance of an accident happening,” remarks Welch.

Pinning on Performance
The Caron Compactor company of Escalon, CA, has been in the solid waste disposal industry for 50 years, but in 1983 the introduction of their pin-on wheels revolutionized this market. And since that time, the Caron engineers have continued the legacy of innovation to develop teeth that meet specific size and applications in the compaction market, as well an enhanced waste management equipment line.

Today, Caron offers their Semi-U and Semi-U Trashblades, Caron Transfer Station Wheel, a unique axle and final drive guarding, seal protection, and their workhouse Caron Transfer Station Wheels with their reversed wheel pattern—front to rear—are suitable for both landfill and transfer station applications.

The company asserts that these innovations—which are marketed internationally for use on a full range of compactors—address the environmental concerns that all landfill operations face today with their machinery that increases efficiency and performance. Caron Compactor solid waste equipment products are available through direct sales, equipment dealers, and company representatives located globally.

With the pin-on teeth recently developed for the Caterpillar landfill compactors, machines can withstand the most abrasive conditions, and the unique configuration increases compaction efficiency on the Cat 836K, 826K, and 816 landfill compactors.

The Cat 836, for example, can be fitted with the Double-Semi U Trashblade (DSU) with Caron Wheels that are manufactured with the 8-inch Dura Mega teeth that work the Cat cleaner bar application. Other applications include Caron’s 7-inch Super Duty Pin-on II (SDP II) and the 7-inch Duramega (DM).

The company reports that one of their latest innovations for the 836K Cat market is the 8.5-inch double crown tooth. This component used on the compaction wheel is manufactured with the top surface of the tooth having distinctive stepped indentations. This design will add increased demolition quality and wear life in very abrasive conditions; moreover, this new patented design includes their “shed edge technology.” The side edge of the double crown tooth has what looks like an upside-down protruding half-pyramid wedge shape. It is this shape that comes into contact with debris, repels it off the tooth, and prevents the buildup, keeping wheels clean in wet conditions and promoting debris shedding. The result is that the tooth reduces material buildup and maintains high-quality crushing capacity.

Each of the Caron pin-on teeth is made of high alloy metals, and some have brackets that attach to the wheels. Then, the tooth itself is mounted on the center of the bracket and secured with a patented pin system. Caron says that their wheels come in various sizes and models with a choice of teeth shapes for each compactor wheel model, which are also available in different tooth patterns that can adapt to site-specific considerations. Customers can choose from the conventional or an alternating tooth pattern (ATP) on their wheel and select from the Wire Guard line which has an intermittent and continuous wire safeguard configuration.

For those who need convincing, the Caron tooth analysis research compares demolition capability and superior performance. In a head-to-head comparison of the Caron 8.5-inch Tall Double Crown Pin-On versus the Cat 7.0 Combination Tip, the Caron clearly delivers. Their 836K Wide Wheel has five rows of teeth, 10 per wheel, versus the Cat Combo Tip 836K standard wheel with eight teeth per row. And Caron’s smaller drum circumference of 17,590 feet versus Cat’s 18,242 feet means the wheels are contacting the surface with more teeth per revolution.

But the biggest difference is in the measurement of performance in quantitative Tooth Penetration per hour and when measured in a 10-hour day.

In the same comparison, Caron’s 836 Wide Wheel delivers 178,600 penetrations per hour compared to 138,880 of the Cat. giving Caron a substantial edge. In a ten hour day, the Caron penetration reports an increase of almost 29% or nearly 400,000 more penetrations per day compared to the Cat’s 1,152,00 per day.

Finally, to round out their commitment to total solid waste performance are the Caron Transfer Station Wheels. Manufactured with a reverse pattern, in other words, the front wheel has a series of V tracks made of six replaceable cleats on each V, facing forward; the rear wheel has the V-cleats track facing backward.

These Transfer Station Wheels get to work maximizing volume reduction at either onsite demolition or at the transfer stations. This helps operators compact debris more efficiently, which then assists in companies meeting the legal load limits of their trucks and railcars that haul to disposal sites. Finally, the configuration of the cleats is less harmful to the concrete surfaces of transfer stations and reduces the chance of costly repairs from wheel damage.

All the diverse Caron attributes add up to what landfill operators want to see most—more compaction, better compaction and demolition, and what machine operators need: safe, clean, efficient performance with less downtime from equipment damage to seals, wheels, and axles. MSW_bug_web

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