For the workers performing the drudgery of picking up and loading trash into the back of a collection truck, semiautomatic loaders and carts provide a much needed freedom from an onerous task. For the owner of the waste collection company, semiautomatic loaders and carts provide a much-needed discretionary power to reallocate the resources proved by the cost savings provided by the systems. For the homeowner or business getting their waste picked up, its means a smaller monthly bill. These reduced costs are due to technological advances that improve waste collection productivity over traditional manual methods.
Loaders, Lifters, and Carts
In addition to the traditional manual collection method where a human worker picks up a waste can and loads its contents into the back of a refuse collection truck, there are three other methods of picking up waste: semiautomatic lifters, automated side-loader arms, and front-loader attachments. Each has advantages for particular situations and applications.
Semiautomated cart lifters, or tippers, are the primary component of any semiautomatic refuse collection system. It is the part that grabs, lifts, tips, empties, and returns the waste cart. However, not every lifter will work on every type and style of cart. A standard 95-gallon cart is typically rated at 350 pounds fully loaded, although certain types can lift twice that weight. But weight doesn’t matter as much as style and configuration. It is the style and shape of the cart that will determine whether it mates will with the forks of the semiautomated lifters. Some standardization exists, such as the need for a 34-inch clearance from ground to lifter saddle.
Cart lifters use two types of lifting mechanism. The first is a hydraulic lift cylinder; the second is a rotary actuator. The first tends to be less expensive, resulting in lower capital costs, while the second tends to be more durable, yielding lower operational costs. Rotary actuators can also achieve higher weight-to-pressure ratios. There are two general types of rotary actuators, the more complicated helical and the simpler dual rack and pinion. Again, it’s a question of less expensive upfront costs for the helical mechanism versus the dual rack-and-pinion design, which is cheaper to operate and repair.
Collection trucks equipped with automated side loaders are typically used for waste bins and carts of moderate size. Operated from the safety and comfort of the driver’s cab, this fully automated system is typically operated with a game-style joystick manipulating mechanical arms that can reach out as far as 9 feet from the truck body. With this system, waste collection can be performed by only one worker/driver instead of a crew of 3 or more.
A variation on the side loader is the grapple truck, which uses a hydraulically operated boom with a clamshell bucket or orange-peel grapple. Used to grab piles of loose debris or large waste objects, the grapple deposits the waste into the back of a truck that is not typically equipped with a compactor. This is because of the irregular shape and oversize dimensions of the waste managed by this vehicle.
For most waste collecting trucks, the front loader is the preferred method of collecting waste from large bins and carts. These large bins and carts tend to store waste generated at commercial enterprises, stores, businesses, restaurants and multifamily housing units, such as apartments and condominiums. Using a fully automated large forklift, the front loader lifts and flips waste containers, emptying their contents into a hopper in the truck’s rear. As the truck approaches a dumpster, it inserts its fork lift arms into metal loops located on either side of the dumpster box. Once secured, the forklift arms lift the box up and over the truck cab, turning it upside down as it goes. Ground spotters are usually required for safety purposes.
Waste collection carts tend to be categorized by size and by function. Multiple sizes (such as 32-gallon or 64-gallon carts for single-family or duplex residences, for example, or 96-gallon carts for multifamily apartments) are available for both residential and commercial use. In addition to standard trash and recycling carts, specialized carts are available for compost, medical, documents, or organic foodwaste. Carts can be metal, plastic, or a combination of the two, with metal reinforcing key joins and angles of a plastic cart body.
Suppliers of Vehicle Loaders
Wayne Engineering USA produces the Curbtender, a high-performance automated side loader with programmable container handling. It comes with Quik-Grip programmable gripper positioning and such features as a proportional hydraulic valve, proportional joystick control, coordinated auto-dumping, and an auto-shake function. This last feature may not sound important, but to the driver/operator of a waste collection truck it provides significant ease of use. With a reach of 7 feet, the system’s lift arm has a 2,000-pound loading capacity utilizing a 6-inch to 8-inch, 50,000-psi telescopic boom.
The company’s family of side loader vehicles includes the AutoCat, a midcompaction, midsize automated side loader designed for select applications. Equipped with simultaneous load and pack operation, it has a 22-second loading cycle and can compact waste to a density of 800 pounds per cubic yard. Somewhat smaller is the TomCat, a midrange compaction side loader with satellite flexibility. Standard TomCats feature a single-piece AR 400 steel floor with a rounded tailgate configuration that maximizes load capacity. The satellite models provide operational flexibility with their flat tailgates and tip-up bodies that allow for clean ejection of a compacted waste load into a larger rear loader. Using this technique, the TomCat can be used to collect waste from remote sites, transferring it to larger waste haulers and avoiding the costly need to travel back to the landfill with only minimal loads. The company’s Pup model is a small jewel of a waste truck that can maneuver in restricted public areas, accessing refuse and recyclables larger trucks could not get to. Its small size makes the Pup suitable for waste collection from such specialized sites as parks, beaches, resorts, campuses, zoos, and mobile home courts.
The McNeilus Co. manufactures the AutoReach automated side loader equipped with a grabber arm that can grasp all types of waste cans. It is the only side loader that can reach side to side as well as in and out. This provides much needed operational flexibility and ease of use. A waste truck no longer has to lurch forward or backward a few feet to avoid an obstacle. Able to swing through an 8-foot arc, the arm can be easily maneuvered around anything blocking its access to the waste can.
The company’s ZR-Series automated side loader operates with zero-radius motion. This eliminates the potential for unsafe arm kick-out. Its simple design also reduces maintenance costs while increasing productivity. Overall, it has the effect of allowing for efficient operation, even in such confined areas as narrow alleyways and cul-de-sacs. Its smooth operating movements improve the ease of use while minimizing stress on the chassis and reducing noise and vibration. A recent improvement to this system is an optional 12-foot extended reach arm with equal performance characteristics.
The big news out of the Environmental Solutions Group and its Heil Environmental Co. is its acquisition of the Curotto-Can Co. Curotto-Can developed the automated carry can. This can mounts to the forks of a conventional front loader. Once installed, it converts the loader into an automated front loader. With this addition, a commercial refuse truck can also be used for residential waste collection. Though Heil initially delivered its standard waste trucks with the Curotto-Can system as an add-on, the Curotto-Can system is now being integrated fully into the truck body, optimizing the trucks configuration, weight, and balance.
According to John Curotto, “We have been working with Heil for the past two years to integrate our automated carry can into their Heil Half/Pack and Half/Pack Freedom front-loader designs. This close collaboration has resulted in the development of a completely integrated system that represents the next generation of automated collection. We could not be more excited about being part of Environmental Solutions Group and about what this means for haulers who need to address an increasing number of collection and financial challenges. Now they can use one seamlessly integrated unit to handle both commercial and residential routes more efficiently than ever before. Working with ESG will enable us to make product innovations happen at a much faster pace and with a greater positive impact on our customers’ bottom line.” (ESG Newsletter, May 17, 2013)
The Curotto-Can has three main advantages over similar systems: The arm is forward of the steer axle making it easier to maneuver and control; it uses the front loader platform, allowing greater load capacity; and it has a low lift-over height, requiring less power and improving operational safety. The forward arm acts like a boom, allowing the vehicle more efficiently to maneuver around such obstacles as building corners and parked cars. This eliminates the need for time-consuming, repetitive vehicle movements. A typical automatic side loader has an average capacity of only 30 cubic yards. However, waste trucks equipped with the Curotto-Can system use a large, 12-cubic-yard hopper plus up to 31 cubic yards of capacity in the truck body. Increased load capacity results in increased route capacity, allowing for more stops at more locations at lower operational cost. With its two-part storage capacity, the system does not need to combine a manual rear loader with the main hauling truck. The ergonomic advantages of the Curotto-Can systems are as impressive as their technical advances. As it improves productivity and hourly costs, it provides safer operations. This results from the ability of the driver to operate the system from the comfort of the cab while focusing attention forward, reducing operator strain and minimizing accidents.
In addition to acquiring the Curotto-Can system, Heil offers a solid line of front-end loaders. Delivering a lot in a small package, the company’s Half/Pack Freedom front loader can carry more than 11 tons in its 28-cubic-yard body, but weighs only 15,000 pounds. It comes with a 12-cubic-yard hopper mounted on an arm with a lifting capacity of 8,000 pounds. These characteristics make it suitable for operations in areas with stringent weight restrictions. The company’s Autocar Xpeditor comes with a lightweight chassis designed to achieve a high strength-to-weight ratio and efficient chassis-to-body integration. The company’s Slammin’ Eagle features a smaller lifting arc for less cart damage and a low load height. Its improved visibility allows drivers to spot contaminants before they reach the hopper.
E-Z Pack provides a wide range of front loaders and side loaders (Hercules), as well as traditional rear loaders (Goliath and Apollo). E-Z Pack’s Hercules commercial front loader is recognized for its ease of operation, productivity, and long-term service. Like all E-Z Pack bodies, the Hercules front loader features a unique powder-coat paint finish that is superior to wet paint finishes for coverage and durability. The Gladiator pack-eject cylinder utilizes advanced scraper technology that is less aggressive than other scraper cylinders, for longer service life. Hercules innovations include Smart Steel construction, which reduces weight and maximizes payload potential, and intelligent hydraulic routing for easier service.
The Hercules Automated Side Loader (ASL) was the first high-compaction ASL in the industry when it was introduced a few years ago, rated at 1,000 pounds per cubic yard. Keeping with the E-Z Pack philosophy for simplicity, the Hercules ASL uses no onboard computers, incorporates a proven and reliable body design with the Hercules platform, and offers the added advantage of commonality in components with other E-Z Pack Hercules bodies (front loaders) already in the field. It features a generous 6-cubic-yard hopper, an 8-foot arm reach, and is compatible with a variety of containers up to 400 gallons.
The Hercules ASL as well as the Hercules front loader are both available with E-Z Pack’s patent-pending CNG Tailgate Technology, with CNG fuel cells mounted inside the tailgate instead of the roof-top tanks commonly used by other manufacturers. E-Z Pack’s unique CNG configuration eliminates problems from overhead obstructions such as limbs and electrical wires, improves weight distribution in front loaders, and can provide CNG fuel equivalent to 90 gallons of diesel.
One of the oldest continually operating truck companies in the world, Autocar LLC produces LCF Class 8 trucks for waste hauling. For the company’s Xpeditor, its front-end loader is engineered with a stronger and lighter front end with the front axle positioned farther forward in order to allow the installation of heavier engines and larger payloads.
Suppliers of Carts and Lifters
Toter is a leading manufacturer of two-wheeled carts specially designed for curbside automated waste collection, including the pickup of organics and recyclables. In fact, Toter introduced the concept of automated curbside collection more than a half century ago. Its carts are manufactured from advanced rotational molding, a patented stress-free plastic molding technology. This technique results in all of the superior physical characteristics of conventional rotational molding and enhances its aesthetic structural qualities as well. In conventional rotational molding, powdered resin is placed in a hollow mold and rotated while inserted in an oven until the resin completely melts, flowing and filling the shape of the mold. This results in a seamless, one-piece unit with strength characteristics superior to a similar object created by injection molding. Toter uses linear medium-density polyethylene (which is better than high-density polyethylene, which can be stiff, rigid, and brittle) to create items ranging from less than one pound to several hundred pounds. Their superior strength and durability is manifested by a long service lifetime, typically more than 20 years (more than twice that of injection molded carts). This increases inherent safety while decreasing warranty claims. Toter containers come in various of sizes and can be configured for specific applications (wheeled, stationary, document management, medical waste, etc.).
A 40-year-old company, Perkins Manufacturing Co. is an independent manufacturing company that makes lifters/tippers for the waste industry and other markets. It sells over 40 different lifters/tippers and products, both domestically and internationally. Leading the product line is the Rotary Tuckaway lifter, which is designed for rear-loader refuse collectors. Perkins offers lifters/tippers for rear-, side-, and front-loading trucks. Perkins offers a three-year warranty with quality backed by an ISO 9001 Certification. Perkins will also design and build custom lifters/tippers for any application such as hospitals, restaurants, or retail stores.
The company’s extensive product line includes The PAS (Perkins Automated Side-loader). It can be used anywhere but is especially useful in confined spaces like alleyways. It offers a 10-second cycle time, a reach of 55 inches, and a lifting capacity of 400 pounds. It can be retrofitted into existing manual side loaders. The PAC (Perkins Automated Container) is an automated lifter that can convert a standard commercial front-loader into a fully automated residential vehicle. It also quickly disconnects, which allows for speedy mounting/dismounting of the carry can. The Perkins Satellite Lifter System can be installed in any standard 8-foot pickup truck to create a vehicle that can collect trash or foodwaste, allowing waste pickup in areas where full-size refuse trucks cannot go. It is available in 3 or 6 yard capacities, full or 70/30, and easily dumps into a standard rear loader.
Perkins also provides assorted cane lifters, which can be mounted to side loaders, rolloff containers, or dockside stands. With tough constructions, long operational life and simple operation, these lifters come in a variety of lengths available with American hooks, European combs, or arms. The company’s Advance Tuckaway Lifter is an updated version with special features, including the powerful 27K helical actuator. The related Tuckaway Tipper Bar lifter offers many of the same features but is completely greaseless for less maintenance, dumps deeper into the hopper, and has lower mounting heights.
Otto Environmental Systems North America Inc. manufactures hybrid plastic steel containers that maximize strength while reducing weight. The steel reinforcement is strategically placed to support the container. This provides both durability and low maintenance. Furthermore, the steel reinforcement is protected by an electrophoretic coating (electro-coating) to maximize container life in corrosive environments. Its design includes angled front fork pockets that reduce damage during emptying. The company’s Triumph model is a 2-cubic-yard-capacity container suitable for multiple uses. Because of its design, it weighs one-third less than metal containers of the same size.
Diamondback Products are so efficient that the company has dubbed its line of lifters “The 3rd Man.” Like an extra crewman, The 3rd Man provides lifting tasks for side-loading and rear-loading refuse trucks alike. The company’s Model 450 side-loading cart lifter has a lift capacity of 400 pounds and is compatible with standard 65-95 gallon domestic style two bar carts. With an adjustable driver and guide arm, the 450 has as steep 50-degree dump angle to decrease the time required for emptying. The company’s Model 500 rear-loading cart lifter has a spring-loaded lower bar latching system to ensure aboveground release of the cart, keeping complete control of the cart throughout the full 6- to 8-second dump cycle. This tipper provides a 45-degree dump angle that speeds the emptying of the cart contents, increasing operator productivity.
Bayne Machine Works Inc. specializes in the design, manufacturing, and assembly of hydraulic cart lifters. Its cart lifting capabilities provide a great opportunity to reduce trash handling cycle times while reducing workplace injuries. The company’s products are divided into two categories: mobile refuse products and commercial products/industrial products. Its Thinline lift with rack-and-pinion actuator is the Bayne’s lead mobile refuse product. In the area of commercial products/industrial products, Bayne’s best series of commercial lifters and industrial lifters offers a complete line of waste lifting products designed for use in factories, hospitals, shopping centers, food processing plants, post offices, universities, and many other material handling applications.
Nobody ever really gets true carte blanche in that they get to do whatever they please. But in the waste collection industry, having as many options as possible yields benefits in operational flexibility, productivity, and cost effectiveness. Recent advances in loader operations and cart designs have yielded a bonanza of improved productivity, reduced costs, and operational flexibility.