Shaping Up Collection
Collection and transfer vehicles must stand up to harsh climates and rough use. Keeping them safe and efficient requires the correct choice of tires, suspension, and brakes.
Fontaine Modification Co., Fyda Freightliner, and GSP Marketing Inc. have formed a partnership that has resulted in the MP8000/M2-106 Dual Stand-UP Drive Combo multipurpose collection truck.
The truck combines three, proven collection technologies:
- The Freightliner M2-106 conventional cab chassis from Fyda Freightliner
- The G-S Products semi-automated dual sideloader body from GSP Marketing
- Fontaine Modification’s dual low-entry, stand-up drive cab
The vehicle has been designed to allow two operators to collect and load material from both sides of the route. The Combo’s dual stand-up cab offers low entry access on both sides. The cab can be equipped with dual steering. The MP8000 body has 1.50-cubic-yard receiving hoppers on both sides, enabling the operators to independently load and dump carts, loose trash, compost, bagged trash, or single-stream recycling material.
“The new MP8000/M2-106 Dual Stand-UP Drive Combo lets customers currently running three-man crews on rear loaders shift to two-person crews, for a significant savings in labor costs,” explains Will Trantham, president of Fontaine Modification. “It’s also safer for the workers. Instead of one driver in the cab and two helpers hanging on the outside of the vehicle, both operators of the Combo ride in the climate-controlled comfort and protection of the cab.”
“This is a great product for efficiently collecting routes with constraints, such as cities with on-street parking, dead ends, alleys or tight cul-de-sacs,” says Gerry Martin, president of GSP Marketing, manufacturer of G-S Products. “It’s also designed to be convenient and productive for the operators. For example, the loading point is very close to the cab to minimize the amount of walking needed.”
Customer demand for this type of product has been growing during the economic downturn, says Tim Hooker, director of business development for Fyda Freightliner. Once the three companies decided to develop the vehicle to meet this demand, they moved quickly. Fontaine’s Innovation Team designed and completed the necessary chassis modifications on the first vehicle within weeks.
“Going from concept to finished product took Fontaine Modification just 45 days,” Hooker says. “In my 30 years in the transportation industry, I’ve never seen something go from ‘doesn’t exist’ to finished product in 45 days. They got really innovative to make this happen. That’s the kind of guys they are, and that’s why I like doing business with Fontaine.”
The truck is available with capacities ranging from 13 cubic yards to 37 cubic yards in single or tandem axle configurations.
Not all Class 8 garbage trucks are the same, whether judged by body style or productivity. Fontaine Modification Co. developed the MP8000/M2-106 for more efficient and economical trash collection, allowing operators to enter and exit quickly from either side for faster collection of material from both sides of the route. “It lets customers running three-man crews on rear loaders shift to two-person crews, for a significant savings in labor costs,” explains Will Trantham, president.
Established in Charlotte, NC, 30 years ago, Fontaine is North America’s most comprehensive provider of truck modification services for OEMs, dealers, and fleets. Trantham describes the company as a leader in dual-driving conversions: stand-up, sit-down dual-drive.
The curbside driving position is safer because no one has to cross traffic, says Dan Jaynes, vice president of new product development. It’s also quicker. In trucks equipped with dual steering, Fontaine adds a second brake pedal so the brakes work on both sides. “The brake is optimal on either side; the pedal on either side activates it.”
He explains that Fontaine is not altering the braking system. “We’re just complementing it. Whatever type of brakes it comes with from the OEM—disc or drum in the front, drum in the rear—is not changed. We just do body modifications.”
A conventional cab was chosen because it’s more economical than both the low-cab-forward and drop-frame configurations, Jaynes indicates. It also provides good fuel economy because it’s lighter and more maneuverable, which makes it efficient on routes with constraints, such as cities with on-street parking, dead ends, alleys, or tight cul-de-sacs.
The MP8000 body has 1.5-cubic-yard receiving hoppers on both sides, enabling the operators to load and dump carts, loose trash, compost, bagged trash or single-stream recycling. It’s available with capacities ranging from 13 cubic yards to 37 cubic yards in single or tandem axle configurations.
Municipalities aren’t spending a lot of money during the economic downturn, Jaynes believes, but he says the MP8000/M2-106 is attracting interest, despite the economy. “Customer demand for this type of product has been growing.”
Brakes, Suspensions, and Tires
A safety device that adds an element of convenience for the operator, Mico Inc.’s 691 brake lock system saves the driver from having to apply the parking brake by locking hydraulic pressure in the service brakes to supplement the vehicle’s mechanical parking brake for additional “holding.” Some models lock only the rear wheels, others lock all the wheels.
Braking is a manual process. To apply the brakes, the driver must lock up the service brake at each stop. “It’s tiring for drivers,” states Tim Anderson, regional sales manager for Mico Inc. But a push of a button of the 691 is all it takes, reducing fatigue.
Typically used by wreckers or trucks with aerial buckets, it can also be advantageous in some waste collection applications, according to Anderson, although he specifies that it works only with hydraulic brakes. “Most collection vehicles use air brakes, but some of the smaller trucks still use hydraulic brakes.”
The pressure-producing device can be installed by the same company that installs the body on the chassis. Maintenance is minimal and consists of routinely checking fluid levels. “It’s been tested to one million cycles,” Anderson notes.
Another product yielding efficiency and savings has yet to see the customer demand Fontaine’s dual stand-up drive is experiencing. Nevertheless, the RunWise advanced series hydraulic hybrid drive from Parker Hannifin Corp. “will change the industry,” predicts Doug Yglesias, technical services development manager of the Hybrid Drive Systems Division for Parker Hannifin Corp. Parker Hannifin, a global leader in motion and control technologies, partnered with Autocar, a leading manufacturer of commercial vehicles and class 8 trucks, to offer a factory option hydraulic hybrid instead of the standard Allison transmission.
Currently there are 11 preproduction units in Miami, FL, that Yglesias reports are working well. Testing in South Florida demonstrated that the new Autocar E3 refuse vehicles dramatically increase fuel savings and lower emissions and noise, even as they improve drivability and performance.
An “extremely robust” series of hydrostatic pumps/motors use the hydraulic oil pressure to compress nitrogen gas in a high-pressure accumulator under braking, Yglesias explains. Instead of being dissipated as heat, the kinetic energy is stored and used to accelerate the truck. “It drives the truck at low speeds up to 40 mph.”
A month of testing by the Miami-Dade County Solid Waste Department revealed a 42% reduction in fuel consumption, the equivalent of nearly double the miles per gallon. Danny Diaz, division director fleet management there, recorded a 40% to 45% reduction in fuel usage. Depending on route density, a truck with the RunWise system can burn up to 50% less fuel, Yglesias estimates. That results in 50% less emissions. “It’s an incredible savings.”
On an annual basis, this “green” technology reduces each truck’s carbon footprint by more than 38 tons along routes with frequent stops. However, because the reduction in emissions is based on fuel usage, it’s important that the drivers adjust to a new driving style. Diaz reported an increase from 3 miles per hour in a conventional truck to 6 miles per hour in the hybrid truck once the drivers adapted to the hybrid system.
In addition, the technology extends brake life for each truck by up to eight times, depending on the duty cycle, resulting in dramatically reduced maintenance costs. In the year since acquiring the Autocar E3 refuse vehicles, Miami-Dade County has not performed any brake changes. Ancillary benefits include better drivability, a quieter ride and smoother acceleration, which drivers like, Yglesias says. Proprietary software allows for seamless shifting.
Customer feedback indicates that the series hydraulic hybrid is efficient, providing fuel savings of 30% to 50%, extended brake life and productivity gains of 5% to 10%, despite a service net weight gain of 2,500 pounds. The payback period is four to five years without incentives, depending on route density, estimates Tom DeCoster, business development manager for RunWise. “Drivers typically get through their routes faster and more efficiently,” he indicates. There is no weight penalty. Because it has a larger body, it holds more. “In practice, at the end of the day, drivers are not making more landfill-transfer runs and still complete routes quicker.”
So far, it has proved reliable, with Diaz reporting 95% uptime. However, Yglesias says Parker-Hannifin has its work cut out for them to educate the public about the features and benefits of new technology in order to gain industry acceptance.
A State of Suspension
If customers are resisting new developments in transmissions, they seem to be embracing advances in suspension. “There’s a lot of interest in air suspension,” notes Ashley Dudding, director of engineering for Hendrickson Truck Commercial Vehicle Systems, based in Woodridge, IL. “There’s a continual migration from mechanical suspension to rubber and air. We are investing in the development of these product lines.”
Hendrickson, a multinational corporation with a strong presence in the waste industry, has conducted extensive research and field-testing. Dudding explains that there are three approaches to suspensions: a mechanical, or leaf spring suspension, with a constant spring rate performs best; rubber, which is lighter than steel, durable, reliable and features a nonlinear, variable spring rate that is stiffer under load but provides a good ride when empty; and air suspension, which incorporates an air spring to support the vertical load. It provides a very soft ride quality, but has traditionally been for on-highway use only; it was never heavy-duty enough for the refuse industry.
Based on the research, according to Dudding, the best product for severe duty cycles traditionally has been a rubber suspension. “Weight saving is critical. You have to consider weight restrictions and bridge laws.” Rubber is the lightest suspension currently available, an important aspect when considering payload or when weight savings is crucial. A competitive mechanical suspension can be 500 pounds heavier.
Another benefit of rubber suspensions is roll stability. “A vehicle needs to handle well,” Dudding states. “You need good control on curves under braking and you don’t want sway in rough off-road terrain.” In addition to those requirements, operators expect reliability and up time. They want durability. “It must last 10 years, even though it’s used hard daily—under load, on bad roads, in dirty conditions in a very severe duty cycle.”
To deliver the performance demanded, Hendrickson developed Primaax Ex with the refuse industry in mind. Featuring similar characteristics to rubber suspension, it provides durability and roll stability and is lightweight, although slightly heavier than rubber. The difference is, it’s an air suspension. The premium heavy-duty rear air suspension features a robust structural design for improved handling and ride. It also reduces suspension-induced driveline vibration.
“Peterbilt is now installing Primaax Ex on their 320 low cab forward model, joining truck manufacturers Mack and Autocar,” Dudding says. Noting that several major companies in the industry, such as Waste Management, are using Primaax Ex, he adds, “More and more operators are interested in air suspensions—even for concrete mixers.”
One of the attractions is the rapid payback. However, according to Carmen Cardillo, marketing manager for Hendrickson’s Truck Commercial Vehicle Systems, it’s difficult to estimate return on investment because it varies depending on truck manufacturer, application, duty cycle, acquisition cost, and other factors. “The life cycle costs savings … would have to be calculated on a case-by-case basis.”
Nevertheless, research based on a seven-year life cycle indicates that the Haulmaax and Primaax Ex can reduce suspension maintenance costs between 35% and 60%, compared with 6-Rod and Trunion-type spring suspensions. “In addition to the reduced maintenance on the suspension, rubber and air suspensions also provide additional protection to the chassis and equipment, thus reducing vibration-related damage and further reducing overall maintenance costs and downtime,” Cardillo concludes.
Durability and life cycle cost, along with reduced maintenance and subsequent increased uptime are reasons why Ridewell Corp.’s Series 202 Dynalastic heavy-duty, tandem-drive mechanical suspension with rubber springs is standard on all refuse trucks in New York City for the past 10 years, according to Rick Rickman, vice president of sales with Ridewell. He says the New York crews like it because they have a lack of space to work on their fleet. Low-maintenance bushings reduce downtime, while independently articulating corners improve traction, ride stability and safety. Used on Mack, Peterbilt, and Crane Carrier vehicles, the 202 Series is known as the most durable suspension on the market.
Newer on the market from Ridewell, and exclusive to Crane Carrier, is the RDS 209 60/40. This suspension provides the capacity of tandem drive axles and the maneuverability of a single axle. “It’s good for routes with a lot of cul de sacs and alleys,” Rickman explains.
Used by the cities of Richmond, VA, and Charlotte, NC, as well as Jody Enterprises on Long Island, the 209 Series is a tandem air-drive/steer suspension. “Only the front axle has drive,” Rickman explains. “The rear tag axle works in tandem.” The integrated, steerable tag eliminates instability and reduced braking caused by some air-regulated systems, he says. Because 60% of the weight is on the drive axle, it provides positive traction and brake power through the full articulation. Weight distribution is automatic: no driver interaction is required or allowed.
Benefits of the tag axle include weight savings of 1,000 pounds, increased tire wear, reduced turning radius and the elimination of tire scrub. “The tires in all positions last three to four times longer,” Rickman divulges. Fuel savings and extended brake life are additional advantages. “It’s all about total operating cost over the lifetime of the vehicle.”
Can’t decide? Rickman says the 202 Series is more robust and requires minimum maintenance, while the 209 series has better operating characteristics.
Where Rubber Meets Road
At $400 to $500 each, tires are one of the top operating costs for a refuse fleet, says Robin Humphreys, project manager at Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems LLC in Elyria, OH. That’s why proper tire management is so important, particularly in an industry that is notoriously brutal on rubber.
Waste vehicles making their rounds in neighborhoods suffer start-and-stop conditions and short-radius turns that scrub tires. “It’s hard on tire wear,” summarizes Phil Zaroor, president and chief executive officer of Advantage in Harrisonville, MO, who says to expect tire life from 5,000 to 40,000 miles—and to expect escalating prices. “Last year we saw three increases in tire costs and there’s another one coming, so it adds up.
“There are a lot of stresses on tires,” Zaroor continues. Not only do the garbage trucks run over an assortment of items that can cause punctures, from broken glass to nails, but the weight of a loaded truck increases the stress on tires.
Heat on the rear tires from braking is another cause of failure. “Tires can get so hot, they ignite,” says Humphreys. “They can do a lot of damage to the vehicle.” The wheel ends get hot under braking, but if the brake sticks, it also generates heat. Driving on under-inflated tires causes them to heat up and delaminate, which explains the profusion of retreads on the side of the road. Blowouts are common, Zaroor says.
“Failure is most often caused by heat or under-inflation,” Humphreys notes. He estimates that 10% of all tires are under-inflated. Tires can lose air from osmosis (1 to 3 psi per month), leaking valve core/stem, nail punctures or damage. “If you’re not running the ultimate pressure, you’re scrubbing tires on a dually. That wears out tires quickly.” Low pressures can break down the casing, preventing the tire from being sold or retread. “If the tire carcass gets too low, it can’t be retread,” he confirms.
The cost of wear and tear on tires isn’t limited to the tread and sidewalls. When a tire delaminates, it can cause damage to the vehicle as it comes off, potentially ruining wheels or severing brake lines. Liability issues arise if the tire damages another vehicle, adding to insurance costs.
Low tire pressures compromise stability, handling and braking. Vehicles are more prone to aquaplane or skid when air pressure is low. Zaroor cites statistics that claim 80,000 accidents a year are due to low tire pressures. If tire damage is severe and unexpected, downtime is another budget-draining manifestation. While waiting for a roadside repair or tow, another truck may be pressed into service to cover the route.
Even if driving on underinflated tires doesn’t conclude in a catastrophic event, it does adversely impact fuel economy. “You definitely get worse fuel mileage with low tires,” Zaroor comments. The challenge, he says, is that “big fleets are on the go; they can’t get to the tires, and you can’t tell if they’re full just by looking.” Even worse, he says, “drivers don’t care about tires.” They’re in a hurry. “Long-haulers picking up waste at a transfer station may travel 400 to 500 miles per day.”
Tire pressure monitoring systems remove the burden from both the driver and the maintenance crew. By constantly overseeing tire inflation, TPMS contributes to the safety and efficiency of a fleet. Proper inflation can extend tire life by as much as 35% and avoid the expense of roadside repairs and down time. Additionally, the Department of Transportation estimates that 5.4 million gallons of fuel per day (more than 2 billion annually) are wasted due to low tire pressure.
Advantage’s system monitors tires constantly, whether moving or parked, providing a visual and audible alert when pressures drop. Using a local area network, the system can download information about tire pressures as the truck enters and leaves a landfill. Telematics can inform the driver or the home office from anywhere in the country, so drivers “don’t even have to look at the tires,” Zaroor says.
The waste industry is a fast-growing market for TPMS. Advantage customers include some of the big names, such as Waste Management, Waste Connections, and MBI, a long-haul fleet. With payback in six months and ongoing savings for years—and considering the price of fuel, tires and labor, not to mention the CSA regulations—Zaroor says it “makes sense to invest.”
Another reason it makes sense to employ TPMS is accuracy. Typical tire pressure gauges provide plus-or-minus 3% readings when they are brand new. As they age and the spring tension changes, the accuracy decreases. Furthermore, the air pressure in truck tires increases about 15% when they are hot, rendering readings inaccurate if taken while the tire is hot. Finally, the human equation must be factored in.
Bendix eliminates several variables, including temperature. An internal sensor checks tire pressure and temperature every 12 seconds, calculating optimal pressure. A unique feature—the critical part, according to Humphreys—is temperature compensation. While every tire has had a monitoring system since 2007, he explains, with a requirement that it gives a warning for 25% under-inflation, it “does nothing with temperature.” Since cold air reduces pressure, an accurate reading must take temperature into account. “External monitors are affected by ambient temperature. Ours provides a deviation value: how much air should be added or subtracted, based on the temperature of the tire. It ensures proper inflation.”
Factory-installed or available as after-market kit with OEM-quality parts, the Bendix TPMS can be used on any make, although they work with Volvo and Navistar as the only system available through an OEM.
Warnings given before catastrophe due to a thermal event give operators the ability to make decisions and react before the crisis of an unscheduled stop. Three warnings are given by the Bendix system: two for tire pressure—the first, a percentage of proper inflation pressure with temperature compensation; the second, a threshold that signals immediate stopping; and one for high temperature. All provide wheel position. “It gives all the information so you know what’s needed to fix the problem, including position,” Humphreys explains. “It saves time because there’s no guesswork.”
Drivers love it, Humphreys says, because it saves them work and because of the safety factor. “There’s something watching the tire every 12 seconds. It interfaces with the road.” Maintenance managers love it too, he claims. With an average return on investment of eight months, he says, “It pays for itself with the first saved tire.” In addition, it saves money through a drop in tire and fuel usage. Some of the biggest users of the Bendix system are fleets that use super single tires—a single-wide tire such as a Michelin X-1 on the back axle—because the cost of a tire and rim is $1,500.
In the future, Humphreys says, Bendix wants to monitor the trailer too. In fact, they’re about to launch a trailer product that will wirelessly transmit to the tractor system. “It has the same alerts and includes wheel position,” he says. The trailer system has convenient drop-and-hook connectivity. “It doesn’t have to be a married pair [of tractor and trailer].”
Of course, tire pressures are meaningless if the wheels don’t stay on. Wheel-Check, based in Toronto, ON, created a loose-wheel-nut indicator for the semi-trailer industry. The company branched out into other markets because, explains Stefni Cox-Walters, vice president of sales, they all have the same problem: loose wheels, due to over-torque or rusted nuts. They’ve been well received in the refuse industry. For the past five to six years, they have been mandatory on Waste Management’s fleet. Allied, Republic and BFI also use them, Cox-Walters reveals.
Vibration causes bolt loosening and fatigue that isn’t visible and isn’t always discovered during a manual check. “The nuts could feel tight,” Cox-Walters explains, “but they might loosen over bumps or under heavy loads.” Potential outcomes of undetected loose wheel nuts are costly…and dire.
Wheel-Check manufactures an indicator that can identify a loose wheel nut with a simple visual inspection. After the wheel nuts are properly torqued to specification, the Wheel-Checks are easily installed on the wheel nuts in a uniform pattern, with no special tool required. If a wheel nut becomes loose, the Wheel-Check will appear out of sequence—easily visible during a walk-around check.
“They’re bright yellow—easy to see, even at night or in bad weather,” notes Cox-Waters. In fact, they have such high visibility, she says the driver can check at every stop with just a quick glance. “Very inexpensive” at $0.65 apiece, they are reusable and should last three to four years. “They’re very easy to use and are a real time saver.”
Air Liquide from Montreal saves 18 minutes of service per vehicle per maintenance stop by using them. Decreasing downtime and eliminating unnecessary retorquing has paid for them within 2.5 maintenance stops. With the cost of maintenance rising to as much as 40% of the cost of doing business, they can save a fleet a significant amount.
In addition to saving money, they can save lives—and prevent property and vehicle damage—by reducing the risk of wheel detachment accidents and by identifying a hot wheel that could indicate bearing failure or brake drag. “They melt at 250 degrees,” Cox-Waters explains.
Brakes aren’t known to melt, but they do wear out and need adjustment. “If they’re out of adjustment, it results in diminished braking power and imbalanced braking,” explains Drew Larsen, general manager for Express Brake International Inc. in Ocala, FL. In addition to causing uneven wear, it’s a safety issue. Brake Express specializes in severe duty brake applications. “We provide systems that reduce the cost of braking and make systems more efficient,” he adds.
Referring to the CSA program, Larsen says, “The 2010 federal requirements are in effect, with punitive results for noncompliant roadside violations. It’s a point system that holds the company and the drivers accountable. But the majority still don’t check the brakes, because it’s not practical. They have to crawl under the vehicle to measure pushrod travel on each brake. They simply don’t do it.” Most mechanics don’t check correctly either, he adds. (The Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration rolled out its new Comprehensive Safety Analysis program in 2010. Drivers and fleets are penalized for tires that are flat, under-inflated or damaged and for low tread. Industry standards consider a tire 20% under the recommended inflation pressure as “flat.”)
Express Brake manufactures a product that makes it easy to check brake adjustment. Brake Alert is a meter that goes over the slack adjuster, enabling the driver to check the brake by looking for the green signal. Calibrated one time, the system is quick and easy to use, Larsen says. In addition, the simple mechanical device is inexpensive.
When the bushings in an S cam start to wear, the result is movement—or what Larsen calls “slop”—in the system because the S cam is no longer centered in the brake spider. “One brake comes on before the others, which wears the brake shoes and drums,” he says. “Brake performance diminishes.” Unfortunately, Larsen says, there is no standard timeline for changing the bushings, so it’s not an item that is regularly checked.
Express Brake offers Extreme Cam for trailers to extend the life of the bushing. By featuring 10 to 20 times more bushing surface, it takes considerably longer to wear out. The easy-to-install system replaces the old S cam and bushings. “The whole S cam is a smooth journal,” Larsen says. “The entire length is supported by bushings, not just on the ends.”
Extreme Brake is a stainless steel brake shoe that doesn’t rust or produce cracked linings. “It’s a stronger shoe with more lining surface on the drum because there are no rivets,” Larsen boasts. “Maintenance supervisors can reline their brakes in their own shop without dealing with cores. That’s greener.” It’s also cost effective.
Technological developments in tires, brakes and suspensions are making refuse collection more efficient, cost-effective, and safer. Upcoming issues of focus include the acceptance of disc brakes because studies show they entail lower maintenance costs and the adaptation of roll stability controls—using the brakes to prevent rollover.
Writer Lori Lovely focuses on topics related to transportation and technology.
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