Whether your company operates a landfill, transfer station, materials recovery facility or other recycling operation, one thing is clear: Keeping your mobile equipment up and running is crucial to your success. Unfortunately, many firms in the waste industry eventually will suffer the loss of a vital piece of equipment due to fire, theft or accidental damage.
Mobile equipment — including loaders, excavators, compactors and grinders — is not only essential from an operational standpoint, but also represents a substantial capital investment. The price tag for some of this equipment is in the six-figure range. Protecting this equipment is key to any waste company's bottom line.
The loss of a piece of mobile equipment to fire is all too common in the waste and recycling industry. Good fire prevention practices begin with operators and their daily pre- and post-work inspections of the equipment. These inspections should focus on identifying leaks, frayed hoses or electrical cables, and the accumulation of dust and debris. Company policy should mandate a daily blowing-out of the radiators to help prevent overheating, as well as a consistent cleaning schedule for each piece of equipment. In addition to being subjected to operator inspections, each piece of equipment needs to be on a documented preventative maintenance schedule.
Evidence indicates that fires frequently occur within 30 minutes of shutting the equipment down for the day. For this reason, it is important that someone be on hand to monitor the equipment for the first half-hour after shutdown. Fire extinguishers should be easily accessible on all pieces of mobile equipment, and automatic fire suppression systems should be considered for exceptionally high value equipment.
While the high value of many pieces of mobile equipment can make them a target for thieves, thankfully most of this equipment is bulky and difficult to steal. Good facility security (fencing, surveillance cameras, guards, etc.) is key to deterring theft of equipment stored on company property. Securing the ignition keys and locking the battery disconnect in the off position are easy ways to create more stumbling blocks for thieves.
Additional security measures should be taken for equipment located at off-facility job sites, as many of these locations afford thieves the seclusion and time needed to steal equipment. These measures might include security patrols, the use of kingpin or hitch locks on trailer-based equipment and on all lowboy trailers left at a job site, and the use of equipment recovery technology like Lojack. Additionally, a firm should maintain a list of serial numbers for each piece of equipment it owns.
In addition to the perils posed by fire and theft, a waste firm can suffer a loss when mobile equipment is damaged by collision or rollover. A strict company policy should be enforced that prohibits unauthorized persons from operating mobile equipment. The policy also should spell out the necessary procedures for a person to become authorized to operate a particular piece of mobile equipment. These procedures should include a detailed training program.
Supervisors and company safety personnel should periodically monitor equipment operators to make sure that safety procedures are being followed. Additionally, companies also should make sure that there are safe traffic patterns for both mobile equipment and motor vehicles at their facility.