Which Trailer is Right for You?

Transfer stations and trailers go together like peanut butter and jelly; an operation needs trailers to help transport trash. But how should operators select the right transfer trailer so that it doesn't cause problems down the road?

While the choices may look confusing, the goal is to maximize the payload. Most transfer stations produce a low-density load, so the biggest trailer available that has the highest cubic-yard capacity is the obvious choice. Remember, however, that the inside dimensions determine volume. For higher-density loads, operators may be able to maximize payload with a smaller trailer and save some weight and money. As operators examine their options, dealers, manufacturers and other transfer station operators can provide valuable guidance. Additionally, here are some other points to consider:

The Landfill

  • How far is it from the transfer station to the landfill? This translates into time. The round-trip time and the daily tonnage to be moved indicates how many trailers will be needed.

  • Specify trailers according to the unloading process at the landfill. This means operators will want tipping-compatible trailers for landfills with tipping equipment. For landfills with no unloading equipment, the best choice probably is a moving floor trailer that unloads itself in eight to 10 minutes.

The Transfer Station

For transfer stations using compactor equipment to load trailers:

  • A fully enclosed trailer may be necessary if the transfer trailer is used as the receiver box.

  • For bales of compacted garbage, the standard open-top trailer is a good first choice. Most are strong enough to accommodate forklift-type loaders and have no problem with systems that simply push the bales in.

Custom Options

  • If trailers will spend even a modest amount of time on the highway, good aerodynamics can improve mileage and save fuel. Choose a smooth-sided trailer.

  • An on-board weighing system should be considered if the transfer station does not have full-size, certified truck scales. Knowing the truck is under the gross weight limit is better than guessing.

  • Operators can save some tare weight with super-single tires and wheels. If this is the chosen option, also consider a tire inflation system that will keep a punctured super-single tire inflated until it can be repaired or replaced. Inflation systems also will maintain proper tire pressure.

  • The top rails and floor cross members always are important on trailers that will be top-loaded. Ensure transfer trailers have the strength they will need to handle that abuse.

Ultimately, the best way to select a trailer that fits your transfer station is to jump in and examine the criteria. Operators may have to revise their choices as they evaluate their options, but they'll learn through this process, too. And eventually, it is possible to find the right trailer specifications that maximize payload and minimize costs.