TRUCKS: Restoring Philly's Past Now Includes Trucks

The city of Philadelphia's Office of Fleet Management (OFM) is saving lives. Breathing new life into 10 old trucks through vehicle rehabilitation, OFM is able to stretch tax dollars and maximize availability of its 6,000-plus vehicle/equipment fleet.

Philadelphia piloted its rehabilitation "survival kit" in 1997, when it rebuilt two side-loading compactors. New side-loaders would have cost approximately $374,000 ($187,000 per unit) compared to rehabilitating the units at $269,000 ($134,500 per unit).

Based on this success, OFM decided to expand the program. Philadelphia currently is refurbishing 10 high-density, 32-cubic-yard refuse compactors in which the units' super-structure was no longer usable but the truck chassis was sound. These vehicles are being converted into 25-cubic-yard, high-density, cylindrical refuse compactors because the Sanitation Division wanted smaller compactors to better maneuver through narrow streets.

OFM estimates the program will save a minimum of $680,000 during this fiscal year and will extend the vehicles' lives an additional eight to 10 years.

Vehicle selection is crucial to the program's success. Well-designed and well-maintained vehicles make the best candidates for total rehabilitation. So, the city:

* Established a potential universe by identifying all of the units in the sanitation fleet that were approaching the end of their life cycles;

* Reviewed the repair histories for vehicles that had been well-maintained with little or no neglect and/ or driver abuse, and for units that had major components repaired or replaced in the last 12 to 18 months (engine, suspension, transmission, differentials, etc.); and

* Selected a series of compactors of similar makes and models that collectively had the least amount of wear and tear, and the most recent investments in global system repairs.

Using this criteria, OFM selected a series of 10 high-density, 32-cubic-yard refuse compactors with Crane Carrier, Tulsa, Okla., chassis and super-structures, and Cummins, Columbus, Ind., diesel engines.

Then, an OFM team of technicians with specialties in auto-body work, engine/drive train and chassis/brakes/suspension performed as much of the rehabilitation in-house as possible. Philadelphia created an assembly line with four separate work bays. Here, technicians are accountable for their work, which is done at various repair stages.

The three major steps in completing the rehabilitation are:

1. Dismount major components (such as engine, transmission, suspension and/or cooling) from the unit and send to vendors and/or original equipment manufacturers for reconditioning, remanufacturing or rehabilitation.

2. Perform in-house work: chassis reconditioning, cab upgrading and repainting, and renewing all wearable items. Special attention is given to electrical switches and connections - areas that are most prone to failure in older vehicles. By targeting the cab (including new seat covers, dashboards and instruments), drivers are more likely to accept and treat the unit as new.

3. Reassemble unit as major components are returned from vendors.

Depending on manpower, the unit's original condition and necessary part availability, OFM has found that the compactor rehabilitation/conversions can take from two weeks to six weeks and cost approximately $82,000 ($45,000 to purchase a new super-structure and $37,000 to rehabilitate the custom chassis and various global systems).

However, OFM anticipates that an additional $8,000 will be saved as it improves the internal rehabilitation process, lowering the total cost to $74,000.

In comparison, a new unit designed to Philadelphia's specifications with a commercial chassis would cost approximately $150,000 and would require an approximate one-year waiting period between when the unit was ordered and received. These differences translate into cost savings and time savings of approximately 10-months.

A rehabilitated unit is integrated into the active fleet with a new property number, and a file is created for vehicle tracking, including maintenance, repair, accidents, use and fuel consumption.

The anticipated life cycle for each rehabilitated unit is equal to a new vehicle. This is because all wearable items are replaced with new components and all of the units' major systems are rebuilt to a like-new condition through remanufacturing and/or reconditioning.

Two outside partnerships have been key to Philadelphia's success, as OFM worked closely with the rehabilitated refuse compactors' original equipment manufacturers: Crane Carrier Co. and Cummins Engine Co.

OFM originally approached Crane Carrier about designing a 25-cubic-yard cylindrical super-structure that could be mounted on the series of rehabbed chassis from 10 high-density, 32-cubic yard rectangular refuse compactor units. Normally, a 25-cubic-yard super-structure is mounted on a chassis with a 176-inch wheel base; the OFM-proposed chassis had a 206-inch wheel base.

However, the company re-engineered the super-structures specifically for the city and trained OFM technicians on how to mount them onto the rehabbed chassis.

Cummins Diesel Recon adjusted its reconditioning assembly line to meet OFM's request to fit NTC 350 big cam 3 engines with the appropriate fuel pump and casings for refuse compactors. Once completed, the reconditioned engines are delivered to the local Cummins Power Systems in Bristol, Pa., for dressing (starter, alternator, etc.). The units were delivered to the city with a 5-year/ 150,000-mile warranty.

OFM anticipates the units will be on the same maintenance schedule as new vehicles. Work performed by outside vendors comes with warranties competitive with those accompanying new vehicles.

OFM has completed six of the 10 compactor rehabilitations. The units have been integrated into the fleet, drivers have accepted them and they are hauling appropriate refuse levels. Long-term, the program is expected to save the city between $68,000 and $76,000 per unit compared to new vehicles.

Acquisitions Hi-Rise Recycling Systems Inc., Miami, has acquired Hesco Sales Inc., Miami, and its affiliated company, Atlantic Maintenance Inc.

Superior Services Inc., West Allis, WIs., has agreed to acquire Alabama Waste Services Inc., Birmingham, Ala., and ACMAR Regional Landfill Inc., St. Clair County, Ala.

Rader Resource Recovery Inc., Memphis, Tenn., has acquired the Miller Hofft product line.

Award The Southeastern Public Service Authority's recycling program was given a Certificate of Environmental Achievement from Renew America, Washington, D.C.