trucks: Automated Fleets Demand More Preventive Maintenance

Will your automated collection equipment forgive you as easily as a manual system? While you can significantly increase your collection rates with automation, you also must pay more attention to the equipment.

Many haulers have discovered that the key to controlling their automated collection fleet's maintenance costs is preventive maintenance (PM). For example, pre- and post-trip inspections should be made daily and audited to verify that they're being conducted. Additionally, strict adherence to a PM schedule and daily cleaning is imperative.

Why? Automated equipment cycles approximately 700 to 1,200 times a day. In comparison, manual loading trucks averages about 200 cycles per day.

Also, automated trucks tend to operate continuously between stops, so their hydraulic system usually operates at higher temperatures.

Because of the high cycle rates of this type of production, the service life of many of the components is consumed faster. So, though route consolidation sometimes can cut fleets in half, your maintenance budget may not be reduced proportionately.

Before automating your fleet, be sure that you have an adequate maintenance staff with strong electrical and hydraulic backgrounds.

Some automated fleet managers choose to keep one or two of their rear loaders or manual side loaders and equip them with cart tippers for back-up.

This is acceptable if the daily production rate does not exceed 800 homes per day and if additional laborers are available. Otherwise, an additional automated unit for every four to six units depending on the production schedule, should be satisfactory.

Recycling Watch: Food and Consumer Products * Quaker Oats are packaged in 100 percent recycled fiberboard tubes.

* Anheuser-Busch brews, packages and distributes the Budweiser, Michelob and Busch families of beer in cans made from more than 50 percent post-consumer recycled aluminum. Its beers also are packaged in 12-ounce glass bottles that contain more than 35 percent post-consumer recycled glass.

* Extract, manufactured by McCormick & Company and sold at the retail level, is packaged in 62 percent recycled glass bottles, which also are fully recyclable. They are shipped to customers in 100 percent recycled fiberboard cartons.

* General Mills began using recycled materials in its product packaging in the 1930s. Today, 98 percent of the cartons used to package its dry foods are produced for recycled materials. Recently, changes were made in the company's cereal containers' design, reducing its corrugated fiberboard use by 8,135 tons.

* In 1997, 35 percent of the Clorox Company's packaging materials were composed of recycled materials. That same year, the company redesigned and reduced its packaging by an estimated 4.5 million pounds.

* Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, Pasta Salads, Minute Rice, Post Cereals and Jello are packaged in recycled paperboard and shipped in containers that are 70 percent recycled content.

* By concentrating its dishwashing liquids (Joy, Dawn and Ivory), Procter & Gamble saves more than 9 million pounds of packaging per year and uses less energy for transportation and shipment of its product lines. Likewise, through concentrating its Tide, Cheer, Oxydol, Gain, Bold, Dreft and Ivory Snow powdered detergents, the company has reduced product packaging by 30 percent. Tide and Cheer refill bags save an additional 80 percent in packaging materials.