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Articles from 1998 In March
technology: New Technology Burns Whole Tires for Cement Industry
Shredding old tires before burning has been par for the course for energy seekers in the past. Now, however, the cement industry, the nation's third-largest energy user, has begun using a scrap tire technology that skips the shredding and gets right to the burning.
Used tires can reduce virgin fuel amounts by supplying about 25 percent of the energy required to produce cement in kilns, a discovery made by more than 100 U.S. cement facilities and electric powerplants by the end of 1996. Additionally, pound-for-pound, tires have both a higher energy content and burn with less emissions than coal, says the Scrap Tire Management Council, Washington, D.C.
Twenty-four of those 100 facilities using scrap tires for energy currently are testing a recycling system that burns whole, rather than shredded, tires. With overall lengths from 450 to 1,000 feet, diameters of 12 to 25 feet and rotation speeds of 20 to 80 revolutions per minute, cement kilns reportedly are the world's largest moving manufacturing machines. By using whole tires, the kilns can reduce the time, energy and cost involved in shredding tires before consumption.
Here's how it works: Whole tires are placed in a specially-designed charging apparatus from which they are dropped into the calcining zone at the long dry cement kiln's center where the most energy is needed (see chart above). Here temperatures are 1,800 degrees F or more. In minutes, the tires are consumed completely and their energy-bearing constituents, including their metal beads, are used productively.
One advantage to the system is that the tires tend to even out the temperature of the kiln's burning zone, thus increasing the life of its refractory.
Besides using smaller passenger car and light truck tires, the system can handle whole medium-commercial tires such as those found on 18-wheelers. Energy from these larger tires, in addition to regular tires, is being used to produce cement at kilns in San Antonio; Blandon, Pa. and Joliette, Quebec, Canada.
While tires are the major waste fueling cement kilns, just about any energy containing material that fits through the opening in the system can be used. For example, pharmaceutical product returns and wastes are largely organic compounds which can be combusted for energy. Because of the very high temperatures in the kilns, up to 3,000 degrees F in the burning zone at the kiln's end, 99.9999 percent of the materials are destroyed.
Besides becoming twice as hot as they would in incinerators, the materials also stays in the kiln up to twice as long. The 3.5 tons of wastes generated annually in the healthcare industry can be used as fuel rather than incinerated or landfilled.
Healthcare wastes are mainly carbon-based and thus are a good energy source. With either pharmaceutical or healthcare wastes, residues from inorganic compounds become raw materials that wind up as part of the cement.
The system also can be used to recycle properly prepared refinery and hazardous waste into energy to produce cement. For more information, contact: Cadence Environmental Energy Inc., Cadence Park Plaza, Michigan City, Ind. 46360. (219) 879-0371: Fax: (219) 873-3365. E-mail: [email protected]
Award Kendig K. Kneen, president of Al-John Inc., Outtumwa, Iowa, has received the Automotive Recyclers Association President's Award for his contribution to the industry.
Bonds Compost America Holding Co. Inc., Englewood, N.J., announced that its subsidiary, Newark Recycling & Composting Co. Inc., has sold $90 million of New Jersey Economic Development Authority Solid Waste Disposal Facility Revenue Bonds.
Contract The Flathead County Solid Waste District, Kalispell, Mont., selected a team of Braun Intertec/Rust Environmental & Infrastructure to provide solid waste services for the district's landfill facilities under a two-year contract.
Yes and no. While this might put the pressure on you to maximize your efficiency while still retaining and attracting customers, it doesn't mean that the route to intelligent operations only comes in a box.
Before you weigh trash, you must weigh your unique business needs against what is available on the market. Before you compute customer billing, you first must compute the financial reality of purchasing a new system.
In short, before buying a new software or scale system, do your homework and commit yourself to the time and work necessary to maximize your new tools' capabilities.
Researching software and scale systems can be daunting, especially if you still free-associate the term "mouse" only with a rodent. The good news is that you're not alone, and similar organizations that have gone before you can prove to be valuable resources in pointing you in the right direction.
Ideally, prior to purchase, you will investigate how well a number of systems work in environments similar to yours and bat around ideas with manufacturers and colleagues outside of your organization. This knowledge will allow you to hone your individual needs and requirements more realistically as you shop.
When searching for a new software and/or scale system, World Wastes believes that nothing beats talking to peers who are a couple of cybersteps ahead.
Thus, we invite you on a techno-tour where 10 companies and municipalities share the ups and downs of using waste industry technology.
Starting from Scratch Can you imagine using a calculator as your sole billing tool? Cornelius Andres, superintendent of public works for the town of Bourne, Mass., can.
For two months after the new regional construction and demolition (C&D) landfill opened in July 1996, the Department of Public Works had the scale to weigh customers in and out, but since it opted not to purchase the manufacturer's software, Andres had nothing in place initially to aid with billing.
Since the site was new, the scale installation took priority over software. After researching the options and visiting other operations, the department elected to go with an above-ground scale rather than a pit scale.
"Since we're under construction, we went with a steel deck scale, which is relocatable," Andres explains. "A concrete scale is nice, but it will be there for the long haul."
Their pick was a 70-foot long, 11-foot wide unit from Cardinal Scale Manufacturing Co., Webb City, Mo. "The 11-foot width was really a good choice," he says. "A lot of people go with the 10-foot width, but the drivers truly appreciate that extra foot."
The two-day scale installation did not take as long as the site preparation, which included grading and paving. "The way we laid out the site worked out well," he says. "We have the scale on a sloped section so that one side is flush with the road and the other side is about two feet high. This allows the water to run underneath the scale and gives us easy access for cleaning. It is really beautiful for drainage."
Since the site sells recycled material such as cardboard, plastic, glass, tin and metal, Andres says it is "comforting" to run the material over his own scale. "We know the numbers are right. When you're selling recyclables, it adds to your whole bottom line and helps you meet recycling goals," he says.
Once the scale was in place, the next hurdle for this 200-ton-per-day facility serving Cape Cod and the South Shore was to find the most applicable software. Writing its own program was ruled out immediately. "We have good, quality employees, but they're not computer programmers," Andres explains. The town evaluated several software packages before deciding on WasteWorks from Carolina Software, Wilmington, N.C.
After two months of using a calculator, the landfill needed to get wired ASAP. Fortunately, the scale's digital weight indicator that connected through standard wiring made interfacing a snap, and software training took only two days.
"[The software] did not require major customization," Andres says. "We could change prices, add new products and keep track of all our recycling on it."
While purchasing a ready-made software program was the way to go at the landfill, one of Andres' customers found gold by striking out with a home-grown variety.
Like the Bourne landfill, Rochester Environmental Park, New Bedford, Mass., a privately-operated facility which processes primarily C&D and difficult-to-manage materials, was new. However, unlike the landfill which could make do without software for a couple of months, Rochester had to hit the ground running technologically when it opened in June 1997.
Designing a software package might have bypassed the hassles of selecting a vendor, but it certainly didn't alleviate the decision-making headaches when it came to choosing hardware - a process which took about two years.
"Initially, I wanted to use Macintosh, because I'm a Macintosh devotee," says David Mackey, operations manager. "We wanted [a system with a] GUI-graphic user-friendliness that would interface with our financial accounting system and the sales and marketing database and would perform word processing."
The ultimate goal was to be able to "go to one computer and do anything," he says. Although Mackey eventually was swayed from Macs, he still wasn't satisfied with the more complicated DOS environment. The happy medium? "We decided it would be less expensive if we designed our own network based on Windows," he says.
After getting a network in place, the facility purchased accounting software (Proven Edge) and programs for word processing and sales/marketing.
With the help of a local software engineer, Mackey designed an overlay which "works like a shell that tares trucks in, registers them, weighs them out and then sends the data to the account."
Currently, Rochester has six computers. The software development took six months from start to finish, and the network and software cost approximately $10,000. That half year afforded Rochester the time to shop for its scale, purchased from Cardinal, which was installed at the same time Rochester booted up its network.
With the plethora of waste-specific software on the market today, is producing your own software just reinventing the wheel? You've certainly heard the horror stories of employees/consultants who created original software for companies only to vanish a year later, taking with them the software's secrets. Can in-house developed software really be viable for the long run?
There's no question. The oldest currently-operating waste management software probably belongs to the Southeastern Public Service Authority (SPSA), Chesapeake, Va.
This regional integrated solid waste management system which serves approximately 2,000 square miles in southeastern Virginia, created its software system in 1985, years before the first waste-specific package hit the market. In fact, the system SPSA developed was so effective that back in the mid- to late-'80s, organizations up and down the Eastern seacoast inquired about purchasing it for their own use.
In 1985, SPSA looked for months for a system that would read scale data and track tonnages and costs at its Suffolk landfill and various transfer stations and then translate that data to a central computer to compile invoices and reports. They found that no such software existed.
"We put out a request for proposals to find the parameters we wanted in our system, then hired a consulting firm to not only write the system, but also to advise us on the hardware needed to make it work," says Terry Forehand, director of administration. SPSA selected Hewlett-Packard hardware and still uses the brand, upgrading every five years. A staff, headed by Data Processing Manager Al Ankers maintains the system with occasional consultant support.
Forehand highlights the software's invoicing and reporting capabilities as most valuable: SPSA can generate invoices on its 1,700 customers immediately at the end of each month and then malail them only a day or two later, which diminishes payment float time.
It also enables the authority to track factors such as tonnages, types of waste, customers, times and vehicles on reports. This is a boon for an organization that must manage 81 waste transfer vehicles which pick up and deliver waste to eight transfer stations and two other major disposal destinations that work on various shifts.
"The key to our system is that we can store a vehicle's tare weight n advance so that when the truck pulls onto the scale, that calculation is done almost immediately and our credit customer is not on the scale more than 20 or 30 seconds," Forehand says.
And, currently in the works is SPSA's next generation: a "quasi-real-time system." "Telecommunication has changed rapidly over the last few years," Ankers explains. "We are designing a new system to collect data from the scalehouses on a more quasi-real-time basis instead of relying on each station to download the information once a day and modem it to a central site," he continues.
"This will enable all of our sites to see immediately how many tons are on a particular tipping floor."
"When you cover 2,000 square miles, knowing where your waste is is important," Forehand adds. "The assurance of having the right trucks in the right place is the payback for going real-time."
Complete Systems Overhaul Metro Portland (Ore.) faced a unique stationary scale dilemma when it began revamping one of its two transfer stations. Metro South and Metro Central each handle approximately 30,000 tons of trash monthly from both franchised haulers and the general public - both of which must be weighed on the same stationary scale.
"Until seven years ago, we had a flat fee based on volume for residential customers, but that caused a lot of problems and arguments," says Penny Erickson, operations superintendent for the regional environmental management division.
"This meant that the scalehouse had to visually or actually measure the load to determine the value," she says. "To complicate matters, we drew a line that anything more than 9 cubic yards must be billed by weight."
Given the obvious inaccuracies of this system, Metro decided everyone must go over the scale. But finding the right scale was easier said than done.
"We needed an industrial truck scale that also could weigh the public's lower weights, but most scales aren't certified to weigh so low," Erickson says. "This requirement rules out many scale manufacturers."
With the help of the general contractor who is redesigning the facility, Metro found that a 40-foot Uni-bridge scale from Uni-bridge Scale Co., Knowles, Okla., fit its specs. Although Metro South has five scales, currently, it is just adding this one. Erickson predicts that the new scale platform will be in place by early March.
"The longest part of the process is pouring the scale pit," she says. "There are some stiff requirements to ensure that the support is accurate. This scale has a concrete platform that takes a couple of weeks to cure, extending the process."
Metro's scale program is routed through Weighmaster software, manufactured by Information Systems Inc., which is run on a network and can be accessed at either site.
When commercial and residential customers are weighed, the software prompts the scale attendant to enter the customer's identification or the transaction type.
If the customer is a commercial account, the information will be placed in a hold file for monthly billing. The program grabs the weight automatically and registers it. On weigh-out, the employee enters the truck's number, and the program calculates the weight and produces a ticket. Since there are no stickers on the public transactions, residential customers are given a small, plastic identification board with a number that they use when on-site.
This system is far from state-of-the-art, and Metro, known for its innovation in the waste industry, is toying with new technological tricks to speed the process and boost efficiency at both its sites.
Metro's solutions are successful because it understands the premise that many others miss: Technology is not simply a tool to be "used." It must be applied.
The main snag in Metro's operations was weighing the more time-consuming residential customers who bottlenecked the scale as frustrated commercial clients checked their watch and bit their nails awaiting their turn.
To increase efficiency, Metro started automating the commercial scales at the five-year-old Central site, using Weighmaster and radio frequency identification (RFID) tags.
This system, which was implemented a couple of months ago, grabs the identification off the franchise vehicle, collects the weight off the scale and gives the truck access to the site. Its identification is read again at weigh-out where the hauler receives his ticket.
"RFID increased our efficiency enormously, because now we are able to keep the facility open 24 hours a day without hiring additional staff or increasing service cost," Erickson says.
"In the past, we closed at 7 p.m. and didn't have activity start again until 3 a.m.," she says. "Now, we are receiving trash all evening long, and probably are picking up an extra 12 to 15 transactions during that timeframe. I expect that number to increase as word gets out and the haulers become more comfortable with the system."
Metro, realizing that any new program will have kinks, had the forethought to install a video camera system that allowed it to tape the process. "So, if a truck has a problem, we can view it on tape and backtrack to determine the cause," Erickson says.
By freeing up the times the commercial accounts can access the site, Metro can devote the necessary staff to the public customers who have more problems and questions.
What's next? Using separate scales for commercial and residential customers to allow the commercial accounts to move even faster. On the heels of Central's success, Metro will be installing RFID at South soon.
While RFID worked well for Metro, it should not be used as a catch-all to efficiency. For example, RFID would be impractical at Bourne's landfill. "Our customers change trailers so much that it would be difficult to be consistent with identification," Andres says.
And, SPSA, which tickets manually at its landfill, has other, more pressing concerns. "We're looking at RFID, but it just hasn't come to the top of the list yet," Forehand says.
With so much shakin' goin' on at Metro, customer and employee education was a must. The 16 scalehouse employees still are worried about losing their jobs to automation, but Metro has been able to make staffing adjustments by not filling some vacancies and by shifting employees to the public scales where cash handling is required, Erickson says.
In addition, Metro briefed haulers every step of the way to alleviate their concerns. A quarterly newsletter continues to keep them abreast of research, and Metro staff is present at local hauler association meetings.
"They were receptive to the fact that we came to them in advance to tell them what we were looking at doing," Erickson says.
The Software Switch On the Left and Right Coasts, two private haulers got a handle on inefficiency by analyzing the redundancies and "holes" in their operations and using appropriate software to get their businesses back on track.
East Windsor, Conn.-based Somers Sanitation has been in operation since 1974, handling mainly commercial accounts with recycling, front-end and roll-off services in Connecticut and Western Massachusettes. It has three sites to connect: a main billing office, a transfer station about a mile away and another transfer station in Waterbury, Conn., which is an hour's drive.
Prior to April 1996, Somers' hauling software was different than that used with the transfer stations, and the company sought to centralize all of its operations on one network.
A mere four months later, on August 1, 1996, Somers went live with a UNIX-based program from Target Market System, Rochester, N.Y. "Altogether, we spent about $100,000 between the software, hardware and labor time to write a data conversion from the old system," says Bill Conley, MIS manager, who notes that Somers paid out of a general debt within the company to avoid direct financing.
The switch-over was completed in a weekend, and the company didn't have to run the old and new operations simultaneously. "We did continue to keep the original system operational for a few months in case someone had to go back and look up details on an account that wasn't transferred," he adds.
Somers did not experience any difficulties interfacing the software with its Cardinal scales, and since the scales are all on the same network, the system allows for running unmanned facilities if necessary.
For example, Conley notes, if the dispatcher in Waterbury is out of the office, the transfer station an hour away can weigh trucks and print out the dispatch ticket.
At presstime, Somers was preparing to install an on-board scale from Hardy Instruments, San Diego, which will be used initially for commercial route audits. "Right now, we do all of our hauling routing with Target," Conley says. "Once the on-truck system is in place, we'll import that scale data into the Target system." With so much at stake, security is an issue for Conley. Although he doesn't use all the security options available, the system is password-driven, and Conley can give access on a per-screen level.
Wayne Zwolinski of SuperSource, Phoenix, couldn't agree more with the emphasis on security. "Access to software should be governed by passwords," he says. "It is even more desirable to control not only access to the programs, but also to provide different levels of access to different areas."
Let's face it: While good employees may be your most valuable asset, greedy ones could be your downfall.
"All too often we hear from new clients and prospects about how they have been ripped off by employees," says Rick Ericksson of Norwesco Computing, Bellevue, Wash. "A good program will provide audit controls and other features that will monitor not only funds, but also material flow."
On the Left Coast, Crown Disposal, one of the largest private haulers in Los Angeles, spent a couple of years seeking an effective reporting program to manage its commercial, industrial and multi-unit accounts and its transfer station.
"We did most of our homework at WasteExpo, where we looked at all of the programs available," says Kathy Wander, office manager.
After a year of additional research, Crown put its money on WAM Software Inc., Reno, Nev., because it "accommodated both our hauling [operation] and the transfer station," she says.
WAM gives Crown "reports that we weren't able to get before," Wander says, noting that she was particularly impressed with how the new software has saved the company money in time and labor costs. For example, compiling a daily report used to take three hours. Now, it is on the boss' desk in a half-hour.
Also, due to permitting, Crown must do a lot of reporting to the city, which was "a big job for one person," Wander notes. "The software saved us from hiring about one-and-a-half new employees."
Installation and training were a snap: Crown did not have to purchase new hardware and no employees were laid off or restructured.
Smooth Sailing with Routing A year ago, Sawyer Environmental, Bangor, Maine, merged with its largest area competitor and doubled its customer base overnight.
Operations Manager Darryl Lyon was given the unenviable task of immediately eliminating route duplications for the company's fleet of 12 roll-offs, nine front loaders, 17 rear loaders and six recycling trucks that serve commercial, industrial and residential accounts in the greater Bangor area.
"I was given 'yesterday' as a deadline for straightening out the routing and maximizing the front-load fleet," he says. Fortunately, Sawyer already used software from Soft-Pak, San Diego, which has formed an alliance with RouteSmart Technologies, Columbia, Md., to develop an electronic interface, and Lyon was able to implement the routing system immediately onto his IBM-compatible PC.
Lyon gave the new system a test run himself. "I accompanied the driver on the route to time it," he says. "The program told me when I should arrive at a customer, and each time I tested it, the system predicted the time within seconds."
Learning to effectively use the software was a no-brainer for Lyon. "The employees don't have to be trained," he says. "I off-load the file from my PC, reroute it on RouteSmart, then send it back to Soft-Pak, which originates the routesheets that I give to my drivers."
Lyon is especially pleased with how the system handles peculiarities such as restrictions and geography. "It compares a street data set with a customer data set," he explains.
"Through the street data set, you can compensate for factors such as one-way roads and truck weight requirements," he says. "Per customer, you can stipulate latest arrival restrictions, such as is the case with hotels that won't allow you to pick up before 8 a.m.
"In this region, we have a unique situation where we only have one disposal site," he continues. "The municipalities are interlinked with this site, so for tracking purposes, all my commercial waste has to go to the site without mixing any other city's trash with it.
"I have to dump one account, and then go collect the other," he says. "[The software vendor] really wasn't prepared to compensate for this, but we worked around the edges and figured it out."
Sawyer also employs one on-board scale from Wray Tech Instruments, Stratford, Conn., another Soft-Pak interface alliance company. "We had this image of coordinating these three data centers to exchange information," Lyon says. "While it's not really a complete loop since there's no interface between Wray Tech and RouteSmart, Wray Tech gives you the time-on-location variable that you need in RouteSmart."
Sawyer, whose customers are 75 percent commercial, has ferreted out many accounts that have been over- and under-charged. The company certainly has achieved its goal of being more competitive through reducing costs, making routes more timely and boosting customer service.
"We have the competitive edge, because I know our trucks are running efficiently," Lyon says. "They aren't doing things that are unprofitable."
Unprofitability can be deadly for private companies and municipalities alike in today's competitive arena.
"It's no secret that the major players in the waste industry have been on a feeding frenzy for the last year, buying up independent operations at a break-neck pace," SuperSource's Zwolinski says.
"As an independent facing the specter of competing against the conglomerates, having an operation that is at peak efficiency becomes even more imperative - if not only to compete, but to raise your ultimate business value," he says.
All Plugged in with Nowhere to Go Sometimes, when a system doesn't do quite all that you need, you must improvise.
In the early 1990s, Santek Environmental, Cleveland, Tenn., which manages publicly-owned landfills in the Southeast, purchased WasteWorks to make its scalehouse operations more efficient. At the time, this was the only software available geared specifically to solid waste landfills.
Santek purchased the software outright and paid $7,450, which included the original version and software for the individual sites. Currently, Santek is on its fifth upgrade, but its president, Ed Caylor, admits that using the system effectively involved some elbow grease and jerry-rigging on his company's part.
"WasteWorks is a DOS program, so the biggest obstacle we had to overcome was its inability to interface with other applications," he says.
"This posed a problem if a customer wants a more detailed report than [the software] can perform. Although [the software] has a lot of fields in which to enter data, it is unable to download all of that information into one report."
Caylor says this deficiency didn't become apparent until one of the landfills Santek managed increased its customer base from 100 to 2,000.
One of this landfill's biggest customers is a large municipality that required greater detail reporting. The solution? Santek purchased Crystal Reporting, a Windows-based program that allows them to convert the information.
Despite these problems with the weighing software, Caylor says that as a software program for landfill personnel, it's user-friendly. "The scalehouse attendant doesn't have to be a whiz to manage it," he says. "It also can be configured to meet a customer's individual needs."
This is especially helpful in allowing each landfill's municipal owner to access data daily to verify waste tonnages and types via modem and software connections.
Get On-Board with Scales "Scales are becoming more of a necessity for attaining and maintaining profitable operations," says Hardy Instrument's Carol Williams.
"They allow haulers to manage the bidding process better, identify unprofitable accounts and adjust their rates accordingly," she says. "They also are a key component in moving toward making trash collection a utility."
In order to get the perfect on-board scale, it is essential to determine its application beforehand.
All states will allow billing by weight, Williams says, as long as the hauler has the scale tested and approved by the state weights and measures office.
What do you look for? "Your chosen vendor should be able to fit your scale with limited modifications to the truck body to optimize productivity with no inconvenience to employees," notes Victoria Matthews of Mobile Computing, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada.
According to Williams, there are a few key features you must look for when scale shopping: accuracy, an on-board truck computer and low maintenance/calibration requirements.
Depending on your operational needs, it also might be important to consider in-motion scales, which do not require any slowing of the collection process, or scales that are National Type Evaluation Program (NTEP) certified to allow haulers to bill by weight.
NTEP is a cooperative effort between the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the National Conference on Weights and Measures, the states and the private sector that establishes a uniform set of criteria and test procedures for evaluating weighing devices.
The requirements for commercial weighing and measuring devices are stated in NIST's Handbook 44 (H-44), which is updated annually. To receive a copy of H-44, write: Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402-9325 and request code "CODEN:NIHAE2."
"If you choose to not take to the NTEP option at this time, you may want to ensure that the scale you decide to purchase is upgradable," Williams advises.
Currently, most haulers use scales for commercial route audits and for price determination, and although there are pilot programs in the works, haulers aren't racing to bill by weight.
Conrad Pawelski, district manager of Coast Waste Management, Carlsbad, Calif., uses Hardy on-board scales to price his multi accounts at the University of California, San Diego, by weight, but is not seeking to bill this way any time soon.
"The University sub-bills each department, so we need to make sure we charge them accordingly," he explains. "We give them the total amount that we dumped, and they divide it up accordingly. We don't bill the university on each bin by weight, but we go on gross-by-weight.
"[To bill by weight] almost requires that you be on level ground, and San Diego is pretty hilly," he says. "If you have a static pressure on a set of hydraulic arms that's sitting at a 30-degree incline, it doesn't have the same kind of characteristics to weigh and pick up that load that it would have on level ground."
However, the bin locations at the university are "relatively flat," Pawelski says. "So, we don't have a problem with that."
Two trucks are outfitted with the scales. One is used at the university, and the backup is used to run weight audits on other customers.
These audits help Coast Waste determine which prices need to be adjusted to ensure profitability. "I wouldn't say that using the scales saved us a lot of money, but it gave us another tool that helps us manage our business better," Pawelski says. "It's been well worth it."
David Peck of Waste Industries, Raleigh, N.C, has hit upon the perfect software-and-scale cocktail for his Jacksonville, N.C. location: an interface between Soft-Pak software and Mobile Computing Corp.'s (MCC) scale system.
The December 9, 1997 installation replaced Peck's old software system, which consisted of two programs working simultaneously, but independently.
"The MCC system that we had previously was PC-based and stand-alone, which forced us to duplicate our efforts to keep the same customer files on the PC that we had on our home office's AS 400 mainframe," he says. "So, whenever we'd update one, we'd have to go and update the other. The chances for error were great, and our administrative staff had to do twice the amount of work."
This running of two different systems initiated Waste Industries' interfacing of MCC and Soft-Pak. "We wanted to run mainframe, real-time, but we wanted to be able to transfer our information directly to the trucks through an on-board computer so that our routes would appear on a computer screen versus a print-out," Peck says.
Although Waste Industries operates in 27 locations, it selected Jacksonville for the interface's beta test because it had to provide the city with the weight for every user in the city's limits. "That's what forced us into this to begin with," he says. "We wanted to test weighing systems anyway."
Since the interface requires an AS 400 and a UNIX-based PC, the company had to convert the AS 400 language to UNIX, so that UNIX could transmit the information to the selected truck's computer.
Currently, Waste Industries is taking all of its commercial routing information and transmitting it to five trucks that have the systems installed.
It took four weeks during the staff's spare time to ensure that the records between the two former operating systems were in synch. Then, the on-board computers and the office computers had to be programmed and configured so that they could communicate.
"Most of the legwork was done by MCC and Soft-Pak before they came to our location," Peck says. "MCC tested it at their offices to make sure that the information would download and upload properly."
Once MCC and Soft-Pak came to Jacksonville, the process took four days.
Fortunately, the drivers already were well-versed in using on-board computers. "Since our trucks already had the technology on-board to receive and send information to the PC, we simply wanted them to be able to convey that information to the mainframe and only run one system."
Now, an administrative person downloads the necessary information from the AS 400, where the routing information is stored in the home office, to the UNIX which sets up the routes that are transmitted to the trucks.
At the end of the day, the data cuts back to the UNIX via a radio link. The UNIX processes it, and the administrator makes a file copy to upload into the AS 400. The file transfer is "quite fast," Peck reports.
Peck's goal: Provide the highest level of service at the lowest possible cost to his customer.
Although he does not charge customers by the pound, he says, "scales alleviate the 'best-guess' situation. They allows us to come up with a range of weights that a certain customer will fall into. It gives us more accurate information when we discuss pricing with a current or new customer."
Although this interface is technically a beta test, Peck already has accepted it as permanent. "Part of our contract with MCC was to test the interface," he says. "If it worked as suspected, we'd have the system permanently."
The bottom line when researching software or scale packages is to evaluate your unique business needs first and not be swayed by vendors' bells and whistles or by what your competition just bought.
"The three most important features in any software or scale system are: dependability, tech support and ease of use," says WAM's Alan Mastic.
"If the software generally performs the function you want it to, your next step is to ensure that these three basic features are available," he says. "If they are not, your
It's a bitter pill to swallow, but when it comes to technology, one thing is certain: The minute you purchase a system and take it home, it becomes antiquated.
World Wastes polled the experts to get their take on what's hot and what's not in waste software and scale systems. According to our sources, look for complete systems integration and real-time data recovery to become industry standards.
* Wayne Zwolinski, Supersource: With weight-based fees picking up even more followers, it is only a matter of time until the apparatus and software for on-board scales and computers becomes affordable enough to allow the technology to flood the industry.
Other trends to watch are GPS (Global Positioning Systems) which will allow an owner to track trucks and containers through the installation of minute chips. This advancement dovetails with weight-based charges.
Residential containers can have chips embedded that can be read by a scanner to identify the customer. Maybe one day, we'll tack a chip on the employees...
Also, some manufacturers have developed devices that will automatically call for pickup when they reach a predetermined level - just the answer for the restaurant owner who never seems to call soon enough to keep from piling the trash high in the hopper.
* Kim O'Brien, Soft-Pak: While a 486 PC is considerably cheaper than it was two years ago, you can no longer run the latest and greatest software on it because the newer versions require a 200MMX machine if you want to move at a decent speed.
* Steve Frame, MASS Corp.: With the analog networks becoming increasingly overloaded and remaining expensive, the digital information movement is definitely the way of the future. The growth in front-end loader systems, residential and roll-off, will absolutely explode.
I also see more uses of rugged computers in the vehicle rather than simple weigh-and-display-units. In effect, the vehicle will become a remote workstation where the employee is kept current throughout his shift. Purchasing a fully-integrated scale and software system is smart because it allows the end-user to deal with only one vendor, which eliminates the fingerpointing.
* Pat Sweeney, Transcomp: Client/ Server solutions developed from the ground up in the Windows environment were just making their debut last year. The Windows environment and products developed for this environment are continuing to mature and demonstrate significant results.
* Rick Ericksson, Norwesco Computing: Landfills are closing. And for every landfill that closes, at least one waste transfer station will open since the landfill's customers are more likely to use a transfer station in the general area of the closed landfill than they are to travel excessive distances to another landfill.
Newer landfills operate on a weight-based charge system rather than the old volume (cubic yard) rating systems, which means increased software and scale use to account for every pound. An alternative to local landfills are regional landfills, which often are fed via railroad. This creates more software demands to track each container's origin, customer, weight, destination, time, date and condition.
* Rick Talbot, Vulcan: I see a demand for front-fork scales for front-end loaders and scaling on other vehicles such as rear loaders, side loaders, roll-offs, container carriers, transfer trailers and load luggers. Certified scales will be used for some recycled materials payment programs but not for residential and commercial pickup.
* Victoria Matthews, Mobile Computing: The future in scales lies in certification, improved accuracy and preparation for user-pay systems. Although user-pay systems have been talked about for years, it is estimated that they will not be implemented before 2000.
For commercial front-end loader applications, technology in scale design is moving to a fork scale. This technology is proving to be the best place to put a scale for high accuracy and low susceptibility of influence by environmental conditions.
* Carol Williams, Hardy Instruments: More and more municipalities and private haulers are either researching or installing National Type Evaluation Program certified scales, which, with the approval of the state office of weights and measures, will allow the hauler to legally charge by weight.
* John Leary, North American Business Technology: Operating systems such as Windows NT are replacing Novell and UNIX operating systems, creating a demand for Windows-based products offering multiple functions. With DOS-based systems rapidly aging, now is the time to invest in a Windows-based system.
* Jim Manley, Information Systems Inc.: Radio frequency identification will be in increased use to provide hands-off processing of the vehicles as they arrive and leave the site.
* Leandra Castellon, Flagship Corp.: For a long time, computer system offerings for waste sites have been lagging behind what the available software development tools and hardware-packaging options were capable of providing. Now, the trend is catching-up with the computer systems industry.
* Derrick Mashaney, Fairbanks Scales: Modem diagnostic software was introduced in February 1997. This software actually allows the scale to be remotely diagnosed via modem. In addition to remote diagnostics, scheduled modem calls can be placed to help track and even identify problems.
* Lori Dohrman, Weigh-Right: Not every company can afford state-of-the-art technologies, nor do they necessarily need it to stay in business and be competitive. It can take a small investment to begin maximizing every load it hauls. In many cases, this investment can be recouped in 60 days.
Interested in improving collection efficiency, reducing operating costs and maintaining a leg-up on the competition?
Route optimization software uses computerized models called "algorithms" to assume the complex task of determining which stops should go on which routes and in what order those stops should be serviced.
Algorithms are like recipes: They instruct the computer to process data in an ordered fashion (the steps) and to account for various operational factors (the ingredients).
Ever wonder why routing is such a complicated process? Think about it for a moment. How many possible ways can a single vehicle service five stops? The answer might amaze you: 120. The answer is determined mathematically by the following multiplication 5 x 4 x 3 x 2 x 1.
Now, introduce a sixth stop. To arrive at this answer, multiply the five-stop answer (120) by 6. The result is 720 possible combinations of stop sequencing.
Now let's talk real world. A front-loader assigned to collect 120 stops has almost an infinite amount of possibilities of collecting stops on the route. As you layer in more routes, you exponentially increase the number of possible routing combinations for a given dispatch.
Algorithms, with their step-by-step approach to evaluating the best alternatives available for routing vehicles, break the complexity down to a simple number-crunching exercise for the computer.
A routing system takes the complexity of the real world problems, applies algorithmic techniques for modeling and determining the best answer, and provides an optimal routing solution for the daily dispatch.
Within the complexity lies the minimal cost solution for dispatching your operation. Every dollar squeezed out of operating costs goes directly to increasing the company bottom line.
What are the names of the latest techno-bandwagons? The Microsoft NT operating system and Graphical User Interface (GUI).
Some business people think that "if it doesn't run on NT, then it must not be very good." The truth is very different. NT is not a mature operating system and is less reliable than Novell or UNIX.
The installed Novell base still serves the largest network system population. And UNIX-based systems are geared for large transaction volumes and 15 or more users.
GUI applications are often referred to as a "windows system." If you can't point-and-click, is this old technology?
That depends. If you are posting receipts to the system or if you do a lot of typing, a mouse can be slow and is not very helpful.
However, if you are looking at information already entered through the use of a report generator system, a mouse becomes more useful.
The way we capture data will likely change the most in 1998, especially compared to where we were in 1996.
Several new data collection devices are available to ease information capturing, such as bar code readers, radio-frequency identification tags, automatic credit card verification systems, on-board computers and clip board computers.
Be careful when reviewing these products. While many sophisticated products are available, there are just as many that are unsatisfactory. If it is not a tested solution which is widely accepted, remember, the "solution" may disappear in a year or two.
While you should develop a detailed list of requirements and a list of bells and whistles, don't require that your program be a Windows 95, Windows 3.1, NT, Novell or UNIX system.
Listen to the vendor when he tells you how his system will function best. Don't force a vendor to use a 486 computer where a 586 is required.
Keep in mind that you can better control the revenue and expenses of your $150,000 truck by spending an additional $10,000 on an administrative computer system.
The old adage applies to the newest information systems as well: You get what you pay for.
Your truck is clean and checked out, and your driver is ready. Once they are in the field, however, do you know if they are operating efficiently?
On-board scales can help you monitor and, if necessary, improve your operation's efficiency. Each time your truck services a customer, this business tool records the weight collected and the amount of time spent at each location.
These factors, plus operating costs, are the main variables in a hauler's overall profitability.
Analyzing and optimizing collection time and weight can affect revenues. The combination of scales, truck-based computers and office software helps haulers collect, consolidate, analyze and report route data.
From this, you can identify trends and patterns which may lead to areas of potential savings.
Identifying variances in collection time or weight will help you fine-tune accounts to increase revenue, enabling a faster return on investment in computerized collection systems.
For example, consider a commercial account that is collected 12 times per month, with a three-minute stop collection time, a pickup weight of 460 pounds and $200 per month revenue.
If costs are $146 per month, including tipping fees of $40 per ton and truck operating costs of $60 per hour, this leaves a $54 monthly profit.
If everything else remains the same, but the collection time is increased to eight minutes, the costs per month increase to $206, with a net loss of $6 monthly. And, if you reduce the stop collection time to three minutes, but increase the weight to 1,460 pounds, costs increase to $386 per month, producing a $186 loss.
These examples illustrate how variables in collection times and weights can affect profitability and how easily a profitable account can become unprofitable.
On-board scales are useful when you are creating a pricing policy or strategy. For example, if your commercial customers are either heavy or light, you can adjust your rates appropriately.
You can also direct your sales team to focus on market segments and businesses that are the most profitable, and increase route density.
Every hauling company services commercial customers that are being undercharged. By identifying these accounts and using fair billing practices, your company will become both more profitable and competitive.
State Clears Stockholder in Cleanup Suit
The sole shareholder of a corporation whose shoddy waste disposal practices contaminated a site is not personally liable for the property owner's cleanup costs under the federal Superfund law, according to a ruling by a federal appeals court (Donahey v. Bogle, Nos. 92-1128, 92-1151, 6th Cir., Nov. 17, 1997).
St. Clair Rubber Co. leased an industrial site in Marysville, Mich., in the 1960s and 1970s from Helen Bogle. Bogle's brother, Seabourne Living-stone, owned 100 percent of St. Clair's stock. He also served as chairman of the board and treasurer.
St. Clair produced rubber products and adhesives by a process that blended resins, solvents and other organic compounds. The blending left a waste product that was combined with additional solvent to form a "sludge," which was drained into 55-gallon drums.
Typically, company employees transported the sludge from the adhesive plant to the site for disposal. They simply allowed the sludge to drain from the barrels and returned after several days to burn the sludge. Eventually the city of Marysville convinced St. Clair to stop its dumping and burning on the property.
In 1982, Richard Donahey purchased the property for $115,000 under a contract calling for monthly installment payments. Before signing the contract, however, Donahey negotiated an agreement with St. Clair under which the company agreed to clean up the site and indemnify Donahey for costs attributable to the company's dumping practices. Unfortunately for Donahey, St. Clair ceased to exist as a corporation shortly after the sale was consummated.
By 1984, Donahey realized he had a serious problem. Former St. Clair employees told state environmental officials about the company's disposal practices. In the meantime, newspaper articles described the condition of the property, highlighting its potential harm to nearby drinking water sources.
Finally, the State ordered Donahey to do an environmental assessment of the site. Donahey hired a consultant who proposed a clean-up plan in 1987 with a then-estimated price tag of $500,000. (The current cost of the plan is $1 million.)
After Bogle refused to take back the property, Donahey stopped making payments on the land contract and filed suit in federal district court against Bogle and Living-stone. He wanted a judgment invalidating the contract and holding Living-stone personally liable for the contamination. However, the court ruled that Don-ahey was stuck with his contract and that Living-stone had no such obligation.
The district judge found no evidence that Living-stone personally participated in the company's waste disposal practices. No witness testified that he ordered or personally arranged for the disposal of wastes in any particular manner.
Indeed, the testimony at trial showed that Living-stone handled only financial dealings for St. Clair and that day-to-day affairs, including waste disposal practices, were handled by managers and supervisors who did not need Living-stone's approval to perform their duties. In short, though he had authority to control waste disposal practices, he never did so. Donahey appealed.
Citing its recent decision in a case involving liability of a parent corporation for the acts of a subsidiary (U.S. v. Cordova Chem. Co., 113 F.3d 572), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, among other things, affirmed the lower court's ruling that Living-stone was not liable as an operator for the clean-up of the site.
In Cordova, the Sixth Circuit held that attempts to saddle a parent corporation with "operator" liability under the Superfund law based upon the extent of its control of its subsidiary would be judged by state law standards.
Since both the Donahey and Cordova cases arose in Michigan, the appeals court applied its earlier reading of Michigan law. Under Michigan law, stockholders, like parent corporations, are shielded from liability unless circumstances exist to "pierce the corporate veil," the appellate panel said.
Courts will protect the corporate form even if "a single stockholder ... is entitled to dominate the company ...," the opinion continued. Thus, parent corporations and stockholders being accorded similar treatment with respect to vicarious liability, "it is clear to us that the [pre-conditions for operator liability] articulated in Cordova ... should be extended to stockholders," the court concluded.
Finding no facts to justify disregarding the corporate entity, the appeals court refused to hold Living-stone liable as an operator for clean-up of the property.
[Note: The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments this term in a case involving the effect of the Superfund law on a company that had "significant control" over a subsidiary when the latter disposed of hazardous waste at a site.]
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.
Establishing and maintaining a good yard waste program can be a lot like descending into a circle of Dante's Inferno and trying to ascend alive, without frying along the way.
Many cities may simply abandon all hope, giving up on creating a good program and settling for one that will get them by.
On the other hand, some cities bravely proceed through the gate and begin the journey, even if they don't know where it will end up or how much they will have to pay to get there.
Two such cities, Atlanta and Cincinnati, descended into the pits of yard trimmings collection and processing hell, but found their way out into the light of programs that are succeeding.
These are models that can inspire other cities struggling through their own journeys toward a yard trimming's higher ground.
Atlanta Shoots for Greatness The Atlanta Public Works Department had plenty of circles to climb out of four years ago when the state passed a mandate requiring municipalities to separate yard waste from solid waste, which also was supposed to be collected and disposed of in different facilities.
Atlanta had not established a program to comply with the legislation, which, fortunately wasn't being strictly enforced. Two years later, the state passed another mandate, this time banning yard waste from landfills.
Still, many Georgia counties and cities, including Atlanta, had no plans but knew they had to find one fast, before they were fined by the state.
Complicating the problem was the fact that haulers and processors were unprepared for the rush of pickups, leaving yard waste collections few and far between.
Even when the material was collected, illegal dumpings were common because there was no place to deposit yard waste after pickup.
Residents were just as confused: Public education was almost nonexistent, with people receiving muddled information, if anything at all.
"There hadn't been anything geared toward yard waste before, and composting didn't start until September 1996," explains Gloria Hardegree, communications manager for GreenCycle, Atlanta's processing contractor.
Atlanta's current residential yard waste program, which aims to divert 50,000 tons of green material annually to a composting facility, resulted from the September 1996 mandate according to Cedric Maddox, solid waste director for Atlanta's public works department.
Revamped last year, the program consists of separate curbside yard waste collections made by the city that are taken to GreenCycle for processing into wood chips, mulch and compost materials.
GreenCycle, which also works with other Georgia cities, uses Morbark grinders, PowerScreen screens and wheel loaders to process the city's yard waste.
Atlanta's processing contract with GreenCycle requires a certain percentage of composted waste to be distributed to residents free of charge, Maddox says.
Yard trimming's public awareness and education seems to have improved. Last fall, the city began airing TV spots featuring Atlanta's mayor, Bill Campbell, that explained how to separate yard waste and provided a phone number for residents to call with questions.
The public works department also produces newsletters for residents. "We've done everything except go to people's houses and shake their hands," Maddox says, explaining that public education efforts have been put into the city's budget.
And Maddox believes this media blitz is working: "Almost every citizen puts yard waste out at some point during the month."
Still, the promising program isn't without snags. One obstacle is getting residents to consistently use paper bags, which complies with a law that requires that haulers only collect yard waste in paper bags or marked 32-gallon containers.
But funding is a larger concern: The program is "struggling" because it needs increased financial help, Maddox says. The city uses general funds to finance the program, and doesn't charge Atlanta residents. In addition, no federal or state grants are used to collect or process the city's yard waste.
The public works department has petitioned the city council for rate increases, a $40 per household annual fee to fund the program, which Maddox estimates to cost $5 million per year.
Maddox believes that the fee is the only way Atlanta will meet its goal of diverting 50,000 tons of yard waste annually.
"The upcoming budget increase is not a goal; it is a need," he emphasizes. Currently, the program is about halfway to its goal, with 500 to 700 tons processed weekly and 25,000 to 30,000 tons diverted from landfills last year.
For all its improvements, Atlanta's yard waste program has earned an award from the Georgia Clean and Beautiful/Keep Georgia Clean organization. The city was recognized in February with a first-place award for the best composting program in the state in the "community/business" category.
GreenCycle's Hardegree, who nominated Atlanta, says that the city's "financial commitment to public education is what has made the program successful. They did a good job of complying with the state law and taking it to the next step."
Trial and Error in Cincinnati It took three variations in as many years, but Cincinnati finally found the right ingredients for a successful yard trimmings collection and processing program.
In December 1993, House Bill 592, originally passed by the Ohio legislature five years prior, took effect, restricting yard waste from state landfills.
Before then, yard waste, which comprised about 20 percent of the residential solid waste stream, was mixed with solid waste and collected by Cincinnati's sanitation department.
In 1994, a plan divided the city into three yard waste zones with two private haulers operating from April to October. Residents paid $1 for each bag of yard waste.
The city operated free yard waste drop-off sites and offered free six-week leaf collection by city haulers, but the program did not get much participation.
With a second variation a year later, Cincinnati eliminated the zones and contracted one private hauler to collect yard waste.
The revised program got more expensive for residents, who now were charged a $10 registration fee for collection, on top of 75 cents for each bag of yard waste.
Cincinnati had succeeded in wrapping its residents in a cloud of confusion by 1996 when it implemented a third plan that kept collection in the hands of one private hauler and eliminated residential fees, but not the requirement for residents to register for collection.
"It's not that the [previous] programs were bad," says Peggy Sandman, customer support coordinator for the City of Cincinnati's Public Works Department, "they were constantly changing."
Not only did the program change from year to year, but also the intermittent service from season to season created chaos and placed Cincinnati at a crossroads.
Residents were not the only ones dissatisfied; the city itself had become disillusioned with the state's yard waste ban, Sandman says. When House Bill 592 went into effect, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency could not enforce the legislation because it had no authority over waste haulers and homeowners, which meant that no state penalties existed for noncompliance, leaving Cincinnati and other cities on their own.
Although increased costs for collecting and separating yard waste forced many cities and subdivisions to return to collecting yard waste mixed with solid waste, Cincinnati took the high road.
In 1997, the city council enacted a new, stronger $1,023,000 plan to divert yard wastes. Now, the city's sanitation division collects at curbside once a week, all year, then hauls it to local, private composting facilities.
Private haulers stopped separating waste when it became financially impractical, Sandman says. So, the city took over collection, hired 28 employees and purchased four new packer trucks, which are equipped with special lifters to accommodate 90-gallon yard waste carts that residents can purchase from the sanitation department and Keep Cincinnati Beautiful.
The process also became easier for residents, who no longer have to pay fees or registration. Plus, the public works department mailed information on the yard waste program with residential water bills, and promoted the program through newspapers and radio.
The city's department of public works, which has an annual budget of $14.9 million, services 139,000 households, including 12,000 small businesses. Cincinnati's general fund pays for the collection and processing program, Sandman says.
Even though the latest program costs more than the rest, its results have been stellar. During the first two months, 1,780 tons of yard waste were collected, and more than 88,000 tons were collected and processed last year.
By comparison, the 1996 program, which cost $396,000, diverted just 3,752 tons of material from the waste stream that year.
In Hamilton County (comprised of 48 cities, villages and townships, including Cincinnati), 250,000 of 360,000 households have separate yard waste collection, with Cincinnati making up more than 56 percent of the residences separating yard waste.
If Cincinnati reverted to mixing yard waste with solid waste, more than 12,000 tons of material would return to the landfill annually.
So, while these two cities green waste programs initially branched off in the wrong direction, they now both appear to have cleared the path for the daily grind.
As recyclable materials become more diverse, the choice of the most efficient cutting tools and screen combinations gets complicated.
For example, a contractor that chooses a block hammer set-up which works well in grass and leaves, may assume it to be the best choice for grinding bundled paper. Here, conical (coned or pointed) teeth should be used.
Block-type hammers have difficulty grinding tightly packed, bundled material, causing irregular feeding. With the conical tooth, product is partially shredded in the tub and fed more consistently through the grinding chamber.
Screen choices are important, as well. With conventional screens, hammermills beat material until it's small enough to pass through the sizing holes. A knife screen, on the other hand, sheers vines, brush and construction debris, such as sheet rock and papers, by forcing material through evenly-spaced cutter knives. Wear also is reduced because in one motion, product is drawn from the tub, forced through the system and fed onto the discharge belt, resulting in little or no recirculating.
Grinding tips: * Nothing can save you money more than removing dirt from material prior to grinding.
* Plugged screens will drastically accelerate hammer and tooth wear.
* Reducing product size more than necessary results in accelerated hammer and tooth wear and decreased production.
In addition, contractors should consult their dealer or manufacturer when choosing hammers, teeth/ cutter blocks and screens.
The bottom line is that higher productivity and less wear on these items results in increased profitability.
Investigating the Cover-Up
What do you use as an alternative daily cover (ADC) on your landfill? Many operators swear by tarps, while others prefer foam, spray-on slurry mixtures or degradable plastic film.
Most continue to use dirt to supplement commercial ADCs. Some supplement commercial ADCs with green waste, auto fluff, chopped up tires or other material that can be called "recycled" and counted toward diversion goals.
An operator's take on what makes a good ADC depends upon philosophy, site characteristics, availability, state regulations, labor concerns and costs.
In short, with so many options, one operator's nightmare may turn out to be another operator's ideal solution.
"I visited a landfill using degradable plastic, and it was an operational mess," reports one manager. "Seagulls cut through the plastic to get to the refuse. Standing water lay on top. The deployment methods were clumsy. I can't believe it's cost effective."
Nevertheless, John Steward, disposal supervisor of the Sonoma County Central Landfill in Petaluma, Calif., has been using degradable plastic film supplied by EPI Environmental Products Inc., Conroe, Texas, since 1996 with great success.
"We're hooked on plastic," he says. "We lease the application machine at a nominal rate and buy $250,000 worth of plastic a year." According to Steward, the plastic film costs less than paying to excavate and move dirt.
More importantly, the film preserves airspace, a particularly vital concern at Sonoma Central, which has only 20 acres and one to two years of airspace left.
Steward investigated foam, but believes that the heavy rains and winds characteristic of the region would make application difficult.
But rain and wind will affect plastic as well, won't they? Not as badly. The application machine supplied by the manufacturer lays the plastic down and simultaneously drops rows of sand ballast along the length of the cover.
Like most operators, Steward does not believe in a single ADC solution. He sees plastic as a way to cut down on the use of dirt, which he continues to use on the sides of his three-to-one slopes. "We feel the dirt gives a better appearance to the site," he says.
According to Steward, before turning to the plastic film, dirt was consuming about 12 percent of the facility's airspace. Film has cut that in half. Further reductions in dirt come from green waste, which Steward also uses as a daily cover.
"It's not as good-looking as the plastic, and it doesn't hold up as well," he says. "I've had plastic on for two weeks at a time with no problem. I have to re-cover the green waste almost every day."
Why Not Use Tarps? "I'm thinking about trying tarps," Steward says. "But I'm a little worried about how they will work in the wet and windy weather we have here. But we're going to look into it. I think the more options you have available, the better the job you can do."
For many operators with fewer weather concerns, tarps provide the answers to the most pressing daily cover questions: They save airspace, and they don't cost much.
Marlin Yarborough of Airspace Saver Daily Cover, Prairieville, La., says that the majority of landfills using ADCs use tarps. Joe Morse, operations supervisor of Waste Management's Kirby Canyon Recycling and Disposal Facility in Morgan Hill, Calif., is one of them. However, while he relies mainly on tarps, he also uses limited amounts of treated, shredded auto waste and shredded tires.
"Recycled ADCs generate revenue," he says. "Because I use them for cover, I also can divert them and don't have to pay city tax. But I can't charge my full $50 gate rate for those materials, and they take up airspace that's worth $50." Morse does get the full gate rate for green waste, which he uses on the front face of the current fill site, but green waste shows up in small quantities.
However, without proper management, tarps can run up labor costs. Proper fill sequencing and tarp management play a big role. "I'm open six days and closed on Sunday," Morse says. "By the end of the day on Saturday, I have to close out 100 percent, and I can't afford to come in Saturday morning with a couple acres of tarped garbage."
Morse takes in about 1,700 tons of refuse daily and about 10,000 tons weekly. He sequences the daily fills in a way that lets him use no more than four to five tarps.
"We'll fill a square area on a Monday and put soil across the bottom line of that square and two tarps across the inside face," he says. "On Tuesday, we'll move those two tarps across to the outside face of Tuesday's fill, and lay two more tarps down along the bottom line of the fill. So, there are four tarps deployed on both sides of Tuesday's work."
Throughout the week, Morse chases his new garbage with the tarps and backfills the open areas with soil. As green waste shows up, he stockpiles it. When there's enough, he lays it down for a daily cover, pushing the tarps farther down the row. The point is, he must end up with no more than a sliver to close out on Saturday.
"We do this with five operators and myself," Morse says. "I don't have a full-time dirt crew. We're all pushing garbage, handling new construction, and everything else. So, we have to sequence right and keep rotating the tarps.
"If you have a facility with 10 operators, you might be able to use six or eight tarps, wait until Friday, yank all the tarps, and cover everything with soil."
Morse deploys his tarps with existing equipment instead of a deployment machine. "Operationally, I could justify the expense of a deployment machine," Morse says. "One laborer could run it, and the tarps would probably last longer - eight months instead of the three months I get now.
"On the other hand, tarps deployed by machine don't have ballast chains around the edges," he says. "We have high winds here, and I need ballast. I don't want to waste time throwing tires down every night."
Foamy Solutions At the City of Bethlehem Landfill in Bethlehem, Pa., Rusmar Inc., West Chester, Pa., foam ADC saves airspace and also solves a labor problem that can accompany tarps.
Airspace is the key problem for Bethlehem. The site was repermitted in 1993 for 2.5 million cubic yards.
The city then undertook an aggressive construction project, costing $8 million to close a 50-acre segment of the site, $9 million to build new cells, and $2 million for a new leachate collection system and an abatement pumping system for previously unlined areas that had developed pollution problems.
After borrowing nearly $20 million, the city got caught in a competitive war that lowered prices to about $42 a ton on average. It turned to ADCs with the goal of preserving as much $42 airspace as possible. Both tarps and foam were candidates.
"About two years ago, we did a demonstration project with tarps," says Chris Campman, manager of operations. "We were happy with the tarps, but they cost a little more for labor."
It takes about 20 minutes to apply foam at night and about 20 minutes to lay down tarps, he says. "In the morning, you can fill right over top of foam, but you have to remove the tarps which takes about 10 minutes," he says.
Foam requires specialized application equipment, but the sale was structured to include the equipment's price in with the price of the foam. "Foam costs us about 54 cents a pound, and we use about 200 pounds a day," Campman says. "That comes to just about $100 a day."
Because of the special needs of a balefill, the Monmouth County Reclamation Center in Tinton Falls, N.J. also uses foams. The first 20-acre cell of a 100-acre site opened in the fall of 1997. "We're going for the lowest possible airspace consumption possible," says Superintendent John Gray.
"Everything we put into this site is in a high-density, tied bale," he says. "Based on our airspace requirements and the way we stack the bales, we decided to use foam as a daily cover for the vertical face and soil as an intermediate cover on the top of the stacks."
Gray's crew is working a three-to-one sloped vertical face, with staggered steps created by the square bales of refuse. The steps create voids on the vertical face, which if filled with a dirt daily cover, would waste both dirt and airspace.
"Airspace savings and labor savings are the benefits [of foam]," he says. "In terms of cost, dirt and foam seem to be about the same. But dirt also uses airspace."
Creating a Shell At the three-year-old 1,300-acre Atlantic Waste Disposal landfill in Waverly, Va., Director of Operations Jerry Johnson has opted for a spray-on-slurry made of cement type mineral binder called "Posi-Shell," which is supplied by Landfill Service Corp., Apalachin, N.Y. This ADC hardens upon application and breaks up when new trash is dumped on top the next day.
It's similar to foam in terms of application, but different because it is more permanent, Johnson says. "You can leave it for 30 to 60 days with no problems, or you can break it up and put waste back on top. It costs between 60 cents and 70 cents a yard, for everything: labor, the material, and the application equipment."
Johnson says this type of ACD reduces odor, doesn't attract birds and resists wind. Also, he has found that he can use the applicator to spread grass seed, which is used for erosion control on the landfill's slopes.
For landfill operators investigating the best way to run an ADC cover-up, there is no single answer. ADCs come in many different forms, and one, two, three or more will eventually solve the weather, labor, airspace, and cost problems characteristic of your particular landfill.
collection: How to Collect Yard Waste at No Extra Cost
Here's the scenario: to meet state recycling goals, your city banned yard waste at the local private landfill and, of course, you have to collect it, plus everything else with the same (or less) funds.
Sound familiar? It certainly does to the solid waste managers at the city of Louisville, Ky.
Following the 1991 state bill requiring local solid waste management plan development that included 25 percent waste reduction, the Jefferson County, Ky., solid waste board banned yard waste disposal.
Knowing that this move would demand significant revisions to its current collection methods, Louisville, the county seat, along with a local engineering firm developed a routing scheme that would provide separate yard waste and garbage collection at no additional cost.
The consultant initially developed 16 options, ranging from twice-a-week garbage collection with an additional separate yard waste collection, to a fully-automated once-a-week system. After review by the mayor, the once-a-week option was selected.
This would allow the city to provide separate yard waste collection, collect garbage once-a-week and move to a five-day work week (from its current six-day schedule). The city's existing recycling collection contract would be rebid with either the city or a private contractor providing collection once-a-week.
At public hearings, the plan was strongly opposed. Despite the negative response, the administration and the Board of Alderman agreed to try the new system for one year.
Beginning in March 1994, four mailers were sent to every household to inform residents of the ban and the need to collect yard waste and garbage separately. Residents were told that the their garbage, yard waste and recycling pick-up days would change. A color-coded calendar illustrating collection days for rest of 1994 and 1995 were mailed.
The city started the new collection program in September 1994. In addition, the city began requiring all garbage to be containerized to allay fears that the new collection system would lead to increased litter and trash in alleys and streets.
Because of continued citizen opposition during the first year, the Aldermen commissioned the University of Louisville to study public opinion on solid waste issues.
Using a series of focus groups, the university discovered that citizens had adapted to once-a-week garbage pickup. However, the study suggested that citizens would accept this system more easily if they better understood the reasons for separate collection and the benefits of recycling. An environmental education program was recommended.
At the end of the test, the Department of Solid Waste Management and Services (DSWMS) reported that the new collection system diverted 24.5 percent (13,574 tons) of household wastes (14.9 percent yard waste and 9.6 percent recyclables). It also addressed the rise of customer complaints made to CityCALL, the mayor's complaint and information line, from 2,383 the preceding year to 7,561 during the transition year. It explained that, with 180,000 service calls a week, the complaints amount only to .08 percent of the service calls made by DSWMS for the entire year.
Also of note: The union, which was originally against the once-a-week program, was in favor of staying with the program. Employees had become accustomed to the five-day schedule. The administration, the union and the aldermen agreed to continue the program with some new directives which required the DSWMS to:
* respond to complaints within a 24 hour period;
* develop a method of responding to the odor problems of once-a-week garbage pickup during the summer months;
* submit detailed bi-weekly reports to the mayor and Board of Aldermen.
* begin a strong enforcement program which would include empowering supervisors and inspectors to write citations; and
* start-up a full-scale public relations plan.
And the effect on costs? With the new system in place, the city avoided a $900,000 expenditure which would have been required to add additional crews and equipment to collect yard waste in addition to twice-a-week garbage collection. During this same period, the city's recycling contract was rebid resulting in the city saving $800,000 annually.
1 - B. Federal purchases represent 7-8 percent of GNP, state and local about 12-13 percent. These numbers show the dramatic effect that government purchases of recycled and other environmental products can have on the marketplace. More importantly, however, government agencies develop standards used by the private sector and can serve as a model for private sector purchases.
2 - C. On November 13, 1997, EPA published the final Comprehensive Procurement Guideline II and the Final Recovered Materials Advisory Notice II designating 12 additional product areas for government agencies to purchase containing recovered materials.
3 - C. All 50 states and at least 500 local governments in the United States have buy recycled programs.
4 - C. All steel manufactured in the United States uses recycled material: Steel manufactured in the basic oxygen furnace uses an average of 25 percent recycled steel, while the electric arc furnace uses virtually 100 percent recycled material.
5 - B. Ford, GM and Chrysler have all published letters stating that any oil that meets American Petroleum Industry standards will not void your warranty.
Questions courtesy of Maryland Environmental Services. For more information, contact: Richard Keller, 2011 Commerce Dr., Annapolis, Md. 21401. (410) 974-7281. Fax: (410) 974-7267.
Taking the Suspense out of Suspension Selection
When it comes to maximizing a refuse vehicle's effective life, few specification decisions are more important than selecting the proper suspension. Yet this most critical component remains one of the industry's most misunderstood. So much so, in fact, that many refuse fleet managers rarely bother to participate in the suspension decision. That can be a costly mistake.
The suspension does more than simply cushion bumps; it plays a major role in a vehicle's handling and control, both on the road and off. It also impacts driver comfort, payload capacities, truck stability in severe service conditions, vehicle traction on uneven terrain and the maintenance required to keep the truck running smoothly, regardless of conditions.
Refuse fleet managers should acquaint themselves with specific performance attributes when evaluating suspensions. The following guide will help operators match their performance preferences with the suspension that best meets those needs.
Ride Quality, Loaded: Ride quality, under both loaded and unloaded conditions, is especially important for refuse operations, where comfort often is directly related to driver retention. Ride quality is affected by three factors: * vehicle weight, which includes the truck's weight and payload;
* spring rate, which is determined by the amount a spring will deflect or the amount of force required to deflect it one inch; and
* damping, usually by shock absorbers, affects ride quality by minimizing bounce as the vehicle hits bumps, potholes and other irregularities.
When loaded, the increased weight resists the truck's vertical movement as it passes over bumps. Because good suspension springs are designed for optimal performance at rated load, loaded ride quality can be dramatically better than an unloaded ride.
That same spring system should be designed to deflect and stiffen as payload is added. The springs also should provide additional deflection when fully loaded to absorb bumps. This not only benefits ride quality, but it also helps keep tires in contact with the ground for improved traction and handling.
Ride Quality, Unloaded: Even though refuse trucks generally have large, heavy bodies, vehicle weight still changes between empty and loaded conditions. That change can affect ride because unloaded ride quality primarily is a function of spring deflection and damping.
Heavy-duty truck suspension springs typically are very stiff (high spring rate) to provide a good vehicle ride while carrying heavy payloads. The combination of low vehicle weight and high spring rate can produce harsher ride characteristics when the truck is running empty or lightly loaded.
Empty loads also may adversely affect traction and handling. For instance, drive tires are more likely to lose contact with the ground as the truck encounters bumps. With some suspensions, this may cause the axles to bounce up and down. This phenomenon, known as "axle hop," can be minimized with shock absorbers.
Durability: Another key factor in suspension selection is durability. For refuse applications, a suspension should be highly durable. A good suspension manufacturer will rely on a variety of advanced design tools, such as computerized modeling and finite element analysis, to identify and fortify critical areas of the suspension to ensure durability.
Articulation: A refuse vehicle's mobility is, in many ways, determined by its articulation. Articulation provides traction and maneuverability, which are especially important for traveling over obstacles.
While suspension articulation is an important consideration, axle travel and vehicle mobility over rough terrain are almost always limited by vehicle design, such as the position of axle stops. In addition, fuel tanks, air tanks and other equipment can reduce ground clearance. For acceptable traction, the suspension must articulate to the extent allowed by vehicle design. Any suspension articulation beyond that is of no value.
Stability, On-Highway: On-highway stability is a measure of how well the suspension resists vehicle rolling or swaying at normal road speeds and an important consideration for refuse operations due to the large number of quick stops and tight curves that are encountered.
Suspensions with high spring rates when loaded and wide spring centers generally deliver good stability. Another important factor for on-highway stability is axle parallelism. When traveling over rutted or uneven road surfaces - on highway or off - axles can be pulled out of parallel, causing the truck to pull or wander. Your suspension system should be capable of maintaining the parallel relationship between drive axles.
Stability, Off-Highway: Off-highway stability is a measure of how well a suspension resists tipping in low speed operations, particularly while loading and unloading. This is especially important in high center of gravity (CG) conditions such as while loading debris (especially front-end loaders) or negotiating sloped, unstable surfaces.
Suspension stiffness - spring rate and spring center - is the principal factor affecting off-highway stability. Consequently, it is best to specify suspensions with high spring rates when loaded and wide spring centers to bring about the greatest resistance to swaying and tipping during high CG operation.
Maintenance: Most suspensions have a number of wear points, such as greasable pivot points, wear pads and various bushings that require periodic lubrication or replacement. Some suspensions also require retorquing or replacement of axle connection hardware. Still others may be equipped with shock absorbers that might need to be replaced according to the manufacturer's recommendations. Keep in mind, however, that more "low-maintenance" suspensions are entering the marketplace. They are a solid investment, requiring less work and money over time.
Weight: Payload capacity should be a top priority, and the suspension weight can play a significant role. In the past, there always has been a strong correlation between strength and weight. The reasoning was that "a heavy suspension is a strong suspension." However, this is not true today; systems are available that weigh less, yet maintain a high strength-to-weight ratio.
Do: * Create a phone list of the manufacturer's of each component on the vehicle.
* Understand each warranty's terms and conditions; some warranties may expire before others. Some also require lube intervals, approved lubricants and recommended maintenance practices.
* Take advantage of the point-of-sale interview by asking the dealer/ salesperson about the warranties when spec'ing the vehicle.
* Keep an updated warranty tracking sheet that lists each component manufacturer's warranty terms.
* Understand how each manufacturer's warranty works. Some have different filing and reimbursement procedures.
* Keep warranties valid by performing original equipment manufacturer (OEM) and component supplier recommended scheduled maintenance.
Don't: * Spec a component on price. Rather, spec the component that best suits the application and will result in the lowest life cycle cost.
* Expect warranties to cover all components that fail.
* Wait until there is a problem with a component.
* Assume the warranty will be covered anywhere you take the vehicle for service. Rather, take the vehicle to its nameplate dealer during the OEM warranty period.
finance: Tipping Fee Impact Determines Private/ Public Decision
Public or private? The pros and cons of private versus public solid waste management continue to be debated throughout the industry. And no one knows this better than the Southeastern Public Service Authority (SPSA), Chesapeake, Va., who confronted the public-private conundrum head on, when evaluating expansion of its landfill facilities in Suffolk, Va.
Although SPSA only landfills 43 percent of the solid waste it receives, its service area (eight southeastern Virginia communities) generates nearly 1 million tons of solid waste annually, leaving more than 398,000 tons to be landfilled. At this volume, SPSA estimates that its landfill would reach capacity in three years.
The options were clear: either SPSA would construct a new cell at their landfill or use private sites. The deciding factor would be the net impact on the municipal tipping fees.
"Government is forced to improve and reevaluate the work it does and to consider privatizing tasks that others may be able to do better, cheaper, or more efficiently," says SPSA Board Chairman Conoly Phillips.
The authority sought proposals late in 1997 for solid waste disposal services from private landfills, and, simultaneously, requested bids to construct a new 50-acre landfill cell named "Cell V." SPSA re-ceived two eligible proposals from private sector companies and 10 bids to construct the new cell.
After careful analysis, SPSA, with the help of Seattle-based R.W. Beck engineers determined Cell V to be the most cost-effective option because the cell construction and operations bids came in significantly lower than the prices offered by the private landfills (see chart above).
Based on this finding, SPSA's board voted to develop Cell V, which is estimated to cost $11.5 million and expected to provide capacity through 2015.
"We will not have to incur additional debt to build Cell V," reports Phillips, because SPSA is able to use existing funds for the project
SPSA's solid waste management system includes waste-to-energy, yard waste, composting, drop-off, curbside and used oil recycling, household hazardous waste collection, car tire and ferrous metal recycling, landfilling, landfill gas-to-energy and public education programs.
For more information, contact Felicia Walker Blow, Department of Public Information, 723 Woodlake Dr., Chesapeake, Va. 23320. (757) 420-4700. Fax: (757) 424-4133. E-mail: [email protected] spsa.com
Acquisition USA Waste Services, Houston, has acquired the waste divisions of City Management Holdings Trust. City Management provides solid waste services in Michigan, with some operations in Alabama.
Agreement Eastern Environmental Services Inc., Mt. Laurel, N.J., has agreed to acquire the city of Bethlehem, Pa.'s 200 -acre municipal solid waste landfill.
The landfill is projected to have revenues of approximately $8 million annually. The company also has agreed to acquire the Kelly Run Landfill, a 306 acre municipal solid waste landfill located southeast of Pittsburgh. This landfill is projected to have gross revenues of approximately $5 million annually.