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MSW Management - What's New in Collection Vehicles

08/18/2011 - Refuse vehicles see cleaner performance and higher efficiency from new technologies.

These are exciting times for the refuse vehicle industry. New products and trends, such as the rapid growth of alternative fuels and hybrid power systems are boosting waste vehicle performance. Moreover, telemetric route and tracking software products are seeing wide adoption by fleets. Hybrid power has seen many years of pilot programs, but it’s definitely a sign that the technology is gaining acceptance when one of the country’s largest sanitation districts, New York City’s NYSD, completes a hybrid vehicle pilot program and plans to order 25 more. According to Rocco DiRico, deputy commissioner, NYSD Support Services, his agency’s move to hybrid vehicles is based on needs that are common to the waste industry. “Were pursuing it for a lot of different reasons, but obviously fuel economy, independence from foreign oil, economics in general, and clean tailpipe emissions are important,” says DiRico. “Then there’s Mayor Bloomberg’s plan to reduce carbon by 30% by 2017, and that gives us an extra reason to pursue this.”

Considering the size of NYSD’s fleet, a transition to hybrids would certainly have an impact on the city’s environment. According to the department’s most recent annual report, NYSD dispatches about 4,992 trucks to collect 49,535 tons of curbside residential refuse. It also uses 450 rolloff containerized trucks to collect an additional 8,000 tons.

With such volumes and the concentration of New York City’s population, reliability is critical. Says DiRico, “Transitional technology can sometimes be a nightmare, but these particular trucks have been reliable and quite simple and transparent to the operator. So we’re now pursuing 25 more, and the budget has improved dramatically. They are about 25% of the original cost of the preproduction models, so we’re around $50,000 in terms of the differential cost between the newest cleanest diesel and the hybrid hydraulic version of that truck. That’s quite inexpensive compared to what we were expecting to see. And with the lower cost plus the hope of getting 20% to 30% gains in fuel economy, this a very exciting endeavor.”

Bosch Rexroth, Rochester Hills, MI, was one of the manufacturers that partnered with Crane Carrier in the NYSD pilot program. The company contributed its Hydrostatic Regenerative Brake (HRB) parallel hydraulic hybrid system to the project. The HRB system powered the Crane Carrier LET2 chassis in the trucks, integrated with a Heil refuse body hydraulic system for weight savings and efficient packaging.

According to Michelle DuHadway, account manager for Rexroth’s parallel regenerative hybrid braking systems unit, fuel savings weren’t the only benefits. “We’re finding that savings on brake replacements and reduced maintenance costs are substantial and, in some cases, a bigger benefit than the fuel savings,” says DuHadway. The majority of Rexroth’s trucks are in Europe, but the company has some preproduction units field-testing in New York, Virginia, and Texas.

“We’re getting ready for limited production units right now and full production later this year.” The company is also studying the feasibility of retrofits. Recently, Rexroth retrofitted its HRB system to a 2007 Mack Truck Granite Chassis with a Heil Environmental Formula 5000 rear-loader body, as part of a pilot at the Fairfax County Solid Waste Program in Virginia. “You really need enough of the same vintage truck models,” says DuHadway. “It’s not mechanically difficult, but it really comes down to the software and making sure the truck gives a good return on investment.” The HRB system was also displayed on an American LaFrance, Condor Truck at the 2011 Waste Expo.

The city of Baltimore tested a Condor truck with the HRB system, and hybrids should be an area of continued growth, says Richard Ball, director of marketing at American LaFrance, Somerville, SC. But not as fast as CNG. “We do a good strong LNG and CNG business, and we just did our largest natural gas fleet for Livermore, California,” says Ball. Condor delivered a fleet of 29 CNG trucks, including a mix of rear loaders, front loaders, automated side loaders, and rolloffs to Livermore Sanitation.

Mack Truck was another participant in NYSD’s hybrid pilot and contributed a diesel-electric hybrid Mack TerraPro Low Entry model refuse truck. According to the company, it was the first production-intent parallel diesel-electric hybrid truck in the US designed specifically for Class 8 heavy-duty applications and meeting the EPA 2010 emission regulations. The TerraPro hybrid runs on a 325-horsepower Mack MP7 engine and Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) exhaust aftertreatment technology, and the diesel-electric hybrid power train features an integrated starter, alternator, and electric motor. The system captures energy from braking and converts it to electricity that’s stored in lithium ion batteries that power the electric motor, which assists the MP7 diesel engine with propulsion. In keeping with the trend towards natural gas, Mack recently introduced a natural-gas version of the TerraPro Cabover, available in either liquefied or compressed natural-gas-fueled models. Republic Services recently took delivery of 41 natural-gas TerraPro models.

Autocar, Hagerstown, IN, announced the commercial launch of its E3 advanced series hybrid chassis at Waste Expo 2011. After a thorough field test and validation program in the greater Miami area, a total of 11, E3 vehicles demonstrated that combining Autocar’s class 8 truck with the Parker Hannifin RunWise® hybrid system exceeded all expectations for both economy and reliability. The RunWise® hybrid module is the critical element, according to Mark Neale, director of applications engineering at Autocar. It replaces the vehicle’s standard automatic transmission, and because the E3 produces more torque at the wheels during initial propulsion, field tests demonstrate fuel consumption reductions of 30% to 50%, with typical savings of 45%. But Neale notes that the E3 saves more than just fuel.

For the environment, Autocar has committed to delivering the lowest emissions possible. By saving 4,500 gallons of diesel fuel per year in the average refuse application, the reduction of carbon dioxide per year drops by 50 tons per truck. Brakes last much longer because, in normal conditions, the mechanical brakes aren’t needed until the unit slows to 3 mph. Operators can expect an increase of eight times the typical life expectancy on the brakes, not to mention less in the way of noise and brake dust. In fact, adds Neale, the brakes and most of the E3’s operations run through the hybrid drive’s processor,

“We also do full engine management through the E3 because it’s a series system hybrid rather than a parallel,” says Neale. “So the RPM at the wheels are not necessarily dependent upon the RPM at the engine, and we can manage that engine more like a generator rather than a typical automotive engine. That’s one of the advantages of a series system over a parallel system: There is a disconnect between the engine and the drive axle.”

For operators wishing to connect up close with the E3, Autocar has been running demonstrations in Florida, Texas, and Indianapolis, for the Department of Energy’s Clean Cities Coalition Show. “We’ll be moving down into the Carolinas next,” says Neale, “but basically we have a rear loader in addition to the automated side loader, and anyone interested in learning more or physically operating the demo should contact their Autocar distributor for dates and locations.”

In Canada, Montreal-based Effenco Inc., offers a unique regenerative braking system called HEAD (hydraulic equipment assisting device). According to Simon Poulin, business development manager at Effenco, rather than applying the energy to move the truck, the HEAD system uses the stored energy to assist the engine when it is the least efficient: at idle while driving auxiliary equipment, such as the compactor, automated arm, and other devices driven by a PTO. “When the truck stops and the arm or the compaction cycle is deployed, HEAD cuts the fuel injection so the engine is turning without any fuel consumption, and this drives the hydraulic system of the truck,” says Poulin. “So it’s like the engine being driven without any fuel for the arm lift and compacting cycle of the truck.”

The HEAD system includes a dashboard-mounted screen that functions as an onboard dynamic driving guidance interface. The screen gives feedback to the operator about driving efficiency and displays performance data. After a two-year pilot program, Effenco now has five trucks on the road. “Most of the trucks are operating in Canada, but we’ve passed the pilot stage and we’re now selling our system,” says Poulin. “Very soon we should have two trucks in the US, probably around August.”

New Advantages

Hybrid drive systems aren’t the only new technologies getting headlines in the refuse vehicle industry. New designs in power takeoff units are making great strides in efficiency. For example, in September 2010, Kenworth Truck Co. introduced a new front-engine power takeoff (FEPTO) option for the Kenworth T800. The T800 FEPTO is designed and for municipal and vocational fleets that require a front engine PTO for snowplow, dump, mixer, refuse, crane, and other applications.

Eaton Vehicle Group, Southfield, MI, has also introduced a new power technology, POD (Power On Demand). The POD system replaces traditional fixed displacement gear and vane pumps with a variable displacement piston-type pump operating through load-sensing valves and manifolds. Benefits include reduced fuel consumption because there is almost no power needed at idle, yet the pump can quickly ramp up its output to match a load.

“We have about 10,000 piston pumps in service with the majority of those being in the city of New York,” says Corey Moore, Eaton’s market segment director for commercial, government, and military transportation. “And we believe that the data shows that they will last the life of a refuse truck, whereas a traditional gear pump has to be replaced 1.5 times over the lifetime of a truck. So the piston pump is out there, and it’s reliable, and it’s more efficient and quieter than the gear pump.”

According to Moore, another advantage is the ability to vary the displacement with increased engine speed. This eliminates the need for over-speed control valves typically used with gear and vane pump systems. Besides improving the efficiency of the circuit, productivity is better because the packer mechanism can work at all engine speeds.

Furthermore, pack at idle is easily attained because a variable displacement pump can match engine power by utilizing constant torque controls, either electronic or built into the pump. This results in reduced noise and further improves system efficiency. When combined with a hydraulic launch assist system, the fuel savings can reach 25% to 40% compared to traditionally equipped trucks based on actual field experience. Eaton reports that with both OEM and retrofit applications on refuse trucks, shuttle busses, and service trucks, HLA systems have covered more than 250,000 miles in daily operation. Peterbuilt is one of the latest manufacturers to announce limited production availability of Eaton’s HLA system in its Model 320 Hybrid Class 8 refuse truck.

Another new product from Eaton is the LifeSense hose, a patented hydraulic hose-condition monitoring system. LifeSense continuously monitors the health of hydraulic hose assemblies and alert users when an assembly approaches the end of its useful life. This technology allows the people to get the full life out of their hoses and eliminate failures that stop trucks from operating,” says Moore.

The McNeilus line of ZR trucks offers Eaton’s POD system as one of its newest products. According to Jeffry Swertfeger, director of marketing and communications for McNeilus in Dodge Center, MN, the ZR Series has a number of innovations. “On the ZR side loader, this is our first zero-radius side-loading refuse truck,” says Swertfeger. “We took a hard look at all the things in the market that we’ve learned from the side loaders we’ve been building for 10 years and took an existing body architecture and adapted a proven arm to it, then added a sophisticated control system that is all Multiplex-based controls. These are still new to the refuse industry but very common for us across our corporation’s products.”

The multiplex controls have diagnostic capabilities to simplify diagnostics and provide easier system analysis. For example, if a driver takes a truck out in the morning and notices that the arm isn’t operating as fast as normal, it would be typical to take it back to the shop and write up an issue. But the multiplex control pad has a series of status lights, including oil temperature, so the driver can check his control panel and see that the oil isn’t hot yet and it’s going to be sluggish until he gets his first loads going. “That’s something we never had before, where we can actually cross-talk to the chassis and understand what’s going on, and it’s a significant feature from a reliability standpoint,” adds Swertfeger.

Electronic Control Systems See More Data

Freightliner Trucks, a division of Daimler Trucks North America LLC, Portland, OR, recently announced improvements to electronic systems with its SmartPlex Electrical System for the Freightliner 114SD and Business Class M2 platforms. The electrical system provides flexibility for truck equipment manufacturers when configuring a truck to suit specific body installations. SmartPlex focuses on providing manufacturers with an efficient and reliable solution to increase the ease of body integration and application programming. It uses Freightliner’s proprietary control modules that connect to the J1939 data bus, controlling power to lights and equipment. SmartPlex also introduced a flex switch and lamp module—with capacity for up to 24 switches located in the overhead compartment.

Critical data monitoring of vehicle status is getting a boost from E-Z Pack in Cynthiana, KY. According to Tom Robbins, director of engineering, the new EZ Track product answers customer requests for an onboard monitoring system that would give drivers and maintenance and fleet managers, a dashboard-style presentation of a vehicle’s status for both the chassis and the body.

The system allows a driver to interact with a touch-screen tablet monitor in the truck. A maintenance manager can access the same information from a computer, which includes functions of the body and the chassis alike, plus options for up to 150 reports. “EZ Track uses a mobile modem that transmits information from the truck, and it’s an extensive range of data,” says Robbins. “The system reports critical information about hydraulics, including temperatures and oil levels. It also monitors how quickly the body is reacting, and the number of stops and pickups within a given time. Load capacity is monitored so a driver will know when it’s time to go to a landfill. If there’s a problem with a particular engine function the maintenance manager could get on the radio and tell an operator to pull off the road before there’s a critical failure.”

A GPS tracks the truck’s location and has a navigation function designed for use with routing systems software. Another unique feature integrates a truck’s video cameras for viewing on the screen (about 8 inches by 10 inches) and all of the views can be seen simultaneously in a matrix-style format. “We included a virtual keyboard for typing notes, and drivers can access a check list for their pre-trip inspections,” says Robbins. “The concept is to have an iPad-style device that can be removed from a cradle so an operator could walk around the various points on a truck and interactively go through a checklist. The wireless function could transmit the information to a database as it is checked off.”

Flexible programming allows users to develop monitoring for specific areas of performance, such as an automated arm. The system can compare various routes and statistics and show a truck’s performance and gauge an operator’s efficiency. For example, it will report fuel usage and miles per gallon. “This will train the driver to operate at maximum fuel efficiency,” says Robbins. An additional function called Easy Score helps maintenance managers in keeping up the truck and tracking an operator’s performance.

Telemetrics Market Surges

Navigation and route optimization software (telematics) and hardware are hot items for boosting refuse vehicle performance and efficiency. According to BCC Research, Wellesley, MA, the telematics industry will grow by 31% over the next five years to become a $20 billion market worldwide. Refuse vehicle fleets are a key component in that projected growth, and many companies are targeting the industry aggressively.

For example, CapturIT Onboard Intelligence, Exeter, NH, offers MyRoute Optimizer, to analyze existing routes, redesign master routes, and optimize daily distribution and collection. “We have expanded our software solution for managing mixed recyclable facilities,” says John O’Hare, vice president operations at CapturIT. “We see that as a very important step because the market has shifted and is moving towards new processes in receiving and costing.”

CapturIT’s tracking system helped the city of Grand Rapids, MI, in the creation of a program that turned around a floundering recycling program. “We went from dual stream to single stream and needed tracking to know if our recycling carts were at the right location and how often they were tipped,” says James Hurt, public services director for the city of Grand Rapids.

The program is based on creating an incentive for recycling by awarding points that can be redeemed at local businesses, and for goods and services provided by the city. Readers on the trucks allow CapturIT to track the RFID tags on the recycling carts, so the citizens don’t need to do anything more than the initial registration of their cart with the program. “It’s been an overwhelming success,” says Hurt. “We started with 37,000 carts because that’s how many recycling program customers we had going into the program, and in less than a year we have delivered 43,000, so that’s 6000 more than we originally anticipated.”

The benefit of having points that can only be used in local city businesses made it an instant attraction to the chamber of commerce. They provide administration services and named the program “Local First.” Along with all of the community benefits, Horn notes, Grand Rapids is saving money, thanks to lower tipping fees on the refuse side. “We get charged per ton and we have saved a lot of money because all that recycling material is removed from the wastestream.”

Another CapturIT product, MyStreet, allows for real-time data communication between the truck and the back office with GPS truck location, pickup verification with time and GPS coordinates, and the ability to monitor the engine RPM, truck speed, fuel consumption, foot brake signal, and odometer data in real time. CapturIT’s Ecometer allows real time feedback to drivers of driving behavior.

The rolloff container market is benefitting from telemetrics, says, Steven Van Ooyen, chief executive officer of Track What Matters, Flower Mound, TX, “Our business breaks up into two areas. The more unique item for us goes beyond GPS tracking and watching routes and solution-based events such as a hydraulic lift or dumping, and that’s the active tracking side,” Van Ooyen says. “The other side we get into with the containers. Often those bins are left for an extended period of time, and hopefully they end up where they’re supposed to be, but occasionally the wrong person picks them up and takes them to the wrong place. We have battery-powered weatherproof tracking devices to solve that problem. For truck fleets, Track What Matters allows fleet managers to see the current location of all trucks, paths traveled, speeds, stop times, idling times, and mileage.

Reducing idle time is a major benefit to tracking systems, according to Paul Benbow, marketing manager, Mobile311, Cary, NC. “It’s a big issue in the refuse industry, and we typically see a 10% to 20% reduction once managers begin tracking these idle time situations. Mobile311 also lets users flag work items in the field with a one-touch solution. Data such as the location, time, and type of work are instantly uploaded to a web-based map via a smart phone application.

Safety was a major consideration in Waste Connections’s, decision to contract with DriveCam Inc. of San Diego, CA, a global driver risk management company. Waste Connections signed a five-year contract to renew DriveCam’s managed service program across its entire fleet of 4,000 vehicles. In addition, Waste Connections has committed to including DriveCam’s latest product release, Fleet Tracking, on all of its vehicles over the same term.

According to a study at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, voice-based systems are a safer form of in-vehicle navigation. Verbal and audio systems do have advantages, says Andrew Watson, director of marketing at inthinc Technology Solutions in Salt Lake City, UT. “Our device is real time and verbal, so if a driver turns too fast or hits a bump too hard or they are speeding, a voice warns them,” Watson explains. “If they are speeding, it gives them a grace period before it logs a violation in the record. So the intent is to change a driver’s behavior rather than punish them. Then their habits improve, and consequently there’s an increase in safety.”

Tracking systems can have an impact on insurance fees, notes Mark Roberts, CMO of Discreet Wireless, Roswell, GA. “We did a customer satisfaction survey last year and the number-one benefit was a reduction in costs,” says Roberts, “with fuel being first, but also maintenance and insurance. You can also increase your driver productivity, safety and customer service with the integrated Garmin navigation and dispatching device.” Discrete’s Marcus product line can reroute drivers to new jobs, organize fleet routes, and send instant alerts from a computer or from a smart phone. It gathers GPS fleet data and statistics by vehicle, time, location, fleet, driver, or an individual event. “Expect this industry to continue evolving,” Roberts adds. “It started as a track-and-trace function and something of a virtual timecard, and now it’s evolving.”

An Answer to Cylinder Liner Cavitation Erosion

As is generally known, water in traditional coolants allows corrosion throughout an engine’s cooling system, where the most serious problem is cavitation of cylinder liners caused by the erosive effect of collapsing bubbles over the surface of the liners’ exterior face. Eventually, the resulting erosion can penetrate the wall of the cylinder.

Evans waterless coolant, with its large separation between the operating temperature and the boiling point prevents cavitation erosion of cylinder liners, as confirmed in John Deere’s Engine Cavitation Test, performed in April 2009 by a third-party laboratory.

Additionally, with its boiling point of 375°F, Evans waterless coolant permits higher temperature engine operation at a lower pressure, reducing stress on cooling system components.

The Future Is Coming Fast

Ultimately, the theme of evolution could well be applied to most other areas of technology in refuse vehicles. For example, the first fully electric refuse truck was unveiled at Pollutec 2010 by small and medium truck manufacturer, PVI, France, and its partner SITA, a subsidiary of Suez Environment. The 26-ton, zero-emission truck’s electric power train boasts significantly reduced noise pollution, zero local emissions and no idling during inactive periods. It has a maximum speed of 70 kilometers per hour at full payload, and the added benefit of 100% starting torque. Drivers will be able to collect a payload of 16 tons in two rounds of service. The modular plug-in battery pack was also designed to be interchangeable or accommodate a partial recharge between two daily service rounds.

On another front that relates to the future of heavy-duty electric powered vehicles, Hyundai Heavy Industries is supplying electric buses to the city of Seoul, Korea. The e-Primus bus relies totally on batteries, and has regenerative braking. It can attain speeds up to 62 mph, with a range of about 50 miles, and needs just 30 minutes to recharge its lithium-ion polymer batteries. Volvo Trucks is now selling its model RE Hybrid in Europe. The design uses a diesel engine and electric motor either simultaneously or independently of each other. The electric motor also can power the compactor.

Hybrids in the lighter weight classes continue to enter the market. In March 2011, Hino Trucks, Novi, MI, unveiled four models of the newly designed Class 4 and Class 5 cab-over-engine (COE) hybrid powered trucks. In the Class 4 market, Hino will offer the 155 diesel model and its first US Class 4 diesel-electric hybrid model, the 155h. The 155 and 155h models carry a 14,500-pound GVW rating. In the Class 5 market, Hino will offer the 195 diesel model and the first-ever US Class 5 diesel-electric hybrid model, the 195h. The 195 and 195h models will carry a 19,500-pound GVW rating.

Here in America, at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, Vision Motor Corp. is supplying one big-rig truck and one terminal tractor for testing for 18 months to the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, with an anticipated start in 2011. Vision Motor Corp. designs and manufactures advanced zero-emission, hydrogen fuel cell hybrid electric drive, Class 8 heavy-duty commercial trucks. Both vehicles have batteries recharged by hydrogen fuel cells. The trucks will be tested under typical conditions for these short-haul vehicles. These are important projects if judged just on the merits of the budget. Each port has agreed to provide $212,500 from its Technology Advancement Program funds toward the cost of the $1 million project.

Another project at the ports will partner US 1 Industries with Capstone Microturbines for a pilot to test a truck powered by batteries that use a microturbine to recharge the batteries when they reach a predetermined state of discharge. Recharging batteries is an area of constant research, and power can come from some unique areas of a vehicle. For example, Levant Power in Cambridge, MA, is developing a shock absorber that can generate electricity and lower fuel consumption by 1.5% to 6%. The company is targeting trucks and buses as ideal candidates for its technology.

Considering the past migration of natural gas from lighter vehicles to Class 8 trucks, it’s more than likely that history will repeat itself with these new technologies. So it’s fair to say that we’re just seeing the beginnings of a new age in refuse vehicle technology, and a very exciting future is already taking shape.

ASLs Versus Traditional Rear Loaders

“The automated sector is a growing market”, says Terrance Barnes, vice president at Loadmaster, who has seen a continuous increase in ASLs in the solid waste market in the recent five years.

Earlier this year, Loadmaster debuted the Eclipse automated side loader system at the Waste Expo show in Dallas, TX, which incorporates an integrated display panel allowing custom settings and adjustments to the speed and force of the arm. This “brain” allows for programmable internal control of the vehicle, which produces smoother movements of the arm and lessens the jerking and jarring that the vehicle endures during the pickup process. As a result, the life of the body and chassis is prolonged. Moreover, display panel alerts and proximity switches provide troubleshooting messages that assist drivers or technicians to quickly locate problems. Safety is also a key player, as managers can lock the customized settings to prevent unintended or unauthorized changes to the desired arm settings.

While this technology might be new to the solid waste market, it has been a veteran of the construction market for use in loader applications.

Loadmaster’s Eclipse can be adapted to any chassis, and the company is in the process of developing a dealer training school to educate about the basics on the Eclipse display panel’s use and benefits. Loadmaster offers hands-on training, which is performed onsite in an actual truck.

Author's Bio: Writer Ed Ritchie specializes in energy, transportation, and communication technologies.

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