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The Low Down on Municipal Waste Vehicles ‘Options and Opinions’


ew issues can stir as much passion and fervour in the normally mild citizens of the country as that of waste management. As can be clearly seen by the long running debate surrounding the proposed waste incinerator for Dublin. To date this issue has not been resolved and looks set to continue for some time to come. The fact that the facility is planned for Dublin is to some degree irrelevant. Wherever the location of a waste handling facility is proposed, it will cause the instant formation of opposition groups, often composed of persons who under normal circumstances may have little in common. All of which makes life difficult for those who provide services to the industry, and try to make a profit from those services. The sector is in a constant state of change, and with increasing levels of regulation from National Government and Local Authorities it can be difficult to plan for the future.

Planning for the future is key to the success of any business, and the unplanned and almost total demise of the construction industry brought with it a difficult period for those who provided waste transfer services for construction companies. There’s little doubt this resulted in a number of companies closing and others have merged or been taken over. Servicing the construction sector placed a heavy demand on vehicles and equipment, and with that work all but gone, can the waste and recycling companies survive? With any business model, if a mainstream source of work dries up, and companies begin competing for revenue, prices are inclined to go down. Unfortunately these events occurred at a time when fuel costs soared, therefore for anyone operating in this environment there is little doubt that there must be casualties. Waste handling is an extremely capital intensive business, requiring heavy investment in specialised 24


vehicles and equipment. For the most part the equipment cannot be used for any purpose other than its original design which limits the opportunities for operators to diversify. If a small haulage company were to cease trading, the tractor units and trailers would dissolve into the national fleet and be absorbed without great difficulty, this is not so easily accomplished with municipal vehicles. Recent decisions by some Local Authorities and County Councils to outsource waste collection to the private sector provided an opportunity for some companies to tender for work that was previously unavailable to them. Now that the majority of these arrangements are in place, there are some concerns that collections of household waste in its present format is uneconomical for the companies, and that a change in pricing structure will have to come about. Where residents previously had

one vehicle per week collecting all refuse they now have a varying number of vehicles doing a somewhat similar task. One consequence of the Public Authorities decision to divest themselves of refuse collection, was to release a number of used vehicles back into the market. These vehicles were absorbed relatively quickly as most had low milage and were in good repair, and as such were good value when compared to new equipment. The purchase of any new vehicle is a major undertaking, however for municipal vehicles with dedicated bodywork, getting the specifications right takes on a different meaning than for a general haulage rigid or tractor. However there is no shortage of expert help at hand from vehicle suppliers, many of whom have purpose built units to cater for the sector. One such company

WASTE MANAGEMENT synonymous with low cab variants for road sweeping and refuse collection is Dennis Eagle. Importers of Renault Trucks in Ireland, Setanta Vehicle Sales is now the exclusive agent for the Dennis Eagle range. Dennis has long been recognised as leaders in the design and supply of specialised work vehicles and not just in Europe. Their expertise in this field can be seen as far away as South Africa and recently with a ‘twin-steering wheel’ road sweeper in Australia. Th is recent co-operation has enabled Dennis to market their products through the Renault Truck Network as the Renault Access. ‘Fleet Transport’ spoke to Martin Ryan (Sales Director) of Dennis Eagle (Ireland) Ltd, and Kevin Else, Denis Eagle’s Deputy Managing Director. Kevin comes to Ireland regularly with Martin visiting customers to discuss issues of concern, and one of these issues is fuel. Martin says, “it is very tough for companies to make a profit at the moment,” adding that companies are trying to improve routing through GPS and telematics to reduce costs and improve productivity. Setanta can supply a wide range of Dennis chassis cab configurations from 4x2 to 8x4 - mid-steer with Olympus bodywork, and choice is further enhanced with a narrow cab option. Seating options range from driver +1 to driver +4 in a cab tailored exactly to the area of work, with easy clean functional materials and one step entry. The preferred driveline for Dennis is a Euro 5 Volvo 7 litre, coupled to an Allison MD 3000 six-speed fully automatic transmission.

the sector and the truck continues to develop and evolve quietly in the background away from more mainstream Mercedes-Benz products. However this does not mean Econic is the poor relation of the Daimler Group. Th roughout its history it has benefitted from the same advances in technology as other vehicles from the German manufacturer. All Econics now come as Euro 5 and are rated, as ‘Enhanced Environmentally-friendly Vehicle (EEV).

We asked Martin and Kevin about developing trends and the level of interest in Euro 6 or Hybrids. It appears that even in the environmentally demanding area of urban vehicles, neither have created any interest. Hybrids remain too expensive, and there is as yet, no appetite for Euro 6. However both Kevin and Martin are expecting to see an increase in sales of Euro 5 vehicles before the Euro 6 deadline comes into effect.

The Econic is based on a tried and trusted driveline of the 6.4 litre OM906 LA or the 7.2 litre OM926 LA - 6 cylinder engines. Giving a choice of three power ratings of 238 hp, 286 hp and 326 hp respectively, all driving through a six speed Allison transmission. Allison being the transmission of choice for the majority of manufacturers for this type of work. Most agree that some fuel savings could be gained with a standard manual or automated manual transmission, though there is a belief that for the modern mode of operation in

Martin noted that for some operators the availability of Renault Truck with an Olympus is preferred for vehicles operating outside of major cities, as low entry, low floor cabs are not as comfortable when travelling between towns, and standard truck heights provide better visibility on rural roads. Th is also provides some savings as a standard automated manual transmission (AMT) can be significantly cheaper than a fully automatic box with a torque convertor.

densely populated urban areas, a regular clutch type transmission could not deal as well with the rigours of this work, nor be as reliable. Econic has created a niche for itself in the market, which is confirmed by the high demand for used models. As a waste vehicle, Econic’s low entry cab can be easily equipped to cover all requirements, including multiple seating arrangements. Its highly practical near-side folding door is a sensible option where the door is being used constantly and reduces the risk of expensive damage in windy conditions, as well as providing additional safety benefits. Again Econic can be supplied in a variety of chassis configurations, from 4x2 to 8x4/4, with a choice of two cab heights 2.395 and 2.845mm and a cab width of 2.280mm. Bodywork for waste collection and other municipal applications is fitted and cared for by partner companies who work in conjunction with MUTEC the ‘Municipal and Utilities Truck Equipment Company, a division

The Dennis/Setanta joint venture would appear to work well, with both sides bringing to the table a great deal of knowledge and experience in the particular field. With Renault Truck Finance also on board for those who wish to go that route, it has created a one stop shop for operators. Another easily recognisable low entry cab, specifically targeting the municipal sector is the Mercedes-Benz Econic. Although unmistakable on the road few outside the intended areas of operation have ever driven this popular and familiar truck. Econic is highly regarded within FLEETTRANSPORT | MAR 12 25

WASTE MANAGEMENT sight in Irish towns and cities. Volvo dealer Irish Commercials (Naas) will have a demonstration vehicle available soon. Th is is the first Low Entry Volvo into Ireland and features Geesinknorba G Series 22m3 body 3 in 1 Combi Split Bin Lift.

of Motor Distributors Ltd. Econic is an all purpose utility vehicle which has served operators well and looks set to continue. If asked to identify a low entry truck it is fair to say that many mention the Dennis Eagle or the Econic. They have a history in Ireland and are reasonably familiar to the general public - but they are not the only options. Volvo’s FE ‘Low Entry Cab’ (LEC) is a worthy contender in the contest for special service vehicles. Using Volvo’s D7 - engine at 300hp or 340 hp to drive through an Allison transmission means the purpose built FE LEC possesses all the qualities necessary. The 26 tonne 6x2 rear-steer tag with walk-through cab can accommodate up to four and is a very dynamic looking truck. Visibility is excellent for city traffic and if required a kneeling function lowers the entry level by another 100mm. Th is tried and tested vehicle may not be common here, but in Sweden they have proved their worth. FE is designed with a more than adequate turning circle and a rear steered tag axle is available for the 6x2 variant. Designed as special purpose vehicle means that it performs well at its task, and put together with a build quality that is typically Volvo, means that FE LEC could become a more familiar



In a similar fashion Scania’s low entry offering is another purpose built vehicle targeting the sector. As one of the most popular vehicle manufacturers with both operators and drivers, Scania’s P-series Low Entry is another well presented and appealing truck. Operating in residential areas even on an occasional basis, a commercial vehicle should not appear threatening to the public, and should provide the driver with as much help as possible to complete the work safely for all concerned, and here Scania tick all the boxes. Available in 2,3 or 4 axle configurations the Low Entry Cab is mounted forward of the front axle which allows for exceptionally wide entry steps. Combined with the extra-wide doors opening to 90° access, and well placed grab handles in a bright yellow colour access and egress is excellent. In addition good design and ergonomics provides seating options to cater for up to four persons in a comfortable easy clean workplace. The low entry cab options offer a choice of three heights, low, normal and high, and a kneeling option is also available. Driveline choices offer four engines with power outputs from 240hp to 360hp, and two transmissions, a fully automatic torque converter or Scania’s own automated manual Opticruise.

Again Scania’s P-series is a truck widely used and highly regarded in Europe and not solely for refuse collection. Variants can be found at all manner of service applications and especially with fire and emergency services - which says a lot about its ability to do the job. A significant development in late 2011 was the appointment of an approved agent in Ireland for the Geesinknorba range of products. Geesinknorba Ireland will provide waste collection and recycling solutions from their base in Naas, County Kildare and Oranmore, County Galway, working in partnership with the long established Volvo truck and bus dealer Irish Commercials. Widely recognised throughout Europe as a builder of high quality bodies, compactors and lifting systems, Geesinknorba sees opportunities in the Irish market to develop its customer base. The idea of a one stop shop always appeals to operators, and the Naas facility can handle all necessary work from initial fitting to scheduled servicing and repairs. In fact, repair and maintenance is carried out on all makes of municipal vehicles. Geesinknorba’s catalogue details a product range in excess of 800 variations, covering vehicle capacities from 7.5 to 32 tonnes. The catalogue also details some interesting concepts, including a plug-in electric body, which trials have shown to provide significant savings in fuel consumption and a dramatic reduction in noise levels. Using a PTO to charge a battery, ancillaries are then driven electrically allowing quiet operation and potential fuel savings in excess of 20%. The plug-in electric system has been operational in Sweden since 2003 and is now available to the Irish market. With over 800 variations available, there is a combination to suit any area of operation, and body conversions and upgrades are also an option many are taking. A quick tour of a demonstrator vehicle shows that the caliber of workmanship and the quality of materials and components alone will generate interest from operators in the sector.

WASTE MANAGEMENT Geesinknorba bodies can be specified and fitted to any vehicle regardless of the make. Finance is available through Volvo Financial Services if the truck specified is a Volvo. In the search for efficiencies in waste collection and recycling, technology is playing an ever more important role. At the forefront in this area is Advanced Manufacturing Control Systems (AMCS) on the Ballysimon Road in Limerick. AMCS has recently launched its‘Routeman 5’ package based on the ELEMOS software platform. Routeman can be installed on a selection of mobile computing devices, and uses Sat-Nav to assist the driver with route planning and advises on weight restrictions, and low bridges. Also additional pickups can be advised and immediately updated on the driver’s touch screen. Combining GPS and ‘Radio Frequency Identification’ (RFID) with the AMCS soft ware, a tag is associated with each customer so any collection data including weighing can be allocated to that customer. Once a task is complete the system verifies completion, and for commercial customers the Routeman reporting can generate reports and raise invoices. AMCS plan to include a facility to photograph contentious issues such as blocked access and recycling contamination later this year, which could help to reduce and resolve disputes with customers. Through their support team AMCS can interact with drivers in real time to change configurations and upgrade the systems soft ware remotely on individual vehicles. The system can be tailored to meet the specific operators requirements and will provide a range of functions covering all aspects of the business.

drying up the immediate future looks somewhat uncertain.

solution may be has yet to be determined. However, one must admire the industries ability to change and adapt to whatever challenges may arise.

Th is is somewhat ironic as one thing we are sure of is that we will continue to produce waste, which needs to be removed and processed in some manner. What the most economically viable

It would appear that operators in the waste collection and recycling industry have never had it so good - regarding options at least. There is a range of vehicles, bodies and equipment which is as technologically advanced as any area of the transport industry. However the sector is undergoing dramatic change and with evermore stringent regulations and certain revenue streams

GEESINK NORBA MINI RCV For operators of Municipal Waste Management Vehicles in tight City environs Geesinknorba has developed an interesting product in the Geesink Norba 0520 Mini. Constructed on chassis down to 7.5 tonne GVW chassis, it comes in three body sizes of 5,6 and 7 cubic metres. It also has a binlift option, capable of lift ing all standard wheeled bins. Geesinks mini range is proven to be as tough as its full size relatives and is easy to repair.

Euro 6 – No Pal to the Municipals The complex issue of Euro 6 technology and its applications to municipal vehicles is one which may need further consideration, as the operational cycle of these trucks may not achieve the stringent temperature requirements necessary to ensure clean burning. In addition when operating in urban areas the opportunities for high speed driving to clean a Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) are limited. The manual regeneration process used to purge a DPF involves creating extreme temperatures to burn off ash deposits, and the vehicle must be parked in a suitable location for the process to take place. As municipal vehicles are required to route the exhaust vertically this may create another issue which needs to be investigated further. Text & Photos: Paul White -