Why Alternative Fuel Vehicles Still Make Sense


There’s no denying that many early alternative fuel adopters made the transition years ago because gasoline and diesel were much more expensive in comparison. Although anyone at the pump knows traditional transportation fuel prices have remained relatively low for a while now, what might be in store for gasoline and diesel costs in the near future? And, more importantly, why are fleets across the U.S. still switching to alternative fuels, such as natural gas or propane autogas?

Regarding the first question, NGT News turned to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

Jonathan Cogan, spokesperson for the government agency, said the EIA found that average U.S. retail prices for gasoline and diesel in 2017 rose to $2.42/gal and $2.65/gal, respectively. Furthermore, the EIA forecasts further increases in the coming year and 2019.

“EIA expects the retail price of regular gasoline to average $2.51/gal during the first quarter of 2018, $0.19/gal higher than at the same time last year, primarily reflecting higher crude oil prices,” explained Cogan. “EIA expects that the U.S. monthly retail price of regular gasoline will increase from an average of $2.54/gal in January to a 2018 peak of $2.63/gal in August before falling to $2.47/gal in December 2018. The U.S. regular gasoline retail price, which averaged $2.42/gal in 2017, is forecast to average $2.57/gal in 2018 and $2.58/gal in 2019.”

Similarly, Cogan said, “The diesel fuel retail price averaged $2.65/gal in 2017, which was $0.34/gal higher than the average in 2016. The diesel price is forecast to average $2.95/gal in 2018 and $3.01/gal in 2019, driven higher primarily by higher crude oil prices and growing global diesel demand.”

Granted, despite the expected increases, those prices still aren’t as high as those that helped spur the alternative fuel vehicle revolution years ago.

“The reality is that, in 2017, the difference between natural gas and diesel was not significant,” said Daniel Gage, president of natural gas vehicle (NGV) trade group NGVAmerica.

“I hate to speculate on EIA forecasts, because they are just that – forecasts that often don’t prove true,” claimed Gage, who later acknowledged that “when diesel prices rise higher and higher, owners of larger fleets often look to other, lower-priced alternative fuel options like natural gas.

However, switching to an alternative fuel offers fleets a variety of benefits aside from potentially lower fuel prices alone.

Basin Disposal's (of Washington State) new CNG-powered residential garbage truck

“First, it’s environmentally friendly,” said Gage. Indeed, state and local governments and small and major companies are increasingly setting sustainability goals. Transportation fuels like natural gas and propane autogas help these institutions achieve their targets because the alternative fuels burn much cleaner than conventional fuel and, thus, reduce harmful emissions. In addition, Gage says the use of U.S.-produced alternative fuels “contributes to energy security and reduces our nation’s reliance on petroleum-based fuels,” which are often imported.

NGVs and autogas vehicles also often perform better in colder temperatures and require less maintenance than diesel vehicles. In the case of maintenance savings with natural gas, Gage said, “Its lack of lead means no fouling of spark plugs; crankcase oil is not diluted or contaminated. Its cleaner burning extends intervals between oil changes and tune-ups. It does not react to metal, so it is less corrosive.”

Phil Squair, senior vice president of governmental and public affairs at the National Propane Gas Association (NPGA), added, “There is no question that economic factors are the primary reason consumers switch from one fuel to another.”

That’s why continued support through federal, state and local funding is essential.

For example, Squair said, “State policies play a major role in autogas vehicle adoption.” Gage agreed about the importance of such policies, saying, “States can impact the adoption of natural gas technology primarily through the adoption of incentives and the supported development of refueling infrastructure.”

Myriad states have a long history of providing incentives to help fleets offset the cost of purchasing alternative fuel vehicles and to help fund the build-out of infrastructure. For example, Pennsylvania recently awarded more than $1.1 million to support five projects through its Alternative Fuel Incentive Grants program. Such programs throughout the country have spurred alternative fuel vehicle adoption and a growing network of refueling stations.

Squair noted that NPGA is also “pressing state regulators to adopt propane technologies” when using states’ funding from the Volkswagen diesel-emissions scandal settlement. “Propane is a very economic solution compared with other options, so state energy and other goals can be advanced in this manner,” he said. NGVAmerica has also launched a similar initiative advocating NGV adoption.

On the federal level, NGVAmerica and NPGA recently teamed up to push for the renewal of lapsed alternative fuel tax credits.

“The extension of the alternative fuel tax credit is so important,” stated Squair. “We are working with hundreds of other organizations to pass an extenders bill this Congress.”

Fleet adoption

Many fleets, large and small, still find alternative fuel vehicles attractive.

According to Gage, “Refuse and transit players are dominant in the [NGV] market. But medium- and heavy-duty vehicles and high-fuel-use applications – like smaller shuttle buses, delivery trucks, and light-duty pickups – also are popular natural gas candidates. Since natural gas vehicles can be refueled quickly (just like gas/diesel) or through time fill (slowly overnight, for example), it works for long-haul trucking along refueling corridors and fleets that return to base nightly.”

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For example, Waste Management, a Houston-based provider of waste management services in North America, continues its major transition to natural gas as part of its sustainability efforts. The company currently operates a fleet of over 6,000 natural-gas-powered trucks, and it recently revealed plans for more compressed natural gas (CNG) refuse trucks slated for a new facility in South Carolina.

In a press release, Tracey Shrader, the area president for Waste Management, said, “We continue to be a leader in our industry by investing in CNG infrastructure and trucks fueled by CNG – a win for our customers, the environment, and Waste Management.”

When announcing a Miami-Dade Transit order for 300 CNG buses early last year, Alice N. Bravo, Miami-Dade County’s department of transportation and public works director, said, “By upgrading our fleet with CNG buses, we’re implementing a cost-effective approach to the reduction of our dependency on petroleum-based fuel and lowering our maintenance costs.”

In October, several United States Postal Service (USPS) contract-carriers inked CNG fuel- supply deals for new heavy-duty trucks. At the time, USPS’ Bridget Rice said, “Our carriers live in the very same communities we serve, and we continue to look for ways to reduce our impact on the environment. Since 2005, we have increased the use of alternative fuels by 141 percent, and we are encouraged that our contract-carriers are using alternative fuels as well.”

As for autogas, there has been “strong growth” of propane-powered bus adoption among school districts across the nation, according to Squair.

For example, Township High School District 211 in Illinois recently announced plans to add 15 autogas buses to its fleet. When explaining the decision, Diana Mikelski, District 211’s director of transportation, called propane “a good fit” and said it had “an overall lower cost, is more environmentally friendly and has increased winter reliability.”

Mikelski added, “Diesel buses have to be plugged in during the winter. Even then, the fuel can gel if it’s too cold. With propane buses, the fuel is not subject to gelling and the buses do not require electricity.”

In Ohio, Laketran recently announced an expansion of its propane-powered partransit bus fleet. General Manager Ben Capelle reported “positive feedback” from drivers and riders on its current autogas vehicles and said the agency is “reducing our fuel expenses by 35 percent and saving on maintenance expenses.”

In December, beverage company Nestle Waters North America announced it was significantly boosting its propane-powered fleet to 600 vehicles with the addition of 400 medium-duty delivery trucks.

We’ve been running propane autogas vehicles since 2014, beginning with five Class 5 vehicles,” explained Bill Ardis, national fleet manager for the company’s ReadyRefresh unit. “Based on the proven emissions reduction compared with our older diesel units, and lower fuel and total cost of ownership, we knew this was the right application for us within the alternative fuel space.”

According to Squair, “Other areas of [autogas] growth include law enforcement and first responder vehicles, as well as commercial lawn mowing.”

Looking ahead

Squair and Gage seem optimistic about autogas and natural gas vehicle adoption, respectively.

For Gage’s part, he said, “Steady growth for NGVs appears likely – for both traditional on-road applications like trucks, trash, and transit – but also for off-road applications for mining and construction vehicles, and high-horsepower applications like rail, and open water/inland waterway marine.

Of course, natural gas and autogas aren’t the only alternative fuel options, either. For example, fleets are also increasingly going electric. Whether it be through a municipal deployment of light-duty electric vehicles in Virginia, a large roll-out of hybrid vans for telecommunications giant Verizon, or an order of electric transit buses slated for Los Angeles, fleet operators consider electric technology another viable, cost-effective alternative to diesel and gasoline.

Despite the best predictions, future prices for conventional fuels are nearly guaranteed to stay volatile. Nevertheless, the future for alternative fuel adoption – and the many benefits associated with a cleaner transportation sector – remains promising.

Source: NGT News & WIH Resource Group All rights reserved

Also check out this great book by Author Tracy Todaro Wallace: “Forget What You Think You Know“, now on Amazon at https://goo.gl/1BBxm6

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Fleet Maintenance and Best Management Practices in the Solid Waste Industry


In order to best determine what improvements may be needed for a City’s or private waste hauler’s solid waste collection fleet, an examination of the fleet’s management, maintenance programs, vehicle replacement schedules, accounting methods, parts inventory management, procurement and a whole host of other critical areas—all of which affect the cost of operating the fleet—is needed.

“Benchmarking and establishing best management practices (BMPs), allows fleet maintenance and management to develop a baseline from which improvement goals can be established”. Bob Wallace, MBA – President, WIH Resource Group, Inc.

In addition, a comprehensive analysis of both the types of services the fleet is providing contrasted with exactly how the fleet is being operated to serve the exact needs is critical. All too often in conducting fleet maintenance and management evaluations, it is determined that the fleet specifications and the associated container type(s), are not optimal for the services the fleet is being required to provide.

Best Management Practices (BMPs)

The term “Best Management Practices” (BMPs) is used to describe the proven techniques, methods and process used by vehicle and equipment management operations to optimize competitiveness, performance and cost effectiveness. Many fleet managers implement best practices as a means to improve operational outputs and customer relations, while reducing the cost to deliver these services.

While industry standards vary somewhat depending on specific vehicle manufacturer; respective components—such as engine, axles, drivelines and transmissions—an important method and valuable tool for any organization, public or private is to benchmark its own fleet management and maintenance procedures against other like sized organizations with comparably climate, geography (terrain) and service area sizes (population) and service types (automated collection verse manual), solid waste, recycling, green waste, food waste, bulk or alley services. This refines and identifies exactly how an organization compares to other organizations in terms of industry comparable BMPs.

Industry Standards and Benchmarking Studies

Benchmarking can be defined as the systematic process of searching for best practices, innovative ideas and highly effective operating procedures that lead to superior performance—and then adapting them to improve the performance of one’s own organization. Benchmarking has been widely embraced by both the private and public sectors as an essential business practice for continuous performance improvement. Solid waste collection fleet managers rely on benchmarking data to:

  1. Objectively measure the quality and levels of the services they provide.
  2. Identify and implement best practices that will enable them to reduce costs and improve services.

Collection Services Review: Residential, Commercial, Industrial and Recycling

Before choosing the components of a collection operation, an organization needs to know what it wants and what services it needs to provide to its customers. Identifying specific needs and service types aids in determining what procedure or type of equipment will fill that need. Next, reviewing the range of optimal specification of the equipment, their tare weight, costs and options, and finding out who manufactures the optimal equipment, allow for an informed and educated decision. All of the products, procedures and systems for the solid waste industry will work, with varying degrees of success, under varying conditions. So how does a fleet manager choose?

The rationale for change can range from a desire to improve operations, satisfy a new demand for services, correct a deficiency or renew worn-out equipment. Whatever the problem, it is important to understand it completely. Trying to determine the financial or political costs of solving the problem are key.

The next step is to visualize what might solve the problem. Can it be solved in one stage, or would it take more? Sometimes one phase must be up and running before the next phase can be implemented. Are there future options that must be allowed for now? Can reordering your present resources solve the problem? It’s important to perform a cost-benefit analysis of all the options.

Fleet Management Audits: Maintenance Verses Operations

Many mechanics contend that drivers abuse trucks, while drivers complain that mechanics cannot keep trucks on the road. The truth likely lies in the middle, but how do managers know for sure? By improving fleet systems information, managers can use concrete data to pinpoint problems concerning procurement, employee attitudes, driver training and to evaluate mechanics’ productivity and performance.

A comprehensive fleet management audit can be valuable in evaluating drivers, mechanics, and operating and cost performance measures that are regularly used to effectively manage a fleet organization. Key performance measures include the unit cost to operate each piece of equipment, the ratio of preventive maintenance costs to total maintenance costs, vehicle availability, vehicle use, labor productivity and shop rate. Managers then can:

  • Identify and allocate costs
  • Evaluate trucks’ conditions
  • Evaluate mechanic productivity and performance
  • Examine management information systems—hardware and software
  • Examine strategies for purchasing vehicles and parts
  • Examine vehicle replacement programs
  • Compare operations to similar-sized fleets

Fleet Size and Specifications Review

Presently, the collection of solid waste is much more expensive than its disposal. Most municipal collection fleets are made up of a variety of truck specifications that service areas with dissimilar topography, population density and waste generation rates.

When vehicles are selected for solid waste collection fleets there is usually very little consideration given to providing the required service at minimum cost. One possibility for minimizing collection costs is to select a fleet of collection trucks, while simultaneously satisfying the service constraints. To illustrate this approach, the waste collection system of a large metropolitan area should be analyzed for proper fleet size and type of collection vehicle. Selection of the optimal fleet size, type of truck and its specifications, are formulated and solved based on analysis of local needs, service parameters and a wide range of other regional and local considerations.

Fleet Use and Efficiency Evaluation

Experienced fleet managers can save 10 percent to 20 percent in maintenance costs—depending on their operation’s condition—if they devote just 20 percent of their time on analysis and long-term planning.

Although many fleet managers who advance to higher positions are strong on buying, repairing and selling equipment, they are weak in analysis and long-range planning—the functions that give their organizations the competitive edge. Analysis and long-term planning particularly are important when determining fleet size—a well-known factor in lowering transportation costs. One way to help optimize fleet size is to change shop hours.

For example, if all mechanics worked only day shifts, every truck serviced is one less truck out on the road. To complete routes, spares must be used, which often are the oldest and least reliable vehicles in a fleet. Spares also are the costliest to maintain, yet have to be kept in a satisfactory operating condition in order to keep them ready for use when newer trucks are being serviced.

Switching mechanics to evening/night shifts should allow maintenance to get rid of most of the reserve trucks, thus slashing maintenance costs and reducing the fleet size without affecting customer service. While this move likely will lower employee morale temporarily, in the long run, it could save jobs.

Fleet Preventative Maintenance Program

All vehicles and other pieces of motorized equipment require maintenance and repair during their life. Since a fleet management organization’s primary mission is to maximize the availability of vehicles so that its customers can productively do their jobs, the focus of maintenance management for such organizations needs to be in developing practices that minimize unscheduled incidents of repair and that return vehicles requiring repair to service in as little time as possible.

The objective of a preventative maintenance (PM) program is to minimize equipment failure by maintaining a constant awareness of the condition of equipment and correcting defects before they become serious problems. A PM program also minimizes unscheduled repairs by causing most maintenance and repair activities to occur through scheduled inspections. An effective PM program pays dividends not only in improved vehicle safety and reliability, but also financially by extending the life of vehicles, minimizing the high cost of breakdowns and reducing lost employee productivity resulting from fleet downtime.

Parts Inventory Management

A significant portion of a fleet operation’s annual expenditures can be accounted for in parts management. This cost can vary significantly from one fleet operation to the next depending on the composition, age and application of equipment in a fleet.

The primary goal of every parts operation is to maintain a sufficient inventory in order to fill a high percentage of part requests immediately while sustaining a high part turnover rate. This can be a difficult task, due to the logistics with seasonal parts, vehicle and equipment replacements, poor vendor performance, cumbersome procurement procedures, insufficient warehousing space, inadequate staffing levels, an antiquated information system and a wide array of other factors. Hence, efforts to reduce a parts operation’s costs and maintain an inventory to sustain an acceptable fill-rate can often time seem to be diametrically opposed.

Fleet Maintenance Training Programs and Policies

As refuse collection vehicles continue to grow in complexity and sophistication, the technicians who maintain them must upgrade their skills to keep the vehicles running properly. To reduce costs and prevent vehicle downtime while improving technicians’ capabilities and morale, organizations need to invest in new, ongoing technical training programs.

Making an investment in an organization’s people through training builds the morale of a team and helps keep the reliability of fleets at a higher standard.

Fleet Replacement Program

The replacement of vehicles and equipment in a timely manner is a problem for many fleet operations. The decision to replace equipment is often driven by the fiscal health of the organization, breakdown or failure of the asset, or some other unpredictable factor. However, a proper fleet replacement program can provide both fleet reliability and fiscal stability for a fleet operation and to the general organization.

Vehicles and equipment are replaced at various times depending on the type of vehicle and the nature and intensity of its use. Timely replacement is important for controlling vehicle availability, safety, reliability and efficiency. The economic theory of vehicle replacement holds that vehicles should be replaced when the sum of ownership and operating costs is at a minimum.

A fleet replacement plan projects future replacement dates and costs for each vehicle in a fleet. Its purpose is to identify long-term spending needs and associated budgetary requirements. In most fleet operations, vehicle replacement practices are dictated primarily by the availability of replacement funds rather than by objectives such as minimizing vehicle lifecycle costs. Consequently, the comparison of projected annual fleet replacement costs with historical replacement spending levels provides a good indication of the adequacy of fleet replacement practices—as opposed to guidelines or goals. Inadequate replacement spending not only increases the age and operating costs of a fleet, but also results in the accumulation of replacement needs that, if left unattended, can become so large that significant fleet downsizing is unavoidable.

Replacement guidelines are used to project and plan for future fleet replacement requirements and to trigger assessments of the need to replace individual vehicles whose age and/or life-to-date usage is approaching established guidelines. There are two primary methods of setting vehicle replacement criteria and retention cycles—the empirical (or lifecycle cost) method and the best practice method.

Fleet Financial and Accounting: Cost Allocation Management

There are basically two ways that operating funds can be provided to a fleet management organization to support the management, maintenance, and fueling of a fleet: through direct appropriations to the organization or through the use of an internal charge-back system which recovers the organization’s costs through charges to other organizations for the goods and services it provides them.

One reason for implementing a charge-back system is to promote equitable treatment of fleet users. Since users pay only for the resources they consume, there is no cross-subsidization of fleet costs under a properly designed and implemented charge-back system. One of the implications of this benefit is that fee supported departments and programs pay the full cost of the fleet resources they consume and do not receive any subsidies from the general fund, which often occurs when a fleet management organization is part of the general fund.

Fleet Maintenance and Management Performance Measurements

Implementation of a system of meaningful key performance indicators is another important initiative that a fleet management organization can pursue to improve communication with its customers and to demonstrate the value of the services that it provides. Performance measurement allows an organization to:

  • Reduce reliance on subjective judgment and speculation
  • Track performance against standards and benchmarks
  • Hone in on areas of the organization that require improvement
  • Track trends over time

Procedures should be in place to distribute work to mechanics so as to promote high levels of mechanic productivity and efficiency and to minimize repair turn-around time and assign the work to a specific mechanic based on an assessment of mechanics’ availability and skills. Additionally, a prioritization system should be used to identify vehicles that are to be moved ahead in the repair queue based on their importance to the customer organization.

Vendor and Contract Performance Reviews and Programs

Vendors may be relied upon to perform fleet maintenance and repair services for a variety of reasons, including managing in-house work backlogs; avoiding costly investments in facility construction, tooling, training, and staffing to meet low volumes of service demand in remote areas or for specialty repairs; and to achieve a degree of flexibility (e.g., in terms of locations, hours of service, etc.) in the provision of services.

The cost-effective use of vendors requires, however, that procedures be followed for 1) determining the comparative cost effectiveness of performing a service in-house or using a vendor, 2) managing and controlling vendor performance relative to individual service orders and ongoing service levels (in the case of contract providers of services), and 3) capturing all relevant information on vendor-performed services so as to maintain a complete record of vehicle maintenance history and costs and provide for timely user billing via a charge-back system.

Repair quality assurance procedures are used to ensure that requested services are performed properly. When repairs are not completed correctly, the vehicles are often returned resulting in “comeback” repairs. One of the best strategies for avoiding comebacks is to use some form of post-repair quality assurance process. Quality checks can range from simple road-tests, to quality checklists, to the complete observation of the repair.

Fleet Vehicle Maintenance Management: In-House verses Outsourcing

Outsourcing is a process that most people view as an all or nothing process. In some cases this is true. However many fleet management and maintenance operations are very efficient at specific services, such as preventive maintenance. In such an instance an appropriate approach may be to outsource part of maintenance services such as larger repairs like transmission and engine rebuilds.

Nonetheless, the choice of outsourcing part or an entire maintenance operation is not an easy one. It oftentimes requires the review of an impartial party that understands when an operation should be outsourced, how it should be done, and the contractual pitfalls that can result in unforeseen charges and financial liability.

Fleet Warranty Replacement and Repairs

Another critical cost management area of fleet maintenance relates to warranties. Fleet maintenance managers should strengthen its practices in this area by using the functionality of their fleet maintenance software programs and or in the case of manual records keeping, a method for identifying vehicles, components, and parts that are covered by manufacturer warranty. Significant cost avoidance and recoveries can be achieved through proactive efforts in this area.

Some organizations have outsourced warranty recovery activities to private sector firms that specialize in this service. These firms often perform on a contingent fee basis and are paid by taking a percentage of the money that they recover for their clients.

Fleet Management Technology

One of the most significant changes in the fleet industry has been a veritable explosion of quantitative data. The sources of these data are multitude: fleet management information systems, fuel management systems, ERP and financial management systems, professional association databases, the Internet, GPS and AVL solutions, Web-based reporting engines, ad hoc report writers and document imaging systems.

The increased availability of data on the fleet and the fleet operations has placed significant pressure on fleet managers and staff to maintain and produce a wide array of management information for clients, financial and auditing departments, executives, elected officials, and the general public. A major challenge for fleet managers has been and will continue to be the struggle to keep these entities sufficiently informed in a timely manner.

Some of the best fleet managers in the industry have addressed this requirement by implementing proactive processes and solutions that “push” information to stakeholders on a regular schedule. “Push” technology can automatically deliver key management decision making information to e-mail accounts, printers, fax machines, pagers, PDAs and other communication devices. An increasing number of fleet management organizations are using their own Web sites as a means of distributing invoices, reservation confirmations, recall notices and the like to their customers.

Collection Vehicle Routing and Route Auditing Review

With organization collection vehicles each approaching an approximate annual operating cost of $120,000, organizations have good reason to make every daily routing as profitable and efficient as possible. It should be the goal and intention of fleet management to reduce the overall operating expenses. The key contributors to cost are fixed vehicle cost, variable vehicle cost and labor expense. To begin to understand the daily operations, one must understand each line of business. The typical collection business is divided into three major areas: commercial, residential and industrial. Each area includes municipal solid waste and recycling material, and each is very different from the others. The single largest differentiator between residential and commercial routes is the mandatory adherence to driving on one side of the street. Unlike commercial routes, residential routes are only permitted to service customers on the right side of the street.

Industrial routes introduce a different routing problem. The differentiator between industrial and commercial is the size of the container. A typical commercial container is eight loose yards, while an industrial container may range from 20 to 40 loose yards and only one container may be serviced at a time. While hauling these large containers, it is common for each container disposed of and returned to the original customer’s location. Software using GIS-based route management applications deliver reduced operational costs by 1) organizing routes to minimize overlap and thereby reduce the number of vehicles required to service customers, and 2) sequencing the stops along a route to make the best use of fuel, driver schedules, and disposal trips.

Whether routing software or manual routing is performed, the net effect of reduced routes continues to improve operational efficiency and increase cost savings for organizations but also delivers a positive impact on the environment and employees. Fewer trucks on the road result in a noticeable reduction of emissions and noise in communities. Reduced travel during busy times of the day, and less traffic for the communities in which an organization serves are also noticeable benefits. Collection routes must be planned to incorporate organizational rules such as prohibiting zigzagging and double-siding collection operations. Several routing software offer these solutions.

In addition to establishing safety procedures and guidelines for equipment, waste companies should design their routes with accident prevention in mind. Defensive routing helps reduce the potential for trucks and employees to be placed in hazardous situations. Defensive routing means that a route design minimizes backing, eliminates double siding and zigzagging, maintains a safe speed and eliminates unprotected left-hand turns through right-hand routing. Solid waste collections service providers companies also should perform route observations to ensure that employees are working safely, wearing seat belts and other PPE, and following procedures.

Fleet Maintenance Environmental Compliance

Most refuse truck maintenance shop managers comply with federal, state and local safety and environmental regulations—when they know about them. There are numerous acts, regulations and agencies that apply to truck maintenance facilities, and it’s not always easy to find out about them or to understand them. This can make compliance difficult.

In surveys, most maintenance managers indicate that staying abreast of vehicle technology is their top challenge and concern, followed by compliance with governmental regulations; however, compliance looms larger in the event of an “incident.” Shop managers need to be trained effectively on environmental compliance matters just as any other significant size facility that manages special wastes such as shop solvents, used motor oil, antifreeze and other lubricants.

Maintenance managers should implement an extensive employee training program covering areas such as hazardous materials, fire protection, personal protective equipment (PPE) and toxic sub-stances. In addition, periodic inspections of tools and machines, receiving and storage areas, building conditions, and electrical, lighting, heating and ventilation systems.

Safety Policies, Procedures and Training

A perception exists in some quarters that waste is a dangerous business, and accidents are inevitable. However, industry members cannot afford to have such a passive attitude. Every injury is preventable, and firms have access to highly effective methods and equipment to help them manage employee safety. There is nothing routine about the waste industry. Driving conditions change; employees handle different materials from one day to the next; and disposal sites vary according to content. The only constant is that there will always be waste. Practical safety solutions require diligence and creativity on the part of management, supervisors and employees. Companies should remember that, despite the fact waste companies have much in common; each deals with special factors that require tailored solutions.

Lockout/Tagout (LOTO) accidents occur far too often, and LOTO violations are the most often cited OSHA violations for the industry. (OSHA’s LOTO standard requires that a piece of equipment’s energy source be de-energized, including blocking and bleeding, before maintenance or service is performed). LOTO-related injuries are under complete human control and are preventable. Maintenance shop accidents often occur as a result of improper LOTO while repairing such equipment as front end loader top door and forks, working under suspended loads, performing brake adjustments, replacing and testing hydraulic cylinders, and repairing rear door seals.

For every vehicle it owns, a company should refer to manufacturer guidelines, establish a maintenance schedule and stick to it. Furthermore, when emergency repairs are performed, make sure they are properly completed and not rushed to get the vehicle back in operation.

Safety must be an industry-wide goal, and waste companies can achieve better success if they work together to identify effective safety solutions. One step that waste companies can take to improve their workers’ safety is to adhere to American National Standards Institute (ANSI) equipment and operational standards. In the 1970s, a group of industry representatives identified the need for a set of waste industry safety standards that would supplement the more general Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations. ANSI guidelines are designed to help reduce accidents and injuries, and companies will benefit from incorporating them into their safety programs. The ANSI Z245 standards are much more useful to our industry than OSHA. The standards are specific to what we actually do. ANSI has made things more applicable and easier to understand.

Training should be the cornerstone of any waste organization’s safety program. Organizations must establish a culture in which employees know about hazards that exist in their work environment and in which they are properly equipped to handle all situations, routine and non-routine. Because waste industry workers generally are not under direct supervision, management must take the lead by providing effective training, personal protective equipment (PPE) and incentives that encourage employees to take responsibility for their own safety. Supervisors and managers should train their employees to do the following when they’re on the job:

  • Assess. When dealing with any situation, a worker should ask the following questions: What could go wrong? If something did happen, what would be the results? What can I do to avoid potential incidents?
  • Analyze. An employee should determine whether he or she is adequately trained and properly equipped to deal with the results of an accident.
  • Act. If the worker is properly prepared and equipped to perform the task, he or she should take actions necessary to ensure the job is done safely. If not, the worker should not undertake the task.

Safety starts with buy-in from your entire workforce. Employees must be able to make safety decisions and participate in the entire process.

Driver Safety, Development and Training Programs and Policies

Preventing fatalities, injuries and accidents in the solid waste industry is an ongoing struggle. Each day, tens of thousands of collection trucks run their routes, sometimes making more than 800 residential pickups. These trucks dump their loads at transfer stations, material recovery facilities, incinerators and landfills. Then waste is processed, transferred, or compacted via manual labor, sorting equipment and heavy equipment. This mix of trash, people, trucks and heavy equipment, often in close quarters, can result in safety hazards that can lead to accidents.

Despite these challenging conditions, the solid waste industry places a high emphasis on employee and community safety. Waste organizations recognize the relationship between safe operations and maintaining a productive and healthy workforce, providing a responsible presence to customers and their communities, and controlling the cost of waste services.

A waste management organization’s safety department is responsible for improving worker safety and, not coincidentally, reducing property damage, personal injury claims and workers compensation costs. However, it can be difficult for a safety director to single-handedly change an organization’s safety culture and persuade veteran workers to change their job performance.

Drivers, helpers and others are often more responsive to their direct reports or supervisors than to a high-level Safety Director whom they may rarely or never see.

Fleet Pride Programs

The solid waste collection industry has historically had problems with equipment abuse/misuse and pre-trip/post-trip inspections for years. These problems have affected organization’s operating budgets, safety, performance and job satisfaction. They have also built walls between the operations and maintenance staff and departments. One solution is a program that is waste designed to directly attack this problem and in the process reduce operating costs, improve safety and provide greater job satisfaction for drivers and technicians.

Consider this: If an organization has a $4.5 million investment in its fleet and fails to catch developing problems, it reduces the average vehicle life by only 1 percent, representing a $45,000 loss to the organization. There’s no price we can place on the value of being sure that equipment is safe when it hits the road. Most organizations have experiences that suggest that their drivers are not doing an effective job of inspecting their equipment. The program is driven by three major components:

  1. Manager training—Program success depends entirely on whether or not managers take this type of program to heart and effectively drive it. Other programs fall down if they were simply sent to the field with no further explanation or without a strong statement of support. So one of the program’s key strategy points is to be respectful of managers and provide full support—with the expectation that they will follow through.
  2. Incident awareness—This process helps each location to identify, log and analyze incidents where abuse/misuse or maintenance error were a factor. Managers are expected to demonstrate the same engagement in using this program as an ongoing tool to train staff and reduce incidents of abuse/misuse. The Incident Awareness Program creates accountability for front-line managers, technicians and drivers.
  3. Employee training—A series of training sessions begin with orientation and introduction to the new Incident Awareness process. The sessions also cover pre-trip/post-trip inspections and driving behaviors that contribute to equipment abuse/misuse.

Program objectives are:

  • Eliminate equipment abuse/misuse and improve pre/post trip inspections
  • Reduce operations and maintenance costs
  • Improve driver and equipment safety
  • Provide greater job satisfaction in operations and maintenance
  • Identify drivers and technicians likely to have accidents and provide safety/administrative intervention
  • Reduce conflict and increased collaboration between operations and maintenance regarding vehicle condition
  • Reduce operator and technician turnover costs

Establishing Best Practices

In summary, it is important for any refuse or recycling collection fleet management to implement Best Management Practices (BMPs) relative to their collection fleets’ maintenance programs and general fleet management. Benchmarking and establishing best management practices, allows fleet maintenance and management to develop a baseline from which improvement goals can be established.

The following comprehensive list is a summary of the solid waste and recycling collection industry standard BMPs and general recommendations in best managing and maintaining solid waste and recycling collection fleets:

  • Best Management Practices (BMPs)
  • Industry Standards and Benchmarking Studies
  • Fleet Management Audits – Maintenance Verses Operations
  • Fleet Size and Specifications Review
  • Fleet Utilization and Efficiency Evaluation
  • Container Management
  • Parts Inventory Management
  • Collection Services Review – Residential, Commercial, Industrial and Recycling
  • Fleet Preventative Maintenance Program
  • Fleet Replacement Program
  • Fleet Financial and Accounting – Cost Allocation Management
  • Operational Safety Policies, Procedures and Records
  • Fuel Management Program & Use of Alternative Fuels
  • Fleet Management and Maintenance Training Programs & Policies
  • Driver Safety, Development and Training Programs & Policies
  • Fleet Maintenance and Management Performance Measurements
  • Vendor and Contract Performance Reviews and Programs
  • Fleet Vehicle Maintenance Management – In-House verses Outsourcing
  • Fleet Warranty Replacement & Repairs
  • Fleet Management Technology – Onboard computers, scales, GPS,
  • Collection Vehicle Routing
  • Fleet Maintenance Environmental Compliance

As is the key with implementing any new business and operating improvements, and establishing companywide goals, frontline staff, mid-level and senior management program buy-in and support is the key. Without these levels of support, critical fleet maintenance and management best management practices typically fail.

Bob Wallace, MBA, is the President for WIH Resource Group (Phoenix, AZ), a global waste management consulting firm, providing diversified services and extensive experience to clients in both the private and public sectors. Bob has more than 28 years experience in M&A due diligence & transactional support, legal expert witness services, customer satisfaction polling and surveying, financial assessments, solid waste and recycling management, transportation / logistics operations, fleet management, alternative vehicle fuel solutions (CNG, LNG, Biodiesels, EVs, etc.), WastebyRail program management, recycling/solid waste program planning and development.  Bob also has expertise in the areas of solid waste and recycling collection routing and route auditing, disposal and transportation rate and contract negotiations and strategic business planning. He has extensive experience in conducting both solid waste collections and transfer station operational performance assessments OPAs (a business improvement process) developed by WIH Resource Group.

Bob previously served as a board member for the Arizona Chapter of SWANA and has served on the National Solid Waste Rate Committee for the American Public Works Association (APWA). He is also a former board member of the California Refuse and Recycling Association’s (CRRA) Global Recycling Council (GRC).

Wallace can be reached at (480) 241-9994, via e-mail at bwallace@wihresourcegroup.com or visit www.wihrg.com

Sidebar – Fuel Management Program and Use of Alternative Fuels

Nearly 50 percent of the annual cost of operating and maintaining a typical fleet is directly attributed to fuel and fuel management. It is also an area of fleet management that has become extremely complicated, because of legislation and policies at local, state and federal government levels, global economics, vast changes in technology, increased availability of alternative fuel types, new multi-fuel enabled and hybrid vehicles and equipment, and ongoing pressures to reduce emissions. Thus, for many fleet managers, fuel management is a black box of complex issues, which require large sums of funding.

Minor improvements in a fuel management program, however, can yield significant savings in the short and long term. Some areas of consideration for review in fuel management include:

  • Alternative Fuel Program Development
  • Alternative Fuel Program Reviews
  • Bulk Fuel Site Design and Engineering
  • Commercial Fuel Program Development
  • Emission Reduction Planning
  • Fuel Management Program Development
  • Fuel Management Program Review
  • Fuel Tax Reimbursement Optimization
  • Fuel Site Consolidation Reviews
  • Fuel Site Mapping and Location Services

Container Management

Containers and carts don’t have the same safety concerns as trash trucks, compactors and balers—that is probably why the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Z245 standards deserve attention. Because containers and carts often seem like innocuous pieces of equipment that couldn’t possibly have potential safety hazards, they can be taken for granted.

The 2008 revision of the container safety standard, ANSI Z245.30, outlines new designs for warning labels and safety signs. The standard calls for new three-panel signs. One panel should have a large, bold and single-word headline reading “CAUTION” in black type over a yellow background or “WARNING” in black type over an orange background. Another panel should feature a drawing demonstrating the hazard and a phrase describing the hazard, such as a drawing of a stick-figured person tumbling off of a roll-off, with a caption that reads, “FALLING HAZARD.” A third panel should include a detailed warning. For example, the panel may have a warning reading “KEEP OFF! Do not climb in, on or occupy this container for any purpose. Injury from slipping or falling may occur.”

Solid waste service providers should periodically review the requirements in ANSI Z245 safety standards with maintenance crews and collection truck operators to help protect customers, employees and trucks. Knowing which containers can safely be used in certain applications and with which refuse vehicles is something that every collection crew should understand.

How dangerous can a container or cart be? Both have caused a few serious injuries over the years, making safety standards worth developing. Two standards developed by ANSI Accredited Standards Committee Z245 address safety, performance and design compatibility requirements for carts and containers. ANSI Z245.60 sets compatibility dimensions for manufacturers so that containers can be safely used with refuse vehicles, and ANSI Z245.30 covers operational safety requirements for carts and containers. What is new in this standard is that it provides dimensional requirements for the Type S container—that is, “the front-load container with side sleeves.”

The Waste Equipment Technology Association (WASTEC) also has released its “Recommended Practice, WRP-9-2004,” which details the recommended dimensional range of the front loader forks for compatibility with the Type S containers. If container manufacturers build the container according to the Z245.60 standard, and if truck manufacturers build trucks according to the recommended practice, the two will work together. Other new compatibility dimensions in the revised ANSI Z245.60 standard covers Type-L hook-lift containers, the standard aims to match up the lifts on trucks with the hooks on containers.

Collection organizations should look at these two standards to make sure that the forks on the trucks match the compatibility standard for the S container. If they don’t match, “damage can occur to both trucks and containers.”

Author: Bob Wallace, President – WIH Resource Group, Inc.

ABOUT WIH RESOURCE GROUP, INC. (WRG)

WIH Resource Group is global leader providing of diversified environmental (waste and recycling), financial, expert witness services, transportation / logistics consulting solutions to its Clients throughout North America and internationally.

WRG provides solutions to complex challenges to its clients in the areas of environmental, alternative fuel fleet conversion studies, customer satisfaction surveys, fleet management matters, equipment and assets valuations, mergers & acquisitions (M&A), landfill gas management, renewable energy, waste & recycling collections, business process improvement, procurement services assistance, waste management operations, recycling processing, transfer stations, operational performance assessments (OPAs), recycling facilities (MRFs) studies, transportation and other feasibility and related financial analysis.

Formed in 2005, WRG’s Team consists of subject matter experts from the waste, recycling, alternative fuels, and transportation industries from both the public and private sectors.  WRG’s Team of experts have over 150 years of combined experience.

CLICK HERE to learn more about the rest of the Team of subject matter experts at WIH Resource Group.

For more information about WIH Resource Group’s diversified client services, and how we can best serve you, visit www.wihrg.com

Contact us today to see how we can best serve you at 480.241.9994 or admin@wihrg.com

Visit our new website!   www.wihresourcegroup.com

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YOUR GLOBAL LEADER IN CONSULTING

Celebrating a decade in business, WIH Resource Group is a global provider of professional technical and management support services to a broad range of markets, including waste management, recycling, financials, transportation, M&A due diligence and support, alternative fuel fleet conversions, facilities, environmental, energy for private sector business and government clients.

WIH Resource Group is a leader in all of the key markets that it serves. WIH Resource Group provides a blend of global reach, local knowledge, innovation and technical excellence in delivering solutions that create, enhance and sustain the world’s built, natural and social environments.  WIH Resource Group serves clients in more than 175 key markets internationally.

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Click on an image below to take you to WRG’s other sites!

WIH Resource Group Completes Alternative Fuels Feasibility Study for the City of Loveland Colorado


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

PHOENIX, AZ, NOVEMBER 15, 2017 – WIH RESOURCE GROUP, INC. (WRG) IS PLEASED TO ANNOUNCE THE SUCCESSFUL COMPLETION OF AN ALTERNATIVE FUELS STUDY ON BEHALF OF THE CITY OF LOVELAND, COLORADO

Image result for city of loveland public worksWIH Resource Group, and its subcontractor, Fuel Solutions, Inc. were retained by the City of Loveland, Colorado to conduct the Feasibility Study on behalf of the City of Loveland.  The WRG  project Team members provided the City with a tailored set of strategies and recommendations, including:

  • Specific cost-benefit analyses for each recommended alternative, including a Return On Investment (ROI) projection;
  • A description of the projected timing and additional costs related to those recommended conversions;
  • Key details regarding new infrastructure needed and its associated capital/operating costs;
  • A description of potential grant-funding resources, options and opportunities.
  • And various efficiency recommendations:  i.e. Fleet Information/Management software upgrades/alternatives; anti-idling and right-sizing policies, increased use of telematics, etc.

“The WIH Resource Group Team was highly professional and responsive in meeting the City of Loveland’s expectations regarding its Alternative Fuels Feasibility Study.  Staff and elected officials from the City of Loveland now have much greater knowledge and confidence in how to proceed with greening our fleet methodically, successfully, and with reduced risks.  WIH Resource Group met our needs completely.” – Mick Mercer, Internal Services Manager – Public Works Department, City of Loveland, Colorado

MESSAGE FROM WIH RESOURCE GROUP PRESIDENT, BOB WALLACE:

“I am very proud of our team and that the City of Loveland is pleased with the results of our project work for them.  Both Mick Mercer and Steve Kibler, and the rest of the City staff involved in the project, were very knowledgeable and helpful in providing key resources and responding to the WRG Team’s questions about the City’s fleet management, fleet maintenance, City policies, financials and its operations.  The City of Loveland is outstanding and we are honored to have them as a client” – Bob Wallace, President – WIH Resource Group, Inc.

ABOUT WIH RESOURCE GROUP, INC. (WRG)

WIH Resource Group is global leader providing of diversified environmental (waste and recycling), financial, expert witness services, transportation / logistics consulting solutions to its Clients throughout North America and internationally.

WRG provides solutions to complex challenges to its clients in the areas of environmental, alternative fuel fleet conversion studies, customer satisfaction surveys, fleet management matters, equipment and assets valuations, mergers & acquisitions (M&A), landfill gas management, renewable energy, waste & recycling collections, business process improvement, procurement services assistance, waste management operations, recycling processing, transfer stations, operational performance assessments (OPAs), recycling facilities (MRFs) studies, transportation and other feasibility and related financial analysis.

Formed in 2005, WRG’s Team consists of subject matter experts from the waste, recycling, alternative fuels, and transportation industries from both the public and private sectors.  WRG’s Team of experts have over 150 years of combined experience.

CLICK HERE to learn more about the rest of the Team of subject matter experts at WIH Resource Group.

For more information about WIH Resource Group’s diversified client services, and how we can best serve you, visit www.wihrg.com

Contact us today to see how we can best serve you at 480.241.9994 or admin@wihrg.com

Visit our new website!   www.wihresourcegroup.com

wihwebsite

YOUR GLOBAL LEADER IN CONSULTING

Celebrating a decade in business, WIH Resource Group is a global provider of professional technical and management support services to a broad range of markets, including waste management, recycling, financials, transportation, M&A due diligence and support, alternative fuel fleet conversions, facilities, environmental, energy for private sector business and government clients.

WIH Resource Group is a leader in all of the key markets that it serves. WIH Resource Group provides a blend of global reach, local knowledge, innovation and technical excellence in delivering solutions that create, enhance and sustain the world’s built, natural and social environments.  WIH Resource Group serves clients in more than 175 key markets internationally.

WIH Website logo

Click on an image below to take you to WRG’s other sites!

The Western States’ Plan for EV Charging Infrastructure – Lessons Learned and Things to Watch


On October 4, 2017, the Governors of a number of western states signed a memorandum of understanding (“MOU”) to lay the foundation for work on a regional electric vehicle (“EV”) infrastructure development plan called the Regional Electric Vehicle Plan for the West (“REV West Plan”). The MOU was initially entered by Colorado, Utah, Nevada, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho and New Mexico, and later Arizona. The MOU calls for the participating states to work cooperatively to establish policies that will support the development of EV charging stations along 11 major transportation corridors that link their states together, spanning a total of 5,000 miles. The MOU mainly focuses on interstate highway infrastructure including East-West Interstate 10, 40, 70 76, 80, 84, 86, 90, 94 and North-South Interstates 15 and 25.

The signatories to the MOU anticipate a future with much higher levels of EV usage. To support this greater EV usage, the MOU calls for efforts by the states to:

  1. Coordinate station locations, thereby maximizing use and minimizing inconsistency across charging station infrastructure;
  2. Develop practices and procedures that will encourage more people to adopt EVs, including addressing “range anxiety”;
  3. Develop operating standards for charging station uniformity;
  4. Explore ways to incorporate EV charging stations in the planning and development processes;
  5. Encourage automakers to stock a variety of EVs in participating states; and
  6. Collaborate on funding and finding opportunities for the network.

Building on the Experience of the West Coast Electric Highway

The concept of a regional EV charging network along corridors is not entirely new. In October 2013, the governments of California, Washington, Oregon and British Columbia signed an agreement called the “Pacific Coast Action Plan on Climate and Energy,” which included a commitment to transition the West Coast to clean modes of transportation. Part of this plan involved the creation of an electric highway, called the West Coast Electric Highway.  Specifically, the West Coast Electric Highway was intended to be an extensive network of DC fast-charging stations, also equipped with Level 2 chargers, located every 20 to 50 miles along the major north-south corridors along the West Coast, as well as other major roadways.

In 2014, the states of Oregon and Washington took the lead in installing the Pacific Northwest portion of the West Coast Electric Highway.  California then followed in 2015 and 2016 with two grant solicitations administered by the California Energy Commission, seeking to provide funding for private developers to install DC fast-charging stations along I-5 and Route 99 from Oregon border to Oceanside, as well as portion of U.S. Highway 101. To date, more than $20 million in funding has been issued for installation of 191 DC fast-charge sites and 123 Level 2 charge sites throughout California.
Things to Watch with the REV West Plan

The experience with the West Coast Electric Highway provides some lessons learned of relevance to the REV West Plan. Below is a list of key things to watch:

1. Political Support.
Strong political support will be crucial to carrying out the REV West Plan, especially because it will require efforts from numerous state agencies as well as the private sector. For example, in California, Governor Brown signed an executive order in 2012 to establish a long-term goal of bringing  1.5 million zero-emission vehicles to California’s roadways by 2025. This has galvanized the state and provided a target that all state agencies could work toward. The Governor’s office has continued to stay actively engaged with this effort, releasing an updated action plan as recently as last year to continue to drive and coordinate the efforts of all state agencies involved. Even so, 5 years have passed since the executive order was enacted, and while significant progress has been made on many fronts, the DC fast-charging corridors are just getting their infrastructure installed. It will take a similar level of consistent political will from the Governors of each of the signatories to the MOU to accomplish its goals.

2. Funding.
A second major issue is how the infrastructure will be funded. The West Coast Electric Highway used a public/private partnership model that leveraged public funds at the state and federal level with matching contributions made by private developers.  In building the Pacific Northwest portion of the West Coast Electric Highway, the states of Washington and Oregon used Federal funding for the majority of the equipment and installation costs, and in-kind funding provided by the developer — AeroVironment, Inc.  California used a similar model, awarding grant funding to developers and requiring matching contributions for the purchase and installation of DC fast-charging infrastructure along select corridors.

The MOU does not specify any funding model or level of funding to be allocated to the program. Statements from the Governor of Colorado indicate that some of Colorado’s funding will come from the $68.7 million Volkswagen diesel emission scandal settlement.  Like the West Coast Electric Highway, each state will need to decide on the level, source, and method of funding for the portion of the network to be installed in that state.

3. The Role of the Utilities.
Comprehensive EV infrastructure planning requires a decision about the proper role of the local electric utility. Various options exist, from a passive role where the utility just provides permitting for new charging stations, to an active role where the utility actually installs, owns and operates EV charging stations, to somewhere in between (i.e., utility administering EV charging incentives and rebates, etc.). In a number of states, utilities have sought approval to invest in new EV infrastructure to be owned and operated by the utility. Those requests have met with mixed results. In California, regulators approved plans for the state’s major utilities to own so-called “make ready” infrastructure (the distribution lines and equipment to bring energy from the grid to the place where the charging station is installed), but denied requests for the utilities to own the charging station equipment itself. This balance was struck to enable utilities to leverage their low cost of capital for building infrastructure while promoting the market for third party EV station operators and technologies.

For the REV West Plan states, questions remain as to if and to what extent the utilities should own the fast-charging stations and the make ready infrastructure. Resolving this question will tell us much about the future of the market for EV infrastructure in the REV West states.

In addition, utilities exert an enormous influence on EV infrastructure development through the electric rates that they administer. One of the key electric rate concepts for EV station developers is the concept of a demand charge. A demand charge is a special charge based on the customer’s peak energy consumption over a certain period of time. In contrast to an energy rate that merely charges a customer for the total amount of energy consumed over time, a demand charge charges a customer a special charge based on the level of their peak demand. This charge exists to compensate utilities for the purchasing of electricity needed to meet these peak periods.

Demand charges are often the largest single component of the operational cost of an EV charging stations. The REV West states should consider calling on the utilities to open proceedings at their respective regulatory commissions to set special demand charge rates applicable to EV charging.

4. Interoperability and technology.
To carry out a regional plan among various states for EV charging infrastructure requires seamless integration. Planners should coordinate on things like networking of stations for data gathering, monitoring, and interoperability. Above all, planners should remember the EV driver experience and avoid a situation where balkanized networks require different accounts and access cards when a driver crosses a state line.

In addition, as battery technology has rapidly improved, the current generation of EVs are being equipped with much larger battery systems (to enable them to travel longer on a single charge). These next-generation EVs will require higher-powered DC fast-chargers than the current generation of EVs. REV West planners should consider how best to accommodate future charging station needs in this rapidly changing industry. Planners should consider installing the highest-capacity EV station equipment on the market and building extra electric capacity into the connecting equipment to facilitate a future with much higher utilization than today.

The REV West plan is the latest sign that electrification of our nation’s transportation sector is underway. As this discussion shows, however, much work remains for the planners in the REV West states to ensure that the REV West plan achieves its goals. Success will likely lead future states to look at the REV West states as an example, perhaps encouraging them to build similar regional EV networks in other major regions like the midwest and east coast

CLICK HERE to check out WIH Resource Group’s Alternative Fuels & Fleet Conversion Services to help improve your business operations and financials.

Source: WIH Resource Group & Stoel Rives LLP

WIH Resource Group’s team of expert witness litigation support professionals have a track record of success. Whether you’re facing a valuation dispute, damage assessment, contract claim, employee matter, safety incident, personal injury, landfill gas issue, or other pending legal action, our experts are ready to assist you.

For more information, visit our website by CLICKING HERE and contact us today to see how we can best serve you by phone at 480.241.9994 or by e-mail at admin@wihrg.com

Visit our new website!   www.wihresourcegroup.com

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ABOUT WIH RESOURCE GROUP

Celebrating a decade in business, WIH Resource Group is a global provider of professional technical and management support services to a broad range of markets, including waste management, recycling, financials, transportation, M&A due diligence and support, alternative fuel fleet conversions, facilities, environmental, energy for private sector business and government clients.

WIH Resource Group is a leader in all of the key markets that it serves. WIH Resource Group provides a blend of global reach, local knowledge, innovation and technical excellence in delivering solutions that create, enhance and sustain the world’s built, natural and social environments.  WIH Resource Group serves clients in more than 175 key markets internationally.

WIH Website logo

More information on WIH Resource Group and its services can be found at www.wihrg.com.

Click on an image below to take you to WIH’s other sites!

The History of the Automated Side Loader – How One Small City Changed The Industry Forever


The modern refuse truck operator has it pretty easy today compared to his peers of yesteryear. Gone are the days of the “Vic Tanney” bodies and the driver lugging around 55 gallon drums on their backs. For haulers and drivers who collected trash for the majority of their lives, they were lucky if they could continue to stand up straight by the time they were 50 and their bodies weren’t completely broken. In 1968, the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that the injury rate among refuse collectors was higher than the rate for coal miners, police officer, firefighter or loggers. A report put out between 1969 to 1971 showed that nationally there were 98.8 disabling accidents per million man hours worked in refuse collection. Those numbers are staggering when compared with the next closest industry, police departments, which had 48.15 accidents per million man hours. A fact not surprising considering the nature of the job. Workers were required to jump on and off the truck continually, handle hundreds of containers, many of which were overweight and easy to drop.

An average worker could lift up to 6 tons a day and walk up to 11 miles in all type of weather, which led to multiple injuries and massive insurance claims to the hauler (if they offered insurance) and time away from work. This is why, even today, refuse collection is listed in the Top 10 most dangerous jobs in America. Why do you think so many of the articles in this publication and those like it are filled with safety related items? It’s a major concern and issue even with the advanced technology modern refuse trucks are built upon.

Now there has always been a drive in the industry from the truck manufacturers to deliver the highest compaction body to maximize on-route time over the competition yet they all required one key ingredient before the early 1980s: manual loading. Commercial collection already saw vast improvements in safety, productivity and cleanliness with the introduction of the Front End Loaders (the industry’s first automated truck) in the 1950s. Unfortunately, residential drivers wouldn’t start seeing some relief for another few decades. Let’s explore this history more in-depth.

Automated Side Loader

The City that Birthed a Revolution

Scottsdale, Arizona, a town northeast of Phoenix, incorporated in 1954 with a population of 2,032. After having a major annexation in 1961 that more than doubled its population, the city took over refuse collection from private contractors in March 1964. From 1960 to 1970, the city population increased from 10,026 to 67,823. The new Refuse Division was put under the direction of Marc Stragier, the director of Public Works. Looking at all the available systems at the time, Scottsdale chose to use the recently developed “Refuse Train” system used in many parts of the country. Even though the Train method was an improvement over the use of rear loaders, it still carried all the negative attributes of manual collection. Scottsdale also experienced a high personnel turnover rate due to the 110+ degree working conditions during summer months.

In 1965, the City Manager, Assistant City manager and three Department Heads formed a brainstorming club apart from the city to develop and promote new ideas. They called themselves Government Innovators and among some of the ideas to emerge was the concept of mechanized refuse collection. After searching for a body manufacturer to partner and develop the idea with, Marc found George Morrison, owner of Western Body and Hoist in Los Angeles. After some convincing and motivation, the creative juices in George’s head started to flow and a few months later, George and his lead engineer Otto Ganter met with Marc to show him a concept idea called the “Barrel Snatcher” based off their Wesco-Jet Front Loader platform.

Taking the idea and drawing to Bill Donaldson, Scottsdale City Manager for final approval, the City applied for a Federal grant to develop a mechanized residential refuse collection system. After the initial application was sent back, the Department of Health, Education and Welfare sent a representative down to help edit and draft a second application. The new application proposed a two-phase demonstration: Phase 1—to determine if the concept was practical using city provided containers and if successful; Phase 2—build the sophisticated Barrel Snatcher truck to prove mechanized collection was economical and cost effective. The second draft was approved and awarded in February 1969 with the grant period lasting from March 1969 to June 1972.

Automated Side Loader

Phase 1: Godzilla

Now faced with building a proof of concept truck, it was decided to use a 1964 International Lodal Front Loader not in active service as the test bed. Marc designed the mechanical grabber assembly to attach to the front of the arms and after $2,000 in repairs were made to the truck to make it useable, construction and modifications began. The mechanic in charge of creating the grabber assembly, Chuck Kalinowski, remembers constructing the mechanism, “I didn’t know that Marc was in the shop one day and I was working on the slide, trying to figure out what he wanted there for the arm to grab the container. So I tried two or three different things, you know, just things we had around the place here. I said ‘Aw, for crying out loud, they want you to build something but they won’t give you the material, they want you to build a darned monster… a Godzilla!’ Marc was standing right behind me and from that time on, that’s what it was called.”

After some trial and error, Godzilla was finally ready to go on route in August 1969. The first container it picked up slipped through the grabber and fell into the hopper. Next, the brakes locked up and truck couldn’t be moved. After modifications and repairs, the truck operated for the next six months proving the concept of mechanized collection was sound.

An often overlooked aspect of creating and later adopting a mechanized collection system is the container cost associated with it. For the city, to order a “set” of containers and collection trucks ran about $40,000 (pre-additional modification) for equipment and about $120,000 the containers in 1970 dollars. Scottsdale had many alley routes and after a survey, they decided to use container sizes of 80, 160 and 300 gallons for collection service. The size of the container the customer received was determined by the number of days picked up, either once or twice, and the number of houses per container: one, two or four. It broke down to each household receiving at least 160 gallons of refuse capacity per week. County Plastics was initially awarded the contract for 350 containers in each of the three sizes. After the Phase 1 trials were complete, it was determined that the 80 and 300 gallon containers were the most effective. 300 gallons were used on alley streets while the 80-gallon shined the best for street-side collection. Godzilla and later Son of Godzilla was the most successful in the alleys with the 300 gallon, but too slow and bulky for the 80 gallon service.

Automated Side Loader

Phase 2: Son of Godzilla

Western Body and Hoist’s Barrel Snatcher was a modified version of their Wesco-Jet Front Loader. The Wesco Jet was a 35yd full pack body that evenly distributed the weight over two axles with four super single tires and a specialized cab designed and engineered jointly by Reo Motors and Western. Complete with an Allison automatic transmission and a narrow, air conditioned telephone booth cab, the Barrel Snatcher weighed in empty at 22,500 lbs. and had a GVWR of 36,500 on the two axles. With three years of engineering going into its design, the Barrel Snatcher featured an 8-foot boom, which could extend out to 12 feet to grab the 300 gallon containers. Cycle time from pick up to set down was only 20 seconds.

Modifications and improvements were required after the first unit went online in October 1970. A joystick was added later to help improve operator control as the boom had a tendency to knock down fences in the alleys due to the uncontrollability of the rotary motor that swung it. The frame at the base of the boom was beefed up due to frequent cracking due to weight, in addition to a heavier duty rotary motor that swung the heavy boom. The extension cylinder was moved to the outside of the boom to reduce the six hour repair time needed to get at it when it was mounted inside. The city sent these lists of improvements to Western to be implemented on the second truck they ordered.

Due to the national popularity of the Phase 1 Godzilla truck, the Barrel Snatcher was affectionately called the “Son of Godzilla”, which only served to fuel local and national interest in what Scottsdale was trying to do. The city invested a lot of time and effort to sell the new concept to the public and they constantly fielded requests from foreign dignitaries, state and city governments to come and personally view the trucks in action and on route.

During the construction of the second Barrel Snatcher, George Morrison’s partner and co-owner was killed in an accident. In order to provide and take care of his partner’s widow, George decided to sell the company to Maxon Industries in December 1970. After study, Maxon expressed no desire to continue development, sales or orders for Barrel Snatcher concept with the City, although they did agree to honor the original contract for two additional trucks. The City received many postponements and delay’s from Maxon and finally threatened to sue for breach of contract. None of the improvements recommended by the city were implemented in the second truck when it was delivered in May 1971. The mechanics were well versed in the necessary improvements and changes needed to be made and when the second truck started going on route, the original Godzilla that was built to last six months of the concept phase was finally retired after two years on route.

Automated Side Loader

The Concept Fully Realized

After Phase 2 was complete and the third and final Barrel Snatcher was delivered from Maxon in 1973 (two years after it had been ordered), the city continued to improve upon the arm design and even modified three city owned Wesco-Jet Front Loaders to Barrel Snatcher configuration in-house to expand their growing mechanized routes. However, they realized a more permanent solution was needed when it came time to start replacing their aging fleet. Marc Straiger continued to work on designs for an improved automated arm that could be fit to different side load bodies and was not specific to the now discontinued Maxon Wesco-Jet. He designed a prototype to be tested on one of the city’s experimental truck beds and it later came to be known as the “Rapid Rail” arm. It consisted of a grabber assembly with rollers on the rear which allowed it to slide up and down the rail that curved at the top to invert and empty the container.

The city eventually ended up abandoning the project, yet a few companies had taken the idea for Marc’s “Rapid Rail” and developed it into an effective system by 1978. Government Innovators (now a fully realized company), Arizona Special Projects and Ebeling Manufacturing Corp (EMCO) all offered a version of this arm to the public. EMCO was the first company to offer market ready automated packages with their arm design based on Straiger’s “Rapid Rail” for commercial side load dumpsters. However, their arm could be easily modified with “Rapid Rail” grippers for cart collection. Maxon, who had no interest in pursuing further Barrel Snatcher product development with the city after their purchase of Western, finally saw the future in automation and offered their integrated Eagle cab and body truck with an arm copy of the Rapid Rail by 1980.

When it came time for the city to start replacing their worn out fleet of Barrel Snatchers in 1978, they turned to International Harvester chassis with Norcal Waste Equipment 24yd bodies fitted with a modified EMCO lift arm. Each truck cost the city $58,000, which was a bargain compared to the last Barrel Snatcher that cost a low estimate of $63,230. What many people don’t know is that Norcal in Oakland, CA was started after the sale of Western by Otto Ganter, the lead engineer and designer of the Barrel Snatcher.

The Numbers Don’t Lie

In 1980, the city did a comparison to see if the mechanized trucks lived up to their original idea and potential. The numbers were quite staggering and especially in an unforgiving climate like Southern Arizona, well worth the effort and money spent. According to the records and findings from the city: in 1968, 34 men were employed to collect 17,800 homes twice a week. By 1980, 13 residential routes were needed to collect 24,000 homes twice weekly with 13 drivers. The city estimated that if the train method was still being used in 1980, 18 pickup trucks, 72 trailers, seven front loaders and more than 60 men would be required. The injury rate was also reduced from 36 preventable injuries a year average using the train system to only 1 in 1980.

Production rates also increased per man. In 1968, the average was 95 tons per man compared to 212 tons by 1980. They also showed a drastic reduction in employee turnover from 91 percent in 1986 to one employee who left and transferred to another department within the city. While some of the costs of running more advanced trucks were passed on to the residents in terms of monthly collection cost, the state of their streets, alleys and roadways was greatly improved over manual collection, which often left trash and debris in its wake. Their aggressive advertisement and citizen buyoff of the program went a long way to mitigate the town’s outcry over the increase in cost.

Slow to Catch On

Throughout the 1980s, body manufacturers continued to develop and improve the automated arm. For the average hauler, however, it was a gigantic investment in new fleets and carts—one that they were hesitant to make. Municipalities were some of the early adopters to automation due to the fact that they could justify the initial investment by projecting the savings over long term. Automated technology didn’t really take hold nationwide until the 1990s when the technology and arms were more proven and reliable. Even today, the arm design on an ASL is the most competitive feature builders continue to refine and market. Some builders have multiple arm or gripper designs available for customers to choose from, each with their own unique use and application. Also, many haulers tend to stick to one design because it’s a system they adopted early on and know and trust. I can say with absolute confidence that there is no “best arm and gripper” on the market. Each has their strengths in different conditions (alley, confined space, parked cars) and some perform better than others. The Automated Side Loader is still the new kid on the block compared to the rest of the refuse truck styles and there hasn’t been an “industry” standard design established yet. But next time you see one on the road or hop in one to run your route, think about the blood, sweat and cursing a special group of men invested to make your lives a little bit easier and a whole lot safer.

Zachary Geroux is a videographer, photographer, historian and owner of Refuse Truck Photography, which focuses on media and marketing for the Waste Industry. He lives in Western Washington with his wife and newborn son who will soon fall in love with garbage trucks. Currently, he works full time for the Air Force and is focused on growing his business. He has been driving garbage trucks off and on for the past 10 years and considers it the best job he’s ever had. He can be reached at (541) 301-1507, via e-mail at Zachary@refusetruckphotography.com or visit www.refusetruckphotography.com.

*Special thanks to the City of Scottsdale for sending me years and years ago their self-published booklet “Revolutionizing an Industry.” Without this amazing documentation of strife and effort to create and field this system, this article and the knowledge contained within might have been lost forever to the coming generations.

Reposted by WIH Resource Group
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ABOUT WIH RESOURCE GROUP

Celebrating a decade in business, WIH Resource Group is a global provider of professional technical and management support services to a broad range of markets, including waste management, recycling, financials, transportation, M&A due diligence and support, alternative fuel fleet conversions, facilities, environmental, energy for private sector business and government clients.

WIH Resource Group is a leader in all of the key markets that it serves. WIH Resource Group provides a blend of global reach, local knowledge, innovation and technical excellence in delivering solutions that create, enhance and sustain the world’s built, natural and social environments.  WIH Resource Group serves clients in more than 175 key markets internationally.

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WIH Resource Group Launches New Dynamic Website


Phoenix, AZ — March 28, 2016—WIH Resource Group, Inc. (http://wihrg.com/) has kick-started its 2016 marketing campaign with a new, vibrant, and fully revamped and informative website.   “We’ve worked hard to deliver a website that can inform and inspire across our diverse client base and we are delighted with the results. We hope it answers a lot of the questions that we are commonly asked, and goes a long way to demonstrating the firm’s capabilities, expertise and experience” said Bob Wallace, President and Founder of WIH Resource Group.

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WIH Resource Group was founded in 2005 and is renowned for its exemplary service and industry individuality. Wallace explains, “We are a professional, innovative organization that focuses on giving our clients a high-quality, personalized customer experience and we want that level of care to remain synonymous with the WIH Resource Group name.”

“Our broad range of services allows us to offer our clients a full service package. We wanted a new website that reflects our professionalism, specifies our accreditations, introduces our exceptional team and gives some insight to our current clients, our meaningful partners, and our diverse areas of expertise. We’ve more than met that in the new website, which sums up the WIH Resource Group ethos perfectly.” said Wallace.  It also features downloadable Industry White Papers http://www.wihrg.com/onlinestore.html

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WIH Resource Group is an American based leading global independent provider of environmental, waste management, recycling, transportation, financial and logistical solutions.  The company also provides its clients with strategic consulting solutions in alternative vehicle fuels, fleet management, operations, M&A transactional support, surveying and polling, collection vehicle route auditing, expert witness and transportation matters for corporations, federal, state, and local government clients.

WIH looks to establish long term relationships with their clients where they are called upon regularly to assist in developing viable and sustainable solutions.

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How Banning Food Waste from Landfills Affects the Industry


As a way to reduce the amount of waste sent to its landfills, Maine legislators have begun looking for ways to require composting for food and other organic wastes.

Food Waste - WIH Resource GroupOriginally included in LD 1578, sponsored by Sen. Tom Saviello, (R-Wilton), a mandate required those producing more than one ton of food waste to divert it from landfills by sending it to a composting facility within 20 miles. But Maine officials will have to find other ways to divert food waste because the mandate was recently removed from the bill.

“It had nothing to do with the merits of the proposal itself. It was more political. There was fear that including a ‘mandate’ in the bill would make it difficult to pass, and would definitely prompt a veto,” says Sarah Lakeman, Sustainable Maine Project director for the Natural Resources Council of Maine. “This was an omnibus waste bill, so they took it out to preserve the rest of the bill that they had a better chance of passing. The committee also thinks that they can bring it back for consideration in 2017 as its own bill. The start date of the ban wasn’t until 2020 anyway, so even with the delay in enactment, it could still start at the same time or sooner.”

Although Maine may have to wait until next year to decide the fate of food waste, the idea behind the ban raises some questions within the waste and recycling industry.“The original intent was to urge the largest producers of food waste to stop wasting; which would in turn help spur development in composting infrastructure in Maine,” says Lakeman. “We have adequate infrastructure now, but we need to expand it to make it more cost effective for everyone to participate. Particularly by lowering or sharing in transportation costs, and decreasing the distance traveled to a composting facility.”

Michael Van Brunt, director of sustainability for Morristown, N.J.-based Covanta Energy, says that states look to these types of bans to reuse, recycle and repurpose food waste and other organics to generate clean energy and rich, fertile compost, instead of wasting it in landfills.

“Diverting food wastes from landfills will require an investment in infrastructure, suitable time to implement, and an appropriate regulatory system to ensure compliance,” he says. “However, local and state policies can provide the impetus to facilitate food waste diversion. States like Vermont, Connecticut, California and Massachusetts have all adopted policies aimed at increasing food waste diversion, focusing first, like the Maine proposal, on large generators of food wastes. The European Union’s Landfill Directive, which reduced the amount of biodegradable waste going to landfills, has significantly contributed to the growth of sustainable waste management: more recycling, composting and energy recovery, and far less landfilling.”

Van Brunt also says he thinks banning food waste from landfills would have a positive impact on the waste and recycling industry.

“The most common alternatives for landfilling food waste are composting and anaerobic digestion, both of which are considered recycling when the residues are reused as compost or fertilizer. Banning food waste from landfills may also have the impact of reducing waste and possibly encouraging food reuse programs, even better than recycling,” he says.

“There is also the added benefit of avoiding significant greenhouse gases that are generated when food waste biodegrades in landfills,” he adds. “Reducing the amount of food waste deposited in landfills can significantly reduce the generation of methane a highly potent greenhouse gas, 34 times more potent than CO2 over 100 years, and more than 80 times as potent over a shorter 20 year time frame. Methane is a short lived climate pollutant, increasingly a focus of international action to reduce GHGs. In fact, the White House announced a strategy to reduce methane emissions two years ago that specifically targeted diverting food wastes from landfills.”

Source: Waste360

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ABOUT WIH RESOURCE GROUP

Celebrating a decade in business, WIH Resource Group is a global provider of professional technical and management support services to a broad range of markets, including waste management, recycling, financials, transportation, M&A due diligence and support, alternative fuel fleet conversions, facilities, environmental, energy for private sector business and government clients.

WIH Resource Group is a leader in all of the key markets that it serves. WIH Resource Group provides a blend of global reach, local knowledge, innovation and technical excellence in delivering solutions that create, enhance and sustain the world’s built, natural and social environments.  WIH Resource Group serves clients in more than 175 key markets internationally.

More information on WIH Resource Group and its services can be found at www.wihrg.com.

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