Double deck collection vans add big-time capacity

The introduction of purpose-designed, double deck collection vans has hugely increased the capacity in transporting clinical waste containers for incineration as a specialist in this field explains

Loading tall clinical waste containers on the bottom deck of one of the BFH Incineration's new low -slung, long six-wheeler vans after the upper Ray Smith lifting deck has been loaded with shallower containers

Loading tall clinical waste containers on the bottom deck of one of the BFH Incineration's new low -slung, long six-wheeler vans after the upper Ray Smith lifting deck has been loaded with shallower containers

Contents of the wheeled containers are tipped into a conveyor feeding the incineration plant furnace
Specialist supplier of tail-lifts and demountable body systems, the Ray Smith Group plc, added hydraulically lifting decks to its portfolio in 1995. The Peterborough-based company reports that the use of big vans, with variable height second decks, for the collection of clinical waste for incineration, by doubling capacity, has resulted in a better economic return than had originally been expected.

Further advance
This year, BFH Incineration Ltd, the management buy-out of Blue Circle group's incineration company, has raised productivity further with six-wheeled ERF vans able to take 42 clinical waste containers of 800 litres each. They can also accommodate a mix of different sizes of container up to 1,500 litres, used by a wide spread of hospitals including - for a Redditch incinerator alone - Bedford, Luton, Northampton, Leicester, Stoke, Swindon, Droitwich, Ledbury, Worcester and Kings Lynn.

Two other large incineration centres operated by BFH are at Manchester and Hillingdon, North London. A fourth is imminent at Avonmouth.

Vehicle development
The development of vehicles to carry more and more clinical waste containers has called for ingenuity to make the best use of the allowable dimensions while ensuring safe handling despite the height of the vehicles. Step frame semi-trailers have a low floor, but space is wasted at the front where the floor has to be stepped up to rest on the tractive unit. Putting a high body on an ordinary chassis forces up the floor height and causes some concern about top heaviness.

A longer body not only provides welcome extra capacity but also demands a stable low chassis on small wheels, with more wheels needed to take the weight. That is the solution BFH has adopted. It buys special six-wheeler chassis from ERF, at Middlewich, that are just within the maximum legal length of 12 metres.

By having low profile tyres fitted at the back - 19.5 inch instead of the usual 22.5 inches diameter wheels - the body-floor height is brought down to only one metre. That has afforded sufficient interior headroom within the 4.7 metres overall height to take tall, as well as shallow, containers three abreast on two decks.

The bodies, over 10 metres long, are built by PPS Commercials at Manchester. They incorporate the Ray Smith electro-hydraulic, variable height second deck (able to carry four tonnes) and a double-tier tail-lift at the back to deal with the loading and unloading. This has a fold-up hydraulic platform 2.2 metres long to leave room for the driver as well as three containers at a time.
The sequence of loading is to lower the second deck to give enough headroom for a person to push containers along it. Once full, by using the tail-lift, the second deck is raised to leave headroom to load the bottom deck.

It takes between an hour and an hour and a half to unload the containers at the incineration plant, where a mechanical handler picks up the containers bodily and tips their contents into a shuttle container that pushes the waste into a furnace with computerised automatic control of emissions. The cinders go to landfill. The heat generated by the BFH incinerator at Redditch serves the adjacent Alexandra Hospital.

Not to be outdone on collection capacity, White Rose Environmental is preparing for a fleet of its own Ray Smith double deck six wheelers that can also tow trailers.


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