Truck safety revs up for landfill

Operator safety was paramount when WRG looked to expand its landfill fleet of articulated dump trucks - and Bell Equipment fitted the bill

Health and safety was a key driver behind Waste Recycling Group's (WRG) decision to bolster its fleet of container trucks for the disposal of mixed landfill waste. The constant flow of domestic, business and industrial waste demands an enormous amount of logistical organisation and the choice of transport for loading, carrying and dumping this waste is of major importance to WRG.

Bell Equipment container trucks are manufactured specifically for this type of operation, and Bell supplies more trucks to WRG than to any other company. The trucks are adapted versions of Bell's B25D articulated dump truck (ADT), and are configured to withstand the harsh and unpredictable working environment of landfill sites.

Stuart Court, group plant manager for WRG, says: "We've got experience with Bell trucks - and they work. This is more important than it sounds because if these trucks are not working the train isn't unloaded, and that would put us in breach of contract. Also the machines can face all kinds of potential problems on site."

Challenging terrain
Court adds that the nature of mixed landfill waste means the terrain being travelled over by the on-site machinery is highly unpredictable. "Real problems can occur when you pick up waste and it gets wrapped around the prop shaft. Pieces of metal can rip tyres, and you have to really be on top of things in making sure the radiators are clean - far more so than you would need to in a construction operation.
"Paper is a surprising problem. It can be highly abrasive. Stockings are also a problem, and mattresses are a nightmare. Some of our sites take a lot of mattresses from hotels."

A key reason for WRG using these ADTs is operator health and safety. "There will always be risks when operating in such an environment, but we strive to ensure those risks are kept to an absolute minimum," says Court.

"If you're tipping an ADT on soft ground, you certainly don't want the whole machine going over. But if it does, you know the driver is safe. This would not be the case in a standard road-going vehicle. Our industry has to be much more proactive in protecting its drivers and vehicles than it was 10 or 15 years ago. As a company, we certainly don't expect our employees to come to work and put themselves at risk. The cabin safety and protection in the Bells is excellent."

A comfortable seat
Bell Equipment has also ensured that its cabins - recently upgraded with its Generation 2 D-series range - continue to offer driver comfort as well as safety. The suspension, hydraulics and fuel efficiency have a major part to play in these landfill operations. The Mercedes Benz six-cylinder turbocharged engine, for example, is exactly the same as Bell's standard B25D ADT, and is highly fuel efficient.

WRG operates three of its Bell B25D container trucks at its Sutton Courtenay landfill operation, near Abingdon, in Oxfordshire. The Bells run on a continual cycle between the rail head and the dumping site - the distance between which varies depending upon which section of the site is being filled prior to re-landscaping. At the rail head, each empty container is removed from the truck by an overhead gantry crane and is replaced by a full container from the train.

It is imperative for the three Bells to maintain this steady cycle to avoid potential bottlenecks. Each train that arrives at Sutton Courtenay carries 66 individual containers - each one containing around 20 tonnes of waste, mostly from the west London area. And the waste does not stop being created at source, so consistency of operation is extremely important.

Will Gander is the site manager responsible for the smooth running of WRG's operation at Sutton Courtenay. "Considering we are taking more than 210,000tpa of waste, it is essential that we have machines we can rely upon. To have these machines functioning properly, up and running all the time, is extremely important. Drivers find the Bells more stable than other machines they've operated in the past - and say they are good pieces of kit generally. We opted for the standard 23.5 R25 tyres, as they've got great stability," he says.

Simon Bridge, regional sales manager for Bell Equipment, adds: "There are several trends in the waste industry at the moment, and one of them is a move towards the wider use of the kind of container truck manufactured by Bell. Machinery that was intended as earth moving machinery has proven that it can be adapted for use in different environments. And there are few operational challenges as great as a landfill site."

Bell Equipment www.bellequipment.co.uk

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