90% Automated

Aug. 1, 2003
Waste management for the City of Hampton, VA, is more efficient than it's ever been before. The city's superintendent of solid-waste management, Peter Morley, says good equipment and an in-house maintenance program have helped keep downtime to a minimum for the refuse fleet. He also credits a good, reliable staff. We think we're very good at what we do, comments Morley, who has been in his present

Waste management for the City of Hampton, VA, is more efficient than it's ever been before. The city's superintendent of solid-waste management, Peter Morley, says good equipment and an in-house maintenance program have helped keep downtime to a minimum for the refuse fleet. He also credits a good, reliable staff.

“We think we're very good at what we do,” comments Morley, who has been in his present position with the city for eight years. “We currently have 46 drivers, and about 30 of them hold Class A licenses; the remainder have Class B commercial drivers' licenses. We have one International tractor and 45-ft. trailer combination that's used to haul compost material, but the bulk of our fleet is made up of straight trucks.

“We're running approximately 90% automated equipment, which allows for single-person operation. The only exception is a CCC (Crane Carrier Corp.) integrated rear loader that we use for one route that covers small alleys, lanes and dead-end streets that can't be handled as well with automated equipment. The semi-automated route requires a two-person team,” Morley points out.

For the majority of residential routes, the city uses 19 semi-trailer automated sideloaders. These are comprised of CCC tractors with 33-cu.-yd. Heil STARR systems. Besides superior maneuverability, Morley notes the Heil STARR system is popular for its 8-ft. reach and “operate-in-gear-at-idle” functionality. There are also 22 International Knuckleboom dump trucks with Petersen loaders in the fleet that are used for picking up bulk trash and yard waste.

The City of Hampton has a population of 146,500 residents and covers approximately 55 sq. miles. The solid waste fleet serves 42,000 single- and multi-family homes and nearly 400 small businesses. Service is provided as a joint contribution from the general fund and a solid waste user fee paid by residents.

According to Morley, drivers are required to do their own PMs on their trucks each day, in addition to routine pre- and post-trip inspections. Minor repairs and other preventive maintenance not performed by drivers are done by three full-time mechanics that are permanently assigned to the city's solid waste management division.

“We're unique in this respect,” says Morley of his division's maintenance capabilities. “We're one of very few municipalities to have our own maintenance shop and people assigned strictly to solid waste. This has helped us keep costs down and prioritize repairs to keep equipment on the streets collecting trash. With equipment valued at $200,000, it would be very costly to have enough spare trucks in the fleet to allow for downtime due to routine repairs.”

Morley notes that annual and semi-annual inspections on fleet equipment are done by the fleet maintenance section of the city garage. The city's maintenance facility also will perform any major maintenance work that cannot be done by solid waste management's own mechanics.

“Our biggest concerns are equipment lifecycle costs and reliability of the equipment available to support our mission,” says Morley. “Of course, we also have to work within budget restraints, so we constantly strive to spend tax payers' money in the best possible manner at the lowest cost to them.”

Maintaining a strong workforce that can be depended on is an ongoing concern, Morley reports. “We do market analyses of different cities within our peer group to make sure our salaries are competitive with similar municipalities,” he explains.

The City of Hampton's solid waste management division also has a very active safety program that requires truck operators to attend defensive driving courses and other safety classes on at least a quarterly basis. Safety of both drivers and the public, Morley says, is always a number one priority.

About the Author

DEBORAH MCGUFFIE

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