Before spending money, spend some time to research which system will best meet your needs, adhere to your budget as well as contribute to your ongoing efficiency and/or profitability.
By Andy Jansma

The debate over the usage of hook loaders versus cable hoist has been discussed for years—ever since the hooklift was introduced to the U.S. waste market.1 It is a fact that hooklifts are the way waste containers are handled in the European market and many other areas of the world. The use of cables to haul containers onboard a prime mover is considered unsafe in many areas of the world due to cable failure and accidents causing death or injury. Now, granted these failures are extremely rare occurrences, but they do happen. As many in the waste industry might know, the regulatory/safety environment in the European Common Market is far more stringent and proactive than in the US.

Higher Productivity
The productivity of a waste truck using a hook loader versus a cable hoist can be 75 percent greater as the hook system generally negates the need for the driver to exit the vehicle to drop an empty container and pick up a full unit. In fact, 98 percent of hooklifts sold in the U.S. today have only control stations at the driver’s position. There is also increased driver satisfaction due to never having to egress the comfort of the cab in inclement weather conditions. Driver safety and comfort have become highly important in the waste industry due to economic pressures and the shortage of drivers willing to work in this industry. All of this results in tremendous productivity increase as well.
The opposite is true of cable hoist. A cable hoist operating position is outside the cab, on the driver’s side, in an area subject to the direction a failed cable could travel. So you have safety issues using cable loaders that do not exist using hook loaders.

When comparing hydraulic hooklift systems to roll-on cable-hoist loaders for trucks, advocates of each type are eager to point out their respective advantages. Both systems, of course, enable waste haulers, cities, contractors and others to purchase one chassis, equip it with their system of choice, and lift or roll on as many different truck bodies as desired.
With this lift-on or roll-on capability, a rig that serves as a dump truck one day can become a flatbed the next day, a tanker the following day, and so on. You are able to add new bodies to your fleet without investing in entire trucks.

Evaluating Your Options
But which system to choose? Some will argue for the greater familiarity that many have with cable hoists and the larger selection of pre-owned cable equipment on the market. On the other hand, hooklift users will tell you about the faster loading speeds, more pickups-per-day and enhanced safety afforded by their systems. When evaluating your options, you will also want to consider how you use your fleet.

Tight Spaces: Advantage Hook Loaders
Hook loaders are acknowledged to be better when maneuvering into and out of tight spaces. They are also more accurate for unloading containers in exact positions. Why? Cable hoists need more fore-and-aft or horizontal open space than hooklifts to load or drop-off a container.

Straight Approaches: Advantage Hook Loaders
Hook loaders are more forgiving when lining-up loads. With a cable hoist, the stingers of the rail must be in almost perfect alignment with the front wheels of the container. Not so with hooklifts. When picking up, they can engage a container up to 30 degrees off-center. Operators spend less time seeking that perfect lineup. Even younger drivers can get the hang of hooklifts faster.

Ampliroll Hooklift Truck dumping at a scrap and recycling yard in Grand Rapids, MI. Ampliroll will be in Booth 1985 at the Waste Expo from May 6 – 9, 2019.

Contractors, scrap metal haulers, municipalities, landscapers and many others recognize the benefits to purchasing one chassis, equipping it with their system of choice, and lifting or rolling on as many different truck bodies as needed.
With this lift-on or roll-on capability, a rig that works as leaf vacuum one day can become a sewer jetter the next day, a tanker the following day, and so on. Users do not need to add entire trucks to their fleet. Instead, they can purchase new bodies as needed—often gaining 100 percent use of their truck.

Low Clearance: Advantage Cable Hoists
Because of their lower-angle loading/unloading capabilities, cable-hoist systems are more suitable for use at sites with limited overhead clearance. They are the better choice for placing containers underneath overhead obstructions, in buildings or within other enclosed structures.

Loading Docks: Advantage Hook Loaders
Hooklift systems are better designed to handle elevated loads such as those on loading docks. Cable hoists can only load from raised platforms if they are about the same height as the rails on the truck and if the rig can back up flush to the platform. As for unloading on elevated docks, with a cable system, you are out of luck; they do not have that capability.

The Best Advice? Check Out Both Systems Carefully
Any discussion of hook loaders verses cable hoists must include the costs involved in switching over your entire infrastructure to a new method of hauling containers. It is disingenuous to suggest a waste company could or would make a switch to a new method of hauling containers that could involve the expenditures of substantial amounts of money. No matter what the productivity and safety gains are, they must be weighed against the costs involved in a project of this nature.

In this day-and-age, it is apparent that many mid-size commercial waste haulers are moving into the residual market where the costs can be lower and the profits higher. In this market, single axle chassis’, either 19.5K or 33K are commonly used with hooklifts being the method of choice for various reasons. It makes no sense to use a heavy chassis to carry a 10- or 15-yard container which will most likely carry residual waste, and risk damage to thin driveways or brickwork used in residential localities. This is time for a commercial hauler to make a decision to move to a hook loader. Dual purpose containers can be had for a small surcharge that will load on either a hooklift or cable hoist system.
Another area where a commercial waste hauler might entertain the purchase and use of a hook loader is in the recycling market, which is still growing in certain areas of the country. The benefits are the same as the residential market to the waste hauler in most instances.

Ongoing Efficiency
If you are a current waste hauler and looking at the possibility of moving in the hooklift direction, call other haulers you know that use that system. Current users of hook systems know the best brand to buy with a good balance of price and longevity.
Before spending your money, spend some time to research which system will best meet your needs, adhere to your budget and contribute to your ongoing efficiency and/or profitability.

Andy Jansma is the U.S. General Manager for Marrel Corporation (Rockford, MI), Ampliroll Division. He has more than 35 years of experience with hook loaders and other waste equipment. Andy has also designed many types of specialized equipment for use in the waste industry. Ampliroll Hooklift Systems are manufactured by the Marrel Corporation—the inventor of the dual-pivot hook loader in 1969 and first again in bringing them to users across the U.S. in 1980. Today, Ampliroll supplies premier hook loader systems and associated equipment. Unlike many others, Ampliroll offers a complete selection of truck-mounted accessories and roll-on/off bodies that they can supply as a package with their hook loaders, allowing for single-source acquisition. Customers select from aerial lifts, cranes, grapple systems and more. Also choose from cement mixers, dump bodies, flatbeds, septic pumpers, waste containers, water tankers and other interchangeable bodies. In addition, customers can select from Ampliroll’s line of high-quality pre-owned hooklift vehicles. For more information, call (616) 863-9155, e-mail [email protected] or visit

1.Introduced by the Marrel Corp in the late 1970s.