Refuse and waste fleet managers want their haulers and crews to be as safe as possible and serve their community effectively. Garbage truck manufacturers play an important role in meeting that goal.
By Andrew Taitz
Safety is an important consideration for those in the refuse and recycling industry. Therefore, risk mitigation strategies and safety technology advancements are extremely important. In recent years, innovative technologies introduced by manufacturers of heavy-duty refuse trucks have made many safety benefits available to operators. As an added bonus, many of these safety-enhancing technologies also aim to help a fleet’s productivity and efficiency.
Refuse and waste fleet managers want their haulers and crews to be as safe as possible and serve their community effectively. Garbage truck manufacturers play an important role in meeting that goal. Historically, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) have focused on manufacturing trucks with features that prioritize this goal by including physical safety options like anti-slip steps, improved visibility, and better ergonomics. However, OEMs have incorporated various smart technologies into their refuse truck chassis in the past few years. These smart technologies can alert and provide warnings to operators and fleet managers in real-time.
Today, operators spend more time inside refuse trucks than ever before, thanks to the increased adoption of the automated side loader (ASL) truck. ASLs allow the operator to remain entirely inside the truck. In turn, they increase worker safety by decreasing exposure to oncoming traffic and waste. However, the adoption of these trucks requires refuse collection operators to engage more with technology in addition to driving. These technologies can include actuator controls, onboard computers (OBC) and communication devices. This can, unfortunately, distract an operator.
Though side loaders have become more commonplace and have helped to mitigate some of the dangers associated with waste collection, OEMs have identified the need for continued improvement. Autocar is one manufacturer that has recognized this need and is using technological advancements to make further progress in refuse safety.
The Issue with Current Risk Mitigation Tactics
While OSHA does not have industry-specific recommendations, SWANA and the American National Standards Institute have published safety procedures. These include safety protocols for both operators and the waste collection vehicle, which range from personal protective equipment and anti-distraction advice to features OEMs must include on the refuse trucks they manufacture, such as controls and higher visibility mirrors. OEMs have also implemented risk mitigation strategies, like slip-resistant riding steps, grab handles and warning signs and sounds.
Additionally, most waste management companies and owners have rigorous training requirements and proprietary internal risk mitigation strategies. Fleets have removed driver distractions such as restricting cellphone usage inside of the cab, installing monitored telematics systems, and enforcing breaks for operators.
The Role Technology Plays in Safety and Efficiency
Telematics, wireless, and satellite-based technologies that allow vehicles to communicate with external systems, entered the market in the late 1980s and have, year after year, made significant advancements. But its full acceptance and adoption rate needs to be a lot stronger.
Today, the primary purpose of telematics is to improve operator and sanitation crews’ safety by providing real-time information about the location, condition, and movement of specific refuse trucks. Fleet managers and owners can use the data gathered to verify operator safety, optimize routing, and identify potential dangers or problems. In addition, telematics can provide valuable insights into how a refuse truck is being used (fuel efficiency, driving patterns), which can help reduce costs for businesses.
The implementation of technology for telematics created a drastic change in the efficiency, uptime and cost-effectiveness of refuse trucks and is a change that almost every OEM now offers to its customers. Necessary and important advancements in safety led to the development of Autocar’s Advanced Driver Assist System (ADAS) available on its refuse trucks. Autocar began developing ADAS in 2019, and in 2021, Autocar was the first OEM to offer ADAS packages on its class 8 cabover refuse and recycling trucks (see ADAS Technology sidebar).
Autocar also offers an AEBS and its stability control systems. The AEBS is an active braking system that deploys in the event of an impending collision. The three-level system begins with an audible and visual warning to the driver, followed by the same warnings plus haptic feedback with a quick tap of the brakes. If the truck’s operator does not intervene after these warnings, the final level of the AEBS will perform a full emergency brake on the truck until there is a safe distance between vehicles.
Implementing an Advanced Driver Assist System for Refuse Trucks
Like most technological advances, testing and trials are required to safely and efficiently implement new technology into society, and ADAS is no different. Engineers work directly with body companies to perform functionality testing to ensure an effective integration between the body, chassis, and safety system.
While OEMs and their customers have only recently adopted the technology, ADAS systems have quickly become more commonplace in the refuse industry, and with the introduction of new technology comes the need for proper training. We work directly with customers to conduct training sessions with the operators and technicians in charge of maintaining the system to provide seamless integration into their fleets. Operator training to understand the functionality and limitations of safety systems such as ADAS is important because even with the development of new safety technology, drivers are still an essential element for safe operation of the vehicle.
We remain committed to furthering its safety technology innovations to improve safety for operators and the public. These systems can (and do) help prevent accidents. | WA
Available in the ACX chassis for refuse and recycling, Autocar’s ADAS technology includes the following:
• Advanced Emergency Braking System (AEBS): Active braking system that detects an impending collision and engages emergency brakes
• Forward Collision Warning (FCW): Visible and audible warnings in case of an impending collision
• Stationary Merge Assistant (SMA): Light on A-pillars that illuminate with an audible warning. Active from near zero mph.
• Blind Spot Detection (BSD): Flashing light on A-pillar that warns the operator of other vehicles and objects in their blind spot
• Electronic Stability Controls (ESC): System that actively intervenes to maintain stability when the vehicle is understeering or oversteering
• Rollover Stability Controls (RSC): Intervention system that deploys when the vehicle is at risk for a rollover event
Andrew Taitz is Chairman of Autocar Trucks and the Founder, Chairman and CEO of GVW Group, an industrial holding company with businesses in manufacturing, technology and engineering based in Highland Park, IL and operating in North America, Africa, and Europe. GVW Group companies provide commercial vehicles and transportation technology-related products and services. The Group offers strategic expertise for early-stage, high-growth and mid-sized companies and invests in starting and growing businesses that serve customers internationally. GVW Group’s mission is to build dynamic businesses by empowering people to do what has never been done before but should have. Andrew was born in South Africa, raised in Israel and immigrated to the United States at 29. He acquired a bankrupt maker of bodies for delivery trucks and complemented it with a chassis-builder acquired from General Motors. Union City Body Co. and Workhorse Custom Chassis dominated the delivery vans and RV Chassis market with a disruptive business model that created new value for customers. In 2001, through GVW Group, Andrew acquired the historic Autocar brand and cabover business from Volvo and developed it into a leading North American manufacturer dedicated to severe-duty vocational trucks. Today, Autocar’s hundreds of customers include most major cities’ waste-hauling fleets, most major severe-duty fleets and many of the largest retailers, food manufacturers, and freight logistics companies in North America. GVW Group founded and operates several other businesses in IT development, commercial vehicle engineering, truck parts distribution, energy-efficiency data, and technological services, including electric vehicles, fuel cells, advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS), telematics, autonomous vehicles, and artificial intelligence (AI) in trucking. For more information, call (833) 857-0200 or e-mail [email protected].