Proper routine maintenance of your transfer station facility will save you tens of thousands of dollars over the life of the facility as well as increase operational efficiencies and throughput.
Transfer stations that are currently in operation have several factors that play into proper maintenance of the building in order to keep it functioning and avoid or defer costly repairs far into the future. The most important factor in running a transfer station is properly training your loader operator. A properly trained loader operator can help to stretch the lifespan of your tipping floor and push walls as well as manage traffic to help reduce accidents. These are not the only benefits your facility will see for spending the time and money to train loader operators. Your facility may also see maximized payloads, decreased loading times and reduced damage to over-the-road hauler’s vehicles and trailers through their loading process. It’s amazing the effects a good loader operator can have on a facility over the lifetime of their employment. We have all heard the stories of individuals being injured by a loader at a transfer station; no one wants to see that happen, safety is top priority. Training and management are the best ways to avoid an unfortunate disaster (see Rubber Edged Loaders sidebar).
In terms of maintenance to your facility, we like to break them down into daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual items. This allows you to produce a checklist for your transfer station manager that he or she can use to make sure the maintenance is kept up to maintain low operating costs. Negligence on many of these items will lead to costly repairs that could have been avoided by spending the proper amount of time on maintenance.
Daily Maintenance Tips
- Always remove materials from the floor at the end of a shift in order to meet most EPA guidelines. This also allows you the ability to do a quick visual inspection to ensure you don’t see any damage as well as helps prevent fires within your building from waste.
- Make sure overhead (OH) doors are up all the way during hours of operation. This will help to ensure they aren’t damaged by vehicles dumping in the facility;
- Make sure all safety signage and traffic control items are properly displayed and functioning;
- Make sure all directional lights and other indicators for the site visitors are working properly;
- All entrance gates should be open all the way to help prevent damage from being hit.
Weekly Maintenance Tips
- Clear the floor. Wash and properly inspect the floor for damage or excessive wear. This will help you to gauge how your floor is holding up and see if there are any areas that need to be repaired or if the wearing is getting down to the rebar.
- Washing your floor will also provide you the ability to monitor for proper drainage that meets your permitting requirements. If you are able to find the areas in your tipping floor that fail more quickly because of high vehicle traffic, you can repair these areas before you get to rebar and this will allow you to save on large expenses from repairing large areas of tipping floor. Once the rebar is exposed, the loader can grab it and create additional damage.
Monthly Maintenance Tips
- Check all push walls and pit openings for new or more extensive damage. Finding these items early will allow you to repair small portions of the areas instead of a large scale, structural issue. There are several options to repair push walls that will provide safe operations for months or even a couple years;
- Test your fire sprinkler system to make sure it is functioning properly. Preventing fires from spreading in the building will obviously save you a large claim in the future if you receive a hot load;
- Close your OH doors and spray them down to clean off dust and debris that builds up in the slats and between the panels. This will help the door run smooth and increase your lifecycle. Dirty slats and joints make the OH door motors overstressed, causing them to fail early. It also causes the doors to become out of level. This leads to earlier replacement than should be necessary in typical application and costs you money;
- Make sure all trench drains leading to your sanitary or storm sewer are clear of debris and functioning properly. If not, they should be cleaned out.
Quarterly Maintenance Tips
- Make sure your scales are calibrated properly and are certified per government requirements;
- If you have scales in your pit, you should clean them a minimum of 4x per year, but preferably 6x per year;
- Rent a lift and change the light bulbs in the facility as they burn out, clean out the gutters, blow out all mechanical items within the facility (HVAC, OH door operators, etc.) so that they can function properly.
Annual Maintenance Tips
- If you have an HVAC system in your facility, I would highly recommend you engage them in an annual service contract to perform routine maintenance on the equipment;
- The same would apply to the fire system and the plumbing system (especially if pumps are involved). You want to have them come out, check them and make sure there are no issues. Avoiding a pump burning up can also save you thousands of dollars as well as in an emergency or crisis.
Proper Routine Maintenance
While some of these items are high level tips, I want to reiterate that proper routine maintenance of your transfer station facility will save you tens of thousands of dollars over the life of the facility as well as increase operational efficiencies and throughput. It is very important that all facility owners develop these maintenance plans and training manuals and stick to them in order to save themselves down time and money.
Jeff Eriks is the Chief Business Development Officer for Cambridge Companies (Griffith, IN) and has worked in the waste industry for more than 20 years. During this time, more than 100 solid waste design-build projects have been completed including new build, repairs, upgrades and/or modifications at transfer stations, recycling centers/MRFs, hauling companies, landfill facilities, office buildings and more. Cambridge continually monitors the industry to determine any new needs, changes or improvements that will benefit their clients and improve their design-build solutions. Jeff can be reached at (219) 369-4013, via email at [email protected] or visit www.CambridgeCoInc.com.
Rubber Edged Loaders
I would like to quickly touch on the use of rubber edges for the loaders. In many instances, if your tipping floor is poured using the proper mix design and aggregate and your Loader Operator is properly trained to run the loader, you could avoid the need for rubber edges on your equipment. Understand there are a lot of caveats there, but all those factors really do come into play when making that decision. We believe that properly operating your loader will lengthen the lifespan of your tipping floor. Training should be the number one priority of any transfer station owner.