Addressing hazards during front lift waste collection

When Veolia wanted to tackle the risks associated with front bin lift operations, Superior Pak developed a brand new, customised solution that is now available to the general market.

Our working approach is ‘Always Safe’ – if we can’t do a job safely, we won’t do it at all.”
So says Wayne Quirk, Fleet and Equipment Manager for Veolia Commercial Services NSW.

In response to an incident in Victoria, Wayne approached Superior Pak in August 2015 about creating a customised pedestrian detection system (PDS) for its front loaders

Veolia’s relationship with Superior Pak goes back many years, and was renewed after the latter was divested from Transpacific Industries in 2013.

While Veolia’s National Equipment Group had previously approached other suppliers about a system that would mitigate the risk of harm to pedestrians and property during front lift bin tipping operations, there had been little progress.

“When we discussed a revised front lift body specification for NSW, Rob Wrigley at Superior Pak agreed that the idea had merit and the team started work on a concept straight away,” says Wayne.

To manipulate, lift and tip a front lift bin safely requires a fair degree of skill and a high level of concentration. This work often takes place in bustling, populated public spaces, and with the driver focusing on the task at hand. As a result, there is an inherent risk of injury, as nearby pedestrians can possibly be unaware of the work being conducted around them.

“Veolia has a strong safety culture and was keen to get on the front foot with this and other enhancements,” says Garry Whineray, Superior Pak’s National Sales Manager.

Superior Pak’s engineers, based at the Bundaberg factory, had previously developed other customised solutions for clients, including a wireless, handheld pendant controller for a front lift bin operation and an auto- gather bin collection system for the rear loader model. So they were ready to take on the challenge.

Veolia specified they wanted a PDS that would monitor activity in front of the bin lifter and stop it from working if anybody or anything came into or around the operating area.

“There was nothing similar on the market at the time,” explains Garry. “While some of the technology was there, like the rear reverse sensors and cameras you get on cars, nobody had provided anything with sensors to create a geofence on the front of a vehicle during operation and effectively stop the bin lifter operation if something was detected.”

A responsive approach

The PDS system needed customised software to communicate with Superior Pak’s CAN-Bus control system – a digital, electronic hydraulic motion control system for the driver to operate the bin lifter and packer blade.

“I was initially surprised at the team’s consultative, inventive and proactive approach to developing the system,” says Wayne. “Rather than adapting an off-the-shelf product or delivering what an engineer believes to meet the requirement, Superior Pak encouraged input and feedback during the entire project. The end-result was a quality, integrated and user-friendly system.”

The original plan was to develop and incorporate the system on the new trucks for 2016. Therefore Veolia was delighted when the proactive engineering team developed it within two months of the initial concept discussions. This meant the prototype could be fitted and trialled in late October on its last 2015 truck.

Wayne was delighted with just how well it worked on the trial run, a true acid test, after which it required only minor modifications.

How it works

The Superior Pak PDS incorporates two high-tech sensors that are mounted to the front of the truck cab to monitor two detection areas: Zone B immediately in front of the cab, where the bin descends, that detects stationary and moving hazards, and Zone A for the area immediately around Zone B that monitors for movement only.

The detection system is enabled automatically on start-up to monitor the surroundings at all times. After
a bin is emptied into the hopper and the bin descent starts, if any moving object or person is detected in Zone A, or if any stationary or moving object or person is sensed in Zone
B, the PDS sets off an audible and visual alarm in the cab to alert the driver to the hazard and immediately stops the bin lowering action. Once the driver acknowledges the warning and indicates that the area is safe, the operation can be restarted.

“Where it’s ingenious is when the bin comes down, if anything triggers the sensor in the operating range, it completely disables the lifting hydraulics – so it’s a fail-safe solution,” adds Wayne.

“It works flawlessly – it didn’t even need a day’s worth of tweaking after that first trial,” says Wayne. “Superior Pak has also given our maintenance staff training on the system and provided inductions for new drivers using it for the first time. They even accompanied them on runs to show them how it works.”

“Their engineers always do thorough training with our workshop team to explain how to maintain their range of products. The after-sales support is fantastic.”

Another 14 front loaders with the PDS are in production for Veolia, with nine for Victoria, four for New South Wales and one for Queensland. The environmental solutions company then plans to table the system to
its National Equipment Group for inclusion in its national specification.

The system can also be retro-fitted to all older Superior Pak front-lifts
if required, so Veolia is strongly considering doing this for existing front loaders that work in highly-pedestrianised areas where possible.

“Superior Pak is at the cutting edge of developing modern technology
for the waste industry,” says Wayne. “They’re down-to-earth, approachable people, who are ready to understand your challenges and come up with solutions to our ‘projected wants’.”

National roll-out

After developing the technology for Veolia, Superior Pak is ready to release it to the general market.

Garry says this project has been the ideal demonstration of how Superior Pak’s team live out the company’s mission of providing tailored products and services to its customers.

“We recognise how much a good supportive working relationship means to our clients, so they know they’re not facing a challenge by themselves,” says Garry.

He says the account managers are always being approached about the potential for developing something not currently available, and the engineers manage to listen to clients, find out exactly what they’re looking for and make sure they end up with a good solution.

“This project for Veolia sits perfectly within that niche – developing something from the ground up in true partnership with a client,” adds Garry.

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