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Don’t underestimate the Cat 816 landfill compactor

The Cat 816 landfill compactor

Caterpillar’s legendary 816 landfill compactor is often overlooked for its heavier siblings. Select Civil’s Renaud Chauvet explains why that needs to change. 

The Cat 816 model 26 tonne landfill compactor is globally recognised in the waste management industry.

The 816 has been in production since 1972, and was the first landfill compactor Caterpillar produced. Through various incarnations, refinements and evolutions in the 50 years since, it has earned its reputation as an agile and efficient workhorse in waste management.

The most recent iteration of the 816 was launched in April 2021 with a range of updates and improvements to efficiency, durability and versatility, as well as an updated cabin design to optimise operator comfort and safety.

Though dwarfed by the larger 826K and 836K models, the 816 will always have its advocates.

One such advocate is Renaud Chauvet, Managing Director of Select Civil, a civil contracting, plant hire and waste management services company based in Kembla Grange, an hour south of Sydney.

Across its landfill and equipment rental operations, the company runs multiple fleets of Cat machines such as dozers, track loaders and landfill compactors – including multiple 816s.

Caterpillar has earned Renaud’s confidence over the years with its distribution network, and availability of parts.

“The waste industry runs 24/7, it never stops. Whether it’s raining, or there’s a natural disaster, there will still be rubbish at the gate every morning,” he says.

“We need to be able to order a part at five o’clock in the evening, get it at six, and have our machine going again the next day. Caterpillar can do that for us.”

Renaud believes Select Civil, along with its parent company Groupe Poisson, are among the biggest buyers and distributors of Caterpillar machinery worldwide. He says this has allowed him to develop a keen insight into the ebbs and flows of waste management trends during his 17 years in the company.

One uniquely Australian trend that has recently piqued Renaud’s interest is what he sees as a lack of interest in smaller 26 tonne compactors, such as the 816, among small to medium-sized regional councils.

The 816, on paper, should be the optimal choice of landfill compactor for these councils’ volume of waste and yet, they are often overlooked in favour of larger 40 tonne compactors, Renaud says.

“In North America, especially Canada, most small municipalities really like the 816, and we sell a lot of them there,” he says.

“Yet very often in Australia we keep hearing the same message – that these regional councils want heavier models based on the assumption that heavier means better compaction, which is not necessarily how it works.”

Renaud says heavier compactors such as Cat 826K and 836K have their place and are indispensable for larger metropolitan landfills. But the key difference is in tonnage and volume of waste, rather than better compaction.

“Small municipalities and councils in Australia ask for an 826, when they’re sometimes dealing with less than 30,000 tonnes per year, which is definitely 816 territory,” he says.

“The Cat 816 is a very reliable machine that is easily capable of handling 40,000 to 50,000 tonnes a year – much more economically than its bigger siblings.”

Between the cost of the compactor, ongoing maintenance, parts and fuel burn differential, Renaud estimates councils could be burying hundreds of thousands of dollars with no material benefit – simply by overcapitalising on the wrong compactor for the job.

Not to mention the added fuel emissions.

“These days, with all the attention on the environmental impact of what we do, this attitude is dangerous,” he says.

Renaud says Caterpillar is invested in supplying the right products for the job, so needlessly upselling to larger compactors wouldn’t be in the company’s best interests.

Caterpillar is also invested in the future of the environment, having recently updated its enterprise strategy with a renewed focus on sustainability.

“Our long-standing commitment to sustainability inspires us to continue reducing greenhouse gas emissions from our operations while also developing innovative products, technologies and services to help our customers achieve their climate-related objectives,” writes Jim Umpleby, Caterpillar Chairman and Chief Executive in the strategy.

With this in mind, Caterpillar aims to balance performance with longer life and lower emissions in the latest iteration of the 816. A combination of new longer-lasting radiant air filters, improved operator interface, cabin comfort, and streamlined maintenance access all contribute to minimise downtime, while the Cat C7.1 engine ensures maximum fuel economy and increased power density.

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