City officials are looking at the possibility of purchasing a new garbage truck for the sanitation department. But unlike its current refuse trucks, the city is considering going to a truck manned only by the driver and equipped with an automated side loader for picking up curbside residential household garbage.
Charlie Akers of Murfreesboro, a sales manager for the Municipal Equipment Incorporated in Knoxville brought a 31 cubic yard tandem axle garbage truck to Smithville Wednesday morning for a demonstration. The mayor, aldermen, and several city employees observed how the demonstrator truck operated its 12 foot automated arm to lift a 96 gallon garbage container.
Although this size truck would more than meet Smithville's needs, Akers told WJLE that the city may look at a smaller vehicle. "They are looking at a single axle automated side loader refuse truck. This truck (demonstrator) was manufactured by New Way of Scranton, Iowa. One of the things that sets this truck apart from others is the way the arm operates. It's got a twelve foot (144 inch) reach. Other competitors only have an 84 inch reach. This is a 31 cubic yard truck. The city is currently running 20 cubic yard rear loaders on their routes," said Akers.
According to Akers many cities in Tennessee are going to automated garbage trucks because it cuts down on manpower on the routes and reduces workers compensation claims. "Everybody is moving to automated. Murfreesboro, Hartsville, Columbia, Gallatin, Sparta, McMinnville, and Cookeville, are just a few of the cities that have made the conversion," said Akers.
"The real advantage is it eliminates a lot of workers compensation claims where you have a guy that hurts his back lifting up containers that are too heavy and he has to miss work. With these trucks, you can operate with only the driver and if it’s raining, snowing, hot, or cold it's just a one man operation and he is not affected by the weather," said Akers.
City Administrator Hunter Hendrixson said sanitation workers who currently ride the routes would not lose their jobs with the new system, but would be reassigned to other positions where they are needed.
If the city should purchase this type of garbage truck, it would also most likely buy one standard garbage container for each residence on the routes for better compatibility with the new system. Anyone who wanted more than one container would have to purchase them.
Akers said if the county develops a solid waste transfer station in the city, the life of a new garbage truck as well as those already being used would be extended. "A big advantage of going to this system with a transfer station is that the trucks are not going to be going into a landfill. It's saves on the life of the truck and the tires. Its hard on trucks to get into and out of that mud (landfill) so you're going to get longer use," said Akers.
Funding for a new garbage truck may be included in the city’s 2014-15 fiscal year budget, subject to approval by the mayor and board of aldermen. Bids would have to be obtained before a truck could be purchased.