Nobody knows your transfer station or material recovery facility (MRF) better than you do. But there’s always something to learn — what to do and what not to do — from other operations. Caterpillar waste expert Tom Griffith has spent the past 20-plus years in and out of waste facilities across the country, learning plenty about what works when it comes to increasing production, improving efficiency and reducing costs. Here, he shares best practices in five key areas.
1. Put safety first — all day, every day.
Cramped buildings. Poor lighting. Slick floors. Lots of vehicle and foot traffic. Transfer stations and MRFs are filled with safety risks — and that’s why working safely must be the top priority all shift long. Wearing proper personal protective equipment (PPE) is essential, but your commitment to safety can’t stop there. To sustain a culture of safety excellence, implement a program that:
2. Take steps to minimize costly tire spin.
Aside from personnel and fuel, where do the majority of transfer stations and MRFs spend the most money? If you guessed tires, you’re right. Replacing a set can cost upwards of $40,000 — and too much tire spin means you’ll be making that investment more often than you’d like. To reduce tire spin and extend tire life:
3. Master the art of pushing and stockpiling.
The goal of pushing is simple: Move as much as possible without spinning the tires or losing material around the edges. Here’s a technique the best operators use: Engage the pile with a flat bucket on the ground. Make contact, then raise the bucket one-half to one inch to clear the floor and slide the load. This method helps prevent friction and wheel spin and lowers fuel burn.
Stockpiling is trickier. Sometimes the building configuration or capacity doesn’t allow for adequate storage, requiring operators to stack material as high as possible. In that case, one best practice is to leave a load or two at the foot of the pile, then push it up with the next load — sliding material higher on to the stockpile. Another option is for the operator to raise the lift arms as high as the machine will allow and, while dumping the load, make a slight indention in the waste with the bucket. He can then push the next load into that space.
4. Use the right sorting tools and loading techniques.
When it comes to sorting, the key is having the right tool on the end of the machine. Sorting grapples and grapple buckets work best for quickly grabbing, pulling, carrying and rejecting unwanted material.
Loading best practices are more complicated and vary based on the type of load-out for which your building is designed.
5. Determine if tamping is worth the effort.
To achieve fully rated loads, many transfer station and MRF operators tamp material. Should they? To find out, compare a few tamped and un-tamped loads. You may discover the slight amount of weight you gain isn’t worth the extra time, increased fuel burn and added stress on equipment. If you do find that tamping has value, train your operators to follow these best practices:
Putting a few (if not all) of these best practices into action will go a long way toward helping you raise production and efficiency — and lower maintenance, fuel and floor costs — at your transfer facility or MRF. Looking for more detail? Check out Tom’s full article in the April 2018 edition of Waste Advantage magazine or talk to your local Cat® dealer.