July 11, 2006

Trash talk

A robo-truck feeding itself some delicious garbage

Continuing with my strange interest in automated garbage collection.....

The "Trash-zilla" trucks are on the streets of Moline. It's been two weeks since the city completed distribution of the new industrial strength cans. What's the verdict so far?

I was surprised when I first saw how the robo-trucks lift the container.

Since the cans have an indented slot running up the side which is supposed to face the truck, with a solid metal bar mounted across it near the top, I assumed that the trucks would have some sort of hook which would slide up the channel in the can, engage the bar, and lift it into the truck.

Not so.

The method doesn't even use the bar at all. Rather, a couple arms swing around the can, encircling it with spring tensioned reinforced rubber straps, much like some playground swings are made out of, and simply pinches the can as it lifts it up and over.

I wouldn't stand in front of this thing unless you want a potentially lethal bear hug.

I asked the driver if that wouldn't cause some problems in the case of a rainy day and too heavy cans. Wouldn't it be likely that some cans would simply slip out of the grasp of the arm?

He said that they'd been warned that there indeed could be problems, especially on mornings when the cans could be covered in frost. He also pointed out the potential situation where the arm would be able to lift the can, but having it slip out and fall into the truck itself when it comes to a stop over the hopper.

This of course would be big fun for the driver, who, I imagine, would have to somehow scale the truck, climb down into the slippery dump hole, and then somehow extricate the heavy can and himself. All without any assistance. (cost savings, ya know.)

The primary reason given for automation and how it would save money was the large cost of workers compensation claims paid to "sanitation engineers". If the drivers have to be scaling the trucks and fishing cans out of the hopper on frosty or snowy mornings, I can imagine that they'll still be having quite a few claims.

I've heard one report of a can which broke apart the first time it was picked up by the new truck.

Many people now have to place their cans further away from their homes as well and others have had to change from leaving them in their alleys to placing them on the street in front. I'm sure that there's other special circumstances and problems as well.

A source from the city told me that they plan to have a sort of utility truck on duty which will go around the entire city taking care of locations which the automated trucks simply can't service and using an add-on lift device which fits the old style trucks (and which uses the metal bar to hoist the can) or emptying them by hand.

One positive bit of info I discovered was that while some garbage workers were reassigned and knocked down to janitors with a very steep cut in pay, none were fired outright. At least they're still employed.

And evidently, I'm off the hook for my usual holiday gift of booze and/or monetary cheer for the hard working guys who used to brave the elements to remove life's excesses.

Any reports from the field? Complaints? Cheers? Jeers?


At 7/11/2006 12:50 PM, Blogger Scott said...

I love the fact that I now am going to have to pay quite a bit to get my trash collected during the holidays and get togethers.

At 7/12/2006 12:06 AM, Blogger Kankakee Voice said...

Dope, you always have the most unusual pictures and posts, plus... I love it when you talk dirty. ;)

At 7/12/2006 12:32 AM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Kv,for you, anytime.

I guess I'm not your average bear.

Of course, not everyone thinks to grab a camera when they hear the garbage truck coming, nor are they willing to stand there snapping pictures while the driver and anyone else who happens to notice wonders what the hell you're doing taking pictures of your garbage being collected.

You have to have a certain healthy disregard for what other people may think.

It's not for everyone. ha!

At 7/12/2006 12:43 PM, Blogger maybesomeday said...

Mayor Welvert's big mistake here. My alley (and many others too)is too small so the trucks arms to lift the cans don't and won't work. My trash has to be lifted manually instead and it is HUGE - 96 gallons of weight. So the one guy per truck thing ain't gonna fly since they planned it badly. Can you say Workman's comp? They have missed my pick up a couple times now too which never used to happen in over 25 years....

I guess the money savings will go away with a huge new line item for the Moline taxpayers -- ME -- to pay courtesy of the new mayor in Moline. Thanks Don for breaking something that wasn't in need of fixing!

At 7/12/2006 5:00 PM, Blogger DookOfURL said...

Thank Gaia, out here in Boonieville we don't have to worry about all this stuff----we just burn our trash!

At 7/13/2006 8:57 PM, Blogger diehard said...

Oh thats real good for the envoirment Drkful!

At 7/15/2006 4:32 PM, Blogger DookOfURL said...

OK, I didn't exactly frame my comment correctly. Yes, we do have trash pick-up here in Boonieville. But there is also lots of burning going on out here also.

Before moving out here to The Peaceable Kingdom, where the long arm of bureacrats and petty dictators can't harm us, we lived in Moline's Villa Park neighborhood. I can't tell you how many times some disgruntled neighbor called the Smoke Police on me because I was burning leaves (and we had a ton) on a day that The Powers That Be dictated leaves shouldn't be burned.

It's just so nice not to have a committee of bureaucrats telling us how to live our lives.

But in your defense diehard, I realize that some people need bureaucrats to tell them what to do and how to live----otherwise, they just couldn't manage.

At 7/15/2006 7:32 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

And some people, apparently, need to have neighbors and bureaucrats step in to tell them to not be insensitive, callous, self-centered, homeowners who think they're above rules and regulations. (I'll skip some common terms for such people.)

This isn't, after all, some niggling thing like whether a fence is two inches out of place or an inch too high, or the grass in your back yard is an inch too long, etc.

It's something you apparently did on a regular basis, apparently thinking you didn't need to follow the rules everyone else does.

You have a ton of leaves, which when burned produce vast volumes of noxious smoke, smoke which, by the way, can cause serious distress to those with respiratory problems, and smoke which drifts far off your property and affects many who don't particularly care to breath your pollution.

And on top of that, you somehow feel the rules don't apply to you and, despite the fact that there are acceptible days for burning, you insist on thumbing your nose at it and burning on days where burning is prohibited.

I think your neighbors are probably pretty glad you decided to move out where you're less likely to offend those around you.

You know, it's the old saying about the right of a person to swing his fist ends at the tip of someone's nose.

If you're not capable of following rational rules and regulations designed to improve the quality of life for everyone, then you certainly should be out in a remote area where such behavior doesn't have as many consequences for others.


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