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.
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 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?