Recycling: Flexibility through control

11 December 2008

As a leading refuse vehicle builder based in Warrington and Worksop, Terberg Matec UK is well aware of the industrial technology that can make a vital contribution to its business.

On-board controls on its vehicles have progressed from manually operated hydraulic valves to programmable electronic systems.

Waste, recyclable and food waste collection vehicle manufacture has evolved from standard products to a variety of customised and bespoke solutions as the nation strives to reach challenging landfill reduction targets.

Sheldon Hall, of Terberg Matec, said that by 2010 the UK was ‘committed to reducing landfill volumes to 75 per cent of that in 1995’ and that, through recycling he felt this was ‘achievable’.

‘For the local authorities and private sector contractors, this means sorting the materials by type, either at a MRF (materials recovery facility or ‘Murf’) or at source, i.e. the kerbside, during collection and treating each appropriately. The latter method provides a significant number of local authorities with the most efficient solution for their needs and has driven the development of a whole new generation of collection vehicles.’

The first stage of kerbside segregation involves the communication process to engage householders and motivate them to sort their recyclables into different bins or boxes for paper, card, cans, plastic, etc. These recyclable streams are then collected using a specialist non-compaction, multi-compartment vehicle such as Terberg’s Kerbsider solution that offers segregated storage compartments for each recyclable faction. Here, the recyclables are emptied from household storage into separate compartments on the vehicles side mounted trough, the trough is then raised vertically up the side of the vehicle whilst the roof opens and then discharges each recycling stream into its corresponding compartment within the Kerbsider body.

With up to six body compartments, a powered rear door, power trough lift and powered internal door locks, the typical Kerbsider vehicle requires every function to be interlocked through the Mitsubishi FX PLC such that each function can only operate when it is safe to do so. The FX also provides the brains behind the optional, intelligent, wheelie bin clamp system that allows the Kerbsider to safely hoist domestic wheelie bins into the air and empty them into its body.

‘The FX is tiny, but it takes a complex assembly of mechanical, hydraulic and electro-pneumatic components such as our Kerbsider or Toploader products and helps transform them into a highly sophisticated, intelligent and interactive solution for the collection of recyclables at the very front line of the environmental management process,’ said Hall.

Hall explains that various councils and private contractors are increasingly trying different and innovative ways in which to improve recycling. Their plans relate to differing local needs, physical and social barriers and resource limitations and also to different operating strategies.

Hall described Terberg as lucky in being able to react quickly to changing market requirements.

He described the change at the company’s Worksop manufacturing facility that saw the company try and focus more on customisations for different product lines.

‘Our concerns over the engineering challenges posed by having such a diverse product range and ensuring safety in operation throughout have been significantly reduced by the adoption of industrial control technology, such as the FX range, that had already proven itself in harsh and demanding conditions,’ he said.

Some of Terberg’s recycling vehicle body solutions also include a Mitsubishi E series HMI in the cab. This is a touch screen graphics display, hardened for industrial use or on a dirty, noisy, vibrating vehicle, from which the driver can monitor and control all operations of the specialist recycling vehicle body equipment.

‘We are always looking for ways to make the “man-machine interface” for our products as user friendly and configurable as possible,’ said Hall. ‘The E series HMI unit has certainly helped us achieve this goal and assists greatly in improving the productivity and safety of our vehicles in operation.

‘The HMI units are mainly used on our latest range of Kerbsider vehicles including our innovative Kerbsider Combi TD hybrid vehicle that offers a “one pass” solution to collecting dry recyclable and food waste from the kerbside. The HMI allows us to add new features or even, retrofit options for customers, changes to the ‘virtual’ control panel are relatively easy and would have previously meant significant re-wiring and modification to traditional button stations and panels.’

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