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Fall 2009

Garbage In, Garbage Out

Loaders keep the process moving seven days a week for Canadian refuse transfer stations

At a group of transfer stations in British Columbia, where hundreds of private and commercial vehicles drop off garbage each day, you will find that:

  • One operator plus one Bobcat® skid-steer loader equals maximum efficiency.
  • Going back seven years and changing one element in the equation — another brand of skid-steer loader — resulted in plenty of problems.

"Even though the other machines were new, they were always breaking down," says Rory McKenzie, operations supervisor of the seven transfer stations operated by the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako (RDBN). "We were using a wrench on them steadily from day one. They gave us all kinds of trouble."

Rory McKenzie

Bobcat skid-steer loaders ensure operations supervisor Rory McKenzie can keep the transfer stations running smoothly.

The way the transfer stations are operated, loader downtime is the last thing they needed. Seven years ago McKenzie switched to two Bobcat S185 loaders. Today he also has four S220s and two S250s, purchased from Williams Machinery in Prince George, B.C. The volume of work determines what size loader is assigned to a station. One of the loaders is kept in reserve so if there is a breakdown the spare machine can be at a site within two hours.

"We have one operator and one loader at each facility," McKenzie says. "The garbage keeps coming whether the loader is working or not. If the loader is down they will pile the garbage everywhere. At our biggest station we cannot survive more than four hours without our machine."

The district, which covers 77,000 square kilometers (29,729 square miles), has a population of about 40,000, and contains eight incorporated municipalities. While there are some operational differences between the large and small transfer stations, here is how the system works. Trucks pick up garbage in the various communities and rural areas, and bring it to the nearest transfer station.

The garbage, which is usually bagged, is dumped on the floor of the open-sided building. Some of the big trucks dump 8 to 9 tons at one time. A skid-steer loader runs over the bags to condense the volume, picks up the garbage and dumps it into a 53-foot trailer parked inside the building below floor level. This goes on for about 10 hours a day Monday through Friday, and about eight hours a day on the weekend.

S220

A new S220 skid-steer loader dumps garbage onto a conveyor belt at a transfer station. Loaders like this one work as much as 10 hours per day.

At the larger stations at least one trailer is filled per day. "Our Bobcat skid-steer loaders are the only equipment that moves garbage around," McKenzie says. "There is not enough space for larger equipment. If a trailer is full by 10 a.m., and another trailer doesn't come in for another eight hours, we need the maneuverability of our Bobcat loaders to keep moving, smashing and stacking the refuse."

The loaders move garbage with large volume buckets and use industrial grapples to pick up steel objects such as lawn mowers, bikes and appliances.

Knowing that when the operators come to work they will be spending eight hours or more in the comfortable cab of a tough and durable loader is reassuring. "Those loaders make life easier for all of us," McKenzie says.

Visit the industry page to learn about more Bobcat products designed for the industrial market segment.