Equipment Focus: Extreme Makeover

Features - Equipment News

Today’s waste handlers are combining technology advancements, fuel efficiency, comfort and strength for improved performance.

September 19, 2013
Harry Wales

Waste handlers put to work in waste, scrap and recycling applications take a beating and, as such, manufacturers have responded with design advancements aimed at improving efficiency, simplifying operation, providing the brute strength needed and keeping the operator safe and comfortable. When examining today’s waste handlers, operators may want to consider a few key factors and advancements that may not have been options the last time they bought a new machine.

Greater Control

Operators now have more control over the power and fuel the machine uses to get the job done thanks to advances in electronics. Operators can select a mode that matches the work of the engine and related components to the task at hand. In doing so, the machine delivers only as much power as needed to conserve fuel. An economy power mode, for example, is used when the waste handler is performing short cycle material handling work. Maximum power mode is suited for longer cycles and when acceleration is a priority. The end result is the proper balance between maximum productivity and fuel efficiency.

Modern waste handlers also are built with a variety of electronic modules to control functions throughout the machine. Computer area network (CAN) bus technology connects the modules and facilitates communication among them so they can work together efficiently. With a CAN bus the engine and the transmission are in sync at all times versus working as independent systems. As such, the transmission, related drivetrain components and engine work together to match the demands of a given mode or application.

Electronics also are responsible for many other improved functions and cost savings associated with waste handlers. Operators can adjust idle speed to match conditions. Systems that automatically protect the machine when they recognize critical problems with hydraulics, the engine or the transmission are common.


Equipment manufacturers in this class of machine have two real options for meeting Tier 4 standards: selective catalytic reduction (SCR) and cooled exhaust gas recirculation (CEGR). SCR is the optimal Tier 4 choice for this application and this style of machine because it is an after-treatment system that lets the engine do what it is designed to do: generate power at varied engine loads common in waste and recycling operations.

CEGR uses diesel particulate filters that must regenerate to maintain proper function. Regeneration occurs in phases and often involves high exhaust temperatures and downtime (during parked regeneration, machines must be away from combustible materials, and the vehicle cannot be operated). SCR also does not affect the engine’s combustion process, unlike CEGR, which recirculates exhaust gas back into the engine. Fresh air used to develop power is replaced with an inert, unusable gas that robs the engine of power. CEGR-equipped engines inherently use more fuel and have to offset this inefficiency with additional engine components.

Efficient Hydraulics
Load-sensing hydraulic systems, along with precise bucket and loader functions, produce less heat, require less fuel and provide speed and control that is a perfect match in waste handling operations. The system allows you to add circuits if needed, providing excellent versatility.

A key advantage is fuel efficiency because only the power needed—and no more—is used to drive a variable piston pump to match the load. More efficient use of horsepower results in less heat generation and maximized productivity.

Strength through the Drivetrain
Scrap and waste handling operations place different loads on the machines than standard digging and loading operations. Waste handlers spend more time pushing material, which places an additional load on the rear axle. A properly configured waste handler will feature axles that can handle this type of operation. Locking front differentials also are important as these can be used in auto or manual mode and provide maximum traction. Other things to consider:

  • Solid, nonpneumatic tires provide stability and eliminate punctures.
  • Heavy-duty brake linings are used, providing excellent service life.
  • Outboard mounted brakes and planetary gears are easier to service, resulting in reduced downtime.

Taking Care of the Operator

Features designed to keep the operator safe, comfortable and productive continue to evolve. Some of the recent innovations include:

  • Quieter cabs: Cabs have been refined for a quieter environment than older, noisier models. The decibel level in the cab of some waste handlers is as low as 70.
  • Better air filtration: Given the varying air quality in waste applications, some machines use a dual air filtration system for cleaner air in the cab.
  • Improved visibility: Some models offer unobstructed views to both edges of the bucket or attachment. A wide rear window and a low hood profile on the rear of some machines also can give operators a better view to the rear. Wide-angle rear-view cameras reduce blind spots that weren’t apparent in older models.
  • Increased comfort: Whether it is joystick steering, ergonomically placed controls or heated seats, waste handlers now offer increased comfort compared with many older models.



Telematics is the integration of telecommunications and machine operating information so that users can monitor the location, movements, status and health of equipment and vehicles. It communicates critical machine data via a GPS to a Web-based software program.

Telematics provides extensive benefits, including the simplification of storing, organizing and reporting key information; monitoring Tier 4-related data, such as diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) levels; scheduling routine maintenance and sharing machine operating and maintenance data with dealer service departments; preventing failures before they occur; tracking the habits of operators to identify areas for improved efficiencies; improving asset allocation and increasing security. Armed with accurate data, decision-makers are able to make more informed equipment decisions and hold operating costs down.

These are just a few of the advancements in waste handling technology you will find available in new machines, all designed to simplify and make operation more efficient while also responding to the rigorous demands of the application. For more information and machine options, reach out to your heavy equipment dealer.


The author is product sales training manager, Case Construction Equipment, Racine, Wis. More information is available at