ProTips

The E-newsletter for Waste Industry Professionals

No. 16, March 2005)

 

A guide to this monthÕs edition

1. Welcome

2. ProTips for Professional Development

3. ProTips for Operational Profitability

4. Topic of the Month: Prevent Hydraulic Spills with a P M Program

5. Quote of the Month

6. Ramblings

7. Announcements

 

Welcome

 

Welcome to ŅProTips, the E-newsletter for Waste Industry Professionals.Ó This monthÕs newsletter is filled with tips and thoughts to help with your professional development and to manage your business more profitably. My purpose is to stimulate your thinking; the industry benefits most when we all do our best.

 

I encourage you to share ŅProTips, the E-newsletter for Waste Industry ProfessionalsÓ with your colleagues and friends. They can subscribe by simply going to

http://www.protoconsulting.com and selecting the Sign-up link on the home page.

 

If you have any comments, questions, or would like more information about any of the topics discussed in this newsletter, call me at 510.881.9440, or send an e-mail to ron@protoconsulting.com.

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2. ProTips for Professional Development

 

Setbacks are bumps in the roadÉnot the end of the road. It doesnÕt matter if youÕre working on a new project or trying to fine-tune your existing operations--chances are that youÕre going to experience a setback. Stay focused and donÕt worry; there is a way out of every tough situation. Remember that great achievements rarely come easily and sometimes you need a little help to find the solution, so donÕt be afraid to ask someone for help. You never know who might hold the key that unlocks the gate at the end of the road.

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If you need more time to get things doneÉthen donÕt waste it. Time is the great equalizer; everyone starts with 1,440 minutes every day, so use them wisely. For starters, get into the office an hour or so before the official day begins. DonÕt stop by operations to chat, and donÕt make the coffee. Head straight to your office and close the door, leave the newspaper unread, and donÕt start routine work. Take advantage of this precious time to dive into that important project your boss is expecting, and by the end of the week, you can put a big dent in it, or maybe even have it done. Who knows? You may even have more time to spend with your family.

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One thing is for certainÉstuff happens. ItÕs inevitable; problems will crop up when theyÕre least expected. The problem itself doesnÕt matter; itÕs how you handle it that counts. True leaders donÕt assign blame, which only adds fuel to the fire; they fix the problem. Use your investigative skills, get to the bottom of the problem, and resolve it once and for all. YouÕll create less stress for yourself and for your workforce.

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3. ProTips for Operational Profitability

 

Drop more money to the bottom lineÉcollect delinquent accounts. YouÕve done the work and paid the costs; now harvest the profits. Collecting delinquent accounts isnÕt the most fun thing to do, but it will surely increase your profits. There are a lot of reasons why customers donÕt pay on time, but whatever the reason, you still donÕt have your money. Begin today to review your accounts receivable register, starting with your oldest delinquent account and working forward. DonÕt be bashful about asking your customers to pay up--be polite--but be persistent. The money is out there waiting for you, so start harvesting today.

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DonÕt get caught shortÉthis summer. Check your inventories, people, containers, carts, and trucks. There never seem to be enough when summer rolls around. If youÕre starting a new program this summer, youÕll need even more of everything, especially if you donÕt want to neglect your existing customers. Remember, too, that youÕre not the only one getting ready for the upcoming busy season. All garbage companies are looking for people and equipment to handle the increased tonnage during the summer and for their new programs. Avoid the summertime blues and start the process of hiring, buying or leasing now, so you wonÕt have to beg, borrow, or ---- later.

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You donÕt have a second chanceÉto make a first, or lasting impression---itÕs a clichˇ, but unfortunately, itÕs true. Take a ride around your service area; look at your containers. Are they clean, well painted, and in good repair? If not, consider a program to spruce them up. Your equipment is your calling card; it says something about your service. Actually, I think it SHOUTS that you care. Well-kept equipment is the best way to make a great first and lasting impression about your company.

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4. Topic of the Month: Prevent Hydraulic Spills with a P M Program

 

The hydraulic system is the life blood of any modern collection truck. It provides the lifting, reaching and packing power to get the job done quickly and efficiently. Yet it

is one the most neglected parts of any maintenance program. This is unfortunate, because when the hydraulic system fails, itÕs not just a repair issue; itÕs a major problem.

 

If a main hydraulic line ruptures, 40 or 50 gallons of hydraulic fluid either spill on the road in a matter of seconds, or spray onto cars, pedestrians, or buildings. Hydraulic failures are a mess and costly to clean up. Depending on where and when it happens, a hydraulic spill can be a public relations nightmare.

 

Almost every collection company has more than one horror story when it comes to hydraulic spills. The sad part is that virtually all of them could have been prevented. A well-written preventative maintenance (PM) program, coupled with a disciplined approach to carry it out, is the key to eliminating hydraulic systems failures.

 

To actively keep hydraulic systems in top working order:

 

  1. Take a tour of your fleet; ask the maintenance manager to join you. Look under the trucks, and check the hydraulic lines, fittings and around the tank. If there are wet spots or leaks from any components, donÕt ignore them. This is the beginning of a system failure.

 

  1. Review your PM program and make sure thereÕs a section for the hydraulic system. Cross check it with the original equipment manufacturerÕs (OEM) recommendations, and update it if necessary. If there isnÕt a hydraulic system PM program, ask the OEM to help draft one.

 

  1. Ask the OEM to provide a PM workshop for mechanics, who need the latest information and techniques to evaluate and repair the hydraulic system. Purchase special tools if needed. You donÕt want tools be an issue for not making a repair.

 

  1. Get the maintenance managerÕs commitment to make hydraulic system maintenance a high priority. Institute a simple (notice the emphasis) monitoring report, and review it frequently with the maintenance manager. It will add impact to your concern about maintenance.

 

  1. If there is a hydraulic system failure, review the details with the maintenance manager to determine the cause, and then put a plan in place to avoid a reoccurrence.

 

Preventative maintenance will keep a hydraulic system running at peak performance and prevent spills. The keys, though, are qualified mechanics to evaluate and repair the system, the discipline of the maintenance manager to follow the program, and the commitment of the general manager to make hydraulic maintenance a priority.

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5. Quote of the Month

 

ŅEnergy follows thought; we move toward, but not beyond, what we can imagine."

 

Dan Millman

Speaker and writer

 

Imagination fuels the future. What if Jules Verne had not written Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea? What if Walt Disney had never created the magic of Mickey Mouse or Disneyland? What a sad world this would be without imagination!

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6. Ramblings

 

Let me stick my neck out and make a prediction. IÕm no Jules Verne or Walt Disney, but they werenÕt garbage collectors, either. Indulge me a bit; let me take a shot at the futureÉ

but first, let me give you a little background so you can understand where IÕm coming from.

 

Recycling has been around since the beginning of humankind, if you believe the story of Adam and Eve, but if you donÕt, please stay with me anyway. Adam ate the apple and threw it onto the ground, the forces of nature took over, and the apple core turned into compost. Adam not only started the solid waste industry--he was also the first recycler according to my friend, Leonard Stefanelli.

 

My point, you see, is that we have been recycling for a long time. ItÕs not a new phenomenon. Now, I didnÕt start in this business when Adam was around, but when I did start, we recycled virtually everything. Ironically, the process adhered to the modern recycling hierarchy--reduce, reuse, and recycle.

 

Back in those days, customers took care of the first two: reduce and reuse. There were no containers for recycling, there wasnÕt much waste, and usually only one garbage can was in the backyard. The garbage company did all, or at least most, of the recycling at the dump, with bottles, cans, paper, and anything else that had value being separated from the garbage. Food waste was even separated to feed the hogs. We were a waste-not want-not society, which was pretty quick, easy, and cheap for the customer.

 

 

All that changed, though, in the late Ō60s, and early Ō70s. The amount of trash mushroomed, because a load of single use products and lots of packaging appeared on the market. In order to handle the increased tonnage, collection moved from open trucks, which made recycling easy, to enclosed compactor trucks, which made recycling almost impossible.

 

In the mid to late Ō70s, recycling started to rear its head again, but garbage companies didnÕt embrace it. WeÕd been there and done that. We had adjusted our operations to accommodate the switch from a recycling society to a throw away society, and we had too much invested to go back to recycling.

 

At some point though, garbage companies began recycling again in earnest. Now customers did the sorting, and the backyard garbage can gave way to a wheeled cart at the curb, along with three small recycling bins.  Then all of a sudden another cart appeared at the curbÉfor green waste collection. Oh, my gosh! WeÕre sending three trucks down the street! Well, somebody shouted RECYCLE, so the garbage industry gave it to them, cost be damned.

 

In many cities now, and more cities are coming online each year, youÕll see three carts-- one for garbage, one for single-stream recycling, and the other for organics (food and green waste)--at the curb on collection day. They vary in size from 20-gallon to 96-gallon. Customers now have 150 gallons of garbage and recycling capacity where 32 gallons once sufficed. But wait a minute hereÉwhatÕs with this single stream recycling? Oh, customers are putting all their recyclables into one cart. IsnÕt that interesting? WhatÕs next? Could it be that residential customers will put everything into one cart?

 

HereÕs my prediction for residential service. In 15 years or so, youÕll start to see everything--garbage, recyclables, and organics--go into one cart, probably a 96-gallon cart or larger. In 25 years one-cart collection will be commonplace.

 

Why? Because sending two or three trucks down the street where one used to travel is far too expensive. The cost to set up a three waste stream collection system is $400,000 or more per route, depending on the truck and cart configuration, Take, for example, a co-collection route, $200,000+ for the truck, $135,00 for carts (remember, there are three carts at each house), and at least $100,000 for half of a second truck for organic waste collection.

 

As you can see, this is a very expensive collection system, and it has limitations. The carts are too small, trucks have to collect at more houses to get a load, it takes too long to pick up at a house (two lifts per house), and, invariably, one side of the truck packs out before the other side, reducing payload. Then a second truck goes down the street to pick up a third container. The system is inefficient and very expensive. There are other truck and cart configurations--all just as expensive and just as inefficient.

 

However, with 96-gallon carts, a driver can pick up at more houses in less time, make fewer lifts, haul more weight per load, and make more trips to the processing facility, all within an eight-hour day. Automated collection trucks were designed with BIG carts in mind, not these teacup size 20 and 32-gallon carts that are service today.

 

Material Recovery Facilities will be highly mechanized and very sophisticated. They will sort the traditional stuff--plastic, glass, paper, metals, and wood. What's left over will be composted or converted to energy. We called it incineration or transformation in the old days. Now they call it conversion technology, and it's gaining favor. And yes, there will still be landfills, but our dependence on them will be reduced.

 

The reason the time frame is so far out--15 to 25 years--is to allow enough time to depreciate the current asset base for processing garbage, recyclables, and organic waste. When new processing facilities come online in the future, they will have the capability to handle the large one-cart collection systems.

 

What we are doing now is not a waste (no pun intended); itÕs what we are supposed to be doing. It is part of the natural evolution of a major paradigm shift; it's necessary. It is neither right nor wrong; it's just evolution at work. You can't get from A to Z without going through the rest of the alphabet.

 

Before I put the lights out for the very last time I hope to see the one-cart collection system in action; it will be amazing. Just think--it all started with one can in the backyard. It will end up with one cart at the curb. Remember, what goes around comes around.

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7. Announcements

 

If you would like more information on any of the above topics, call me at 510.881.9440 or send an e-mail to ron@protoconsulting.com. Please visit my Web site at http://www.protoconsulting.com for more ideas on professional development and operational improvements.

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ŅProTips, the E-newsletter For Waste Industry ProfessionalsÓ is produced and distributed monthly by R.J. Proto Consulting Group, Inc. I encourage you to share it with your colleagues and friends. You may reproduce this electronic newsletter in whole or in part, as long as you include the correct copyright notice (at the end of this newsletter), with a link to my Web site, http://www.protoconsulting.com.

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