A 2016 article in the Atlantic drove home what industry insiders already knew: refuse collection is one of the most dangerous jobs in the United States, surpassing police officers, construction workers, and miners.
The FMCSA’s 2017 data showed more than 1,400 garbage truck accidents resulting in injuries and 107 accidents resulting in fatalities. When you look at the numbers, 25% of the people killed or seriously injured are sanitation workers. In early 2019, the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) lamented an “unprecedented uptick in fatalities” involving solid waste personnel and vehicles.
Not only do these accidents lead to an unacceptable loss of life and limb, but they also feed into the growing number of nuclear verdicts being awarded by juries in these cases—like the $38.8 million decision awarded to a Nevada family of an 11-year-old girl killed by a Republic Services garbage truck in 2017.
Naturally, these statistics have drawn the DOT’s attention. More than ever before, regulatory efforts are focused on waste management firms. This inevitably leads to roadside inspections, potential fines, and lower CSA scores which impact business.
Managers are waging a constant battle to protect the company’s bottom line. Reducing costs is a difficult task. But by focusing on these three areas, waste management fleets can ultimately save money and improve asset condition and safety.
1. Improve your inspection process
It’s essential that your company culture views inspections as more than a government requirement. Poor inspection processes can easily put faulty equipment on the road, increasing the likelihood of a costly breakdown, or worse, an accident. Not to mention, an accident that results from a lack of inspection (or an improper one) makes for a cut-and-dry nuclear verdict. When drivers are attentive in their inspections, it positions fleet managers to succeed. It elevates immediate concerns and prevents future problems.
With Whip Around, drivers conduct DOT-compliant inspections on their mobile device. These inspection templates can be customized to focus on areas of concern, or you can create unique inspection forms for specific equipment.
The process can be as simple as pass/fail, or you can require photos for specific sections. Want to cut down on early morning accidents by ensuring that drivers are checking the front and rear lights? Require them to upload a photo of the working lights as part of the inspection. You can also require an image demonstrating that no debris is built up behind the blades, saving you thousands of dollars in repairs.
One of the benefits of digital inspections is that you never have to worry about misplaced or illegible reports. Drivers have as much room as necessary to explain a problem, and can even use the text-to-speech feature, saving them the time and hassle of recording it manually.
2. Reinforce your preventive maintenance program
The wear on sanitation vehicles is immense. They’re used nearly every day of the year, and all of that time is spent in stop-and-go operations. Without vigilant preventive maintenance, the lifecycle of your equipment deteriorates. Conversely, proper preventive maintenance can extend the life of your assets, ensuring that new equipment investments happen because it’s the right time and not because of a crisis.
With Whip Around, you can schedule maintenance when it makes the most sense. This means you can create a reminder to service your vehicle or change a part based on the ideal criteria. For example, you can choose between engine hours, distance driven, or a specific time period. Once you set the reminder, you don’t have to think about it until Whip Around reminds you that it’s due for a service.
Another benefit of working digitally is that the information you collect daily becomes increasingly valuable. The fleet manager’s dashboard allows you to see the complete maintenance history of every asset in your fleet.
Suppose you see a repair trend among your McNeilus side loaders after a certain number of engine hours. In that case, you’re better able to plan for maintenance in the rest of your fleet before these issues occur, saving you thousands in repair costs and unplanned downtime. This is the kind of data insight you don’t get from log books, whiteboards, and spreadsheets.
Maintenance is a certainty. By making as much of it preventive as possible, you can reduce unexpected downtime, ensure your vehicles are always in the best possible condition, and significantly decrease your costs.
3. Streamline reactive maintenance
Most waste management companies are running without much margin for error. Maybe you have a spare truck in case of a problem, but if a couple of vehicles go down, you’re in trouble. You can’t tell the city, “We’ll take care of the waste next week.” And this means that you may end up renting expensive equipment until everything is up and running or other vehicles can operate overtime. So it’s contingent upon fleet managers to have a reactive maintenance process with the quickest turnaround possible.
Whip Around’s fleet maintenance software alerts fleet managers when a defect appears during an inspection, allowing them to create a work order from the app. This means that in-house or external mechanics can get it on their schedule at the earliest possible convenience. You can also reprioritize the items on the mechanic’s plate so they never have to guess which repair is the most urgent.
Since communication is happening within the software, you never have to worry about lost work orders, poor communication of the exact problem, or misunderstandings that can occur by relying on drivers or handwritten reports to adequately communicate the details and importance. When defects have been addressed, mechanics can sign off in the app, giving you a detailed maintenance history for every vehicle in the fleet.
Another benefit of managing repairs digitally is your ability to stay on top of your parts inventory. You don’t want to get a phone call from your mechanic telling you that you’re out of stock on a critical part you should have had on hand and it’s going to take a couple of days to get a new one in. Whip Around helps you keep track of crucial parts inventory so you can manage downtime effectively.
Save money, time, and effort with Whip Around
If you want to save money running a fleet in waste management, you need to stay on top of the minor details. A lot of unnecessary spending and downtime results from overlooked issues and minor problems that balloon into significant complications. With Whip Around, you have a window into the health of your fleet, empowering you to respond to concerns the minute they appear.