One refuse truck: 25,000 hours and 5 years; saving €30,000 in maintenance costs
Faithful Mercedes-Benz Atego refuse vehicle converts Eco-Equip’s fleet in Terrassa, Spain, to Allison fully automatics wherever possible.
Eco-Equip, a wholly-owned municipal company based in Terrassa, Spain, purchased a single Mercedes-Benz Atego 1828 (18 tonne, 280HP) fitted with an Allison 3000 Series automatic transmission in 2005. After winning over some sceptical drivers and saving an estimated €30,000 in clutch replacements, four new Allison-equipped Mercedes-Benz Axors have since joined the 25-strong refuse collection truck fleet. Furthermore, the company intends to buy Allison wherever possible in the future.
Eco-Equip is responsible not only for cleaning the streets of Terrassa, a city in the east central region of Catalonia, but also for collecting domestic and industrial waste and, maintaining the sewage network as well as litter and dog waste bins and containers. Reporting to the Town Planning and Territory department of the town council, Eco-Equip’s charter is to keep the city clean and in good condition. The total fleet contains 73 vehicles.
For Eco-Equip workshop manager, Josep Mª Moreno, the main difficulty facing the refuse collection team is that Terrassa is a completely urban area (the waste yard is only 3 km from the city centre!). This means constant stop/start driving conditions and, for vehicles with manual transmissions, an increase in clutch breakdowns leading to higher maintenance costs and the constant threat of vehicle downtime.
"I had heard about Allison transmissions and their advantages," states Moreno, recalling the initial vehicle purchase. "The recommendation came to us through the bus company of our city, which had been using fully automatic transmissions for many years. For that reason, Eco-Equip purchased a Mercedes Atego 1828 (18 tonne, 280HP) fitted with an Allison 3000 Series automatic transmission. At the beginning, some of the drivers had preconceived ideas about how a fully automatic would function.
"However, they soon became accustomed to the fact that although they perceived a slower vehicle take-off, the vehicle was actually gaining in average speed, and the round was completed more quickly. The curious thing is that drivers now fight to be behind the wheel of the Allison-equipped trucks."
Moreno continues: "With Allison, the collection rounds are quicker and more comfortable. In addition, we have been able to enhance the safety of our workers. Our trucks are back-loading to facilitate collection in the narrow streets of Terrassa. We have two workers at the rear of the truck and with Allison transmissions, jerking is eliminated during start-up and acceleration, meaning that our employees are safer."
Allison, a cost-effective acquisition.
While specifying a fully automatic transmission will normally add to the initial vehicle purchase price, operators such as Eco-Equip do not take much convincing of the financial benefits of increased productivity and reduced running costs over the entire useful life of the vehicle.
Josep María Moreno sees it very clearly: "We have done our sums, and we have no doubts. We spend an average of €6,000 per year on trucks fitted with manual gearboxes, including parts and labour costs for the replacement of one clutch every six months. Then one must add the costs associated with vehicle downtime. However, if we only look at what the trucks fitted with Allison have saved us in terms of clutch replacement, we would be looking at a figure of €30,000 over the past five years for the first vehicle alone. If we were to examine savings for the fleet as a whole, the total would amount to a very significant sum. For this reason, we plan to continue buying Allison wherever possible," he concludes.
Eco-Equip has also been prudent in opting for extended transmission coverage of up to five years and meticulously follows Allison recommendations on maintenance.