Landfill Crawler Helps County Stay Ahead of DEP Inspections

Fri April 17, 2009 - Southeast Edition
Maura Bohart

Hamilton County, Fla.’s 15 year-old landfill crawler was breaking down too often.

“Wire would get trapped in the final drive sprocket area and the machine would break down,” explained Dale Jackson, landfill director. “It was creating a lot of down time and a lot of repair bills.”

The down time was the biggest problem.

“The Department of Environmental Protection [DEP] checks on us regularly, and one of their biggest pet peeves is when you don’t have operational equipment. Our job is to compact garbage, so if we didn’t have anything to compact garbage with, we were in violation of our permit, but we couldn’t have operational equipment, because our machine kept breaking down. It was very frustrating.”

DEP fees range from $5 to $50,000 and Jackson was concerned that a DEP inspection would occur during a breakdown. In addition, the county had to pay for repairs each time the machine broke down.

“It was just time for a new waste handler,” Jackson said. “It’s less expensive to buy equipment than to pay fees, and it’s more efficient in the long run.”

Jackson brought his problem to the Hamilton County Board of County Commissioners.

“They oversaw the process and bought the machine,” he said.

The board wanted to make sure it got a machine that would be reliable, productive, easily serviced and would have low operating costs. The board also wanted a product backed by a reputable dealer.

“The Hamilton County Board of Commissioners are great stewards for the tax paying citizens of the county,” said David Peacock, Florida government sales representative of Industrial Tractor Company, the dealer that sold the Deere landfill dozer. “They asked many questions that most boards serving other communities usually don’t ask. I sincerely felt they were trying to ensure that this choice was the right decision for the county’s waste handling needs.”

After the bid opening and review, the board voted to award the purchase to Industrial Tractor Company’s Deere 850J waste handler crawler tractor. The machine was delivered in mid February.

Being a small but growing county, the machine’s delivery was an important event for Hamilton County. County Chairman Randy Ogburn came to see the new equipment as well as Jackson and his crew.

Industrial Tractor Company provided an instructional training session for the machine’s operators, which Jackson and Ogburn attended. Later in the day, Commissioner Lewis Vaughn stopped by to observe the machine in action.

The machine was a 2009 John Deere 850J waste handler dozer, purchased from Industrial Tractor Company of Lake City, Fla. The board considered the location of Industrial Tractor’s store when making its decision, because a nearby dealer meant product support would be readily available. The machine itself also had many features to ensure it would be reliable.

Because the new machine is a dozer, it won’t undergo as much wear-and-tear on the underside, according to Jackson. The Deere waste handling package also includes guarding that protects the vital components of the machine. Final drive seals, front and rear striker bars protect the front and rear of the machine by keeping garbage and debris from hitting the tractor, hydraulic and fuel tank guards and blade cylinder guards.

The waste handling package, purchased by the county, also includes an automatic reversing fan to clean the machine’s radiator and engine compartments and strategically mounted halogen lights for nighttime operation.

The machine also is equipped with an optional AFEX fire suppression system that automatically deploys a fine powder throughout the engine compartment, hydraulic pumps and drive systems in case of fire.

“So far it’s working really well,” said Jackson.

The machine has a spacious cab and a pressurized air filtration system, and operators enjoy the creature comforts.

“We love it. It has a closed cab with air conditioning and heat. Our old one was an open top, so it was hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s also easy to use. In the old machine, you had to hold back a lever to make it go up or down. With the new machine, you just move the pilot lever and it does the work,” said Jackson.

All in all, the machine promises to provide many years of safe, comfortable garbage compaction.

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