Reversing The Trend
Backup vision and warning systems are essential to making the refuse industry a safer place.
Safety in the
solid waste industry is changing—for the better. What was once considered one of
the more dangerous industries is now rife with new technologies and updated
safety protocols that have drastically cut back on accidents and injuries. A
veteran of the refuse industry, Michael Ruggiero, manager of environmental
Services for the Yonkers Department of Public Works has witnessed this
“We never had
this technology available in the past. I’ve been here 26 years, and when I was
on a truck everything was done with hand signals. To have this available to us
today is fantastic.”
tools available to fleets, combined with consistent safety training, have helped
to reduce the number of fatalities and injuries. According to the Bureau of
Labor Statistics, the rate of injury and illness in waste management and
remediation services has steadily declined the last few years to a low of 6.4.
Still, there is room for improvement; almost all fatalities in waste management
in 2007 were due to employees being struck by vehicles or highway accidents.
Technology tools available to fleets, combined with consistent safety training,
have helped to reduce the number of fatalities and injuries.
Fleets are constantly evolving to
incorporate the newest and most advanced
systems to protect employees
and the public.
accidents are the result of workers struck by backing trucks with poor
visibility. Large trucks mean large areas that are blind to the truck operator.
Often, rear vision is hindered or nonexistent, and right-side vision is
impaired. In combination with personnel training, there are several
technological solutions in the market to combat vision impairment and improve
side-vision camera and warning systems can vary in their use of technology and
their involvement of the truck operator, but all strive to obtain the same goal
of increased safety and fewer backup accidents. The following are examples of
several types of safety technologies being offered and used in waste
for multiple camera monitoring, Alliance Wireless Technologies Inc.’s (AWTI’s)
3rd Eye MobileVision product line reduces accident-causing blind-spots while
augmenting conventional video with access to other routing and management
information, including tire pressure and temperature, GPS, onboard weight,
real-time information from SAE J-1708, and hard-cornering system
System features built-in Infra-Red LED night vision. The rear-mounted camera
provides rearview visibility while allowing for the display of up to five video
scenes to help the driver to maneuver around difficult or dangerous driving
situations while backing up, turning, or changing lanes. Additionally, AWTI has
partnered with Advantage PressurePro tire pressure monitoring system for display
on its in-cockpit screen. In addition to the screen display, the system
automatically alerts the driver when the pressure of any tire fall below 12.5%
of its initial value.
“AWT puts out a
quality system,” says Trey Stamps, of Heil of Texas at Irving, TX. In fact, he
had just delivered a rear-loader to a customer that morning. “It was a
four-camera system with a DVD video recorder system,” he explained. “People
really like the recording function because it provides a lot of information that
might get lost otherwise.” One of his customers employs a fifth camera mounted
in the cab to monitor all the driver functions along with the outside
activities. “Some people don’t like the ‘Big Brother’ aspect,” he says, “but
there’s no doubt it improves route efficiency.”
Mobile Awareness offers a range of safety technologies for blind-spot awareness.
One of the company’s products is the line of VisionStat Wired & Wireless
Vehicle Cameras—a set of side-view and rearview cameras and LCD monitors. The
line comes with the option for wireless application. Furthermore, the cameras
can come equipped with infrared and night-vision capabilities.
alongside customers, Mobile Awareness creates cost-effective solutions that fit
the entire fleet. Brandon Stotsenburg, director of sales and marketing for
Mobile Awareness, stresses the importance of creating cost-effective solutions
for the entire fleet as a matter of consistency and safety. “We believe in three
principles,” he says. “We want the products to be easy to install, easy to use
and maintain, and we want the product solutions to work for the fleet entirely.
If [the customer] only has the hardware solution on a handful of vehicles, it
won’t be consistent and they won’t achieve their desired safety results.”
Systems by Pro-Vision Video Systems in Kentwood, MI, includes a comprehensive
line of nine cameras and five monitors. Pro-Vision’s selection enables large,
diverse fleets to choose the cameras and monitors that best work with their
equipment, says Steve Peacock, director of sales and marketing for Pro-Vision.
“It is easier for a fleet with five or six different trucks to settle on one
monitor that works in the different cab configurations but choose different
cameras based on body types, applications, and climate,” he says.
The most common
application of Pro-Vision camera systems is a combination of their side-view and
rearview cameras. The side-view is constant on the in-cab monitor, and the
rearview is activated when the vehicle is put in reverse.
complicated of systems are those for the automated side-loading vehicles, says
Peacock. “For the refuse industry, we have done up to five camera systems where
they would have a camera on the left and right side, typically activated by a
turn signal. They would have a camera facing straight out from the vehicle in
line with the automated arm, a camera in the hopper, and when they place the
vehicle in reverse they would see behind the vehicle. This is the most extreme
|Photo: Global Sensor Systems
The Global Search-Eye Sensor System by Global Sensor Systems is used on thousands
of waste collection vehicles, including vehicles in the city of Toronto.
|Photo: Preco Electronics
Intec Video Systems has partnered with Preco Electronics Inc. to provide an active,
integrated, radar-sensing companion for the Rear Vision camera system.
that these systems are often subjected to intense heat and vibration, Pro-Vision
is always looking to improve their durability. Improvements include the addition
of LED backlighting for the flat screen monitors, potting circuit boards, and
twist-lock type connectors for monitors.
As one of North
America’s largest manufacturers of camera systems, Rosco Vision Systems’s most
popular offerings are the company’s side-view and rearview cameras. The company
also offers complimentary camera kits that are right-angle based, says Peter
Plate, director of sales and marketing at Rosco. “If a garbage truck is backing
out of an alley, a very precarious situation may occur where they need to back
into traffic yet they don’t know if there is traffic. We have right-angle
cameras that will be mounted perpendicular to the vehicle side in the rear. So
as a drivers are backing out, they can actually peer down the right side of the
street to see if it is clear.”
can come equipped with infrared LED night vision and motorization. Monitors can
range from black-and-white CRT to color LCD flat screens. While Rosco currently
does not have audible warnings with its camera systems, future product offerings
will include technology that can discern pedestrians from other objects.
of public works for the city of Yonkers, NY, uses Rosco Vision rear-vision
cameras in its fleet of 40 rear-loading collection vehicles. According to
Michael Ruggiero, manager of environmental services, the cameras have made a
“Every week I
hear stories saying [the employees] are glad they had the rear cameras. Yonkers
is a very densely populated city. The streets are small. There is parking on the
street. They are almost like crawl spaces, some of them. Having the camera
available to them has made a big impact, virtually eliminating fender benders
that might have occurred in the past.”
As an original
equipment manufacturer (OEM), Plate touts Rosco Vision Systems quality as a
differentiator among its competitors. These standards include the IP67 test,
which requires products to be totally protected from dust and protected against
the effect of immersion by 15 centimeters and 1 meter for up to 30 minutes.
“We are very
much in tune with the higher standards of an OEM environment, and as such all
our products are tested to these very rigorous standards.”
Search-Eye Sensor System by Global Sensor Systems is used on thousands of waste
collection vehicles, including vehicles in the cities of New York and Toronto.
Ray Glenn, general manager of Global Sensor, says the Global Search-Eye Sensor
System’s differentiation is twofold. First, the sensor system utilizes infrared
technology, which picks up the reflection of its own light. Second, the system
is active, employing automatic braking.
senor system is what we call an active modulated infrared. It picks up the
reflection of its own light and reacts to that. We set up a range for the sensor
normally set at 6 feet. Our system is energized off the backup light switch,”
states Glenn. “If anything enters the protected area—the full width of the
vehicle and 6 feet back—the brakes will be applied automatically.”
manager of fleet services for the city of Toronto, recalls how this system was
key in avoiding an accident in Toronto in the early 1990s. “[The operator]
backed up, and the bubble-style tailgate was approaching the windshield of the
car behind the truck. The car had nowhere to go. The brakes on our packer did
come on in time to prevent the accident and possible injuries even though the
driver had no visual.”
braking can be disengaged if the vehicle operator needs to back up to a loading
dock or wall. When disengaged, an intermittent audible warning is given to
inform the operator the automatic braking system has been overridden, and the
tone becomes solid when the object is within 6 feet.
believes the Global Search-Eye Sensor System is an essential addition to ensure
technology was one of the first that we used in the 1980s. Given the fact that
most manufacturers offer a large bubble-style tailgate, the cameras cannot
always give you that clear view. The backup Global Sensor adds that extra
element of security.”
Electronics, has been in the backing safety business since 1947 and patented the
first electronic backup alarm—a beeper to warn bystanders that the vehicle was
reversing—for commercial truck use in the 1960s. Later, flashing lights were
added to increase bystander awareness, while drivers were provided video cameras
and monitors to reduce blind spots. Yet, according to the US Department of
Transportation, reversing operations account for 25% of commercial vehicle
operations. With this in mind, Preco launched its PreView Radar Systems for
detecting rear-quadrant objects, many of which often lie outside the observation
limits of mirrors or video monitoring systems. Sensors are designed to process
and report detections within a half second, allowing the vehicle operator to
quickly respond to any object within the detection zone. All connections to a
vehicle are made with the interface harness. Power is obtained from the vehicle
reverse circuit. The sensor RF output is pulse modulated so that it will not
interfere with similar devices.
|Photo: Republic Services
With the right educational programs, safety products are far more effective.
“We’re speccing PreView on all our new
trucks except for rolloffs,” says Roy Svehla, senior manager for fleet
maintenance for Republic Services Inc., in Phoenix, AZ. “We piloted several
systems for driver acceptance before settling on PreView,” he adds. PreView is
designed to work in harsh weather conditions.
extreme duty environments—waste and heavy construction—the XL Series of Car
Vision cameras from Intec Video Systems Inc. are built to military-spec moisture
protection and strength requirements. Available in variety of black-and-white,
infrared, and color models, Intec camera systems connect to Intec’s
high-resolution Car Vision driver displays, ranging in sizes from 5 inches to 10
inches. Many Intec displays feature onscreen distance grids, providing an easy
reference for checking clearances when backing and turning.
Systems has partnered with Preco Electronics Inc. to provide an active,
integrated, radar-sensing companion consisting of one or two environmentally
sealed sensors and an interconnect adapter harness for the company’s Rear Vision
assembly transmits and receives low-power 5.8-gigahertz radar signals. It then
processes the returned signals to determine if an object has reflected any
energy back to the sensor and reports this to the operator through the Intec
SenseStat Plus Obstacle Detection Sensor Systems by Mobile Awareness are also
popular applications from Mobile Awareness. The SenseStat line is an active
warning system that uses ultrasonic sensor technology designed to prevent
backing accidents. “It provides four sensor zones that are mounted on the rear
of the vehicle with an ultrasonic technology that allows you to see and hear 8
feet behind the vehicle. It provides an audible alarm and a visual display,”
Stotsenburg explains. “As you put a vehicle in reverse, if a person or an object
is behind the vehicle, it will tell you very accurately within feet and inches
where that object is and what zone the object is in. If it starts beeping, the
expectation would be that the driver would put on the brake and then look at the
system and see where the object is.”
New to the
Mobile Awareness lineup is the SenseStat Plus, which integrates the SenseStat
interface as an overlay on the VisionStat monitor.
Stotsenburg, “The SenseStat Plus will allow people who feel comfortable with the
camera view but want the benefits of the SenseStat active system, creating a
combination of an active and passive systems all in one place.”
backup alarms illicit complaints about noise and many argue they create
confusion about the truck’s location rather than warn of danger. By contrast,
the bbs tek white sound alarm from Brigade Electronics utilizes broadband sound
that enables the brain to better triangulate the source’s position.
The bbs tek system is in use by
approximately 1,000 waste management vehicles throughout the United States.
Henry Morgan, Brigade’s director and general manager, remarks that those who use
the systems find the learning curve very simple on first exposure: Hear, look,
“You hear the
sound,” he says. “You know where it is coming from. You instantly look at it,
and you’ve learned it’s a backup alarm.”
solid resources manager for the city of Los Angeles, has tested the bbs tek and
lauds its ability to warn bystanders more intelligently. “The first thing that
impressed me was the fact that [the sound] was directional,” he says. “To me it
gives you much more information about what is going on and where a potential
threat has originated.”
advantages of the system include fewer false alarms, reduction in hearing loss
over sustained exposure, and drastically reduced noise pollution.
As a part of
its Citywide Construction Noise Mitigation rules, New York City officially
approved the bbs-92 system for use near sensitive areas. Also, due to its
reduction of noise pollution compared to standard tonal warnings, bbs tek is the
only approved alarm system for nighttime delivery use in the Netherlands.
Driving the use
of these systems is corporate policy from the major waste collection companies.
However, increasing situational awareness of the vehicle operators and working
bystanders requires more than a technological solution.
Stotsenburg of Mobile Awareness says, “More awareness for the drivers in an
educated environment will enable them to operate more safely and productively.
If our products are added under the right educational program, the success of
those programs accomplishing what the company wants to accomplish will be
the large waste companies, Republic Services and Waste Management, are taking
similar approaches to safety by instigating top-down directives that addresses
technological solutions, but also emphasizing safety training.
Management’s safety policy is guided by its Mission to Zero (M2Z) objective. As
the name suggests, Waste Management is committed to maintaining a zero tolerance
for unsafe actions and conditions to exist in its operations. Safety training is
required for new and existing employees throughout the year. This training takes
the form of formal courses, weekly safety meetings, and, sometimes, daily safety
Services prides itself on being a front-runner in safety in the waste collection
industry. Republic uses cutting-edge safety training through its Market Area
Training Centers, where all employees undergo initial and new-hire training.
Typically, new hires train for a period of time at the Market Area Training
Centers and then receive additional on-the-job training. Both waste companies
couple their mandates for safety training with vehicle technology.
Management collection vehicles are mandated to be equipped with rear-vision
camera systems and backup warning devices with visual and audible components.
Other common safety components are side-view camera systems and equipment
storage warnings that indicate if equipment is stored properly for travel. All
equipment is rigorously tested before qualifying for use by local divisions.
Fresh off its
merger with Allied, Republic Services is finding it easy to blend the best of
both companies particularly from a technology standpoint, says Shawn Mandel,
manager of safety for Republic Services. “We were able to keep very talented
folks on both sides of the company. We found many similarities. We were piloting
similar technologies, and many of the equipment requirements were the same. We
are excited to see the continued momentum under the new flag.”
Services mandates rear-vision cameras and Peterson LED lights to ensure
durability and performance.
technologies are piloted and implemented in Republic vehicles, such as DriveCam,
SmartDrive, and GreenRoad. These technologies are relatively new to the industry
and warn of risky maneuvers, record collisions, and provide feedback on operator
One of the
major differentiators of backup safety systems is whether it is passive or
active. Determination of an active or passive system is on a sliding scale. Most
commonly, passive systems are cameras that allow the vehicle operator to judge
the course of action through the visual cue provided by an in-cab monitor.
Active systems involve an audible warning or automatic braking if an object gets
too close to the vehicle.
degree to which a system is active or passive is debatable, so too is the
utility of such systems. Peacock believes the visuals provided by rear- and
side-vision systems are appropriate.
“If the correct
camera is selected by the end user, there is absolutely no need for a sensor
because there are no false warnings.” He also cites that active systems with
audible warnings may “give the operator a false sense of security.”
On the other
hand, active systems reduce or remove the human element from the equation, which
can be viewed as a benefit.
Glenn of Global
Sensor Systems touts his active system. “Unless the drivers look at the monitor
and put the brakes on when they see something, they can still back over anybody
or anything,” Glenn says. “In our system, if the driver started backing up and
ran away, the vehicle would still stop before it ran into anything.”
Regardless of a
fleet’s preference, federal recommendations may dictate a move to include more
active systems, says Stotsenburg. “Recommendations coming from the federal
government say that a passive system is good, but they are more and more
starting to ask for a combination of active and passive systems.”
Switch to ASL
the United States are making the transition from rear-loading vehicles in favor
of automated side-loaders (ASLs). This makes sense from a safety perspective, as
it increases safety by removing workers from potentially dangerous situations,
and it makes sense from a collection perspective, according to Mandel. “The
residential rear-load approach is becoming more and more antiquated. Automated
side load is the way we should be servicing residential collection from 2009 and
single-vehicle operator requires additional cameras and warning devices to make
up for fewer human eyes. Ray Glenn anticipates the increased use of its system
as more fleets shift from rear-loading to ASL. “[The vehicles] go from two,
three, or four people on a rear-loader to one person, an operator” he says.
“There is no person that can act as a flag person at the rear of the truck when
it is backing. That creates a tremendous opportunity for [our technology]
because that driver needs us.”
that focus beyond backup vision and warning may be the next step in keeping
workers and the public safe. While most solid waste companies are still focused
on rear-vision and warning systems, companies like Republic Services are
expanding their use of safety technologies to include driver performance
systems providers are moving away from traditional camera systems and offering
additional safety devices with ancillary benefits. For example, Mobile Awareness
offers the TireStat tire-pressure monitoring and maintenance system, a sensor
system that monitors tire pressure to avoid catastrophic failures and improve
The 360HD Tire
Pressure Monitoring System from Doran Manufacturing of Cincinnati, OH, provides the driver
with at-a-glance status updates with its Green Means Good indicator. This system
monitors up to 36 tires for truck, tractor and trailer applications with
wireless tire pressure sensors that are screwed on to the valve stems and
transmit a signal to a monitor in the cab.
The driver is alerted through multiple alarms types (audible, location,
pressure and warning symbol) and a new “fast leak” alarm so that low-pressure
problems can be addressed and costly breakdowns and repairs are eliminated.
Installation can be accomplished in about an hour per truck/trailer. The monitor
includes a digital LCD screen with backlit display and comes equipped with
four-way navigational buttons.
As a result of
customer feedback, safety technologies are broadening to include systems that
serve the dual function of measuring driver performance and recording accidents.
Rosco Vision Systems offers Dual-Vision, a driver modification product that
provides continuous video of the driver’s actions and 180 degrees around the
front of the vehicle.
“The tool is
useful in helping to modify driver behavior and improve driver’s performance,
productivity and efficiency. It is also there to protect fleets from false
allegations and fraudulent claims,” says Plate.
Like camera and
warning systems, driver performance systems can be active or passive. An example
of an active technology is GreenRoads, an event-recording device, piloted by
explains, “GreenRoads gives immediate feedback in the form of a light. It is a
red-yellow-green-light approach. The objective is for the driver to continue to
drive green. When he or she performs and maneuver—a hard brake, an accelerated
takeoff, or takes a corner at too high of speed—it triggers the system and the
driver can see it go from green to yellow or green to red depending on the
significance of it. If they do it enough it records the entire route day as that
color code, and then there is management follow up.”
There are even
more technology solutions that increase safety and improve situational
awareness, such as headway monitoring, forward collision warning, and lane
departure warning systems.
increased adoption by the refuse industry, Mobileye provides a combination of
these three systems in its Advanced Warning System line. This system monitors
headway distance, providing visual feedback indicating its distance from the
vehicle in front. It also gives audible alerts to the operator if the vehicle
diverts from its lane or is in danger of forward collision.
are constantly evolving to incorporate the newest and most advanced systems to
protect employees and the public. Similarly, companies that provide these
products are looking to improve upon these current systems and address any
safety concern not yet covered by the market. The drive to keep safety a
priority in the waste industry assures that these tools and the supplemental
safety training will continue to improve.
Author's Bio: Author Kelly Schmandt is a marketing specialist with Yardi Systems in Santa Barbara, CA.