Richard Taylor, sales and marketing director for Dennis Eagle shares his views in this Q&A on how he sees the RCV market developing over the next year.Questions by Tony Richards.
Q: What impact are politically motivated financial considerations having (eg reduced LA budgets, demand for more efficient operations, and also the announcement that LAs will be given more freedom with income from businesses)?
A: The public sector has seen a 40% cut in funding since 2010 and is likely to see a similar reduction over the next five years. When it comes to refuse collection, local authorities are therefore under continued pressure to improve performance and deliver savings.
As a result, vehicle design has undergone a dramatic transformation over recent years. Manufacturers are continually investing in research and development to bring new and more efficient products and solutions to the market, and we work closely with many of our customers to find ways to help them overcome the challenges they are facing.
Changes can also be seen in the ways fleets are managed and operated, and we are today seeing an increasing number of authorities joining forces to procure larger volumes of vehicles as part of framework agreements. In terms of the announcement that councils will have autonomy over business rates, the true impact remains to be seen. However, it is hoped that this will give forward-thinking authorities greater scope for investment to help achieve longer-term savings.
Q: Is there a trend towards smaller vehicles and narrow bodies to tackle difficult access areas of urban and rural councils?
A: Narrow track vehicles are a popular choice with our customers due to the exceptional payload and manoeuvrability they offer. As well as coping well with narrow and winding roads in rural areas they also help to overcome many of the challenges associated with busy urban environments.
In towns and city centres, for example, the fact vehicles are nearly 30% narrow than standard models allows smoother progress through heavy traffic, double parked cars, traffic calming measures and other obstacles, meaning a less stressful driving experience and a reduced risk of accidents or damage to the vehicle.
Reinforcing the trend towards smaller vehicles and narrow bodies we have recently launched two new models: the Olympus Mini and the Olympus Twin Pack Narrow, which have been developed as a response to increased customer demand for more flexible and versatile recycling solutions.
Q: Is the drive towards more fuel efficiency having an impact on the engines of such vehicles?
A: Where engines are concerned, developments are largely driven by legislative requirements. The last update ' Euro VI - came into force on 1 January 2014, meaning all vehicles sold since must meet stringent guidelines on nitrous oxide and particulate emissions, which have been reduced through tighter regulation to 1% of 1990 levels.
However, the drive towards increased fuel efficiency can also be seen in other areas, such as the use of vehicle telematics. As well as remotely monitoring the health of vehicles in the field to improve efficiency and minimise downtime, our new DennisConnect telematics system (now fitted as standard to all Dennis Eagle manufactured products) also acts as a platform for further operational modules, including the Fuel Saver pack. This enables engine remapping and has a dynamic shift control system and acceleration rate management to increase fuel efficiency and reduce emissions.
Q: Do the manufacturers have any input in driver / operator training and does this play a role in the marketing and operation of contracts?
A: Heavy machinery can be very dangerous in the wrong hands, so it is important that refuse collection vehicles are treated with respect and operated only by those who are qualified to do so. As a manufacturer, it is therefore our duty to ensure that anyone operating or working with our vehicles is trained to the correct standard, and we offer a comprehensive programme of standard and bespoke courses.
When a new vehicle is delivered, we will train staff at a site of the customer's choosing on the operation and control of the chassis and cab, body, compaction mechanisms and bin lift equipment. In addition, we encourage our operators to ensure that at least one of their supervisors receives 'Train a Trainer' training, to allow them to train their own crew in turn. When the training is completed, we will provide those who took the programme with an official Driver / Operator training certificate.