Worcester City Council has fitted new safety features to three new Schmidt sweepers that it has added to its municipal fleet to increase driver safety and boost productivity.

The new features comprise stand-out and highly visible arrow light boards with up to 14 bright LED lights which are fixed permanently to the rear of the sweepers, two Street King 660s and a Cleango 500, and which are controlled by a button in the cab.

These clearly signal to following drivers which way to drive around the sweeper – and with official British winter time featuring darker mornings and earlier nights already upon us, they look set to be a major safety aid.

Environmental operations manager (waste & fleet) Kevin McFeeley explained the thinking behind the new initiative.

‘Previously, if a sweeper driver needed to change direction or switch to the opposite side of the road to carry out a sweeping operation, he had to stop the vehicle and manually change a directional board on the back of the sweeper,’ he said.

‘This was not only time-consuming but presented a safety hazard as he had to leave the cab and walk to the rear of the vehicle. The new arrow light boards which have been wired to a control box in the cab, mean that the drivers can clearly signal any manoeuvres without leaving their seat.

‘This not only increases safety both for the driver and any following traffic, but it boosts productivity and driver effectiveness substantially.’

Worcester City Council last year added three new Euro 6-compliant Swingo 200+ compact sweepers from Aebi Schmidt to its fleet to keep the city centre clean and tidy.

They have proved to be an unqualified success with a very high rating from Worcester driver operators. So, when the Council looked to replace two truck mounted sweepers recently, it opted to include the Schmidt Street King 660, along with two rivals, in a competitive procurement process.

Driver evaluations over several days identified the SK660 as the clear, stand-out winner and two new vehicles were ordered, delivered and effectively deployed. Their role is to sweep the arterial roads around the Worcester city area, up to within a mile of the city centre, where the Swingos can then take over.

Driver feedback regarding the new Street Kings has been very enthusiastic and the operators like the high driving position, the straightforward controls and ease of emptying the sweeper offers.

At the same time, the council identified the need for a mid-size sweeper to tackle intermediate areas, such as the roads around housing estates. This led to an evaluation of Schmidt’s mid-size Cleango 500 which fitted the bill perfectly and which has also been added to the Worcester fleet.

Drive reaction to the Cleango has been just as favourable with drivers rating its manoeuvrability, especially in tight spaces around parked cars, its 360-degree camera angles and the highly flexible front-mounted third brush.

All three of the new sweepers have subsequently been fitted with the new arrow light board safety feature in time for the start of the winter season.

Despite the restrictions on social distancing during the current Coronavirus pandemic, Aebi Schmidt was able to effectively train Worcester’s drivers in the use of the new vehicles, thanks to the latest high-quality, hands-free, two-way radio communication technology to ensure both customers and demonstrator drivers stay safe.

Each demonstration driver and operator trainer is equipped with hands-free audio communication equipment plus headset to enable them to carry out machine demonstrations and conduct training in a controlled manner while abiding by current Government guidance and social distancing.

‘This has worked very well and all our drivers have been effectively trained, with one, Glen James, being trained to trainer level so that he can instruct and train our other drivers when required,’ added Kevin Feeley.

Aebi Schmidt area sales manager Paul Pudney commented: ‘It is great to see a local authority operating our full range of sweepers, from the compact Swingo 200+, mid-range Cleango 500, to our well-engineered, truck-mounted SK660, utilising each of their different capabilities across the City.

‘The level of engagement has been tremendous, from management to operator level, and we will continue to support the team at Worcester City Council with their requirements now, and into the future.’