Reasons for the Seasons

Sat, Feb 13, 2016 at 11:35AM

Reasons for the Seasons

Depending on your location and season, garbage companies across the country are faced with climate challenges every day. The weather plays a major role in our industry and is something that should not go overlooked. The weather can affect safety, maintenance, disposal and profitability—all of these affect the bottom line dramatically.

Weather and Safety

No matter if it is rain, sleet, snow or heat, climate affects safety every day. Depending on where you are located, you must be able to adapt your employees and your fleet to work the safest and most reliably by preparing them for the challenges they may face. Take for example, wintertime in central Florida. On Monday, the temperature was 35 degrees and raining, today it is 85 and clear skies. Talk about a change in a matter of 12 hours; being able to adapt is a must to work safe. Monday, our employees were all outfitted with cold weather PPE; Tuesday, they were outfitted with summertime PPE. PPE is important to notify the public of your presence and allow the employees to be properly protected in any form of weather. A nice safety tip to remember is that no matter the season, it is important for all employees to stay properly hydrated. Even if employees do not feel they are thirsty in colder weather, it is important that they monitor their fluids and continue to stay hydrated.

Maintenance Challenges

The maintenance department must be able to adapt to the different climates as well. Let’s break down a few climates and some basic challenges the maintenance department will be faced with:

  • Rain/Snow—During this type of weather, disposal sites will be a mess. Generally, premature tire wear occurs at a rapid pace because of either sinking in deeper at a landfill or puncturing sidewalls of the tires. Drivers must be coached on how to properly navigate these slippery conditions to also avoid transmission, engine and rear end problems. 
  • Heat—Proper pre-post trips especially focusing on engine hoses and seals will prevent breakdowns. Warmer weather and rubber hoses bursting usually go hand in hand. I encourage a preventative maintenance program to replace signs of wear before they become a roadside breakdown. It is way easier to replace a turbo or coolant line while it is in the shop for preventive maintenance. 
  • Proper Engine Warm-up—It is just as important to allow your vehicles to warm up properly. A gradual warm up will allow the truck to gradually increase its temperature and, over time, hopefully reduce major wear. We usually let our trucks idle for five to 10 minutes at the end of a pre-trip. Once these trucks are warm, they will generally be asked to run all day eight to 12 hour shifts. In today’s world of engine regeneration, be careful; letting a truck warm up for too long may initiate a regeneration and cause you a 30 to 45 minute delay.

Disposal and Profitability

As I alluded to earlier, just these few examples multiplied on a daily basis depending on the size of your fleet can have a major impact on the bottom line. Let’s also not forget the most obvious, take rain/snow and a front loader for example. When FEL containers soak up a weeks’ worth of rain/snow, that disposal per container is going to increase. In Florida, it is typical to see a significant increase in tonnage per load in comparison to if it were dry. I encourage you to replace broken lids on containers, encourage your drivers to make sure they are closed before returning to their enclosure, and keep in mind when pricing that these factors will increase some hidden costs through the year depending on where you live. The same holds true for residential disposal. Moving forward, make sure that you take the weather into account when routing and daily planning of your fleet. Hopefully, now you can have a better understanding of many basic cost and factors that oftentimes go overlooked. | WA

John Paglia, III is a 4th generation garbage man. Before he climbed the ranks to become Florida Express Environmental’s (Ocala, FL) General Manager, he had a successful career in college and professional athletics. John has been around the garbage industry since his car seat days. Currently, John is focused on growing his company and offering the highest level of customer service and prolonging the world we live in today. John wakes up every day knowing the impact professional haulers have on their community is far greater than most realize. He can be reached at (352) 629-4349, e-mail John3@floridaexpress. us or visit

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