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The Real Cost of Regeneration

Wed, May 13, 2015 at 9:10AM

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When adding trucks to your fleet, depending on the size of your company, you are forced to make a risky decision. Sounds crazy right? Risk? The cost for new or used trucks, depending on quality and options, ranges from $100,000 to $350,000. Even spending this much, you are not guaranteed success with either one. I will explain the pros and cons that I have experienced firsthand with new and used trucks.

New Truck?

New truck technology with the implementation of Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF) systems and regeneration has produced a cleaner burning diesel truck. These stages of better emission trucks have started to evolve from 2008 and on. The emissions are cleaner for the environment; no longer will you see new trucks blowing out black clouds of soot on every stomp of the throttle. However, this technology comes with a price for the hauler. The components are not quite proven yet and it is very costly for replacement parts when they fail. A cost of a DEF filter alone is more than $4,000. We have a vehicle with this particular system that we purchased brand new three years ago for well over $340,000. It has been on a wrecker from DEF and Regeneration system failures 24 times during this time period. My worry is what damage all of these failures have caused for the long-term life of this truck. It used to be known that diesels are good for 1,000,000 miles. I seriously doubt a new motor that runs as hot as they do, has exhaust temperatures that reach close to 1,000 degrees F, and recirculates soot through the motor to accomplish a cleaner emission will last that long. I hope the technology develops and becomes a success. I am all for cleaner emissions, but the reliability of these trucks needs improvement. 

Still Not Sure?

Just over 50 percent of our fleet of 40 trucks are post-emission standard trucks. Of the mix of new trucks, 90 percent of breakdowns by the trucks are caused by failing regeneration systems or electrical components. The cost and burden this has on our company fall right to the bottom line. I assure you that we are not the only ones having these issues. Every day I see refuse trucks on the back of wreckers that still look like they just rolled out of the paint booth. The problem in our industry used to be finding the right employees, now it is the complete opposite. I can’t find a new truck that will stay out of the shop. It is my hope that one day in the near future new trucks will work like they should. I encourage the design teams to enlist the services of someone who has experience operating the trucks. If they implemented real-world experience to their designs it would assist in making a safer and more efficient truck.

Maintain and Refurbish

We have roll-off and front load trucks with more than 600,000 miles built from 2004 to 2006. For $20,000 to $30,000, I can send this truck to be refurbished from head to toe. Not only will they look new, but they will also run like new as well. These trucks are reliable, they operate at a lower cost and are easier to diagnose and repair. Our trucks make us money pulling boxes, dumping containers, and hauling what they are designed to haul. We, as many others in the industry, look to take care of what we have before we purchase a new truck. It is unfortunate that we as an industry have to spend so much for a new truck and cross our fingers and hope that truck can get through a route. I urge the designers and manufacturers to resolve these issues. This is a topic
that has circled for debate in the recent years with the increase of technology plaguing the operations of our industry. Many are for the new technology based upon emission standards while others are against it. All I ask for is the happy median. Give us a truck that will be better for the environment and pick up garbage consistently for long period of time. | WA

John Paglia, III is a 4th generation garbage man. Before he climbed the ranks to become Florida Express Environmental’s 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 www.floridaexpress.us.


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