Waste and recyclables collection services across many parts of rural and regional Australia often have to contend with additional challenges - especially in terms of accessibility, which can be severely hampered by factors including terrain, road design and condition, and even the prevailing climatic conditions. These challenges are perhaps no more evident than for the C&I bin collection services within the world-famous Kosciuszko National Park in the NSW Snowy Mountains, which features mainland Australia's highest peak, Mount Kosciuszko, and encompasses several of Australia’s premier ski resorts and tourist destinations.
Managed by NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), the waste and recyclables services across the Kosciuszko National Park collect some 750 tonnes of material annually, with the majority of that collected from the Perisher Range Resorts during the peak winter season. Of this, approximately 40% (300 tonnes) is diverted from landfill, with around 150 tonnes being bottles, cans and plastics, 60 tonnes of recyclable paper and cardboard, 80 tonnes being organics which are composted, and 10 tonnes of spent cooking oil which is reused.
NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service state that: “The garbage truck is a critical part of the equipment needed to manage the waste generated annually from the resorts and towns within Kosciuszko National Park.”
“During the peak winter season, the truck works 7 days a week, collecting waste from outlying resort areas and on snow bins, and transporting it to either Jindabyne landfill or Australia’s highest Waste Transfer Station located in Perisher Valley (at an altitude of 1720 metres).”
“Outside the ski season when waste quantities are lower, and the Waste Transfer Station is not operating, the truck is used to remove all waste from the park”.
A BESPOKE SOLUTION FOR A UNIQUE ENVIRONMENT
The harsh operating environment, especially in winter, together with the challenges of steep terrain, snow and extreme operating temperatures, and salt from the roads can take a major toll on equipment. Additionally, Transport for NSW requires that all non-All Wheel Drive vehicles, including trucks, need to carry and fit snow chains during much of the winter which can be a severe impost for drivers.
Superior Pak was awarded the contract to develop a ‘bespoke’ purpose-built Front Loader specifically designed to meet these needs.
Anthony Uroda, Superior Pak Sales Manager NSW/ACT, spoke about some of the unique challenges identified with this contract.
“While our business is built on working with our clients to identify their specific equipment needs and provide a suitable solution, developing a vehicle for Alpine environments is just not an application we deal with every day,” Anthony said.
“Australia’s climate throws up a broad range of extreme conditions, but the majority involves 40+ degree temperatures that test hard-working hydraulic systems and generally require cooling everything down, including the driver. In the Snowy Mountains, temperatures can get down well below zero, and its these extreme weather conditions, cold icy roads and the corrosive salt used on roads that required a total rethink in terms of truck design,” he said.
“With that in mind, we went through the NPWS requirements and what specific challenges existed in operating a waste collection unit in the snowy mountains. We developed a custom unit from the ground up,” Anthony added.
The result is a unique combination of an Iveco Astra 8x8 chassis, fitted with a Superior Pak front-loading, industrial waste collection & compaction body (Pegasus model) - the only one of its type in Australia.
The 8x8 chassis provides All Wheel Drive to greatly increase safety in the snow and ice conditions in which the truck operates. Importantly, when fitted with snow tyres during the winter months, the truck’s All Wheel Drive capability eliminates the need to carry and fit heavy and cumbersome chains. The new unit also features ‘mine specification’ electrical work and special coatings to reduce the corrosion caused by road salting.
“As you might expect, the unseen ‘heart of this beast’ required the most thought and development to meet the uncharted territory of a truly ‘Snow Spec’ vehicle. Indeed, constructing a specialist waste collection vehicle around the 520hp Iveco Astra 8x8 chassis was an integration process that challenged all of our years’ experience,” Anthony said.
“An enormous amount of engineering was required to ensure RMS compliance (particularly in terms of meeting axle load requirements), body/chassis integration, operator performance and expectations… but we did it, and we did it well!”
“From custom electrical and componentry protection, zinc-based primer and paint upgrades, through to remote bin lifter arms, hand-held compacting control and a high-wind loading door, this ‘Snow Spec’ unit has it all and more. Indeed, I believe that our 28m3 Pegasus custom ‘Snow Spec’ front lift is and will be the flagship benchmark for making possible the impossible in some of the most unforgiving climate locations in Australia, the Snowy Mountains,” he said.
To add to the individuality of the vehicle, the NPWS design team used images taken by staff and researchers to highlight the unique environment, heritage and threatened species within Kosciuszko National Park. The truck proudly displays the Perisher landscape, Seamans Hut, and two endangered species being the Guthega Skink and Mountain Pygmy-possum.
“The smiles on all the staff’s faces when I drove the unit to the handover point were priceless,” Anthony Uroda said. “I could tell right away that the dedicated NPWS staff were as proud of this build as I was.”
For further information, call: 1800 013 232 or visit: www.superiorpak.com.au
Photo Credits - May Ward (NPWS) & Anthony Uroda (SPK)