The city of Hialeah, FL, is affectionately nicknamed the “City of Progress,” and Mayor Julio Robaina wants to keep it that way. Among his many goals, Robaina counts improving the environment as a priority. Reaping the benefits of that initiative is the city's refuse fleet, which fleet director Carlos Berriz oversees.

“Our mayor sees the benefit for the environment in greening everything,” Berriz says. “He's tasked us [to generate] savings of fuel and energy, and we're responding.”

With the help of a Dept. of Energy Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant, Hialeah has just purchased four Autocar Xpeditor E3 refuse vehicles. The Autocar ACX64 with dual steer and 33-yd. capacity Heil body trucks run on the unique Parker Hannifin RunWise advanced series hybrid drive system.

If the vehicles had been purchased without the grant, Berriz says the return-on-investment would be about four to five years. Hialeah keeps refuse vehicles in service for about eight to nine years. “Since we were able to get that grant, it was a no-brainer [to purchase them],” Berriz says. “It is my opinion that government needs to be at the cutting edge of technology and not at the back end.”

With the RunWise technology, Hialeah is certainly at the cutting edge. The trucks will not go into full production until early next year, but Hialeah has been able to secure early models.

REUSING ENERGY

The RunWise system dramatically reduces fuel usage and lowers emissions — as much as 50% less fuel and 38 tons of emissions reductions per year — according to testing. The technology integrates mechanical and hydraulic drive elements into a 3-spd. transmission optimized for efficiency at all speeds, Parker Hannifin said. Shifting is automatic. The series hybrid drive system recovers more than 70% of braking energy normally lost. The more the vehicle stops, the more energy that is recovered, making it ideal for refuse fleets.

A standard friction foundation braking system uses pressurized hydraulic fluid to decelerate the vehicle while recovering that energy. The stored energy is then used to launch the vehicle. In case of an emergency stop, the foundation braking system will override the hybrid system.

The system also improves brake life by as much as eight times depending on the duty cycle, Parker Hannifin said. “On a garbage truck, you could do a brake job every three months,” Berriz says. “With this [technology], you can go a year and a half between brake jobs.”

Berriz, who oversees a city fleet of 1,700 units, including 25 garbage trucks and 4 trucks dedicated to recycling, says the purchase of the vehicles is the beginning of a transformation for the city's fleet. The trucks include a number of new technologies being introduced to the city for the first time: onboard scales, idle-time monitoring, automated loaders, and more focus on electronic routing with a new onboard system.

“We've just started going automated,” Berriz says. “We now spec [the refuse and recycling vehicles] the same” so if the city needs an additional recycling vehicle, the refuse truck can fill that gap.

Idle-time monitoring lets Berriz know when a vehicle has been idling too long so the city can determine if the idling is legitimate, i.e., a truck is waiting to unload. The fleet is also using Routeware, a routing system designed for waste haulers. The software utilizes GPS to optimize routes for the most efficient vehicle path. “We're going to expect savings on fuel by not driving around needlessly,” Berriz says.