Refuse fleet professionals check out the new Freightliner EconicSD at its official unveiling at WasteExpo50 in Las Vegas. Photo: Jack Roberts

Refuse fleet professionals check out the new Freightliner EconicSD at its official unveiling at WasteExpo50 in Las Vegas. Photo: Jack Roberts

I just got back to my office here in Tuscaloosa from a week in Las Vegas. And since I didn’t crank down and hit a jackpot on a progressive slot machine while I was there, I might as well write this blog here on what I learned while moderating a panel discussion on future technology on refuse trucks and attending the launch of the new Freightliner EconicSD truck at WasteExpo50.

I used to attend WasteExpo shows fairly regularly back in the day, in another job. But it’s been a decade, at least, since I last walked one of their show floors, and I was deeply impressed with the cutting-edge truck technology that is rapidly reshaping this trucking niche today.

As I noted, I was lucky to start out moderating a panel discussion on how “future” technology is already deployed in refuse fleets today, with excellent commentary from Skip Berg, with Labrie Enviroquip Group, Don Diego Padilla with FleetMind Solutions, and two electric truck experts, Jim Castelaz with Motiv and Ian Wright with Wrightspeed.

What impressed me most during the spirited back-and-forth discussion was that in many ways, the refuse segment is leading trucking’s movement into an era of new technology and new ways of running fleets.

Refuse trucks today are already routinely using Level 3 autonomous vehicle systems, advanced safety systems, and telematics to enhance productivity and safety while transmitting crucial operational and business data in real time. These trucks are also on the cutting edge in terms of integrated vehicle platforms, with various electronic control modules running highly complex hydraulic systems efficiently.

These were all trends I saw confirmed later in the day as Freightliner unveiled its EconicSD, which is clearly designed to deploy the latest refuse fleet technology today, and adapt to even more advanced tech as it comes on line in the near future.

Refuse leads trucking on another front as well – alternative fuels. Per Richard Saward, vice president of government and vehicle sales for Freightliner, diesel-powered vehicles make up only 50% of refuse trucks working in North America today.

An entire half of this market segment is powered by alternative fuels – with CNG being the most common choice. That’s a pretty impressive statistic from a market segment that the general public scarcely gives more than a passing thought to, and a tremendous compliment to the men and women focused on making North American refuse collection one of the most efficient, productive, modern, and green trucking segments in operation today.

Given all that, I shouldn’t have been surprised to hear the sharp, informed questions fired at Jim Castelaz and Ian Wright during their presentations on electric vehicle trends. If the audience at our panel discussion is any indication, it appears the refuse segment is poised to soon take a leadership role in adapting electric trucks in urban applications.

All in all, it’s clear after a few days observing WasteExpo up close that Refuse is clearly a market segment to keep an eye on as fleets across North America begin to work out the particulars of new technology deployment, new maintenance procedures, and new ways of running operations in complex, busy, urban environments.

Related: England's Dennis Eagle Launchs ProView Refuse Truck in U.S.

Author

Jack Roberts
Jack Roberts

Jack Roberts

As a licensed commercial driver, HDT senior editor Jack Roberts often reports on ground-breaking technical developments and trends in an industry being transformed by technology. With more than two decades covering trucking, in Truck Tech he offers his insights on everything from the latest equipment, systems and components, to telematics and autonomous vehicle technologies.

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As a licensed commercial driver, HDT senior editor Jack Roberts often reports on ground-breaking technical developments and trends in an industry being transformed by technology. With more than two decades covering trucking, in Truck Tech he offers his insights on everything from the latest equipment, systems and components, to telematics and autonomous vehicle technologies.

View Bio
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