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Standing apart: What keeps Ecology Recycling and Transportation Services ahead of the competition

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“Contract waste hauling is a competitive business,” says Greg Evans, equipment maintenance manager at Ecology Recycling and Transportation Services. “We use accurate cost accounting and revenue projections because it comes down to who can haul the most trash at the lowest cost.”

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Headquartered in Cerritos, Calif., Ecology Recycling and Transportation Services has trucks based at several locations. Throughout the western U.S. and Texas, the company provides trucking and transportation services for bulk waste and recyclables, heavy haul and oversize loads, and containers.

“Every pound counts when you’re in the business of hauling recyclables and trash, so in our operation lightweight specs are a recipe for success,” Evans says. “For example, we recently received a contract in the Phoenix area to haul waste from transfer stations to landfills that are between 80 and 120 miles away. That type of business requires that we find ways to do more with less by reducing weight in our tractors and trailers.

“All told, with our newest Kenworth T880 tractors we decreased weight by about 2,000 lbs. compared to other combinations we’ve run in the past,” Evans continues. “The biggest contributor to those weight savings was the PACCAR MX-11 engine, which is 400 lbs. lighter than a 13-liter. We have always run PACCAR MX-13 engines with great success in our Kenworths, and with the MX-11 we can save weight and have comparable performance.”

RELATED: How the PACCAR MX-11 engine is powering Kenworth trucks

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Ecology Recycling and Transportation Services spec’d PACCAR MX-11 engines rated at 430 HP and 1,550 lb./ft. of torque in 61 Kenworth T880s with 116.5-in. BBC short hoods.

“That’s the same horsepower rating as the MX-13 engines we’re running but with a different torque rating,” Evans explains. “With the smaller engine we’re not seeing any difference in top-end performance, even in Arizona where we’re able to run up to 75 MPH,” he adds. “In addition, the pulling power of the MX-11 is excellent, and that’s important since we gross out on nearly every load at 80,000 lbs.”

Ecology Recycling and Transportation Services also found other ways to save weight on its equipment. “There were several things we changed from our normal spec to help lighten the tare weight on the tractors and trailers,” Evans relates. “We spec’d the shortest possible wheelbase, Eaton Fuller Advantage automated transmissions—which also help us attract less experienced drivers—and lightweight Meritor steer and drive axles. We put wide base single tires and wheels on tractors and trailers as well.

“We also removed accessories and eliminated passenger seats since they’re not needed, and went with two 1,000-CCA batteries instead of three standard 700-CCA models,” he continues. “On trailers, we opted out of landing gear and use mobile stands when we need to drop a trailer. It all adds up to more productivity when you consider that some of our trucks will make two trips to the landfill and put on close to 500 miles a day.”

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The bottom line

Evans also expects a savings in improved fuel economy. “We’ve seen a marked improvement in fuel efficiency with the PACCAR MX-13 in our California operation, and we expect similar performance, if not better, with the MX-11,” he says. “The combination of a lightweight vehicle and good fuel economy is good for productivity and our bottom line.”

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Another source of savings at Ecology Recycling and Transportation Services is the company’s maintenance operation, Evans notes. “We have five maintenance facilities, four in southern California and one in Phoenix,” he relates. “Most of our work is done in-house, and we also manage our maintenance with the Connect web-based fleet maintenance, parts inventory and shop management software system provided by PACCAR Parts, which helps us keep tight control on costs.”

To address one of its highest cost areas, the fleet has added Continental ContiPressureCheck tire pressure monitoring systems, Evans relates. “Operating at landfills, transfer stations, scrap yards and other off road locations, we are in one of the worst environments there is for tires,” he explains. “These systems should increase tire life substantially, and tires that are properly inflated also generate fuel savings.”

Properly inflated tires are also safer, Evans notes, quickly adding that safety is a factor in the recent decision by Ecology Recycling and Transportation Services to equip its trucks with Lytx DriveCam event recorders.

“With the video-based systems, we expect to see an improvement in driver discipline and in fewer avoidable accidents,” Evans says. “That will save us money and in turn lower our insurance rates. We have already seen that some accidents are questionable. Now that 99% of incidents are captured on video, it’s easy to tell how many collisions or close calls are actually the other party’s fault.”

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Varied fleet

Today, the Ecology Recycling and Transportation Services fleet consists of 610 power units, including 450 Kenworths, 150 Peterbilts and 10 Freightliners. The company also operates approximately 600 trailers. Included are Western Trailer refuse transfer models along with Columbia, Wilkens, Peerless, Vantage, East, Wesco and TTC models for walking floor and tipper applications. There are also a number of Fontaine flatbeds in the operation and a variety of end dump trailers.

In all cases, Evans notes that good working relationships with suppliers benefit Ecology Recycling and Transportation Services. “Those vendors understand our business and recommend the best option possible,” he says. “Price is a moot point if you’re sacrificing quality.

“We also like working with vendors that are not one sided,” Evans adds. “An example would be when a problem arises and how it is handled. When there is an issue, it’s always more professional and effective to work it out from both sides and come to an acceptable conclusion. This approach to trust and honesty leads to beneficial long term relationships.”

Long-term relationships

Ecology also fosters long-term relationships with a wide range of customers. Its trucking and transportation services include bulk waste and recyclables, and the company has a Heavy Haul Division for transport to any destination west of the Mississippi River.

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Also part of the Ecology Recycling and Transportation Services portfolio are an Express Intermodal Service for 20- and 40-ft. containers from port terminals and a Rail Transloading Services operation to handle shipments of refuse, finished goods and bulk commodities using intermodal containers and boxcars.

Additionally, a Commodity and Waste Hauling Division travels as far east as Texas and throughout the mountain and western regions of the U.S. providing commodity and green waste management services and hazardous waste disposal at state or federally designated facilities.

“It’s our fleet of trucks and trailers that allows us to provide solutions to complex logistical needs cost effectively, efficiently and safely,” Evans says. “Our modern fleet and our expert team of transportation professionals set us apart from our competitors in a very competitive business.”

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