Over the past ten years, the use of grapple trucks by municipal sanitation departments has increased substantially as the usefulness of these vehicles has been fully realized. Introduction of this truck into industrial fleets have allowed cities and companies all over to experience both increased efficiency and decreased worker injuries, which is a win-win situation for all involved parties. With this in mind, consider some of the following pointers on choosing grapple trucks and what important things should be looked for when considering the addition of one to sanitation or other commercial fleets.
Determine Necessary Features
Selecting a grapple truck is similar to choosing any other type of work vehicle since many of the initial features to consider will be with the truck itself, the chassis and body, the engine and axles, etc.. There are many other important features that are specific to this type of unit and will help buyers determine specific needs.
- Body: Loader or Dump? – Grapple trucks can be built with either a large, dump body or a body that accepts a roll-off loader container. The main difference other than the action of the bed is that the dump bodies are somewhat smaller than a full roll-off, although construction is basically very similar. With the dump style, the grapple itself is sometimes used to help empty the truck. With the loader style, the filled container is usually rolled off so an empty one can be rolled on, allowing work to continue.
- Boom Swing: Rotary or Slewing? – There are two types of motors that control boom swing on this vehicle: the rotary actuator and the slewing ring. Rotary actuator swings are hydraulic boom motors that are direct-drive with no gear reduction and are the easier of the two types to maintain. Slewing ring controls are boom motors mounted on the side of the crane and operate through the turning of large gears. Because this type often needs bolts to be tightened, it can be more difficult to maintain as such adjustment parts can be difficult to reach.
- Boom Operation: Standard or Rear Steer? – Roll-off and dump body grapple trucks usually come with standard arm operation, with the boom controls supplied on a platform at the front of the bed or loader, close to the back of the cab. The operator stands there and works the controls to fill the container on the truck. With the rear steer type, there is a complete, rear-facing cab behind the driving cab and level with the chassis. These versions frequently do not include any type of container yet are more useful when loading other containers that have been driven to the job site. With rear steer control, an operator never has to leave the upper cab, simply continuing to load as roll-offs are driven up, filled, and driven away.
Consider Important Safety Features
Just like any industrial machine, grapple trucks must include various safety features and equipment to ensure being used in the safest manner possible. An important feature is the boom up alarm, which prevents the driver from pulling away with the arm not positioned low enough on the truck after use for careful transportation. There are usually some type of outriggers, although the preferred version is the ‘out and down’ type. Hydraulic and other types of hoses on a grapple should have safety locking valves to prevent leakage. The outriggers always come with standard operation and instructions that should be closely observed.
Based on the amount and type of use, a grapple truck can be used to load its own container or load containers separately driven to the site. Selection of the type will depend upon which option best suits a company’s needs. In either cases, grapple trucks will quickly revolutionize any cleanup efforts, making it a less costly and much safer job!