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While the majority of people in the U.S. and Canada have their trash and recycling collected by a privately held company, a significant percentage of collection activities are still performed by cities both large and small. These cities face unique fleet challenges when compared with their privately held trash collection brethren. 

In the large privately held companies, sanitation trucks are used for an average of seven years and then replaced with newer more efficient trucks. In a perfect world, this same situation would apply for municipalities. Unfortunately, not all municipalities can allocate the necessary budget amount to maintain this type of fleet replacement plan.    Sanitation must compete for capital dollars annually with other departments such as police and fire and depending on the amount of money available, funds could be limited for fleet replacement.  This type of scenario can result in sanitation fleets being stretched well beyond the 7-year useful life and into 10, 12, or 15 years and beyond, in some cases.

When fleets are stretched this long, it creates a number of challenges, including:

  • Increased, unpredictable maintenance costs. Older trucks equal much higher maintenance costs. Operating funds that could be used towards future projects or plans are spent on repairs to keep the old asset functioning well beyond its initial intended useful life.
  • Unplanned downtime due to reliability.  Not knowing if you can count on a part of your fleet to get the job done can create a chain of events which impacts customer service, employees, and costs.  This downtime causes additional phone calls from constituents, forces newer working trucks to work beyond their recommended hours, shortens the useful life of new trucks and does not maximize the efficiency of the workforce the municipality employs.
  • Budget overruns due to overtime. When a large percentage of the department’s fleet is down each and every day, sometimes the only way to get the trash picked up is to “double time” your efficient trucks and pay overtime to your drivers leaving other paid drivers back at the yard without a task to perform. While drivers may appreciate the overtime wages, it is a strain on municipal budgets and the longevity of employee safety and retention.  An alternative way to use these dollars is to rent a like new vehicle which allows for consistent uptime, lower and predictable maintenance costs, and longevity of the current fleet. 
  • Lead time for new truck purchases. Even when things are going according to plan, the budgeting process and new available funds might not line up with manufacturers’ production schedules leaving a large gap when vehicles can be delivered once ordered.  These lead times can force municipalities to spend additional maintenance dollars on trucks that would be in the process of retirement. 

The renting alternative

Renting provides a possible remedy to all of the aforementioned problems municipalities can face when it comes to securing a new truck or trying to maintain their fleet.  Big Truck Rental has a variety of front line refuse vehicles and municipal rental plans that can be tailored to alleviate these challenges immediately in the short term and continue to provide benefits for long term situations. More specifically, it enables municipalities to obtain new and reliable trucks quickly through rental programs and return them when they don’t need them, or sign on to a rent-to-purchase plan that allows them to build equity as they rent and start putting money towards their new truck.

These advantages and more can help municipalities move beyond common financial and logistical hurdles and keep operations on track.

Scott Smith is Director of Municipal Sales with Big Truck Rental. To learn more about the benefits of renting, and to find a solution that fits, visit www.bigtruckrental.com, or email ssmith@bigtruckrental.com or BTRSales@bigtruckrental.com.

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