Plastic is fantastic – polybody structured RCVs are growing in popularity with local authorities

Published:  13 March, 2012

NTM recently aquired LinkTip, whose Polybody was launched back in 2008 at the RWM exhibition. The product has grown in popularity year on year and it is now a key part of NTM LinkTip's business, used nationwide to collect mostly food waste by local authorities, contractors and private companies, including Guilford Borough Council, Denbighshire County Council, Kier and Biffa.

The Polybody is made from tough, durable, polypropylene, which is a superior plastic with numerous qualities that include, a high heat resistance, which means that it will not be effected by the elements and is UV stable, it's non-corrosive, extremely lightweight, non-staining and practically maintenance free. The material, which has been used to make bodies in the Fire and Rescue services for many years, also benefits from a high impact strength, and should one section be damaged, it can easily be replaced.

The plastic body can be mounted on almost any chassis and it's also fully recyclable in that the body's life span is approximately 14-years, so the body will outlive the chassis on which it's mounted, which is five to seven years. The longevity of the body would technically allow the user to transfer it from one chassis to another. NTM LinkTip's Polybody trucks are 100% UK manufactured. All of the Polybodies are cut, welded and constructed by hand and then chassis-mounted in the NTM LinkTip factory, based in Willenhall in the West Midlands. The Polybody delivers improvements in payload. Figures based on the first model built show a massive 120% increase in available payload compared to a conventional steel body of a similar type on the same chassis. Firstly, operators will have the potential to more than double the load each vehicle can carry, meaning fewer journeys, better collection efficiency and a reduced carbon footprint.

Tim Prince, NTM LinkTip's UK sales manager said: Using example figures, if you take a truck of less than 7.5 tonnes doing 30,000 miles per annum, at an average fuel consumption of 20mpg, and increase its load capacity by 120%, you have the potential to carry twice as much load. Switching to our polybuilt body could, according to carbon footprint data, add up to a saving per vehicle of over 11 tonnes of carbon every year.

There are obvious fuel savings, Prince added. Again, working from a hypothetical scenario. Take a vehicle in a rural area which, because of its plastic body, it can carry twice as much waste. Its ability to stay out on the road saves the operator a 60 mile round trip each day or 300 miles per week.

If the truck does 20mpg, which is best case scenario, that's a saving of one gallon of fuel per day – just over £6.50 a day or £33 a week (based on £1.45 a litre). Over a year you could save more than £1,584 and over the life of a vehicle, which averages seven years, the figure rises to more than £11,088 per vehicle. Multiply that by the number of vehicles in your fleet, the total cost savings can be highly significant.

Kier purchased a 7.5 tonne Polybody RCV, mounted on a Mitsubishi Canter chassis, in August of last year. The vehicle comprises a plastic food pod with a tipping body at the rear and is used to collect food waste on a weekly basis, and dry recyclables and residual waste bi-weekly by Kiers client, East Northamptonshire Council.

John Ranaghan, Kier's contract manager for East Northamptonshire, said: We purchased the vehicle to use in the hard-to-reach areas of East Northamptonshire. The vehicle has an enhanced payload and uses far less fuel than that of a 26 tonne vehicle. Its use has therefore supported the delivery of a sustainable and cost effective service, reducing fuel use and emissions. The NTM LinkTip vehicle also contributes to a customer focused service, enabling the collection of bins from even the most rural and narrow access locations.

Denbighshire County Council currently operates three 7.5 tonne plastic RCVs on Isuzu chassis and has more on order. Assistant fleet manager Chris Brown said: The collection of food waste is currently a real hot topic and is moving forward rapidly in the UK. Food waste forms around 28% of the average Denbighshire householder's bin waste by weight and, up until recently, this has been buried in landfill sites – we now collect the food waste on a weekly basis and it all then goes to a processing plant.

The 7.5 tonne Polybody vehicles began operating in 2011 and we opted for these trucks for several reasons, the first being that the small vehicles can navigate easily in the more rural areas. Licensing was also a consideration; our operators don't need a LGV licence to drive them, they can operate on a standard car licence if it was held before 1997. The vehicles are also reliable and easy to maintain.

Denbighshire CC has another five vehicles on order with NTM LinkTip and a single body to be mounted on an existing chassis. We are rolling out the food waste collections to more areas and utilising the new 7.5t vehicles and disposing of the bigger 18 tonne lorries. The fuel savings will be significant too – you get 5-6 mpg on an 18 tonner and approximately 17mpg on the smaller vehicle, concluded Brown.

Jim Espley is the refuse manager at Denbighshire CC said: The plastic vehicles are extremely versatile and can basically go anywhere. If the street is so narrow that it is impossible to drive the truck down the lane, the ‘slave bin' can be removed by one of the operators and wheeled to collect the food waste and then wheeled back again to the vehicle to be emptied. The trucks operate with a two man crew, and all prefer the NTM LinkTip vehicles over the larger RCVs the crew have all reported that they praise their ease of operation.

BIFFA introduced the NTM LinkTip Polybodies back in 2010 the company now operate a fleet of 18 plastic trucks. These include two for use on its street cleansing service for Melton Borough Council and six for Vale of White Horse District Council. The 3.5 tonne vehicles are based on either Mitsubishi Canter or Mercedes Sprinter chassis.

Biffa's group fleet engineer, Ian Coxhill, said the company uses many scores of vehicles across its local authority contracts and regularly enhances its fleet with new or upgraded vehicles that offer more efficiency, value and carbon reduction.

We reviewed NTM LinkTip's plastic bodies and were quickly convinced of the significant benefit that they can deliver in terms of productivity gains, cost savings and environmental impact.

NTM LinkTip offers a bespoke design service with the Polybody, so not only can the plastic body be mounted on almost any chassis, there are plenty of other options too, such as a roof loading or side loading bin lift, with hinged or sliding doors to either or both sides. The design can also incorporate split compartments with a fixed or variable position partition and can be sealed for food waste or clinical waste collection.

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