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City of Phoenix takes garbage removal seriously

Municipalities are always looking for more cost effective and efficient ways to handle garbage and bulk waste pickup. Phoenix, Arizona is no exception. As the sixth largest city in the United States with a population of about 1.5 million people covering 516 square miles, garbage collection is not taken lightly. It’s a big job for the city’s department of public works.

(L-R): Anthony Rubalcava, Wacker Neuson; Greg Nordsiek, Wacker Neuson; Lindsay Stalfort, Wacker Neuson; Ken Galas, A to Z Equipment; Mark Gatrost, A to Z Equipment; Will Mitchell, A to Z Equipment; Ray Kinser, A to Z Equipment; and Mike Munoz, Wacker Neuson.

A to Z Equipment, a major sales and rental firm in Phoenix, teamed up with Wacker Neuson, to find the best equipment solution for the city’s daily refuse pick up. It’s not surprising that to convert a major municipal fleet did not happen overnight. In late 2013, Ken Galas came aboard the equipment sales department and the city of Phoenix became his obsession.

The city owns 70 to 80 pieces of equipment used for solid waste removal. For the past 18 years, Kubota wheel loaders were being used and before that they used Bobcat’s articulating loaders. Galas learned that Kubota had discontinued their half-yard loader and that the replacement unit was too large for the solid waste removal. Galas saw his opening.

Galas and Joe Pritchard, A to Z’S inside sales coordinator, compared the specs of the city’s current loaders to Wacker Neuson’s WL 30 articulated wheel loader and found the two were similar. The WL 30’s compact size and maneuverability made it the right fit for the job. In January, 2014, the city agreed to take a demo unit for their crews to run and provide feedback.

Galas zeal for this special project did not go unnoticed. City crews would find him at the beginning of their 4:30 a.m. shift for months, making sure each new crew was supported in case they had any questions or concerns. Many times, Greg Nordsiek, Wacker Neuson’s market development specialist, was more than willing to provide advice and supply a helping hand. Galas and Nordsiek took it upon themselves to assess the usage and need that were applicable to the garbage and bulk waste removal business.

“As it turns out the crews operating the WL 30 found it easy to operate with all the controls on one joystick,” said Galas. “A huge selling factor was the fuel efficiency of the Wacker Neuson loader. Depending on the crew, the previous loaders required fueling once a day, but the WL 30 required fueling only once a week, that is a huge savings for the city.”

In February, the city of Phoenix agreed to purchase one WL 30 with some equipment modifications. Ray Kinser, shop foreman for A to Z equipment (and a Wacker Neuson Regional Technical of the Year recipient), took on the role as modification engineer and was able to reinforce the loader arm, customize the grapple/bucket, reroute the hydraulic hoses to accommodate the customer bucket and mount an external pre-cleaner.

The mounting of the external pre cleaner was one of the single largest tasks Kinser had to do to the unit. Since the WL30 has a flip up hood he had to mount it in such a way that it wouldn’t interfere with that operation. A special mount had to be designed that would allow him to drill through the hood and make a connection with the air filter canisters air intake and still look aesthetically pleasing.

Fast forward seven months later and the WL 30 was still on the job. In October, 2014, the city of Phoenix submitted a PO for the purchase of 10 more units with the exact modifications. These modifications were made and the 10 WL 30s were delivered on the job in December.