By Cassie McClure and Suzanne Michaels
Published in the Las Cruces Bulletin 8/9/19
They say it’s the small things, but sometimes for Las Cruces Utilities (LCU) it’s the large things, especially when it comes to in-house maintenance and repairs of huge trucks. Using technology, Fleet Services associates not only are able to work more efficiently, but safer. An example is the use of portable digital lifts that raise up a non-working, fully-loaded 60,000 pound LCU Solid Waste front-load or side-load trash truck (that’s 30 tons).
“Before we had the portable lifts, we’d be on our backs going under the trucks to fix hydraulic leaks or suspension components,” explains Paul Ramirez, Fleet Services supervisor, assigned to the LCU Solid Waste fleet shop. “It’s not only repairs, but all of our preventative maintenance, like oil changes or wheel removals. With the digital lifts we’re not straining our backs by trying to reach and work in awkward positions. Now, we can have the room to walk under the trucks and have more light.”
The trash trucks that you see come by weekly have their oil changed every 6 months. The trucks’ maintenance schedule is not measured in mileage like your car, but in the hours of operation; for the trucks, they get clean oil every 450 hours. Ramirez says, “It’s not just the travel time from bin to bin, but also the time the truck spends picking up and maneuvering a commercial dumpster or is compacting a load, that’s considered being in use.”
The LCU portable digital lifts – six lifts working together with a remote control – are able to quickly pick up a massive truck almost 5 feet into the air…and then the lifts can be stored away from the work floor. Purchased last fiscal year, the $64,000 for the six lifts pays for itself in the speed with which the Fleet Services crew working out of the LCU Solid Waste shop can now perform maintenance or make repairs in an emergency break-down situation - while a decomposing load of solid waste might still be in the truck.
“We seek out technological innovations to be able to do things that previously would be impossible to do in-house,” said Dr. Jorge Garcia, LCU director. “The more we can do ourselves, the less we have to send out to specialized and more expensive mechanics, over the long run, we can pass those savings on to our customers and the City.” You can reach Las Cruces Utilities at 528-3500 from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Las Cruces Utilities provides GAS – WATER – WASTEWATER – SOLID WASTE services to approximately 100,000 Las Cruces residents and businesses.
PHOTO 1: An empty LCU truck is in the shop for regular maintenance, all 20 tons of it. If a truck breaks down with a full load of garbage, it can weigh up to 25-30 tons, but still needs to be fixed. LCU Solid Waste purchased an in-house digital lift to make quicker - and safer - work for Fleet Services associates to get that truck back in business and on the road for Las Cruces citizens.