If you were starting a garbage company, what kind of truck is best to own?  Would it be a Front Loader, Side Loader, Rear Loader or Grapple Truck?  The answer depends on a lot of factors.

Front Loaders are generally service commercial and industrial businesses using large waste containers with lids known as front load dumpsters.  The truck is equipped with automated forks on the front which the driver carefully aligns with sleeves on the waste container using a joystick or a set of levers. The waste container is then lifted over the truck. Once it gets to the top the container is then flipped upside down and the waste or recyclable material is emptied into the vehicle’s hopper. Once the waste is dumped, it is compacted by a hydraulically powered moving wall that oscillates backwards and forwards to push the waste to the rear of the vehicle. Most of the newer packing trucks have “pack-on-the-go hydraulics” which lets the driver pack loads while driving, allowing faster route times. When the body is full, the compaction wall moves all the way to the rear of the body, ejecting it via an open tailgate.

Side Loaders are loaded from the side, either manually, or with the assistance of an automated lift.  Lift-equipped trucks are referred to as automated side loaders. Using a continuously reciprocating wall within the loading hopper, the waste is forced through an aperture into the main body and therefore compacted towards the rear of the truck.   An Automated Side Loader only needs one operator, where a traditional rear load garbage truck may require two or three people, and has the additional advantage of reducing on the job injuries due to repetitive heavy lifting. Typically an Automated Side Loader uses specialized wheeled carts compatible with the truck’s automated lift.

Rear Loaders have an opening at the rear that a waste collector can throw waste bags or empty the contents of bins into. Often in many areas they have a lifting mechanism to automatically empty large carts without the operator having to lift the waste by hand.

Another popular system for the rear loader is a rear load container specially built to fit a groove in the truck. The truck will have a chain or cable system for upending the container. The waste will then slide into the hopper of the truck.

Pneumatic collection trucks have a crane with a tube and a mouthpiece that fits in a hole, usually hidden under a plate under the street.  From here it will suck up waste from an underground installation. The system usually allows the driver to “pick up” the waste, even if the access is blocked by cars, snow or other barriers.

Grapple trucks enable the collection of bulk waste. A large percentage of items in the solid waste stream are too large or too heavy to be safely lifted by hand into traditional garbage trucks. These items (furniture, large appliances, branches, logs) are called bulky waste or “oversized.” The preferred method for collecting these items is with a grapple truck. Grapple trucks have hydraulic knucklebooms, tipped with a clamshell bucket, and usually include a dump body or trailer.

So what is the best all-around truck to own?  Many in the industry prefer to own rear loader trucks but they are not always the best solution for the job.  Rear loaders can get in and out of narrow streets and are able to dump most kinds of containers whether it’s residential or commercial.  They also don’t have as many hydraulic systems to maintain.  But the other types of trucks do the work faster and don’t require two workers to operate.

The best truck to have is the one that fits your needs.