Urban spaces often invite judgement. City aesthetics in these times of urbanisation are of increasing importance in how local governments and their residents are perceived.
In busy cities and regional towns, street sweeping goes beyond the surface of maintaining a tidy appearance and is now regarded as a crucial process in protecting downstream waterways and road user safety.
Specialised Pavement Services (SPS), a street cleaning outfit operating throughout the Eastern Seaboard of Australia has been steadily expanding its operations since it commenced business in 1996.
Wayne Jupp, SPS Managing Director, came from a road maintenance background involving spray sealing and asphalt warranting and purchased the company’s first suction broom almost 20 years ago.
SPS is set to bring its total units purchased to 80 later this year fitted to its preferred medium commercial vehicle, the Hino FG1628 cab chassis.
Service providers in the marketplace have traditionally purchased used equipment nearing the end of its serviceable life according to Wayne.
SPS has found an advantage in buying new equipment, fit-for-purpose, offering a product that delivers what it claims are market-leading results.
The preference is for low emissions and low noise vehicles, given it’s imperative that they minimise their environmental impact.
“We’ve been buying the previous model for the better part of 15 years now,” Wayne says. “It’s super reliable and the extended warranty provides SPS increased confidence of a trouble-free operation. It’s a really robust workhorse. Based on some of the other competitors in the space we see it as great value.”
Legislation makes it mandatory to have a dual steering wheel street sweeper as they are working very close to the curb.
The addition of the new dual steer cab chassis has made the Hino 500 an attractive package for SPS. While operating at quite low speeds and in stop-start use for long periods with constant turning and reversing, the gruelling work suits the low rev range torque of the Hino FG1628.
Utilising the latest equipment in the marketplace has enabled SPS to provide a premium service and productivity previously not available in the market sector.
The small premium that is charged by SPS is more than offset by increased productivity of equipment, quality of service and minimisation of environmental impact.
It’s a challenge of any field in which there are so many different variables to keep everyone trained, motivated and productive.
All of the SPS team is fully qualified and ticketed to a market leading standard.
“Our vehicles are expensive bits of kit. It’s like the horse and cart. You can have the best quality equipment and the worst drivers, and what happens is all of a sudden, you’ve got the worst equipment,” Wayne says. “If you’ve got the worst equipment you can’t get the good drivers because they want to drive the best trucks.”
In order to provide the maximum broom down sweeping time, operations have been located strategically throughout the Eastern Seaboard, with tailored sweeping programs to ensure the best value for money to their clients.
Each city according to Wayne brings with it very different environmental considerations.
This includes collecting sand on esplanades and car parks in coastal areas, foliage where parklands and gardens are prominent or increasing urbanisation – a foremost consideration at present in gridlocked Sydney.
It’s the trend towards eco-friendly policies rather than population spikes which are partly behind the current growth of the industry.
Councils and commercial groups are looking for preventative action on foreign objects and pollutants like grime and oil from entering the stormwater system.
“It’s a lot more difficult to clean out a stormwater network or waterway pipe than it is to sweep a road network,” Wayne says. “Obviously a lot of that material finds its way into waterways and into rivers and the ocean and so it’s important to pick it up. In addition to environmental reasons generally, the public is demanding a higher level of cleanliness across the board from residential streets, minor roads and motorways.”
Over time the refuse industry has seen a transition away from public ownership to contracted services.
Like the refuse industry the street sweeping sector is also making this transition with Australia’s estimated 1200 suction brooms progressively shifting from public to private ownership.
SPS benchmark their contracting services against traditional in-house delivery providing local governments with an entirely tailored solution the company claims reduces costs by up to 35 per cent.
Operating a large fleet enables SPS to interchange equipment that requires servicing and minimises downtime for a council which is difficult to do so in smaller fleet sizes of two to three vehicles.
What’s more, the type of sweeper can be tailored to the requirements of the specific council by providing broomed machines for sand in beachside carparks and regenerative air machines for leaf and stick in areas of heavy foliage subdivisions.
This enables the most productive equipment to be utilised in each specific location, further reducing cost.
After SPS proved they could save a group of councils the cost and complication of buying their own equipment they then set about tailoring programs by adjusting the antiquated time periodic-based sweeping applications programs to just-in time sweeping practices.
They utilised detailed archived data and GPS mapping equipped Minor Planet Remote Server software which helps determine how heavy a street is with traffic.
The company has also installed self-braking radars on their machines as it sets about having these fitted to every sweeper by next year.
SPS runs everything from the Bucher Municipal 1m3 machine101 to the $1millon BEAM A1200, a ten cubic metre machine.
The most recent additions to the SPS fleet have been the Bucher Municipal VT652 Street Sweepers, making it the first company in the sector to adopt this equipment in Australia.
It has also been paired to the Hino FG1628 wide-body cab-chassis. The VT652 is said to provide a new benchmark in productivity, reliability and safety in the sweeping industry.
At the core of the SPS business is a focus on providing the safest operating equipment available.
In recent years the team has successfully trialled and implemented Automatic Reverse Braking Technology.
This system adds another level of redundancy to best practice by automatically engaging the brakes of a reversing vehicle in the event of an imminent collision.
In addition to this system SPS has also embraced LED Work Zone Perimeter Lighting for use on its street sweepers.
After a successful trial on the Sunshine Coast, every new truck is now equipped with it and approximately half of the existing fleet now has the safety technology installed.
Like something out of Blade Runner 2049, the ‘virtual fence’, creates, through a neon-like display around the working equipment, an exclusion zone perceptible in the dark for road users and pedestrians.
“We’ve found that drivers and cyclists are stopping and having a bit more of a think about a safe passage around the truck or at least giving the operator a wider berth,” says Wayne.
“At dusk, dawn and late night when the machines are often operational people aren’t paying attention to a slow moving truck.”
Because the trucks are constantly pulling back into running lanes, the LED Work Zone Perimeter Lighting creates greater awareness for anyone too close to the illuminated area making it clear for all to see.
It has also proven particularly effective on construction and sites especially in the asphalt-profiling industries involving asphalt sprayed sealing work in which works are customarily congested and fast-paced.
“The inherent high risk of these sites is the interaction between plant, equipment and workers on foot and the introduction of SPS’s LED Work Zone Perimeter further highlights the exclusions zones that should be maintained to ensure safe interaction on site,” says Wayne.
“The LED Work Zone Perimeter lighting coupled with the Automatic Reverse Braking Technology have had a significant impact on the frequency of near miss incidents and further improved on our fantastic safety record.”