Additional Math Pages & Resources

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Garbage Truck Math

This blog is about using math (learned in elementary school) when we grow up. Of course, since I have never fully grown up, I tend to focus on simple things that amuse me. Like garbage trucks! There is some strange fascination that kids men have with these complicated and  noisy machines - it's a bit like train and plane spotting.

You might know about the major types of garbage trucks, but if not, here they are:
  • Front loaders - which pick up "dumpsters" and throw them over the cab into a storage area on the back of the truck. The pictures below show a front loader.
  • Side loaders - these pick up containers (or people do the work) and toss the refuse into the side of the truck.
  • Rear loaders - this is the old-fashioned kind of truck where people lift and toss the garbage into the space in back.
  • Roll-off trucks - these trucks drop empty waste containers in your driveway, then come back and take the full container away
  • Miscellaneous - there are other specialty trucks that can lift heavy or bulky stuff, suck up icky wet messes, and so on.
Most trucks today have compactors inside, which compress the garbage tightly so the truck can hold more before it has to unload. Then they drive to the landfill or recycling center, tilt up, and the compactor pushes the waste out the back.


This poor guy from EDCO (a local company) broke down on the street outside our office. I got the chance to take a couple nice pictures with the body in a partially-tilted-up position so they could work on the hydraulic system.


You need lots of math in the garbage-collection business. At the very least, you should know:
  • your customer count
  • the average number of trash containers your customers put out
  • the variation in loads based on season (holiday wrappings, summer gardening, etc) 
  • holidays on the calendar, so you show up on the right days when the cans are out
  • what load (weight or volume) capacity for each of your trucks 
  • the strength of the machinery so you know how much of a load the trucks can lift
  • how many miles the route is, including to/from the landfill
  • the turning radius and maneuverability of the trucks compared to the route
  • the air pressure to put in the tires of the truck
  • fuel consumption so they don't run out of fuel, and 
  • how often to maintain trucks so they don't break down when full of garbage!

Here are some resources if you have time to look at a few more garbage recycling trucks:

Classic Refuse Trucks
Garbage Trucks

You can even download garbage truck driver simulation games, to practice your trash collection skills:


Garbage Truck Video