With approximately 900 Dennis Eagle low entry vehicles operating around Australia, the iconic UK company is evolving its brand in waste refuse collection by offering fuel efficient, advanced commercial vehicles equipped with the latest safety systems for the challenges of increasingly hectic urban environments.
Dennis Eagle, a specialist in low entry vehicles, launched its first motor vehicle in the UK in 1889.
After extensive testing in Australia, it introduced its first vehicle, for local operations, into Tullamarine nearly nine years ago.
At present the company has an estimated 900 vehicles operating around Australia and continues to drive sustainable mobility, where it has invested in hybrid high density compressed natural gas (HDCNG) technology, delivering one of the safest and cleanest refuse collection vehicles available in the country.
Penske Group National Fleet Sales Manager Shannon Mair says the Dennis Eagle trucks offer superior direct vision in their class.
As a low entry vehicle, the advantages are legion including single step entry and egress on the left side.
The cabin has some of the narrowest A-pillars on the market and an additional window in the cockpit for greater visibility and safety.
“We’re absolutely convinced that we have the best vehicle for the waste refuse collection market,” Shannon says.
“We call our vehicle the original low entry vehicle. It’s a vocational vehicle and the only vehicle made specifically by a refuse solution business for the refuse market. Dennis Eagle designed the complete flat floor for efficiently accessing rear-loaders and it boasts the widest and lowest step on the market with excellent grip which minimises trips.”
In London, the city the size of Melbourne, with twice its population, where 25 per cent of pedestrian fatalities and 38 per cent of cyclist fatalities involve trucks, safety is crucial.
The city is already on the verge of outlawing standard forward control trucks following enforcement of heavy goods vehicles (HGV) Safety Permits.
By 2024 any vehicle below a three star rating under the Direct Vision Standard system, introduced in 2017, will be prohibited from entering London.
Tested and proven in this environment, the Dennis Eagle Elite 2 boasts outstanding all round vision and has been awarded a five star Direct Vision Rating from Transport for London thanks, in part, to its low window heights.
The driver’s door window, positioned in line with the operator’s waist, offers, as a result, a complete panoramic view of all surroundings vehicles. In a standard forward control vehicle, the seated driver is 2.4 metres from the ground. The Dennis Eagle has reduced this height to two metres.
In contrast to a standard cabover vehicle the ergonomics of the Dennis Eagle cab interior, with the single step entry, have been designed with which to encourage the driver on the right hand steer vehicle to get out of the left hand side of the vehicle so that they avoid stepping onto oncoming traffic should they need to move a bin.
Unlike the UK, where the winters are protracted, Australian operational conditions are hotter for longer.
Penske has added dual pull down sun-shades, extra dark tinted windows packaged above legal areas permissible to put seat tint to help control the solar loading given the extra span of glass.
Low entry, according to Citywide Council Procurement Coordinator Assets Ross McGrice, is the defining evolution in waste trucks in recent times.
Up until now it’s been about forward control with waste collection vehicles in the past generally made tall.
“With our area you can have ten bins all in a row and it makes for terrible congestion,” he says.
“It’s unlike an urban council where you’ve got a sideloader going along and you’re picking up a bin at every household.”
The Dennis Eagle has reduced the steps to streamline safe access of the cabin.
“On some rounds the drivers are in and out of the trucks up to 180 times a day,” says Ross. “If you do that all day it takes a fair old toll on the driver. The big thing with these is the low forward entry and the increased glass area.”
The extended arm, for raising the bins, is, according to Ross, the other big development.
A protracted arm provides better reach allowing for access in between cars to grab a bin whereas drivers, in the past, always had to navigate the vehicle right up against the kerb to get to the bin.
“That’s been a big plus in productivity,” he says. “The biggest problem we’ve got on a lot of streets now is having a bike path up the left hand side of your work area and you’ve got to cover off on that.”
To further mitigate accidents with cyclists, the arm is mounted with a camera and features a warning light availing the driver of its position, an advantage especially when working between parked cars. The new, smaller Bucher hydraulic arm is covered in reflective tape to help increase awareness, explains Ross.
“The arm better fits into the rows of bins our drivers encounter which are all placed close together as it saves us from knocking them over,” he says.
The talking alarms on the Dennis Eagle waste collection vehicles provide verbal warnings and flashing lights as soon as the driver activates the left hand indicator, which is used frequently alongside the kerb when in operation.
A reverse alarm serves a similar function primarily for cyclists and pedestrians.
A 360 degree view is provided by four strategically positioned cameras.
That view is stitched into the cabin on display providing the driver with good vision of the truck and its surrounds.
There’s also a camera mounted to the mirrors.
The latest Dennis Eagle models come with a Lane Avoidance System should the truck move out of the lane without the driver’s consent and an Anti-Collision System to avoid vehicles in front.
Virtual bumper, headway monitoring, motorcycle collision warning, pedestrian collision warning and DVR, which can be downloaded to phone, are all offered as part of Dennis Eagle’s Advanced Driver Assist Safety Systems.
Each truck can be specified with scales to prevent the vehicle from being overloaded.
The newest Dennis Eagle commercial vehicles have an option of a secondary tropical air-conditioning pack for Australia’s notoriously hot summers.
It augments the main air conditioning system as a wall unit on the back of the cab. Heat loads, especially in Queensland and Western Australia where temperatures can sit in the upper brackets all year round, have made it very complimentary to the standard air conditioning system.
The truck is paired with the proven Cummins engine and Allison transmission combination.
Dennis Eagle in Australia has maintained the American driveline for the last decade and is transitioning to the Euro 6 Cummins B6.7 engine as it provides competitive advantages in lowering the tare weight of the vehicle and the load especially over the front axle.
Chassis reduction weight is said to equal 200 kilograms once SCR and DOC switchback after treatment systems have been factored in.
Increasing urbanisation and multi-unit dwellings mean more cars in the street.
More apartments mean more bins.
Ross, who has worked at Spotless previously and before that at Fulton Hogan as a fleet manager, says the growing waste challenge for operators is increasingly predicated on the percentage of garbage waste versus recycled household domestic and green waste involved in the multiple collections that come with FOGO – food organics and garden organics – which has prompted local councils to move to an altered ratio of collections making it more difficult for waste management companies looking at securing long term contracts.
“The waste sector is fast evolving and it’s incumbent on suppliers of commercial assets to keep pace,” he says.
A renowned waste management company and a long-time customer of Dennis Eagle, has assisted with the recent Euro 6 vehicle evaluation in the cooler areas of Victoria and in the hot climate of Queensland evaluating the performance, emissions control and fuel burn of the Cummins B6.7 engine.
Furthermore, last November waste management leader, Cleanaway, took delivery of its 500th Dennis Eagle vehicle.
Acquired for the Geelong City Council, the truck is also fitted with Cleanaway’s Cleanaview application which reportedly adds even more safety features and comprises seven cameras to optimise visibility of surrounds for the driver.
Penske Commercial Vehicles has also provided product familiarisation and training for drivers, plus service and maintenance training for Cleanaway maintenance teams.
“Over the last decade, we have had the opportunity to foster a relationship with Cleanaway that is based on a mutual understanding of what Dennis Eagle offers and what Cleanaway requires,” said Shannon.
“At all times we’re trying to fit within the safety parameters. The biggest thing is working in a congested space. There’s lots of traffic, narrow streets, kids running around. It’s about trying to give greater visibility to the driver and delivering a compelling product for the customer.”