A British company has developed a unique package designed to make it easier to reverse refuse disposal vehicles safely, which will also be made in the UK.
Innovative Safety Systems (ISS) Director, Gavin Thoday, has been working on Reaclear for the past seven years. After being trialled extensively with Bournemouth Borough Council and with local authority service provider Serco, among others, it has now gone on sale.
When a refuse disposal vehicle backs into a housing estate or side street, a reversing assistant – sometimes referred to as a banksman – is required to provide guidance and warn of any obstacles. Rear-view cameras and reversing sensors can of course be fitted, but on their own, may not be sufficient to prevent mishaps.
The national independent watchdog, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), recommends a minimum of one reversing assistant for each refuse truck crew and adds that a clearly-understood system of hand-signalling should be used. What the assistant also needs, however, is something that can be used to alert the driver to a hazard so that the brakes are applied immediately.
Reaclear, as Thoday explains, provides the assistant with a waterproof, two-way push-to-talk communication device. Pressing the transmit button tells the driver that it is safe to back up.
If the driver reverses the truck without first receiving the signal, then an alarm sounds in the cab, lights flash and an alert is transmitted to the refuse vehicle fleet’s transport manager.
If a hazard appears then a button on the handset is released and the in-cab alarm goes off which tells the driver to stop immediately. The assistant can then use the handset to tell whoever is behind the wheel what is happening.
As an added level of safety, the Reaclear system will only operate when the transmitting device is within a 180-degree arc at the rear of the vehicle at a distance of up to 30m, ensuring the reversing assistant is in the ideal position at all times.
Enabling the assistant to apply the truck’s brakes remotely might be a possibility longer-term, but would require a considerable amount of additional engineering work and the co-operation of the chassis manufacturers concerned.
“We first introduced the concept at the 2016 RWM waste management exhibition and made several changes to the handset later on as a consequence of the feedback we got from potential customers,” says Thoday. “They included making it more robust and we integrated LED lights at the same time.”
Bournemouth Borough Council has been testing Reaclear for the past two years.
“It’s working very well and we’re happy with it,” says Bournemouth Principal Fleet Engineering and Depot Services Manager, Paul Hancock. “Our vehicles have to reverse down some narrow streets and Reaclear makes things safer for the reversing assistant as well as for members of the public.”
ISS’s success in developing safety products for the waste transport industry prompted its relocation last summer from Coventry to new premises in Pershore, Worcestershire, close to the M5. The new site includes a product assembly area and workshop as well as offices and storage for parts.
“We’ve been actively recruiting across all areas of the business; product development, manufacturing, sales and back office,” says Thoday.
ISS has also come up with Cyclear; designed to reduce the risk of collisions between refuse disposal vehicles and cyclists. It features a rear-mounted picture of a cycle with a line through it which illuminates when the driver signals to go left in order to dissuade cyclists from nipping down the truck’s nearside.
An audible warning that the vehicle is about to swing left reinforces the message and a sensor can be added which alerts the driver to an approaching cyclist.
Cyclear is fitted to 117 waste and recycling vehicles operated by Serco on behalf of five London boroughs.
ISS is not intended to replace the current technology in use, but instead provide additional support to the existing radars and on-board cameras,
Angus Council has had its waste, recycling and cleansing trucks equipped with cameras and recording systems by ISS. The cameras provide 360-degree vision.
“The environment in which the vehicles operate is busy and congested with narrow streets that often require difficult manoeuvres,” says operations manager, Paul McPherson, “The cameras are proving to be invaluable when it comes to safeguarding the council against false insurance claims; and keeping the public safe.”