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US COVID concerns drive renewed interest in automated side loaders

Automated side loaders (ASLs) have become increasingly popular in the US over the past five months with some predicting they could see more interest due to pandemic safety concerns.

In Dubuque, Iowa, the city council told the media it had done all it could to maximize the benefits of a new automated side loader, even mapping out the location of each ASL-friendly cart to optimize the collection route, before the truck officially begins its route first time in Spring 2021.

But city officials have found a bonus they didn’t anticipate: The drivers will stay more isolated from any possible coronavirus exposure outside the cab. Based on public health guidance, the safest strategy for waste collectors is to never contact trash or people, a feature automated side loaders offer.

Safety magnifies appeal

That safety benefit magnifies the appeal of machinery, which was already gaining traction because it insulates operators from on-the-job injuries, according to customers and vendors.

It appears that although tighter municipal budgets and capital spending among the private sector might slow investment in ASL vehicles, interest still remains and many municipalities said that they expect the trend to continue in the long term.