A unique vehicle built for efficiency and sustainability
1st March 2022
Since 2016, the sight of Lavelle Waste Services' striking green and white waste management and recycling vehicles has become progressively more frequent on the roads of Greater Manchester. That's because this local firm has enjoyed rapid, consistent and sustained growth from the day it began trading. Originally formed by Managing Director Craig Lavelle alongside his daughter and Transport Manager, Emma, the business has gone from a standing start - with literally no customers or trucks whatsoever – and has developed into one of Manchester's fastest-growing waste businesses with a fleet of 11 specialist waste management and recycling Scania trucks plus a further six on order.
"It's true to say that we started out with a blank sheet of paper," says Sam Lavelle, the company's Operations Manager and son of Craig. "But we did have experience as my dad has spent more than 40 years in the waste management industry. He worked with his father in the original Lavelle & Son business, which developed into the North West's largest independently owned waste management firm and was ultimately sold to a national player in 2001.
"Emma was also very well connected, and once the family had persuaded them to bring the Lavelle name back in a new company, the two of them set about contacting potential customers. The waste management business in Manchester is incredibly competitive so there wasn't much room to come in. But our USP was to promise a service of unmatched quality, and that has been the key to our success. Basically, we do what we say we will do, we don't let people down, we turn up on time and carry out our work neatly and tidily. We pride ourselves on providing the best possible service – which includes sending zero to landfill.
"From the very beginning, we also understood that image is important, and Scania plays a big part in that for us. We make a big effort to ensure our trucks not only look great but are always turned out well and kept clean. That alone has brought in work; people see our vehicles out and about and are impressed to the point where they pick up the phone and make an enquiry. Image is also especially important for the food processing industry and that today is a major area of activity for us."
Lavelle Waste Services' commitment to its food waste customers, who often also have waste glass to dispose of, has led the company to jointly develop a highly specialised dual collection vehicle capable of carrying food and glass waste in two entirely separate compartments.
"The body has been built for us by specialist bodybuilder NTM-GB Limited," says Sam. "While two-compartment bodies already existed, there has always been a problem with cross-contamination. That's because there is a connecting door which allows the contents of the forward compartment to be tipped through the rear. In our case, that would have ended up with glass contaminated with food waste, which was unacceptable to us.
"The solution was to combine NTM's food waste body with a glass collection pod. The food compartment is tanker shaped, tips in a conventional way and features a 'soft' compaction system. The glass pod is a completely separate unit fitted with side-tipping gear. This combination is totally unique – there is not another one like it anywhere in the world."
As Sam explains, this configuration gives Lavelle Waste Services several operational efficiencies and sustainability advantages:
"Firstly, it means we only need to send out one vehicle instead of two, which has obvious cost and sustainability benefits," he says. "Then there's the issue of food waste building up in the corners, as happens with traditionally-shaped refuse collectors. You'll never get this out, so it ends up as a stinking, rotten mess. But with the tanker shape, there are no corners for the waste to collect in. Also, over time food waste can eat through the welds joining body panels together, resulting in multiple leaks and potential environmental contamination. Our soft compaction system also has an environmental benefit as it gently compacts the food waste into the body. This stops anything from breaking off and flying out the back, which can happen with traditional compaction systems where all the liquid is squeezed out, as food waste is not a particularly compactible material. The glass pod simply operates as a totally standalone unit, tipping from the driver's side.
"We provided a lot of input regarding the design of the vehicle," continues Sam. "Working with our local Scania dealer, West Pennine Trucks, we selected Scania's 26-tonne gross vehicle weight P 320 6x2*4 rear-steer chassis with the short P-series day cab to maximise both manoeuvrability and body length. We then looked at optimising the size of each compartment to best match our carrying capabilities with the needs of our customers. A lot of our collections are in shopping centres, many of which have underground loading bays. Here it was important to ensure the truck's bin lifters had sufficient headroom to operate. Scania helped us by providing chassis drawings and dimensions and we then went out and took measurements of sites we visit with headroom restrictions."
The Lavelle family's relationship with Scania pre-dates today's Lavelle Waste Services company by many years: "My father has been buying Scanias from West Pennine Trucks for more than 30 years," says Sam. "From our point-of-view, Scania offers by far the best build quality and excels in terms of fuel efficiency, which again is a sustainability plus point. On occasion, we have had to rent in other vehicles, and every time we've noticed a difference in fuel consumption. Scania's driveability is excellent too, the automatic transmission being a great bonus for our drivers – they are in and out of the cab all day long, so anything we can give them to help reduce fatigue has to be good.
"We use West Pennine Trucks' Trafford Park service centre and they give us multiple things that other dealers either can not or will not do. For example, they offer servicing 24-hours a day. That enables us to have our vehicles go in overnight so as not to interrupt our schedules. There's also the repair and maintenance (R&M) package included with each Scania truck we buy. We extend these to seven years so we know our vehicles will always be maintained to the highest standards. And while Scania's R&M gives us the peace of mind that comes with fixed, known costs, it's the outstanding reliability that's our top priority as that enables us to meet the promises we make to our customers."