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Fri October 30 2020

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Recycling yard trials joystick controls

7 Oct Waste management company Veolia has trialled joystick steering on wheeled loaders at a recycling plant.

Cat 950M wheeled loaders at the Kirkby-in-Ashfield recycling depot
Cat 950M wheeled loaders at the Kirkby-in-Ashfield recycling depot

Caterpillar distributor Finning supplied Veolia with two Cat 950M wheeled loaders for its recycling depot in Kirkby-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire.

Machinery in the waste sector almost always have steering wheels but switching to joystick provides a clearer front view for the operator.

The joystick is mounted to the side of the seat, so it swings with the seat when the machine moves, making it easier to get in and out of the cab than having a fixed steering wheel. Joystick operators have also reported a reduction in arm fatigue after a day’s work.

Larger Caterpillar machines already have joystick steering fitted as standard. For the recycling and waste sector, medium-sized machines like the Cat 950M are often the preferred customer choice. For these machines steering wheels are currently fitted as standard but the joystick is an optional extra.

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“I believe joystick steering will become as common as seatbelts,” said Gary Lambert, key account manager for industrial and waste at Finning UK & Ireland.

“In waste management, companies used to be hesitant to introduce entirely new technologies. They saw it as a training issue,” said Robert Oliphant, head of fleet & support services at Veolia UK & Ireland. “For us at Veolia, the trial was very successful. The Caterpillar articulates at the same speed as the joystick which gives the operator much greater responsiveness. The joystick is very intuitive and the machine basically goes where you point it.

“The Veolia plant in Kirkby-in-Ashfield has a lower staff turnover than other recycling plants, so this is the perfect environment to test such machines,” he continued. “The site also operates in a confined space, which normally necessitates a lot of wheel turns. With the joystick, the many tiring wheel turns are a thing of the past — now it is all in the wrist.”

After the trial Veolia bought the two machines and will continue to use them at the recycling depot in Kirkby-in-Ashfield. "We plan to extend the use of joystick steering to more machines in the future, in line with specific site requirements,” said Robert Oliphant.

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