Transmission technology simplifies truck operation reducing driver distraction and improving safety. An increasing percentage of the 700 refuse trucks in Aomori are equipped with an automatic transmission.
Many town halls, contractors and private industrial waste companies in Aomori have chosen vehicles with automatic transmissions since the city of Hachinohe introduced automatic refuse trucks over 10 years ago. Kazawa Disposals installed the first Allison-equipped refuse trucks in 2005, and now has three Hino Rangers with Allison 1000 Series transmissions.
Allison Japan offers automatic transmissions that improve work-place safety and efficiency. Allison automatics have a feature called Park Mode, often used in passenger vehicles. If a driver fails to apply the side brake, Park Mode acts as an auxiliary brake, preventing unmanned rolling. Refuse trucks are used in demanding environments, like communities with narrow lanes and bustling shops. Frequent stops on hills and moving short distances between stops requires a lot of attention, but without the distraction of handling a clutch, automatic vehicles greatly reduce the burden on drivers.
Many Allison-equipped vehicles have a power take-off (PTO) switch, which releases the engine’s driving force. After using PTO in Park (or Neutral) Mode, the feature disengages automatically when the mode is changed to Drive or Reverse. This greatly reduces the number of actions required to operate the vehicle over an entire day, and further allows the driver to concentrate on the road.
Misawa is on Aomori’s east coast, facing the Pacific Ocean. In winter, when temperatures reach far below freezing, roads cover with glassy patches of ice. The area demands extreme caution when starting and stopping. The Allison-equipped refuse trucks are greatly praised by Kazawa Disposals owner, Akira Kazawa.
“A single refuse truck travels 50-60km a day and collects garbage at 200-300 stations, meaning there are numerous repetitive starts and stops. Misawa is cold, and vehicles sometimes have to work on frozen roads, but by installing automatic transmissions, our drivers have less of a psychological burden, even when stopping and starting on hills.”
Kazawa Disposals also finds it much easier to schedule drivers, as all staff members are able to drive the Allison-fitted vehicles. Additionally, Kazawa praised Allison for excellent service costs. “Automatic transmissions allow any driver to operate each vehicle in the same way, which means our work is efficient. The cost is also lower with no maintenance for things like clutches that you would find in manual vehicles.”