When Irish eyes are smiling
There are some 339,000 people living in the City, the commercial and financial centre of the province, as well as more than 1.5m overnight visitors every year and 110,000 cruise ship passengers.
With all this successful enterprise going on throughout the city centre, image is very important and creating a good impression for visitors and the local population sits high on the list of the City Council’s priorities. That means clean and tidy streets and thoroughfares, with no litter, leaves or other debris in sight.
Responsible for overseeing this not inconsiderable task is the City Council’s Fleet Management Unit, which operates around 400 vehicles from cars, car-derived and panel vans, light and heavy trucks and a number of refuse collection units – and, of course, that Swingo fleet.
The man in charge is Fleet and Transport Manager, David Graham, and he explained the thinking behind the operation to keep the city centre as clean and tidy as possible.
“One of the priorities for Belfast City Council is to keep the city centre well looked after and to create the right impression for our many visitors and the local population alike.
“To tackle this job we employ Aebi Schmidt’s Swingo 200+ and currently have around 30 on our fleet. They are operated seven days a week in a two shift pattern, one in the morning, the other in the afternoon.
“But we may have to increase our activity around times of peak demand such as holidays, parades and special events throughout the year. We have the leave-fall season coming up which is another especially busy time for us, and we also use the Swingos to put down salt on our pavements during the winter,” he said.
The City Council’s Fleet Management Unit rates the Swingo very highly, especially following a series of changes to the latest generation model.
“The Swingo has improved with each generation. On the latest model we have seen service intervals go out from 300 hours to 500 hours due to the high quality oils being used, which has been good news from an operational perspective,” said David Graham.
At the same time, feedback from Belfast City Council’s Swingo operators – the drivers at the sharp end of the clean-up operation – has been very positive.
“They have been happy with the latest generation model as its offers great comfort in the cab, air conditioning which has been a real boon this summer, the excellent soundproofing and all-round visibility, and the ease of driving,” said David Graham.
Graham is now very interested to take a much closer look at the new all-electric eSwingo, which was premiered at the IFAT trade fair in Munich earlier this year. With zero emissions and virtually noiseless operation, it is the perfect solution for operators in a municipal environment where emission level and noise are key factors.
“We would be very keen to carry out an evaluation on the new eSwingo as soon as a test model is available, as we are moving towards a greener fleet. Our refuse collection vehicles, as they come up for replacement, will be considered against all-electric from 2020 onwards. This is the direction many Councils are looking at as part of their commitment to supporting a cleaner environment,” he said.