Any public works crew that hauls dirt, gravel, rock salt, and sand knows how tough it can be to get all of the material out of the truck’s dump bed at the jobsite.

Manlius Township in LaSalle County, Ill., was no exception. Its heavy-duty dump trucks are equipped with plow attachments and 7-yard boxes controlled by a hydraulic lift.

“We use them for everything from public works projects to winter road maintenance,” says road commissioner Rob Allen. “Each project has its unique problems, but one issue we had across all of them was material sticking to the truck beds.”

Drivers had devised a couple workarounds:

  • Control the hydraulic lift from inside the cab, causing the cargo box to move up and down abruptly to shake material loose. This didn’t always work and can cause expensive wear and tear on the vehicle and hydraulic system.
  • Raise the box to the highest angle, drive forward, and stop suddenly in hopes the recoil dislodges material. Although no accidents occurred as a result, the maneuver could cause a top-heavy vehicle to tip over. It also puts tremendous strain on the hydraulic lift, engine, and brake system.
  • Set the box at a slight incline, climb into the bed, and shovel cargo out manually. This worked best but exposed drivers to risks like slip-and-falls and sudden offloading via unexpected loosening of debris underfoot. Besides potential liability and injury issues, the method took 30 minutes to an hour per load.