When profit, or lack of it, directly impacts residents’ quality of life, cost savings take on added meaning.

A landfill owned and operated by Native Americans in Arizona is one such operation. As an enterprise division of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, all Salt River Landfill profits go into the community’s general fund to support health, education, and public safety services for 9,000 people.

Until recently, air pollution was eating into those revenues. A relatively quick fix reversed the trend, though, enabling the operation to contribute an additional $10,000 to community coffers every year.

Unique stresses of landfill equipment

The community is comprised of the Pima and the Maricopa tribes. In addition to tribal waste, the landfill processes 600,000 tons annually from the cities of Mesa and Scottsdale and Town of Gilbert. About 75% of the 200-acre site is used for refuse disposal, and the rest for a materials recovery facility that processes 85,000 tons annually.

Operations manager Oscar Tsingine regularly scrutinizes all expenses. In early 2014, he noticed a sharp increase in maintenance on Caterpillar D8T dozers and 836H compactors equipped with EPA-mandated Tier 4 Interim/Stage IIIB diesel emissions controls. The technologies that enable these machines to meet federal pollution requirements make them some of the cleanest but most expensive on the market, with some units valued at more than $1 million.

Air filters take a beating in constantly dusty environments like landfills. The dirtier the air is outside, the faster an air filter clogs. Tsingine’s team was replacing them two to three times per week, much more often than anticipated when the equipment was bought a couple years ago.

Most air filter brands can be blown out or professionally cleaned just a couple of times before they start falling apart. In addition to the cost of the filters themselves ($70 to $120 each), replacement cuts into profitability by increasing labor costs and equipment downtime.

Tsingine first made sure no engine or equipment issues were causing the filters to clog prematurely. Then he contacted a sister organization: Salt River Sand and Rock in Mesa. He had heard the aggregates supplier was seeing positive results after replacing the OEM precleaners with an aftermarket brand on Caterpillar 980G, 980H, and 988G wheel loaders; D9N and D9R track dozers; and 615 and 621 water wagons.


Helping the air filter do its job

Introduced about four decades ago, precleaners remove some of the dirt, dust, and other particulates before they reach the filter. This extends air filter life, saving “hard dollars” in the form of air filters and “soft-dollars” in the form of labor costs. They also extend engine life by protecting bearings, rings, and cylinders from excessive wear from dirt entry.

All precleaners use centrifugal force to “spin” out particulates, but most brands have a bottom-up airflow path that inhibits particulate removal. Salt River Sand & Rock chose to install precleaners made by Cleveland-based turbo Precleaner by Maradyne Corp. The units’ top-down design creates less restriction on airflow and less back pressure on the components that spin dust out.

As a result, they have a higher efficiency rating than other brands, last longer, and require virtually no maintenance. turbo II Precleaners come with a lifetime guarantee on the only moving part: the spinner. They’re also among the lowest priced brands.

After talking with Salt River Sand and Rock, Tsingine replaced the OEM precleaners on a D8T dozer and an 836H compactor with a turbo II Model 68.

“Six weeks went by before we needed to change our first air filter,” he says.

Having decided it’s more cost-effective to regularly change filters than wait until they’re clogged, Tsingine has incorporated filter cleaning and replacement into the landfill’s preventive maintenance schedule. Technicians install a new filter while the other one is cleaned for reuse.

He is also moving forward with plans to install the precleaners on all other applicable machines.

Porter O’Doherty is president of EcoPro. Based in Chandler, Ariz., the company sells cost-saving technologies to diesel equipment users nationwide. E-mail portero@ecoprousa.com; for more, visit www.ecoprousa.com.