The cost to purchase a Fully Automatic Roll off Tarping System is about 5 times greater than the cost of a Dump Truck Tarping System. The reason for the cost difference is that a roll off tarp system needs to be much more robust due to the extreme abuse they go through in normal operation, and because of the automation involved in adapting to the various height and length containers it must cover. Because of the higher up-front cost of a Fully Automatic Roll off Tarping System, owners and managers of waste companies sometimes choose a lower priced Semi-Automatic Tarping System, or no tarp system at all, but instead a manual hand tarp for their vehicle or fleet.
The purpose if this article is to help you owners and managers of roll off fleets, to make informed decisions about what type of roll off tarping system is best for you and your operation, and to prevent you from going down the wrong path which can be costly in one form or another.
Here are 3 Tips for choosing which type of roll off tarp system is best for your operation:
Tip #1 – Safety
Tip #2 – Efficiency
Tip #3 – Cost
Let’s start with
Tip #3 – Cost, since everyone’s first question is normally “How Much?” To purchase a Fully Automatic Roll off Tarp System, you could have an up-front cost in excess of $7000 per vehicle. This by far is the greatest up-front cost of the three categories of roll off tarp systems. A Semi-Automatic Roll off Tarp System will run about half that price at $3500, and a manual hand tarp can be as low as $75. The costs you don’t see in the up-front saving of a lesser expensive system however, are examined in the safety and efficiency factors of Tips #1 and #2.
Tip #2 Efficiency – Since time is money, the least expensive manual hand tarp is the most costly in regard to efficiency. It takes a lot longer to tarp a load manually than to tarp with a Fully Automatic Tarping System. It takes about 30 seconds to tarp a load with a Fully Automatic Tarp System whereas a manual hand tarp could take 10 minutes or more to unfold the tarp, climb up on the load, unroll the tarp, climb down the container, unpack the rubber straps, and secure the straps onto the container. And magnify the time and effort required by 50 to 100% in cold, rainy, windy and snowy conditions. All of these factors are a real consideration and cost your operation money when you multiply by 2 for the time to cover and uncover, and then again by 10 loads per day! The best case for a Fully Automated Roll off Tarping System is 2 x 30 seconds x 10 loads per day = 10 minutes total; the worst case for a manual hand tarp is 2 x 10 minutes x 10 loads per day = 2 hours and 20 minutes. A savings of 2 hours and 10 minutes each day would pay for a Fully Automated Roll off Tarp System in less than 2 months. A Semi-Automated Tarp System falls somewhere in between the example above, taking about 5 minutes to cover and uncover a load. In this case, the $3500 up-front cost difference between an Fully-Automated and Semi-Automated Roll off Tarping System could again be made up in efficiency within 2 months.
Tip #1 Safety – Safety of the driver/operator is of utmost importance and therefore is Tip #1. The height above ground for a 20 to 40 yard container is between 8 and 13 feet. A fall from this distance could injure at best or cause a fatality in the worst case. The cost of a lawsuit, workman’s comp, and employee down time or non-productivity after an accident is not worth the risk of allowing an employee to climb up on top of a 13 foot high container full of garbage or demolition or muck.
The risk obviously intensifies again when it is raining or snowing or the wind is gusting. There have even been serious injuries when operating a Semi-Automatic Roll off Tarping System due to the operators losing their footing from the strong spring force that is pulling the tarp and themselves, especially when a gust of wind lifts up on the tarp like a parachute. Operators have also fallen backwards when the rope has snapped or come untied and have broken bones.
The conclusions involving cost and risk of using manual hand tarps and Semi-Automatic Tarp Systems lead to overwhelming justification to invest in the higher up front cost but lower overall lifetime cost of a Fully Automated Roll off Tarping System which in the end is a far better value for productivity, efficiency, safety and cost.