Article originally published in Waste Management Review

Central Coast Council is increasing waste management efficiency, thanks in part to machine guidance of landfill compactors supplied by Position Partners.

As New South Wales’ second largest council by population, Central Coast Council supports about 333,000 residents with more than 14.5 million domestic, commercial, and public waste collections each year. 

The council operates waste management facilities that include both landfill and resource recovery activities at Woy Woy, south of Gosford, and Buttonderry, between Gosford and Newcastle.

Combined, the facilities receive about 450,000 tonnes of waste and resources per year, of which about 230,000 tonnes go to landfill, according to Andrew Pearce, Unit Manager for Waste and Resource Recovery at the council.

Andrew is responsible for all active and closed waste management facilities in the council area, including both landfill and resource recovery. He says the amount of waste processed at Woy Woy and Buttonderry make both sites regionally significant.

“The domestic waste collection trucks alone travel the distance equivalent to two round trips to the moon and back each year,” he says.  

Both waste facilities have a TANA 52-tonne compactor fitted with Carlson Landfill Grade machine guidance, supplied by Australian distributor Position Partners. Andrew says that there are 12 operators trained in the use of the machine guidance system. 

“We have a multi-disciplinary workforce and rotate our staff to operate different plant, including traxcavators, material handlers, loaders, excavators, and the compactors,” he says. “It adds some variety to their work, which they enjoy.” 

The council installed machine guidance in conjunction with the procurement of new compactors: first in Buttonderry in 2016 and more recently at the Woy Woy site in 2020. 

Andrew says the Buttonderry compactor will be updated this financial year. He says operating two of the largest waste facilities in the region requires the team to be continually focused on maximising efficiency. 

“Procuring grade control technology was seen as an integral step to increasing efficiency and successfully delivering on our business plans,” he says.

The Carlson Landfill Grade machine guidance uses precise GPS technology with an easy-to-follow design displayed in the cab of the machine, to give the operator a clear visual display of the machine’s position relative to compaction design.

The system was recommended to the council through Tana distributor GCM.

“We went to market with our criteria of performance requirements for a new landfill compactor incorporating a machine guidance system and the Carlson solution best met those criteria, being specifically designed for landfill,” Andrew says. 

He says implementing the grade control system had enabled the workforce to optimise the use of airspace at the landfills. He says the council has already noticed time savings through using pre-set design levels on the system and has increased time, cost, and safety benefits by eliminating the need for surveyors to be on site as regularly.

By entering the design plans of landfill cells into the on-board system, operators can continuously apply the design from start to finish, eliminating rework. Continuous monitoring allows for greater density control and gradient of landfill compaction and the final form of landscaping while helping operators avoid critical zones, such as gas well and hazardous material placement areas.

Machine guidance also records the operator’s work, helping to prevent overfill and accurately record the placement of material. Andrew says the council has achieved legislative requirements, including a minimum compaction rate of 85 per cent, or 850 kilograms per cubic metre, as well as material placement records. He says optimised and efficient use of the machines to achieve design results had resulted in reduced fuel consumption, with associated environmental and cost benefits. 

“From a management perspective, the technology certainly assists us in meeting our legislative requirements and improving productivity,” he says.  “Importantly, our landfill spaces are finite, so we have a responsibility to use that space as effectively as possible. The Carlson system from Position Partners helps us pack as much material as we can into every cubic metre.”