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Can Wheel Design Affect Landfill Compactor Performance?

On landfill compactors, wheels are one of the most critical design features of the machine. They are designed to shred, tear, and break down the waste, to make it more compactable. Landfill compactor performance depends on many factors including overall weight, engine horsepower, and best practices, but the wheels, being directly in contact with the waste, their design directly impacts how well the landfill compactor functions & its ability to obtain optimal compaction ratios. There are many schools of thought on cleat design, centering around three key factors: quantity, placement, and the design of the cleat itself.

1. How Many Cleats Do You Need Per Wheel?

It’s easy to think that more wheel cleats will result in better compaction, but the cleats are mainly meant to crush, tear, and breakdown the waste making it more compactable. The overall weight of the wheel then compacts the waste. Too few cleats won’t allow for sufficient manipulation of waste, but if there are too many cleats, this will create the risk of waste building up on the wheel, reducing the effectiveness of the cleats, reducing compaction, and loss of air space. 

Too many cleats can allow material to get stuck in the narrow spaces between the cleats, creating the need for cleaner bars, and / or wire cutters, both of which are maintenance items that need to be adjusted regularily, and replaced multiple times throughout the life of the machine. As a result, this will also add to the the cost of ownership.

2. Cleat Placement/Pattern

Cleats are distributed across the surface of the wheel in a variety of staggered patterns. These vary from design to design and can significantly impact compaction rates, maintenance needs, and stability in different conditions. Aljon’s cleat patterns optimize how many cleats are in contact with the material during the wheel’s rotation while also improving compaction and making the wheels easy to clean.

3. Cleat Shape, Size, & Material

In addition to their distribution pattern, wheel cleats today are available with many different geometrical designs. Some cleats are partially hollow or have narrow ridges, which can result in the need for replacement during the life of the machine. This requires more frequent service and replacement, increasing downtime and decreasing your ROI on your equipment. Aljon cleats are both made of a high content abrasion-resistant material and are solid all the way through, creating a longer wear life, and reducing the cost of replacement. 

The Aljon ADV 600 has a standard 10” cleat compared to our competitors machines who use an 8 inch cleat. These larger cleats increase weight and compaction as well as the shredding and manipulation capabilities of the compactor. They also maximize traction on our heavist machine, which reduces the possibility of wheel spin and improves performance on slopes.

Wheel Structure

As important as the cleats are to the compaction process, the design of the wheels also matters. Many compactors have cone wheels, and and some of them ballasted with steel shot to increase the overall weight of the compactor at a lower cost. This shot is retained by a plug, and if the plug fails, the shot will be lost, and it will change the weight distribution and reduce overall weight until it is noticed and repaired, leading to unexpected performance issues during operation. Adding a point of failure to an expensive piece of machinery always runs the risk of increased cost of ownership.

Aljon’s ADV 500 model has cone wheels, with an operating weight range between 86,718 – 95,450 lbs. (depending on the machine configuration) without using ballast. For landfill operations that need more power, the ADV 525 and 600 both have I-Beam wheels, which offer better overall structural integrity. For these heavier machines (the 525 has an operating weight of 108,000 – 117,602 lbs. and the 600 has a weight of 126,160 – 127,500 lbs.), better structural integrity is necessary to achieve peak performance. These wheels are also easier to clean with fewer opportunities for failure, extending the life of the wheel.

Wheel design may seem secondary to other factors in choosing a new landfill compactor, but the number of cleats, their placement, and their geometry can influence compactor performance. Wheel design affects everything from performance to stability and compaction. A solid design that focuses on performance and longevity using top-quality materials will help you improve the return on your investment and increase the profitability of your operation.