Lawton_Lawton residents will be seeing fewer sanitation workers collecting trash - but, it's a good thing. The City of Lawton has purchased three new automated trucks designed to empty the special trash cart for them. The city says that these new trucks will save the city money in fuel, time, and worker injuries - savings that could be passed on to Lawton residents.
The robotic refuse retrievers are what Lawton sanitation workers have been waiting for - their first, fully automated, trash collection truck. Sanitation operator Kevin Paddyaker says the three new trucks are more than he expected. "It makes my job easier...a lot easier," he said. "You don't have to touch the trash personally, so it'll be a lot easier on employees. The robotic arm actually picks up the can, instead."
Now, the sanitation department will only need one operator per truck - the driver. Solid Waste Superintendent Jayson Powell says that there are benefits to having the driver as the only operator. "It'll eliminate the back strains, back injuries, shoulder injuries...things like that," he says.
However, the new system means folks at home will have to be careful about how they put their trash out. The new cart should be facing the correct way, or a resident could come home to find a citation. Currently, it's just a warning, but for the new system to work, the wheels of the can needs to be curbed. If they aren't, it could cost $110 in the near future.
However, with the new trucks, Powell says that trash pickup has become faster and more efficient. "They were able to pick up all the same area in about two hours less time," he says. Powell adds that the trucks also get better gas mileage than the older ones, so it's a win-win situation for everyone.
But, now that the city has eliminated two sanitation workers per truck, what will happen to their jobs? Powell says that every worker will still have a job - and some are getting promoted. "The ones [workers] that we have now that are getting the CDLs (Commercial Drivers Licenses), [so] they can be promoted up to an operator position."
Paddyaker says that he loves the new trucks on the whole - they're easier to operate. But, he does have one thing he'll have to get used to. "It's weird driving from the opposite side of the truck," he said. "That's probably the hardest thing about it."