Many companies include in their fleet of vehicles both dump truck and knuckleboom trucks. Although differences between the two are rather apparent, sometimes the differences between the two are not as apparent when needing a specific job accomplished. Knowledge of the differences is vital for fleet managers to know so that the correct one may be sent to the job for which it is best suited. Following are some of the different features of both vehicles and comparisons to allow for their proper utilization.
- Articulated Arm – Knuckleboom trucks have an articulated arm which is hydraulically powered and fitted to the vehicle. This tool is used for loading and unloading material; once the task is completed, the robotic arm can then be folded and stored neatly and conveniently on the truck. Because of its jointed sections, the knuckleboom arm can fold down into a compact size which gives it a lower profile; it can also be extended to reach longer and lift heavier payloads.
- Combined Tools – When a knuckleboom arm tool is mounted on a truck chassis with a dump body, this combined tool and equipment becomes the knuckleboom truck. Just like a standard dump truck, it has a dump bed that can be raised using a hydraulic ram which is mounted under the front of the dump body, just between the frames. When the hydraulic arm is used to lift objects, the operator must be able to move the vehicle around in order to view, lift and maneuver the materials safely. There are portable radios or cabled-linked control systems that allow the operator to manipulate the control levers of the arm. Before moving the vehicle, the knuckleboom arm must be folded and properly stored in the bed of the truck.
- Operational Hazards – As with any other type of equipment, it is important that the operator be well-trained and always follow safety practices. There are a number of hazards that can affect the safe operation of this vehicle, especially when getting in and out of the vehicle, loading, or dumping a load. Some hazards can be prevented by inspection and by following the company’s safety procedures for loading and unloading.
- Good Maintenance Practices – It is imperative that all equipment be fully functional and safe to operate. To keep within the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidelines, regular maintenance should be performed to increase safety levels during operation and to protect workers from risks.
Maintenance of knuckleboom trucks falls into two basic types: daily and regular.
- Daily Maintenance – Before utilizing these trucks, daily basic maintenance should be performed. This would include: checking fuel and other fluid levels; checking tire pressure; and inspecting the controls of the hydraulic arm tool for proper functioning. All required emergency equipment such as first aid kits, reflectors, and fire extinguishers should be check and restocked as necessary.
- Regular Maintenance – Annual maintenance schedules should be set up and performed on these vehicles as indicated. The oil, batteries, engine belts, brakes, hydraulics, lights, and meters should be checked and replaced as needed.
Fleet managers should know the difference between dump trucks and knuckleboom trucks, so that each one of these vehicles is properly deployed to the correct work sites, allowing for the accurate and efficient completion of assigned tasks. Both of these vehicles are very useful in loading and unloading material at a worksite, so knowing which one is best for each individual job will allow for better productivity of each assigned job