We had an opportunity to put the RL-520 Freedom Collection Vehicle through its paces in a real world test this last month. We ran document collection routes over several weeks in Southern California and San Francisco to see if our concept of “smaller is better” was truly practical. Preliminary RL-520 Freedom data is in and is even more promising than we predicted.
Unlike a common box truck, the Freedom is a dedicated secure document collection vehicle. It’s not built to haul produce or deliver couches, it’s built to securely contain sensitive business documents until they can be shredded at an off-site location. Customers will not confuse this vehicle with a delivery truck. Being purpose-built for the document destruction industry, the Freedom can out perform a box truck in every aspect.
Compared to a box truck, the Freedom showed:
- Dramatically reduced route times.
- Greater fuel mileage.
- Stronger security.
- Increased driver safety.
- Increased urban maneuverability.
- More parking opportunities.
- Quicker unloading times.
The RL-520 Freedom is built on a Isuzu NRR chassis. The cab-over design makes the NRR the most maneuverable in their class and far more nimble than any conventional truck could ever hope to be. The NRR comes standard with an Isuzu 4HK1-TC 5.2-liter diesel engine and an Aisin heavy-duty six-speed automatic transmission.
The mechanics of using a box truck for document collection is very time consuming. The route driver has to perform a shuffling act in the back of a truck with heavy bins that can weigh over 200 lbs. Typically it takes drivers about 2 minutes and 45 seconds to swap out a bin. The Freedom utilizes an automatic hydraulic lift to greatly reduce the load times. If you get a bin within 10′ of the back of the Freedom, a bin can be emptied in under 40 seconds.
On our routes in San Francisco and Los Angeles we were getting 10 MPG. A typical box truck in these locations sees about 6 MPG. That makes the Freedom 67% more fuel efficient than a box truck. If you currently run your collection truck around 20,000 miles per year, at $4.00 a gallon for diesel fuel, you could save up to $5,333 per year in fuel costs.
The Freedom is also far more secure than a box truck, as a dedicated piece of document collection equipment should be. The paper collection area in the Freedom cannot be accessed by route drivers nor by any persons without a key. It is secured by a state-of-the-art Babaco® TRUK-LOK® security system. With a box truck, the rollup door is constantly being raised and lowered and is commonly secured by a simple padlock.
One of the main problems with using a box truck for a document collection truck is the liftgate. They can be quite dangerous to operators if used improperly. Instances of falls, amputations and even deaths have occurred with the improper use of liftgates. Also the narrow spectrum of safe operation is in many cases not practical to busy route drivers. With the Freedom, the operator never has to ride the liftgate up to steady a load. They can remain standing on the ground or dock and safely tip their documents.
With a overall length of 22′ 8″, the Freedom is 10′ shorter than a standard box truck. With this shorter, more compact length, the Freedom can easily maneuver busy urban streets. Drivers commented on how nimble the Freedom was in busy traffic. Tight turns and U-turns were no problem. Accessing underground loading docks in parking garages is also easy with the Freedom’s 9’ 8” height.
Parking was a major benefit for route drivers testing out the new Freedom. This vehicle can park nearly everywhere a standard car can park. Again, the shorter total length of this vehicle takes the hassle out of finding adequate parking. The instances of double-parking and its related fines and tickets can be all but eliminated.
Quicker unloading times are another advantage noted on the first leg of the RL-520 Freedom Tour. Documents are loading into six plastic Gaylords in the payload area of the Freedom. Back at the off-site shredding plant, unloading and loading takes about five minutes with a forklift. With a traditional box truck, the operator spends about 25 minutes exchanging the full bins with empties. Also floorspace at the the plant is maximized because Gaylords can be stacked.
Overall the RL-520 Freedom excelled at document collection in its first real-world tests. By making a dedicated document collection truck we have succeeded in creating a vehicle that truly out performs a box truck in every metric that we tested. Sometime smaller is better, at least when regarding a purpose-built piece of equipment.