Little Skips20 January 2023

Skip wagons truck LVC

Skip wagons based on 3.5-tonne chassis have a number of advantages. They are comparatively cheap to acquire, manoeuvrable in congested urban streets, less obtrusive than a truck, easy to park on a domestic drive and can be driven by anybody with a car driver’s licence, reports Steve Banner

Skip wagons on LCV chassis have one big drawback; a lack of payload capacity. “I reckon a tonne would be your limit,” says Mike Taylor, managing director of Hyva (UK). As well as tipping gear, hookloaders, lorry loader cranes and wet kits, Hyva provides skiploader equipment.

Webb Truck Equipment director, Liz Webb, does not deny that 3.5-tonne skip wagons have payload limitations. “The ones we build can carry anywhere from 700kg to 1,100kg,” she observes; and that’s the maximum. They have two extra advantages: “You don’t need an

O licence to operate them and you don’t need to use a tachograph either, unless you are looking at towing a trailer,” she says.

One of the few manufacturers to build skiploaders on light commercial platforms, the Acton, Sudbury, Suffolk-based family business builds 150 skip wagons annually on chassis grossing at from 3.5 to 26 tonnes.

Around 45 of them are 3.5-tonners (such as the green-painted unit pictured top right). Business that acquire them often run heavier vehicles too, and use 3.5-tonners to deliver empty containers. “One of ours can carry an empty 8 cubic yard skip,” says Webb. The chassis will be fitted with a Webb TA 3000 system, which has a lifting capacity greatly in excess of a tonne, and can be installed on heavier chassis. It can raise 3.0 tonnes with its arms closed, reducing to 1.5 tonnes with its arms extended.

Not all 3.5-tonners have a power take-off which can be used to drive the skip-handling gear. “What we can do instead is fit an electric clutch pump and take the drive from the engine,” she says.

All the 3.5-tonners Webb Truck Equipment builds are to bespoke requirements and subject to Individual Vehicle Approval. “We can make what we fit wider or longer, and that’s what our customers like,” she comments.

Running at 3.5 tonnes has yet another benefit. The low seating position makes it easier for whoever is at the wheel to eyeball a vulnerable road user than it is for the driver of a conventionally designed full-size truck.


Aware of this limitation, but needing to shift more weight than a light commercial chassis can handle, some skip wagon operators are introducing trucks with low-height cabs to their fleet.

London-based O’Donovan Waste Disposal is a prime example, having become the UK’s first waste management and recycling specialist to put a skiploader based on a Scania L-series chassis into service (pictured, right). The 18t gvw vehicle boasts a five-star Direct Vision rating, says Scania.

Lighter vehicles can certainly be used to drop off skips that are left waiting to be filled, Taylor agrees. “While some businesses use 7.5-tonners (rather than 3.5-tonners) to do so, you need something with more carrying capacity when you eventually collect the full ones,” he observes. “The smallest chassis we typically work on grosses at 10 tonnes, and more often than not it’s a 12-tonner. That gives you a payload of around six tonnes, which is reasonable,” he adds.

A Hyva skiploader suitable for a 10- to 15-tonner has a lifting capacity of 8.5 tonnes with its arms closed, reducing to 4.5 tonnes with its arms extended. It comes with a standard arm radius of 2,500mm, rising to 3,750mm if telescopic arms are specified.

It was a 12-tonner built by Harsh that Bristol-based waste management specialist McCarthy Marland opted for last year in preference to an 18-tonner (as for example the Hyva units taken by Yorkshire’s Calder Valley Skip Hire, pictured, left).

“If you’re working around housing estates with cars parked everywhere, then an 18-tonner is just too big,” says McCarthy Marland director, Martin Williams. “If you’re dropping skips off in driveways, it sticks out too far into the road, blocking traffic.”

The 12-tonner his company wanted, however, had to be capable of handling a 12cu yd skip. Harsh responded by equipping an MAN chassis with its HT10 skiploader bodywork, with an extra 200mm deck length to enable such a big container to be accommodated.

At present Hyva is creating a skip wagon on a battery-electric 19-tonner (not pictured). “It’s got a claimed range of around 250 miles between recharges, but I think you’d be hard-pressed to get 150 miles out of it as a skiploader,” Taylor observes.

Skip wagons are worked hard, constantly loading and unloading skips, and that depletes the traction battery. Fitting a separate battery pack to power the skip-handling gear is always an option, but it adds weight.

The 19-tonner Hyva is working on poses a further challenge, says Taylor. “Skiploader operators based in London want a 3.4m to 3.5m wheelbase chassis because of the congested operating conditions they face,” he observes. Unfortunately the shortest wheelbase the aforementioned 19-tonner is available with is 3.9m because of the space required to accommodate the battery pack. Shrink the wheelbase and you have to fit a smaller pack, which equates to an even shorter range.

Hyva has been working on cutting the weight of the equipment it fits, but without compromising lifting capacity. “We’ve reduced it by 600kg,” Taylor says.

Five trucks fitted with the new gear have been on trial in the UK for a year, and have proved reliable, Taylor reports.

Demand for small skip wagons skyrocketed during the pandemic as householders with time on their hands decided to carry out home improvements. It has remained buoyant for wagons of all sizes ever since, and Taylor and his colleagues are battling to fill the orders that are flooding in.

He says skiploader gear availability is the biggest issue. “We’re looking at a 40-week wait for deliveries from the factory,” he reports; a consequence of the shortage of key components and raw materials.

Webb says that parts and materials availability, or the lack thereof, has created some challenges, but the business is coping with them.

Equipment manufacturers that are not especially interested in turning 3.5-tonners into skiploaders may nonetheless be happy to equip them with hook lifts. Palfinger, Hyva and Cargotec are among those willing to do so, the last-named with the 2t-capacity Hiab Multilift XR 2S. It can load a body with an internal length of from 3m to 4m, and tip it at an angle of up to 49°.

As Cargotec points out, you can drop off a body laden with machinery at a site, then go off and collect another body full of materials while the first body is being unloaded. There’s no idle time, and no waiting.

Steve Banner

Related Companies
Hyva (UK) Ltd

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