Cities and counties across America are dealing with a smelly but common problem: how to dispose of the biosolids left behind after wastewater treatment. Ryan Riefler, wastewater operator for the village of Marcellus, N.Y., and his supervisor, Greg Crysler, decided that the best solution was to build the village’s own composting facility.

After securing the funds to build it, they looked for a machine that could help make and move compost piles in a confined structure with low clearance. After investigating the options, the village purchased a JCB 260 skid steer loader. “The visibility in the JCB was by far the best of all the machines we tested,” Riefler says. The facility was opened in late 2012.

The compost piles have an internal temperature of 150 degrees Fahrenheit, and they generate a great deal of steam in cooler weather. Therefore, it was important to have a machine that offers good all-around visibility. Dust is also a problem while screening back out the wood chips from the compost mix, making an airtight cab a must.

The unit’s tight turning radius allows it to virtually spin on the small facility’s concrete floor and maneuver easily within the tight workspace. The machine’s single-arm design allows employees to raise the boom up between the building’s low, narrow truss system—something they couldn’t do with a traditional two-armed skid steer.

Safety is always a consideration on any worksite, and that’s certainly true for a municipality that has to deal with workers’ compensation and other potentially expensive liability issues. Some skid steers require operators to climb over attachments to enter the cab, but the JCB unit’s single-arm design allows operators to enter via a safe side-entry door.

“Let’s just face it—the sludge we’re transporting is a very slippery substance, and that makes our work more dangerous,” Riefler says.

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