Based on meetings with users, Heil Environmental says it has updated the venerable Rapid Rail continuous-pack automated side-loader to provide improved durability, easier maintenance, and smoother operation. The design team focused on the Rapid Rail’s automated arm structure, electrical system, and hydraulics. The continuous-pack body, with its patented paddle packer design, is unchanged.

To strengthen the arm, engineers designed a tapered-cross-section main lift beam to better match the stresses imposed on the backbone of the lift. The cross section grows taller near the pivot point of the lift where
maximum stress occurs. The lift beam is precision-cut using laser technology. The grabber gears have also been beefed up, the teeth on the new gears being 80% larger for the sake of durability.

The Rapid Rail’s former electrical system used limit switches to regulate the arm’s hydraulics controls. These
switches required frequent adjustment, so Heil engineers replaced them with modern proximity switches that need minimal adjustment.

The Rapid Rail is one of the only automated refuse collection vehicles to use electrical cab controls, which
many operators prefer. The electric shift valve has traditionally produced a more abrupt motion, so to smooth
out the arm’s performance, Heil replaced the old valve with a ‘soft shift’ valve metered by advanced controls.

A cable carrier has been added to the arm to house all the hydraulic hoses and an electrical loom. The carrier
allows the hoses to move and flex, while minimizing rubbing that can lead to wear. Other hydraulic hoses and
electrical wiring were rerouted to better protect them against damage and improve access for service.

Other ‘Service Smart’ enhancements include moving the lift valve from a position on the arm itself to a more easily accessible location on the stationary track along which the arm travels. The old co-ordinator board and impulse relays have been replaced with a modern PLC (programmable logic controller) which allows for more sophisticated electrical diagnostics.

The new parts have been designed to retrofit to the thousands of existing Rapid Rail continuous pack
automated side loaders in the field. Retrofit kits are available through Parts Central, a Heil company.

All the specs are the same: eight-second cycle time, lift capacity up to 1600 lb, 8-ft reach, and the ability to
serve more than 1000 homes per day, the company says. The Rapid Rail’s main feature remain unchanged as well. The updated Rapid Rail will be available third quarter 2007.

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