A Day In The Life Of A: Skip Driver
Having done lots of HIAB work previously, I was fairly confident that I’d be able to handle a skip loader, although things weren’t quite as I’d expected!
I arrive on site, report to the transport office and get the keys to my wagon – a 2004 ‘reg Hino. Off I go to start my vehicle checks while I wait for the other driver (with almost 20 years’ skip loader experience!) to show me the ropes.
With any hydraulic ancillary equipment there’s a Power Take Off (PTO) which takes power from the engine to operate the various hydraulic rams. 99 times out of 100, this is a rocker switch on the dash either with a PTO symbol on it or – more often than not – just a shiny worn area where the symbol used to be! Not this one.
The client had actually built this truck themselves. Well, they’d converted it at least – from a 7.5T flatbed to a fully kitted-out skip loader. As a result, the PTO switch was a handbrake-style lever in the cab. Once Steve (the other driver) had shown me, it was obvious.
For it’s age, and considering the type of work it was doing, the truck wasn’t in bad nick. My only complaint is that Hino, a Japanese manufacturer, had clearly designed the cab for the Japanese market, where the average height of a male is 5ft 2in. At a full foot taller than this, the seating position wasn’t comfortable.
An empty 4T skip out to a client in the middle of who knows where. Access was tighter than tight, but fair play to the Hino it was exceptionally manoeuvrable so handled it with ease.
I was a bit more generous than I needed to be at first with the room I was allowing for the skip to be offloaded. The arms didn’t have any telescopic extensions to them so it was all about correct positioning of the truck. I chucked it back on, rolled back an extra foot or two and tried again. Perfect.
Next was a collection where access was much easier. The customer had obviously paid attention to the “Level load only!” message on the side and had even topped everything off with a mattress making putting the net over (manually) a breeze.
Back to the yard and tip.
Empty skip no. 2 was going to a farm-cum-activity centre. No one on site and the customer wasn’t answering the phone, either. They had various bits of equipment on site they could use to move it if they needed to so I just took a best guess and put the paperwork through the door with a note to say where the skip had been left.
Second collection of the day was from an extension project just off the A38. Forgot to put the legs back up before I set off but quickly realised when they scuffed the tarmac over a bump in the road. Fortunately there was no damage (was only doing about 10mph) to the road or the vehicle but I was sure not to forget again!
A simple collection for this run. By now I was very much getting the hang of positioning of my truck and the loading/unloading procedure. Previous experience with hydraulic systems definitely made it easier to pick up but it doesn’t seem overly complex anyway.
This was the most challenging run of the day. The 4t skip I was delivering to a house clearance needed to be in a rather awkward space on the drive which was on an incline and at an angle to the bungalow with a very narrow (for a truck) gate entrance to the rest of the drive which was parallel to the house and level.
I took some time to think about how I could get it where it needed to be – something you learn quickly doing HIAB work in particular. In the end I had to take the skip mostly off so the arms were below the level of the overhanging roof, reverse back some more onto the drive and then deposit the skip. Getting out was just the same but in reverse (not literally!).
The collection I had made my first delivery feel tame. There were literally millimetres to spare either side of the truck with a wooden fence on one side and the house on the other. I’m not sure if the driver who’d delivered it had extending arms or not, but in order to be able to get back far enough to pick the 6T skip up and be able to get out of the cab, I had to open the door where there was room, then reverse back slowly – opening the door as I went to effectively keep it in the same place. “It’s a bit tight!” said the customer. She wasn’t wrong!
Each section of the Transport industry has it’s own phrases and terminology. My last run of the day was a “load and go” – something I’d not heard before. Essentially turn up with an empty skip, let the customer load it and then back to the yard.
It was only a small one and I was keen to finish (it was 29 degrees and very humid!) so although the office said specifically that I wasn’t expected to load the skip for the customer I gave them a hand anyway to speed things up.
By the time I got back to the yard, tipped and completed my end of day checks it was only 4pm – happy with that having not done skip work before! The client seemed chuffed, too, which is always nice.
One of the things our drivers tend to particularly enjoy about working with us is the variety that it can offer and the opportunity to develop new skills. If it’s something that appeals to you get in touch today…