Located on a 13-acre plot west of Deming, New Mexico, the Butterfield Trail Regional Landfill has serviced the counties of Luna and Hidalgo, as well as local waste management contractors and builders, for the past 10 years.
With a current annual intake of roughly 37,000 tons of solid waste, petroleum-contaminated soils and industrial sludge, the city of Deming—which operates the site—has rolled out several high-density polyethylene (HDPE) liner installations to manage capacity needs in recent years.
“The [Butterfield Trail Regional Landfill] is a brand-new landfill really in the scope of things,” says Jim Massengill, public works director for the city of Deming. “It started taking in trash in late 2010, so there was a learning curve for the employees who were used to the previous landfill that was only about five, maybe six acres. There were definitely mistakes made with [the construction of Butterfield’s] first [disposal cell]. For example, the slopes weren’t what they should be, but we learned a lot.”
Since then, Massengill says landfill personnel have worked towards improving landfill construction by putting an emphasis on smaller layers and a good face.
“We’ve just gotten better and better at it, but we depend on our engineers to get an idea of what our capacity looks like. Because it’s a newer landfill, we’re working on the edge where we have two slopes to deal with, so the amount of trash that we can compact in there is reduced.”
The city’s latest attempt to increase capacity has resulted in the construction of a new landfill cell, which is set to be completed this year. According to Massengill, the $1.3 million liner installation will cover eight acres. Construction is scheduled to begin in June.
In the meantime, however, Deming public works officials have been faced with the challenge of increasing disposal capacity of the landfill’s current cell—Cell 1C—until installation of the new liner is completed.
“We have those two slopes that are working against us,” says Massengill. “So, we watch it, we get our engineers to help us estimate out [remaining capacity], and then the bottom line is we’re not taking any chances and we’re working hard to stay ahead of the curve.”
A NECESSARY UPGRADE
One way the city is increasing capacity is with better compaction. Until last year, landfill personnel had been using two outdated compactors, which Massengill says necessitated frequent downtime and high maintenance costs.
“The city purchased one used compactor when the landfill opened. They also had a compactor from 1999 that they had been using at the old landfill,” he says. “The [older unit] for whatever reason had been the better compactor, so the employees used that compactor more. They put a ton of hours on it, the motor had been rebuilt and it was eventually time for us to do something besides sinking money into maintenance for the both of them.
“We were struggling with keeping [our compactors] going. It took time to get the parts, it took time to get them worked on, and in some instances, one would be working and the other wouldn’t be. I think there were a couple times when they both weren’t working. Things happen to all pieces of equipment, but it just seemed like they were going downhill rapidly. So, we spent a lot of time working on them.”
In 2019, the city of Deming began looking into purchasing a new compactor. According to Massengill, an equipment consultant who works with landfills across New Mexico and Colorado recommended a 2020 Aljon Advantage 500 to the city. The compactor is manufactured by C&C Manufacturing based in Ottumwa, Iowa.
"We were struggling with keeping [our compactors] going. It took time to get the parts, it took time to get them worked on, and in some instances, one would be working and the other wouldn’t be. I think there were a couple times when they both weren’t working. Things happen to all pieces of equipment, but it just seemed like they were going downhill rapidly,” –-Jim Massengill, public works director, city of Deming
“We were really impressed with the Aljon Advantage 500 once we started looking at the specs and the time and effort that [the manufacturer] puts into what a compactor needs,” Massengill says. “For instance, the new compactor has nothing exposed on the bottom. This can eliminate, or maybe minimize, the chance of damage to wiring, hoses, etc.”
The sealed heavy-duty undercarriage with no exposed bolts and no service points is a staple of Aljon compactors, and a feature that Massengill believes sets it apart from others on the market.
“We liked how the Aljon compactor is constructed and that it’s constructed just to do landfills,” he says.
Weighing in at 42 tons, the new unit was also about three times heavier than the old equipment the city was using. According to Massengill, the extra weight has increased compaction rates, which equates to being able to place more trash in less space. This also reduces costs related to the ongoing excavation and liner installation.
Since the unit hit the ground in September 2020, Massengill says it has proved to be a valuable piece of equipment at the landfill.
In addition to its specialty design and increased compaction capabilities, the compactor offers state-of-the-art-technology for service and operation and is both comfortable and safe for the operators. According to Massengill, the unit’s user-friendly backup camera in particular has been a much-needed safety feature, providing improved visibility and built-in warning indicators.
In terms of fuel efficiency, Massengill adds that the EPA Tier4 Final 503 HP Volvo engine has also been a major benefit.
“There’ve [been routine maintenance needs we’ve had to tackle during] startup with this compactor, but mostly it has just been running and working and doing what it’s supposed to. When your equipment is doing what it should be, that makes life for all of us much easier to tolerate at the landfill,” he says.
Other compactor features that Massengill says have made a difference for the landfill’s operators is the multiple angle articulating blade, oil sampling ports and pressurized and sound-suppressed cab.
Beyond the features of the machine, Massengill says Aljon’s customer service support was a selling point for the city.
“We did some research,” Massengill says. “We liked the customer service that it appeared we’d be getting with this company, and once again, we were really impressed with the fact that that’s what they make—they make compactors. And that’s what we wanted. Those things are what sent us in that direction. That and references, talking to other people, talking to other landfills, etc. So, the quality of the unit and customer service behind it [were key].”
According to Massengill, the new compactor has helped the Butterfield Trail Regional Landfill stay proactive as it continues to expand, with the city already working to design and secure funding for its next cell.
“We did our homework and really liked what we saw. We were happy when it hit the ground seven months ago and are still happy. It’s a good unit, it works well, it does what it’s supposed to, and the employees are happy to have it,” he says.