WIAS Visit to Dennis Eagle Complex
Warwick – 22nd March 2023
A group from WIAS were indeed fortunate to enjoy a very full and informative tour of the Dennis Eagle plant on the Heathcote Industrial Estate, Warwick, part of the Terberg Environmental Group. Dennis Eagle manufactures over 1000 vehicles per year for a range of UK local authorities, and private sector contractors such as Biffa and Veolia. It is the dominant supplier in the UK market. The firm also has a continually expanding customer base in continental Europe, Scandinavia , Australia and the USA.
After a brief history of the Company, reminding us of the Warwick origins in the Saltisford and the various changes of ownership prior to the current Terberg Environmental ownership, we set off on the tour. Hosts Andy Graves and Lee Rowland gave very freely of their time, and were ever-ready to offer explanations and to answer questions throughout the morning.
Dennis Eagle has a cab manufacturing plant in Blackpool, but the remainder of the parts are delivered to Warwick for assembly. What immediately struck us was the spacious lay-out of the plant, with clear sequencing to the various processes, and well-defined walkways to keep the overtly inquisitive WIAS member in check! It was a very positive working environment, and the highly skilled workforce were clearly committed to their tasks.
We soon became aware of the sophistication of the engineering necessary to produce a modern refuse collection vehicle, as we passed through chassis preparation, engine transmission/electric motor-battery installation, fabrication section, body and paint finishing departments, let alone the complex systems for the collection processes – lifting, compaction and tipping. Some of the technical highlights were the incorporation of chassis mounted electric load cells to accurately ascertain disposable weight, the use of diesel powered fully automatic transmission systems or alternatively battery powered electric motors, and the provision of a host of driver and operator safety features.
Given the range of customers at home and abroad, it was not surprising that Dennis Eagle needed to be capable of supplying a huge range of specifications, including ever-changing safety and environmental regulations. Perhaps the most interesting development was the that of ‘eCollect’, Dennis Eagle’s fully integrated Electric Refuse Vehicle. These bring great environmental benefits – zero emissions, less noise, perfect for LEZs, CAZs and ULEZS – operational costs are lower, with improved ease of operation. As with electric cars, the capital outlay is higher than in the diesel model, but Dennis Eagle have just delivered their 100th. Electric Refuse Collection Vehicle. There were several examples on site, with the sizeable 300kWh battery packs in place, powering the bin lifts, the compaction system, the tipping system, as well as the 200kW motor that drives the eCollect.
It was a fascinating visit, reminding us all of the qualities that UK designers and workers can bring to the world of engineering. We were very grateful to Dennis Eagle for the opportunity to see this first hand. As always, thanks to Alain Foote for arranging the visit for WIAS.
24th March 2023