Solid Waste & Recycling


Truck Tarping

Over the years companies serving the waste management industry have patented several technological advances in tarping systems to cover open-top transport vehicles. From manual covering systems to sem...

Over the years companies serving the waste management industry have patented several technological advances in tarping systems to cover open-top transport vehicles. From manual covering systems to semi and fully automated tarping systems, there are now several products to choose from to meet a variety of hauling and transportation needs.

The first patent for a truck covering system went to Pioneer Cover-all, Inc. of North Oxford, Massachusetts, when it introduced its first automatic tarping system in 1967. Universal Equipment Handling Company Limited of Hamilton, Ontario is the leading distributor of Pioneer Cover-all tarping systems in Canada.

“Pioneer is the tarping of choice with our customers” says Richard Kool, vice president of corporate development. “We are the exclusive Roll-Off Hoist manufacturer for Waste Management Canada and it is the one they specify for each new unit. Several hundred of them are on the roads of Canada from British Columbia to Nova Scotia, and everywhere in between.”

Low-arm concept

Once the concept of cylinder-driven pivot arms was introduced in the industry most design changes and upgrades were for cylinder configurations and hydraulics placement. But the designers at Pioneer Cover-all recognized that many haulers transported different size containers on the same truck and developed break-through technology to adjust the length of the pivot arm (another first for the company).

The “Telescoping Arm” was patented in 1988. The side arm, housed inside the base arm and set at a 60-degree angle, is attached to the tarping roller assembly. The operator can adjust the height and length of the arms as he operates the hydraulic levers, allowing the system to cover 20, 30, 40 or 50 yard containers.

Rack’n pinion

Cylinder-driven tarping systems are the standard in the waste industry. Hydraulic cylinders move the pivot arms to cover and uncover loads. When the pivot arms pass the 12 o’clock position, gravity comes into play and exerts tremendous force on the rollers and tarping at the end of the pivot arms — the equivalent of as much as 1,000 pounds of weight. Alert operators need to feather the controls to keep the arms and tarping roller from crashing onto the container or cradle.

Pioneer acquired the rights to a rack and pinion design that controls the movement of the pivot arms. The patented “Rack’n Pinion,” manufactured of titanium steel, provides a mechanical advantage over traditional cylinder systems. The rack, pushed by a 16-inch hydraulic cylinder, engages the pinion gears attached to the pivot arms, reducing the problems of physics and gravity.

“The Rack’n Pinion covers or uncovers smoothly in eight seconds,” says Lenny Brescia, vice president and co-owner of Pioneer Cover-all. “This system is so user-friendly it neutralizes most operator error. We designed it so the operator stands on the ground, outside the cab, and watches the tarping. Once he is sure ‘all’s clear’, then all he has to do is hold the lever down and watch.”

When the Rack’n Pinion first became available, competitors speculated that ice and debris would fall into the gearbox and cause the system to fail.

“This has proven to be completely untrue. We have yet to replace a Rack’n Pinion Gear assembly in the field for any reason.” Mr. Brescia adds, “We are a cold-climate company, based in Massachusetts. Our New England winters are usually pretty tough, and our roll-off tarping systems are on the road and widely used throughout the Snow Belt and Canada, subjected to all the rigors of winter. Weather is not a factor that affects the Rack’n Pinion.”

Single-axle hooklift systems

In 2001 Pioneer Cover-all introduced the first commercially available auto tarping systems for single axle hooklifts. With the advent of “Single-Axle Demountable Hook” trucks, Pioneer became the first to design auto-tarping for this market, which includes waste haulers as well as the landscaping industry.

There are a variety of tarping systems. An electric model has a direct drive motor that powers the roller assembly and is mounted on top of a stationary gantry. A hydraulic model has a hydraulic direct drive motor and an adjustable gantry, which is ideal for covering containers with heights up to 16-feet.

In addition, a semi-automatic, armless system has adjustable gantry and manual “pull-a-rope” tarping deployment. The company has also recently developed an armless system for multi-axle roll-offs with an adjustable gantry that raises over 13 feet.

Steve Kelly is the Marketing Manager with Pioneer Coverall, based in North Oxford, Massachusetts. E-mail Steve at

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