Rough working conditions create the need for heavy-duty and versatile equipment
Every portable restroom business has go-to machines and vehicles that drive productivity and profitability. At QP Energy Services, based in Smithville, Texas, those machines are Ford F-350 and F-550s, and Dodge 5500 trucks carrying slide-in units manufactured by either Lely Tank & Waste Solutions or KeeVac Industries.
The trucks work in remote locations. As such, they feature four-wheel drive, aluminum tanks that range in size from 300 gallons waste/150 gallons freshwater to 1,100 gallons waste/400 gallons freshwater, and Jurop/Chandler or Conde pumps. In addition, the trucks usually carry a 100- to 150-gallon freshwater tank (the nearest water source might be 40 or 50 miles away), along with a Blackhawk pressure washer, says Cy Quackenbush, who owns the company with his partner, J.R. Pickens, and two silent partners.
Why invest in slide-in units? First of all, they’re more affordable than bigger vacuum trucks. But just as important, larger vacuum trucks couldn’t traverse the rough terrain that QP Energy technicians encounter daily while serving the company’s core customers: oil and gas pipeline-construction companies.
“When they’re driving along pipeline right-of-ways, they’re not even on roads — it’s more like pastureland with ruts that act as natural speed bumps,” Quackenbush says. “They’re only going about 20 miles an hour and it sometimes takes two or three hours to get to the last restroom (for cleaning). They’re driving in four-wheel drive almost all the time.”
To ease the rigors of the rugged terrain, the company specs extra-heavy-duty transmissions with lower gear ratios and heavy-duty rear suspensions and shocks, he says. Some trucks are equipped with airbag suspension to make the ride smoother and relieve stress on the truck bed.
Slide-in units provide another advantage: The ability to transfer a unit from one truck to another in case of vehicle breakdowns. If a truck breaks down in the remote areas where QP Energy works, it might take six weeks to get it fixed at a repair shop. But the slide-ins offer an easy workaround. “We can move a slide-in unit to another truck and get by for a few weeks, or even put it on a trailer if need be,” Quackenbush says.
Read more about QP Energy Services in a full profile in the March issue of Portable Restroom Operator.