Arūnas Eitutis | 7 noiembrie 2023

How Do I Know When My Compactor Needs to Be Serviced?

With the help of waste management equipment modern urban centres can maintain a clean and sanitary environment. One of the best tools for garbage control is a trash compactor – a heavy equipment machine that uses hydraulic system pressure to compress waste and simplify its storage. Condensed trash also reduces the frequency of necessary transportation, allowing trucks to store more materials on their way to disposal.

However, while trash compactors are sturdy machines, a frequent contact with dirt, debris, glass and other abrasive materials during the compaction process can damage the machine and diminish its optimal performance. In this beginner’s guide, we, with the help of equipment specialists at Frontu, will explain the basics of regular servicing for a trash compactor. From a basic maintenance schedule to regular preventative maintenance procedures, here you will learn the basics to maintain the machine’s proper operation and save money.

How does a compactor work?

There are different types of compactors that get damaged more than others. Trash compactor trucks have built-in compactors, which makes them a lot more mobile than stationary compactors, as they can compress the materials during the standard garbage collection route.

For the compaction mechanism, the machine uses hydraulic rams to push down the materials with great force to compress the material within the chamber. The power conversion comes from the hydraulic system, which pressurises the hydraulic fluid with a pump. As it travels through the hydraulic hoses to the cylinder within the hydraulic rams. The hydraulic fluid pushes the piston, which exerts the force on the surface that crushes the object in the chamber.

What is the life expectancy of a compactor?

On average, trash compactors can last about 10 to 15 years, while some stay active for up to 20, thanks to periodic servicing and swift replacement of damaged components. Stationary compactors can last even longer, as their structural integrity is not affected by bumps and vibration-induced damage, typical for machines that are integrated into trucks.

Another influential factor is the model of your equipment. Some industrial machines can last longer due to better design or stronger components than others, despite being categorised in the same way. All things considered, you can still avoid these issues and even increase operation hours with proper maintenance.

How do you maintain commercial trash compactors?

Trash compactors are relatively simple machines, and with little attention to detail, anyone can learn to service them in no time. This section covers the core concepts of trash compactor maintenance that will teach you to periodically check your equipment, identify essential fixes, and avoid costly repairs.

Visual examination

Regular visual inspections are the key of an effective maintenance program. Trash compactors are sturdy machines, so periodic maintenance checkups should begin with weekly or monthly visual examination processes. Operators inspect the exterior of the machine for any signs of depreciation before scanning the state of internal components.

For extra safety in more dangerous working conditions, workers can make quick inspections on a daily basis to make sure nothing is causing extra damage to the compactor. Even better, visual examinations can be done much faster and not as frequently if the machine’s state is tracked with heavy equipment software, which uses sensors to assess the state and effectiveness of key components.

Equipment cleaning

Compactor cleaning is another key component of a regular maintenance plan. The removal of abrasive materials will keep the ram in optimal condition, and a clean chamber will prevent contaminants from reaching and damaging internal components.

Less frequent cleaning procedures also cover the replacement of filters for stable air intake and removal of impurities from hydraulic oil and air-dependent parts.

Fluid levels and lubrication

When it comes to fluid maintenance needs, we structure each priority on how it benefits the work output and minimises equipment downtime. That is why, we start these procedures with inspection and replenishment of hydraulic fluid levels. After that comes the lubrication of moving parts: hydraulic rams, grease fittings, pivot points, and the components within the power unit. Regular lubrication and fluid replacement will prevent excessive damage to your trash compactor.

Safety precautions

Inspection of safety guards and regular servicing of electrical connections, with the help of skilled technicians, ensures that all parts work as intended. An optimised machine is a safe machine, but if you don’t know where to start, read the manufacturer’s manual and follow the safety guidelines for waste management machinery in the United Kingdom, advised by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

Component replacement

The key to effective preventative maintenance lies in combining the previously mentioned strategies to identify gradual equipment damage and prepare suitable replacement parts ahead of time. When all potential damages are accounted for, equipment managers can make optimal replacements at the right time, making sure that they are ruined, but operational components do not cause collateral damage to other parts.

Operator training

Levels of operator training can different depending on the type of your trash compactor. A stationary machine requires its operator to understand the functionality of safety guards, and what types of waste cannot be used in the compression and recycling process. By training employees to not put bio-hazardous and flammable materials, glass, electronic components, and other various chemicals, you can extend the lifetime of a trash compactor due to elimination of many damaging factors.

For trash compactor trucks, the operator’s competence requirements add truck driving skills. A properly handled vehicle will suffer less damages during operation hours, which will indirectly lower the repair and maintenance costs.

A Recommended maintenance schedule for trash compactors

Below are the recommended servicing intervals for the average trash compactor. Keep in mind that different models will have unique servicing needs, so it is always recommended to have a manufacturer’s manual by your side and make personalised adjustments based on the workload of your equipment

Monthly maintenance

Monthly servicing procedures focus on visual examination of potential damages, fluid servicing, and cleaning. A clean compactor will work better, as removing contaminants will not damage the machine’s components.

Quarterly maintenance

Quarterly maintenance tasks grease the moving parts to minimise friction – another damaging factor for heavy equipment machines. Apply grease and replace filter parts. On top of that, quarterly checkups are a great time to perform additional safety checks, especially if safety guards show signs of damage or malfunction

Annual maintenance

Every 6 to 12 months, compactors need to be serviced by specialised personnel for testing and servicing of the control box, power transmission mechanisms, and electrical systems. Annual equipment testing is a long ordeal that includes additional inspections of previously serviced components and maintenance of logs to keep an eye on the changes of their state.

Regular preventative maintenance tips for recycling equipment

  • Read the owner’s manual. Most trash compactors come with a thorough documentation provided by the manufacturer that will help you pinpoint the exact servicing needs and the recommended maintenance frequency
  • Use a strict maintenance checklist. A linear servicing process provides a solid structure for any regular maintenance plan. Organise your servicing plan in a descending priority order and add conditional changes later.
  • Software assistance for equipment maintenance. Modern heavy equipment machines have sensors, capable of tracking its overall state and inform the operator about any signs of damage. The incorporation of heavy equipment software gives a great overview on the compactor’s help, and managers can oversee all waste management tools under one system.


Keeping trash compactor machines in optimal condition is necessary to maintain a clean environment. The amount of trash only keeps growing, therefore frequent maintenance tasks for recycling equipment should be at the top of priorities for waste management companies.

Arūnas Eitutis
Founder & CEO

Arūnas is spearheading the Frontu efforts as the company’s CEO but still finds the time to share some of his knowledge, expertise and experience in the FSM sector through our blog.

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