Everyone knows the feeling of being understaffed. It’s not fun when there isn’t enough capacity to complete the job in front of you.
The same can be said for the sanitation industry. As a sanitation professional, you want to make sure that each event or worksite you supply has enough portable restrooms, and other equipment to get the job done right.
Perhaps more importantly, you need to ensure that you have the capacity to complete the job with the correct amount of restroom trucks. Septic, or vacuum, trucks are essential to your operation. Restroom trucks make certain that an event or worksite leaves no trace on the environment or local neighborhoods and ensure that end-users have a pleasant experience.
But how many restroom trucks does your operation need to successfully manage your workload? Understanding how the systems work, the events you service, sizes of trucks, and quality of staff all factor into how many trucks you need. Keep reading to learn more.
How Do Restroom Trucks Work?
Restroom trucks handle large-scale cleanup, most often in portable restrooms and sewer systems. Septic trucks are essential for waste management and environmental responsibility.
Restroom trucks operate like a giant vacuum. They are often referred to as vacuum trucks for this reason. A pump removes air from inside the tank which creates a vacuum. After opening primary and secondary shutoff valves on hoses, the truck can guzzle up liquid and sludge.
Pumps are most commonly mounted directly onto the trucks, and the vacuum is powered by the various motor systems available through suppliers. The attached suction hoses are usually 3 inches in diameter. The length of the suction hose varies, but it rarely extends beyond 160 ft.
- Septic trucks – use a 3-inch hose – typically in 20-foot sections all attached together
- Restroom trucks – all work is done with 2-inch hose for servicing – typically 50 feet or under – rarely ever longer than that
Not only do vacuum trucks primarily service portable restrooms, but they also have other unique, helpful uses, such as:
- Cleaning oil spills
- Assisting emergency workers
- Preventing contamination in waterways
Additionally and growing in popularity among smaller operations are “Slide-In” units. The modules can be easily mounted to your work trucks and pickup trucks, and provide many of the same functions as full-size vacuum trucks. Like restroom trucks, slide-ins come with a variety of motors, functions, are made from aluminum, steel, and other materials, and come in custom sizes, suited to meet your jobs’ needs.
How Many Portable Restrooms Need Service?
To best understand how many restroom trucks your operation needs, you must first have a good idea of how many portable toilets you service. Do you primarily service local parks, construction worksites, or live events? Or do you service a wide variety of needs?
A good rule of thumb for portable restrooms at events is for the event coordinator to supply 1 portable toilet for every 50 people. This number varies if events are predicted to be longer with larger crowds. There are many variables to consider here, so click this link to see a useful restroom calculator tool from Satellite Industries.
The numbers are different for construction worksites. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires the following numbers of portable restrooms on construction worksites:
- For 20 or fewer employees – 1 portable toilet
- For 20 or more employees – 1 portable toilet and 1 urinal per 40 workers
- For 200 or more employees – 1 portable toilet and 1 urinal per 50 workers
The average portable restroom is designed to hold between 11-15 gallons of liquid, an additional 5-gallon recharge included. Portable toilets have a 60-70-gallon tank – for comfort – not necessarily intended for capacity. Average routes in the industry should be around 40-50 units. More than that leads to poor service. Many times, less than that leads to increased costs, so pricing and mileage should be factored in. Satellite Vacuum Trucks’ MD950 can service about 50 units or so nicely as a reference point.
Something else to keep in mind is that many trucks divide the tank space to also hold freshwater. Freshwater allows the service provider to wash the same units in one trip. So, for example, some 1000-gallon trucks will be divided into 650 gallons for waste, and 350 gallons for water. A truck like this could service around 10 portable restrooms.
Different Sizes of Tanks
Now that you have an idea of the math behind gallon storage in portable restrooms and restroom trucks, it’s time to narrow down how many trucks your operation needs.
One of the biggest considerations for purchasing a restroom truck is cost. Cost includes the truck itself, regular maintenance, tires, and sanitation. While we always recommend buying new, there is always the option to save money and lease a restroom truck.
The next consideration is the gallon size of the truck. There are pros and cons to smaller and larger trucks.
Smaller Trucks (950 – 2000 gal)
- Easier to maneuver
- Fits better on narrow streets
- Easier to drive through crowded cities
- Costs less upfront
- Less capacity to store waste
- Need to make more service trips for larger projects
- Extra fuel costs from making multiple trips
Larger Trucks (2000+ gal)
- Make fewer trips
- Can sanitize in the same trip
- Handle multi-site trips
- Dumping fees accommodate larger loads
- Difficult to maneuver
- Harder to navigate on narrow roads or between buildings
- Higher upfront cost
If your operation is just starting out, begin with one restroom truck or consider looking into slide-in vacuum units. Add a second truck when money allows. It is up to you to weigh the pros and cons of larger and smaller tanks when deciding how many to buy.
Larger tanks will allow you to have fewer trucks since they hold a larger capacity. If you provide service for many smaller operations and have a few employees, you may opt to purchase or lease a few smaller trucks.
Satellite Vacuum Trucks offers the following sizes of restroom and vacuum trucks:
Carbon Steel MD Series
- 950 gal
- 1250 gal
- 1600 gal
Aluminum MAL Series
- 1175 gal
- 1300 gal
- 2150 gal
Stainless Steel SS Series
- 950 gal
- 1300 gal
- 1600 gal
Tilt Tank TT Series
- 2200 gal
- 4000 gal
- Custom sizes
Vacuum Trailer T Series
- 6000 gal
- 8000 gal
- 9500 gal
Hire Quality Drivers
If your sanitation operation is growing in size and income to the point where you have between 3 to 5 trucks or more, you’ll want to stay on top of hiring additional support staff. A good office employee or truck driver can take your portable restroom operation from good to great. It can be difficult to hire the right people, but we’ve compiled some useful tips for you here.
Although the sanitation industry is experiencing rising material costs, the industry remains to be essential and will always be in demand in our world. Job stability and high employee morale are attractive qualities for truck drivers both new and old. This means that although hiring can be a challenge, it’s not impossible, and it will make a difference to your operation.
Each Portable Restroom Operation is Unique
Now you have a better idea of how many restroom trucks and drivers are ideal for your operation. The amount of trucks you need is all dependent on how large the event industry is in your area, your budget, and the size of staff you can hire.
Do you have any further questions about how many vacuum trucks you need for your operation? Request more information here, and we’ll be happy to help!