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Refusing to Fail

Written on February 8th, 2023

Case Study: Electronic Innovation in Refuse and Garbage Trucks Problem 

A heavy load. 

A major OEM manufactured large refuse trucks that used several electronic control modules throughout their vehicles. They were experiencing field failures related to their electronics after only 1-2 years of service. The OEM approached Marlin Technologies for assistance, and we got to work immediately. 

After a careful review of the application experience, we came to several conclusions: 

  • The operating environment is very physically demanding, and some components were experiencing physical breakage from the harsh movements of the refuse trucks. 
  • Crimped wires and failed actuators were causing short circuits, which occasionally burned out the electronic components entirely. 
  • There was not a high-enough level of understanding of the electronic module operation at the OEM level. With a large number of inputs and outputs, it was not a simple control situation. 


Harsh environments call for elegant solutions. 

In the majority of harsh environments, custom electronics that are housed in polymeric enclosures perform very well if the right precautions are taken. With over fifty years in the electronics business, Marlin has extensive experience creating IP67-compliant solutions to deal with water, extreme temperatures, vibration, particulates, and more. In this case, however, the physical demands related to the operation of the vehicle, as well as the position of the electronic components, called for a more robust solution. 

We created an enclosure from extruded aluminum which was anodized to prevent corrosion. This solved the physical damage concerns to the refuse truck electronic controls. But there were still other problems to be solved. Electrical shorts occurred in various places in the vehicle, delivering voltage and current spikes to the electronic modules and occasionally causing them to fail. 

We adapted to this situation by converting to smart components that protect themselves, and in turn, protect the entire electronic module from these spikes. The result is that if an electrical short in the vehicle does occur, the electronics module shuts itself down, ensuring that it lives to fight another day. This would save a lot of repairs and replacements to vehicles in the field down the road. 

Since the control environment is complicated by nature with many switches, interlocks, sensors, and outputs, our team went the extra mile to make sure it could be understood. We created flow charts, code descriptions, and other documentation to provide clarity on exactly how the Marlin products operate, allowing the OEM to troubleshoot field situations correctly on their own. This empowered the OEM to provide faster responses to their units in the field and keep their customers happy. 


Fail rate down. Growth rate up. 

The OEM saw an immediate and drastic decrease in the failure rate among the electronics on their refuse trucks. When problems did occur on the machine, the electronic modules were far more robust at withstanding electrical challenges. The problem was virtually eliminated. And with a set of tools now available for troubleshooting, the OEM is able to deliver a much higher level of customer support in a faster manner. The OEM is now growing faster than  its competitors and continues to provide an excellent customer experience.

Contact Marlin Technologies 

Your turn. 

We were thrilled to be a part of this growth story and would love to be a part of yours. What problems can we help solve for you? Contact us today to find out.