Collection Vehicle Software Increases Efficiency, Productivity, and Safety

Credit: Jamie Link Photography for AMCS Group | Lakeshore Recycling Systems.
Innovative AMCS technology showcased in Chicagoland waste leader Lakeshore Recycling Systems vehicle cab

“We are at the epicenter of the Big Data revolution,” notes Kelly Frey, vice president of product marketing at Telogis. “We are excited about using these insights to help our end users transform the way they are doing business and even develop new business models.”

Today’s solid waste vehicles are now being “fueled” by software that is introducing efficiencies of time and money while increasing productivity, safety, and addressing customer concerns with more accuracy.

The price point on “intelligent collection” has become such where it is being adopted not only by large operations, but affordable to smaller ones as well. “Larger haulers have used route optimization for years, but now we are seeing smaller fleets of fewer than 25 trucks use route optimization and/or GPS tracking and route resequencing to better control their costs,” says Brian Porter, president of Soft-Pak.

“In-cab computing has become more affordable and easier for drivers and the back office management to see what is going on,” he says. “These technologies continue to be implemented by fleets year after year.”

Case in point: Teletrac Navman DIRECTOR fleet management software is designed to turn information generated on an ongoing basis by vehicles into actionable data for use by drivers, dispatchers, and other key decision-makers.

It is used in thousands of operations, including Waste Management’s Texas and Oklahoma materials recovery facilities (MRFs), for which Benjamin Iobst serves as operations improvement manager. “In general, our company has an extremely large fleet of vehicles, so we have systems in place that we had already developed internally or externally,” he notes. “We have a national solution for the majority of our fleet.”

Credit: Advanced Tracking Technologies Advanced Tracking Technologies’ historical route software

Credit: Advanced Tracking Technologies
Advanced Tracking Technologies’ historical route software


But there were certain situations that called for a different type of solution that was not met by a more standardized approach, Iobst adds. “We looked at a couple of different options because some of our work is regularly scheduled. Some of it is on-demand pickups. We were looking for a solution where we could do both but route it more efficiently than just running all over town when someone called,” he says, adding that DIRECTOR provides that needed information in order to refine route optimization.

“We needed a solution that not only allowed us to know where they’re at in the field, but also do more intelligent routing where if we got a customer call, we could immediately look to see if we could put that in one of our routes for this day or the next,” says Iobst.

Much of the existing software is designed for regularly scheduled pickups in contrast to on-demand type service, says Iobst, adding that he likes the mix of DIRECTOR in that it enables changes to be made seamlessly in on-demand pickups and optimization of regularly scheduled pickups in a “set it and forget it” fashion.

Meanwhile, in Paris, TX, Sanitation Solutions covers a 200-mile radius service area from its base 100 miles south of the Red River. The region encompasses 54 municipalities.

“We started out with five trucks and in 10 years, we’ve grown to 76,” notes Jason Stephens, regional manager. “As we’ve added trucks, we’ve realized the importance of having a tracking device in every truck for different reasons.”

The solid waste collection operation utilizes Advanced Tracking Technologies’ systems.

Safety through monitoring truck speed is the primary driving factor, followed by the mitigation of customer service issues. “We use it for management issues such as driver training,” says Stephens. “If we see someone’s truck has been sitting at McDonald’s for 45 minutes for 30-minute lunch break, we want to know what’s going on.”

Stephens credits Advanced Tracking Technologies for ease of customer service. He also notes that his solid waste operation has gotten good coverage with the system.

“You would think in northeast Texas, the technology wouldn’t be working out with cell signal or digital signal,” he adds.

In terms of generating efficiencies, “big data is a hot topic among fleet managers these days,” notes Ryan Driscoll, marketing director for GPS Insight. “The worry is that there are too many systems and too much information to keep track of and the consistent theme from feedback is that they want their key systems to integrate and share information so that managers can go to one place for all the information they need to make actionable business decisions,” he says.

To respond to the market demands for more efficiency, telematics companies have developed application programming interface libraries and partnerships to accommodate their needs, says Driscoll, adding that examples include integrations with customer relationship management software, accounting software, routing software, and fuel cards, among others. “Management also can see if parts of the route were missed and can assess from visual reports whether improvements can be made to make the driver routes more efficient,” he says.

Efficiencies also are gained in maintenance. “Since telematics systems record and track vehicle odometers, notifications can be sent to the service department when a truck is due for any particular type of service,” says Driscoll. “Maintenance schedules can easily be created that ensure the drivers and proper maintenance personnel are aware when a truck needs to come in for service. Reports also can be run to track service costs per truck and types of service completed, among other factors.”

In terms of cost savings, Driscoll says telematics systems will help waste collection fleets reduce fuel costs, starting with the monitoring of one of the easiest metrics, fuel usage. “By monitoring fuel metrics such as speeding, excessive idle time, miles per gallon and other factors, waste and recycling fleets can save significant amounts of money that could be allocated to other segments of the business,” he adds.

Solid waste collection fleets also can reduce labor costs with telematics by monitoring fleet activity and eliminating timesheet disputes, Driscoll points out. “Telematics technology allows fleet managers to monitor when drivers begin and end their day and how many breaks they took,” he says, adding that GPS tracking will help to make sure the operation is only paying employees for time they actually worked.

Minimizing vehicle wear and tear will reduce how often fleets need to purchase new trucks. Extending lifecycles for their current fleet can save tens of thousands of dollars every year, Driscoll says.

Credit: Advanced Tracking Technologies Collecting real-time location

Credit: Advanced Tracking Technologies
Collecting real-time location


The adoption rate of the technology varies from 20 to 52%, depending on the industry expert offering the figures.

“Within the US, there are approximately 250,000 vehicles across 24,000 waste disposal companies and municipal agencies. It’s estimated that 25% of those vehicles are equipped with a fleet management solutions,” says Nathan Todd, director of product management at Teletrac Navman.

Integrated camera solutions are becoming increasingly adopted by leaders in the waste industry, he adds. “The primary purpose is being used for monitoring driver safety and behavior, but cameras also are being used to determine proof of service and capturing video/images of trash bins which are overloaded or damaged.”

The rates continue to increase each year, notes Benjamin Van Avery, director of sales and marketing for Advanced Tracking Technologies, who places the rates between 45 and 52%.

“Operations that have adopted the technology share how they become more effective at time management, increased productivity, and cost efficiency,” he says. “GPS tracking and fleet management is routinely being viewed as the next step in making the mobile workforce more efficient. The recent federal Electronic Logging Device mandate has guaranteed to increase its use.”

Over the years since its introduction into the market providing 100% turnkey Android tablet, paperless, intelligent collection solutions, eMobile has been designed to be seamless to the EnCORE back office operational and financial software, says Scott P. Fisher, national sales director for EnCORE financial and operational software for CORE Computing Solutions.

Credit: Advanced Tracking Technologies Historical reporting

Credit: Advanced Tracking Technologies
Historical reporting


“In the past five years, 80% of CORE’s user base and new customer signup has adopted this technology,” he says.

However, there is still some resistance to the technology, points out Paul Kinsella, president of Sunrise Innovations.

“Garbage collection is an old school business and is generally operated by work horses, so there is an element of ‘I know best’, and not everyone sees the benefit technology brings to an organization compared to the cost,” he says.

Nonetheless, Kinsella views a significant uptick in the technology’s adaptation, with sales of the Driver X3 onboard system having quadrupled in 2016 with the trend anticipated to continue this year.

Credit: Advanced Tracking Technologies Historical reports and routes can be given to new drivers to speed up training time.

Credit: Advanced Tracking Technologies
Historical reports and routes can be given to new drivers to speed up training time.


The numerous benefits to be derived from the use of intelligent routing and fleet management solid waste collection software are a driving factor in the increased adoption rates. “Today’s mobile companies all have a number of powerful tools to manage fleet costs effectively, focused in three major areas: driver behavior, vehicle health/maintenance, and route planning/optimization,” notes Frey. “Any one of these by themselves provide fuel savings, but operations begin to see substantial savings when they bring together multiple applications that all work together on an integrated software platform.”

The newest way to manage fleets and save fuel is by empowering drivers to practice safer driving habits by using a gamification app like Telogis Coach that allows them to know how they’re doing in real time and do automatic course correcting, says Frey.

“Combined with rich data now available directly from vehicle manufacturers through solutions that come built into modern vehicles and equipment, Telogis Coach creates accountability at the driver level in areas such as idling, speeding, and other unsafe or wasteful driving habits,” he says.

The ability to gain insights and awareness of just how much idling is occurring within a fleet has recently changed, with driver behavior analytics, mobile apps, and gamification, he notes. “Software tools and options are now available at all levels across organizations to gain valuable and connected insights into driver behavior,” says Frey. “This creates better overall driving habits, which result in significant gains in achieving objectives for improved driver performance, including efficient driving, safety, and fuels savings—something that can be a difficult goal to reach.”

Intelligent routing, fleet management, and collection are primary efficiency and cost-saving benefits of Telogis Coach, says Frey. “The future is about a comprehensive Mobile Resource Management [MRM] software platform,” he adds. “That said, the optimization and automation of the work that’s being done is really where the true savings lie—not just with the data that’s being pulled from the connected vehicle.”

Utilizing apps and analytics or big data to mine for insights that can help identify trends, predict behavior, and empower decision-makers also is a key trend, Frey points out. “More important is taking that data and turning it into real value by analyzing it and using the derived intelligence to gain a desired business outcome,” he adds. “The Internet of Things [IoT] is creating new use cases and possibilities that were inconceivable just a few years ago.

“At Telogis, we often talk about ‘Connected Intelligence,’ which is the ability to gain insights and make better decisions by connecting everything in a mobile enterprise: vehicles, equipment, mobile devices, and people, as well as the work itself—intelligent sensors and internal and external data feeds.”

Collecting real-time location data and precise operational information in time increments from all of those sources is really the definition of big data, driving billions of data points every single day into the servers, Frey says. “End users rely on us to collect this data 24/7 securely and turn it into actionable information so they can make more informed business decisions to reduce costs, improve response times. and meet customer expectations, all while keeping their people safe.”

He adds that businesses that have rolled out MRM solutions have reported a 12% reduction in crashes, a drop in speeding and harsh braking incidents, a 25% savings in fuel costs, and a 30% reduction in idling.

Telogis’ mission is to connect and optimize everything mobile, says Frey. “The truly connected mobile enterprise can maximize efficiency, safety and productivity by thinking holistically about an entire business and not just the vehicles. We are well beyond the era where companies invested in a multitude of point solutions such as hand scanners, vehicle tracking solutions, route optimization software independently, and then stitched them together.”

He continues, “Today’s mobile enterprise operators and others requiring route optimization are investing in single cloud-based platform solutions that handle everything from the order, through to the service being delivered with a tight feedback loop to enable continuous optimization and automation.”

Van Avery notes that “once drivers know fleet tracking systems have been implemented, they become instantly more accountable over their actions throughout the day. Productivity improves, and fuel costs and payroll normally decrease through better route adherence and less wasted time.”

Average productivity increases 10–15%. Fuel costs normally decrease between 10 and 20%, based on more efficient routing, idle time reduction, and a reduction in so-called “personal errands,” he adds. “Payroll reductions have a dramatic effect on savings. Results vary depending on individual workers and companies, but many have reduced or eliminated overtime altogether. This reduction alone has paid the service many times over for a large number of operations.”

Safety is increased through driver accountability, believes Van Avery. “Alerts can be configured if the driver breaks the speed limits or company policies,” he says. “In the case of breakdown or accident, the system provides instant location access for dispatchers, fleet managers, or first responders.”

Driver coaching is improved. “Managers know when drivers are in reverse—something not allowed for many of them—and can coach drivers on such behavior,” says Driscoll. “Telematics will help reduce speeding, hard braking, and rapid acceleration by sending out alerts to drivers for real-time feedback, and also to managers to help coach them on how to operate the vehicle more safely.”

With managers knowing the real-time status and location of all vehicles, they can verify “How’s My Driving?” complaints from the public and eliminate unauthorized stops and off-route usage, he says.

Driver behavior and safety is a benefit derived through identifying and correcting poor driving habits, be it speeding or harsh usage, such as cornering, braking, or acceleration, notes Todd, adding that this data can be complemented by video from in-vehicle cameras.

Solid waste management fleets also can reduce fleet operating costs using a telematics system. “They can cut fuel costs by monitoring idle time, routes, and unauthorized use of fuel card activity,” says Driscoll. “They can reduce labor costs by auditing time cards with time-stamped location data. They also can extend vehicle life cycles with simplified maintenance scheduling and tracking.”

Proper vehicle health monitoring and maintenance enables mobile companies to maximize uptime and prevent breakdowns, Frey adds.

Credit: Jamie Link Photography for AMCS Group | Lakeshore Recycling Systems. Mack collection truck

Credit: Jamie Link Photography for AMCS Group | Lakeshore Recycling Systems
Mack collection truck

Smarter routing also is possible with telematics, notes Driscoll. “Telematics technology provides smarter routing and navigation so drivers can focus on the task at hand,” he says. “Fleet managers can use a telematics solution in conjunction with a navigation device or a smartphone to send drivers their daily routes, send new stops throughout the workday, and safely communicate without having to make many phone calls throughout the day. Management also can see if parts of the route were missed and also can assess from visual reports whether improvements can be made to make the driver routes more efficient.”

In addition to fleet tracking helping companies verify which routes the drivers took and compare them to alternative routes to identify time and fuel savings options, the historical reports and routes also can be given to new drivers to speed up training time, notes Van Avery.

Intelligent routing solutions can provide lower operating costs by predictably reducing the time and mileage each route takes, notes Porter, adding that “knowing where your drivers are and the anticipated time it takes to complete a static route” is another benefit.

“Temporary route splits are much easier when routes are sequenced and optimized correctly,” notes Porter. “Emergencies happen, such as a vehicle on route becomes disabled, and this allows dispatching to easily split routes to continue service for customers.”

The systems also help in locating assets. “Reviewing routes along with named points of interest can help companies identify and track down where large assets may have been moved, preventing thousands of dollars in replacement costs,” says Van Avery.

“Route planning and optimization reduces time, miles and idling time to deliver the most profitable route,” adds Frey. “The Telogis range of planning tools not only enables end users to build smarter routes, but demonstrates the impact of each change in real dollars.”

Todd notes that the benefits of route planning and optimization include the maximizing of the number of pickups and jobs conducted per route and the minimizing of deadhead time and mileage in the time spent going between the route and disposal site.

“Through route planning, waste disposal companies can efficiently dispatch mid-day jobs based on current location, load, and remaining stops,” says Todd, adding that typically this applies to commercial disposal versus residential.

Proof of service is another benefit. “Through integrating with in-vehicle systems—front loader up/front loader down—workflow management, and RFID tagging of the bins, fleet management solutions can capture whether or not a customer was serviced,” adds Todd.

Efficiencies also are derived in a reduction of accidents and driver violations, he adds.

“Companies can use high definition reports to dispute any false claims made by people looking for companies to target,” says Van Avery. “This has saved hundreds of companies thousands of dollars on insurance and unnecessary settlements.”

When vehicles leave the yard for the day, there is very little fleet visibility, points out Ryan Driscoll, marketing director for GPS Insight. “Customers call in to claim you didn’t service their home and accidents are more common than you would like. You need a tool that will allow you to manage your fleet more effectively. You need to always know what is happening with your fleet. Utilizing this technology will make fleet management easier, yet smarter than ever before.”

Credit: Sanitation Solutions Sanitation Solutions trucks equipped with tracking technology

Credit: Sanitation Solutions
Sanitation Solutions trucks equipped with tracking technology

Fisher notes that among the many benefits of intelligent collection software is 100% paperless routing and dispatching, live picture service confirmation, and pre- and post-trip electronic DVIR driver inspection reporting. “You can capture and bill for extras live in the field via the tablet. It automatically generates a charge batch in our system for extra bags, bulky items, overloaded container, and other factors,” says Fisher.

The software also offers complete fleet and driver accountability, route and work order job profitability, and route productivity data live, as well as historical data/reporting. It also offers live GPS tracking of all fleet vehicles with live dispatching. Other features include “breadcrumb” replay of all routes with service details and drive path; driver exceptions of idle time, speed limits, and other factors; and container geocode updating for exact container location, container inventory, and container mapping.

Additionally, the software provides container RFID and bar code technology for capturing container inventory and container delivery data in the field; electronic signature capture for work orders; voice turn-by-turn navigation and live mapping; two-way messaging to the driver, driver-to-driver, or to a group of drivers; and material site information tracking and billing details. The software is compatible with standard off-the-shelf Android tablet and smartphone hardware. It’s designed to be cost-effective, easy to deploy, and easy to learn and use, says Fisher.

He adds that end users are reporting a 25 to 40% increase in driver and fleet productivity by deploying live eMobile intelligent collection tablets into their fleets. “There is no more paper, no more driver ‘go backs’, either to the yard or to the customer site with picture service confirmation,” he says. “In some cases, our end users are able to park fleet vehicles with the productivity gains they are getting.”

Kinsella’s company delivers an all-in-one system—the Driver X3—that handles customer management, route optimization, route navigation, customer billing and booking online or via an app, reporting, staff management, and other tasks necessary to help a solid waste operation reduce day-to-day collection costs. He says the main benefits of an intelligent routing system such as Sunrise Innovation’s Driver X3 onboard system are:

  • It enables any driver to drive any route, thus taking the knowledge from the drivers and putting it into the system. “This also helps with breakdowns where drivers can hop onto a route at any point to help complete the route,” he adds.
  • Analytical results from a driven route are compared to the required route, thus reducing missed bins percentage as drivers should complete 100% of the required route.
  • Drivers can see on the screen which bins are to be collected. They also can see which are new bins and which are blacklisted bins, so they can drive by blacklisted bins and save time.
  • Routes can be manually or automatically optimized to ensure the fastest collection time is achieved, thus saving driving time and fuel. Traffic congestion updates can be fed into the system to re-route drivers to further reduce the day-to-day unforeseen costs.
  • Office staff can see live results of the vehicle reports, what collections are done, and where the drivers are at any given time. Driver clock in and breaks are monitored to reduce under-performing drivers.
Credit: Jamie Link Photography for AMCS Group|Lakeshore Recycling Systems. Collection truck using AMCS telematics

Credit: Jamie Link Photography for AMCS Group | Lakeshore Recycling Systems
Collection truck using AMCS telematics

“When end users use our Driver X3 onboard system in their fleet, the first thing they see within the second week is a reduction in the time it takes to complete all routes, such as the time to collect and empty all customers’ bins,” notes Kinsella, adding the system is designed to help operations accomplish more work with fewer staff members in less time.

“We achieve this by monitoring the driver behavior, driving/break times, routes driven, bins collected, and daily report,” he adds. “By doing all of this, companies see a reduction in their fuel and staffing bills.”

Other immediate ­benefits can be seen in ad-hoc on-demand ­collections where the end user can log in to the ­customer portal or customer app to book a ­collection, ­Kinsella explains. “This new

on-demand collection can be added to the next-day collection route automatically and provide excellent service with no additional resources,” he says.  MSW_bug_web


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