Customers depend on waste management companies to provide reliable, timely, and efficient service. Event organizers want their portable toilets hauled away, corporate operations teams expect trash to disappear when their industrial bins are full, and homeowners expect their garbage collection service to show up each week on time.
For the consumer, these expectations are so obvious they often remain unvoiced. Any company managing a fleet of waste disposal assets, however, knows just how complex this business can be—and what can happen when something goes awry.
Here are five common asset management challenges and how to overcome them.
1. Obsolete and Aging Equipment
The cities of Dallas and Houston both made news in the past year as their aging fleet of garbage trucks suffered increasingly frequent breakdowns, leading to loss of service for the customer and diminished revenue for the provider. Hauling away excess trash due to Houston’s severe floods has escalated the breakdown of the city’s assets.
An article for the University of Houston stated, “Most of the city’s garbage and recycling trucks are more than 15 years old and are breaking down more and more frequently. The city has ordered dozens of new trucks, but most won’t get to Houston for months.”
Dallas is also facing a shortage of vehicles due to an aging fleet. The city maintains 130 garbage trucks, and can get by with 120. As of August, 2018, however, many days saw no more than 110 trucks in operation. City residents complained about the resulting spotty trash pickup, but without reliable assets, Dallas could not meet consumer demands.
Keeping track of which assets are in use, which are out of commission, and which are due for routine maintenance can help alleviate the consequences of poor efficiency and increased downtime caused by older assets. You can help eliminate the challenges of deteriorating equipment by making sure current assets are well serviced and by introducing an optimized replacement plan in advance.
2. Customer Safety Risks
In March 2019, two-year-old Thomas Osentowski was profiled on Fox San Diego for his special friendship with Ron Rowe, the trash truck operator for his neighborhood. Thomas greets Ron with cookies each week at 6:30 AM when the truck comes by to collect the Osentowskis’ garbage.
Thomas might be one of the youngest members of the trash truck fan club, but he’s far from the only member of the public to interact with a waste collection vehicle. Unfortunately, these interactions aren’t always so positive.
Injuries to members of the public by garbage collection assets are, unfortunately, not uncommon. New York City reports 150 incidents annually that result in injury from publicly owned vehicles. Private company numbers are unknown but may be much higher. Just one high-profile safety violation can damage public relations and lead to government investigations or serious penalties.
You can improve safety precautions with audio-visual technology mounted on waste collection assets. Many companies use cameras and recording devices triggered by abrupt actions, such as hitting the brakes or swerving sharply to see which drivers are using safety precautions and which routes are the most prone to accidents.
3. Locating and Tracking Assets
GPS devices make tracking each asset in a fleet simple and efficient. When municipalities and waste management companies first introduced GPS systems in each vehicle, the idea was to achieve efficiency and prevent theft. Some workers’ organizations, such as the United Services Union in Sydney, Australia, opposed the measure. They claimed it was an effort by Big Brother to spy on sanitation truck drivers.
Still, many waste management companies have opted to install tracking devices on their assets to monitor each vehicle’s route, location, and travel speed. These devices can be tracker sensors or tags, and can use either cellular or GPS equipment. Whatever the approach, trackers allow companies to keep track of the precise location of each asset they own. They also help companies make a case for reducing insurance costs, track data, and evaluate driver and vehicle performance.
4. Maintaining Compliance with Regulatory Standards
Cities, states, and federal agencies establish regulatory requirements for manufacturing, maintaining, and operating heavy equipment. Keeping a large fleet of assets in compliance with those requirements can prove challenging, especially as vehicles age or become damaged through accidents or ordinary wear-and-tear. However, regulatory compliance is one of the most effective ways to prevent major loss of life, assets, and revenue.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that, “Current OSHA regulations do not specifically address refuse collection vehicles. However, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) has published Safety Standards for Mobile Refuse Collection and Compaction Equipment…. The National Solid Waste Management Association (NSWMA) has developed comprehensive safety practices for workers engaged in solid waste collection.”
Technology such as GPS systems, trackers, and Industrial Internet of Things (IIOT) sensors can help you follow the law and uphold industry best practices. Investing in the tools you need now can save a lot of money and hassle later.
5. Routing Assets Efficiently
Following routes that were developed decades ago is guaranteed to waste fuel, put undue strain on vehicles, and leave some customers underserviced. Digital routing offers a solution—it can improve customer service and save time and fuel.
One of the most effective ways to optimize your route is with IIoT technology designed to measure bin fullness. This technology places sensors in each bin that measure the distance between the top of the waste inside and the bottom of the lid. Once a bin gets near maximum capacity, the sensor automatically sends a signal to the routing office alerting them that the bin is full.
This approach means trash gets collected only when needed. By optimizing your route, you save wear-and-tear on your assets, minimize customer risk, and maximize the best vehicles in your fleet.
Sensa Networks offers smart devices and machine-to-machine learning technology that can help your waste management company improve efficiency and manage risk to your assets. Sensa’s flexible, intuitive technology can integrate easily with other software systems, providing full transparency about what’s happening with your assets. Brands like Walmart, Lowe’s, and Target trust Sensa’s products, so let us talk with you about how we can help your company track and manage your assets through smart technology.