Waste Management: Computing Considerations for Different Applications


An Introduction to Waste Management

Rubbish. Refuse. Garbage. Trash. Whatever you call it, it’s not a topic most people enjoy discussing. Waste management, on the other hand, now that’s an entirely different matter. Ranging from private firms collecting commercial waste streams, to your local council composting your grass cuttings, waste management encompasses a broad range of time-critical activities. Every round is an exercise in maximising collection rate and minimising travel time; waste management can be an art belied by an unappealing outward appearance, with the community at its core.

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Issues in Waste Management

Managing this while maintaining a fleet of vehicles, managing a shift-based workforce, and entertaining council red tape causes its own cocktail of issues. How do you safely and effectively move bulky vehicles through urban estates? How can you enforce local government bylaws to your friendly neighbourhood global conglomerate? How can you ensure your waste collection staff remain safe and adhere to EU-OSHA guidelines? All of this, and we haven’t even begun to discuss the actual waste yet. The logistics behind the transport of varied waste streams, each collected and sorted in a timely manner, demands military-level scheduling. This can be threatened, when managing disparate suppliers during business-critical operations.

Thankfully for us, these processes have been refined over decades, changing with the times. In some areas, domestic kerbside collections are made less frequently to encourage the public to reduce, reuse and recycle. Taxes and fines for businesses that incorrectly label waste provides a valuable source of income while improving sorting times.

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Technology is playing an increasingly important role in this field; the days are gone when waste was collected haphazardly, and all thrown into unsightly and unhealthy landfills or incinerators. Automated separation and ecological subsidies further improve the economic viability of recycling over traditional methods. Sophisticated route optimisation software enables efficient navigation of collection vehicles, while a suite of external cameras dramatically increases driver awareness and the safety of colleagues and pedestrians alike.

Street Cleansing, Domestic, Commercial

In order to achieve all of the above, waste management companies have departments dedicated to a particular role. For example, the street cleansing teams employ specialised vehicles to clean and maintain public spaces and highways. Commercial collection services enforce legislation and ensure businesses remain accountable. Domestic kerbside collection enables us all to have the opportunity to live healthy and responsible lives.

Where the Needs Differ

As you might imagine, these applications require different implementations of technology. For example, street cleansing teams typically require devices with high powered satellite antennas to accurately position themselves amongst tall urban buildings. Whereas for domestic, a reliable cellular data connection is necessary in order to receive route and collection updates. Finally, commercial teams need a camera so they record evidence of legislation violations.

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Where In-Cab Can Help

Despite these diverse requirements, technology has finally reached a point where they can all be met economically by a single device. Installing a fully rugged tablet into a vehicle cab can solve all of these at once, empowering the waste collection teams and improving efficiency. A single tablet can be connected to the vehicle antennas, improving signal strength, while consolidating a number of devices into a single touch point. The collection route can be optimised in real time from HQ, accounting for congestion and other unforeseen circumstances. Immediately deployable, rugged tablets can be used in all conditions allowing the commercial collections to complete their jobs, whatever the weather.

This however, begs the question, how can this potentially significant technology refresh be done with the least impact possible, while maintaining safety standards? Of course, you can pop down to your local car parts retailer and get a generic cradle which sticks to the windscreen. But I’m willing to bet that a similar product has caused you enough grief when it lost suction and fell into the drivers footwell, with loose cabling wrapping around the gearstick, at the first sign of a speed bump. What are really needed, especially in a commercial environment with vehicles in near-constant use, are solid, powered docks, crash tested to SAE J1455.

With an expert field service team, such as the one available here at Captec, all brands of vehicle docks can be installed at a time suitable to the needs of the business, reducing downtime. Additionally, sourcing all parts of the solution, tablet, dock, and installation, from a single source can simplify and shorten projects.

In summary, the needs of waste management are manifold, and any disruptions can impact the community. With a considered implementation of modern technology, many of these can be met safely and conveniently, while mitigating the issues of more typical hardware rollouts.

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