Is the Waste Management Software Enough?

Written by Integrated Skills

Waste management and route optimisation software can be the long-awaited solution for many organisations that are spending too much time and money on manual data entry, manual processing and slow-moving paper trails. And so when implementing this kind of software for the first time, many waste & environmental managers assume that it will solve all of their problems instantly. But the reality is that software implementation isn’t enough; to ensure that full optimisation is realised, data vaildation and continual feedback is critical.
Route optimisation doesn’t happen automatically
Route optimisation software is a definite benefit to many waste operations. However, software is only as good as the data imported into the system. When it comes to route related data, such as when traffic is heaviest, where difficult turns or roads in disrepair are located, human input is required based on local knowledge.
As well, just because software has been used to optimise a route, that doesn’t mean the route will be optimised forever. Neighbourhoods will change as old industrial buildings are converted to residential flats, or as new construction occurs. This requires regular updates of base data, such as that supplied by HERE or the Ordnance Survey.
As advanced as today’s route planning software can be, it still requires human participation to prepare for implementation of software. For example, a GIS system may need to be updated in order to ensure correct and timely information is processed correctly or a UI created to upload data to a Cloud based route planning tool.
Barriers to successful Route Optimisation
There are many things that can prevent the smooth optimisation of a waste management operation. One common barrier is a lack of a complete travel network data set, as mentioned above. In Middle Eastern and African countries the streets data set is often a mix of connected and unconnected roads: Route optimisation software can’t route optimally where streets are not connected together. Also, the base map data may list all of the major and minor roads in a city. But what if collection also occurs in alleyways that the map dataset does not include?
Data sets that can often cause issues relate to road attribution. Things like turn restrictions and speed limits are typically included in street datasets but what if, due to local knowledge, drivers know that a truck can’t turn right even though the map data says it can or that an adverse camber results in a truck having to travel at half the actual speed limit for safety reasons. These types of data sets are crucial to optimising collection routes. Using a GIS based route optimisation software solution ensures that localised data sets can be kept up-to-date.
How Drivers Help
Where the goal is to use software for optimisation, driver input is priceless. Their first-hand knowledge of routes can be obtained by requesting they submit any new information about routes as they arrive at each stop. The information can then be sent to headquarters where it can be input into the system for future use and analysis.
In addition to assisting headquarters, the route changes communicated by drivers can also assist other drivers. Road construction and other such temporary occurrences, when reported by drivers can be instantly placed into the system for real-time updating in driver vehicles. The result is an instant increase in efficiency without any downtime.
Software as an integral part of the overall solution
With human input being so valuable to waste management software implementation and route optimisation, software should be considered an integral component of the total solution rather than the solution itself. When used as a guide for drivers on daily or weekly routes, and where information is submitted via drivers or via the conducting of field surveys and historical data, software can revolutionise the way a waste organisation operates.
Communication is Key
The optimisation of any route should begin with drivers. Driver knowledge, as well as their perspective, is a critical requirement for improving operations. Listen to drivers, and then use the software to observe working patterns and establish a picture of a regular day. When drivers deviate from their pattern or when additional information is needed, drivers can be asked to communicate what they know. This will result in even more knowledge reaching waste & fleet managers, who can then use it to compare with other data to improve efficiency.

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