It's a messy subject. People around the world are increasingly aware of how environmental sustainability impacts quality of life. Simultaneously, the world's populations are using up more resources and producing more waste than ever. While people work through their issues of cognitive dissonance, waste management companies will have to continue to pick up the slack.
Keeping up with trillions of pounds of garbage means those companies have to raise their efficiency game. In regard to increasing that efficiency, driving profitability, and lowering costs, these companies are like any other business in the world – they need to innovate. So how are they doing?
A recent study conducted by Advanced Manufacturing Control Systems (AMCS) surveyed a range of both municipal and private companies in the waste management and recycling sector. Their top-line findings reveal a clear problem:
More than 80% of companies surveyed believe that digital innovation is a key element of their future success. Meanwhile, 60% of those same companies rated their digital transformation progress as 'unsatisfactory'.
Perhaps this shouldn't be a surprise. A long-established industry using widely-accepted legacy applications and processes presents a formidable barrier to fully implementing digital transformation within a single company.
To overcome that barrier, companies need to look at direct means of applying data and technology to solve problems in ways that render tangible results. That applied tech can be as simple as GPS trackers in vehicles, as advanced as ERP planning suites, and everything in between.
The AMCS study ranked companies on a scale of 1 to 5, where a grade of 5 represents the most digitally advanced, 'Best in Class' companies. Those businesses that earned the top rank were consistently invested in a set of 4 innovations: business analytics, self-service web portals, route optimization and fleet tracking.
Route optimization is an attractive investment, given that it can create up to a 25% reduction in the number of vehicles and/or driver shifts needed. By combining underlying map data, road conditions, vehicle constraints, driver qualifications, real-time traffic, and a wealth of other data points, routing can optimize day-to-day planning by providing master routes for any vehicle, every day of the week.
Meanwhile, fleet tracking brings a multitude of vehicles together into a single plan. It enables real-time route planning, transportation optimization and the dispatching of distribution and collection routes. The ability to deploy all vehicles as part of an optimized plan, with the flexibility to change that plan on the fly if the need arises, can substantially improve service levels and cost savings for any company.
On average, the 'Best in Class' companies in the survey performed a higher volume of waste management activities compared to the other groups. So, if fleet tracking can improve waste management on a large scale this suggests it can also provide benefits for smaller scale and less complex businesses.
So yes, location intelligence can change the face of waste management and recycling.
AMCS supports more than 2,450 customers to reduce their operating costs, increase asset utilization, optimize margins and improve customer service. You can read the full survey here.
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