The waste and recycling industry is becoming smarter and more advanced every day due to the amount of new technologies and solutions entering the market and coming online. And as the industry changes and evolves, new challenges arise for companies, municipalities and others in the industry.
One of the companies helping the industry combat these pesky challenges is AMCS Group, a global software and technology company for the waste and recycling industry. Equipped with six diverse and effective solutions within the AMCS Platform, the company can help those in the industry overcome their toughest operations battles.
“For us, it’s all about the application of the software or technology and the positive impact that it’s creating in business processes, models or relationships,” says Michael Winton, president of North America at AMCS Group. “And that ties in really well with this industry because it’s not an industry that does technology just to be innovative; it’s an industry that applies technology with the idea of having a very specific impact.”
We recently caught up with Winton to learn about the company’s solutions offerings, the key trends he’s seeing in the company’s customer bases and what we can expect to see from AMCS in the future.
Waste360: Can you provide a brief overview of AMCS and its solutions offerings?
Michael Winton: In North America, we’re exclusively focused on recycling and solid waste. Every solution that we have is purpose-built for the industry, and the core of our business is an enterprise management platform, which is a central business application for many commercial operators. In addition, there are five other components to our portfolio: a set of mobile applications that are targeted specifically for drivers and fuel-based personnel; a set of on-vehicle technology offerings that incorporate scales, weighing and radio-frequency identification (RFID) sensors; intelligent optimization and an artificial intelligence-based route optimization solution that’s one of three primary growth areas for us currently; a set of targeted applications that we put under a digital engagement umbrella that are targeted to begin to automate certain parts of relationships for our customers like customer service; and an analytics solution that helps customers focus on the right kinds of data to make better and more timely decisions.
Waste360: Technology is taking the waste and recycling industry by storm. Can you talk about the advancements that you’ve seen over the years and some of the key trends you’re seeing with your North American and global customer bases?
Michael Winton: In North America, there’s a strong focus across our customer base and market to begin to better address operations in fleets, driver productivity and the streamlining of costs, so route optimization solutions are hot for us right now.
Another area for us is the importance and priority of the circular economy and the drive to achieve more recycling and strong recycling rates. It’s hard to make money in recycling, and one of the things we are seeing companies do is incorporate technology to help manage their operations and their business at a discreet level so they can properly manage costs to match the volatility of the commodities markets, whether they are reselling or selling the recycling product back out into the market.
As a technology provider, we can help commercial operators better address these challenges and the change in requirements of a country like China. We can also help our customers meet their customers’ requests, such as going more digital. Many companies have been accepting online payments and allowing residential customers to check their statements online, and I think that demand from customers for availability and ease of more transaction types will drive the industry to make more digital changes to increase satisfaction rates.
In our European market, in areas like Sweden, Belgium and Ireland, the pay-as-you-throw concept has proven to drive recycling rates to some of the highest in the world. Some of these countries have that concept mandated by legislation, but there are a number of operators and municipalities that are exploring the concept on their own to drive up recycling rates, win a municipal contract, etc. This trend is also making its way over to North America, as some municipalities and operators are taking key learnings from the European market and finding a similar concept that works for them.
Waste360: Many companies and individuals in this industry are adapting to new technologies, but some are slow to get on board. What advice do you have for those who are still trying to embrace and utilize these new technologies?
Michael Winton: The industry is changing at such a rapid pace that there are fewer laggards in the market now. I do think that one of the things that this industry can do that I’ve seen other industries do well is provide more availability to smaller applications to digitize or address a single business process. It’s a lot easier to try and adopt those types of applications than it is to try and adopt an enterprise management platform because it touches so many of the processes across businesses and makes it difficult to dip your toe in the enterprise resource planning waters. Providing more availability to some of these smaller digital transaction applications will allow companies to test innovation more and adopt the mindset of testing innovation a little bit more than it has traditionally.
Waste360: As you know, the waste and recycling industry is ever-evolving. How is AMCS keeping the pace and meeting the needs of the industry as it constantly evolves and changes?
Michael Winton: For us, about one-third of our global organization is in product management and product development, so this challenge is one that’s really important for us. Most of our organization is focused on advancing our solutions and making sure we are in a position to help our customers continue to evolve and optimize their businesses. We spend a lot of time making sure that the processes we address inside of our software represent best practices in the industry so that our customers don’t have to spend money on customizing software.
When it comes to customization, if there is something that gives a business a competitive advantage in the market, then it may be worth exploring customization of technology. But if there isn’t, then it isn’t worth spending dollars on customization. It’s better to shift business practices and standardize them against the technology because businesses can’t get the return on investment and enough value out of spending money to customize technology unless it’s targeted at something that gives them a competitive advantage.
More than 50 percent of my time is spent meeting and talking with customers, and that’s a key focus for us because it is invaluable to be connected to our customers and the market, given the pace of change and how dynamic the landscape is. This allows us and our customers to adapt well to changes and helps us ensure that the solutions we are developing address the top priorities of customers in the market.
Waste360: What can we expect to see from AMCS in 2018 and beyond?
Michael Winton: Number one is continuing to increase our commitment to our existing customers and focusing on the success customers are having with our products. As a software partner, it’s key for us to ensure that our customers are taking advantage of best practices and are able to get the full use and benefits out of our software solutions. Number two is focusing on the recycling market. We recently acquired Brady Recycling to help expand our footprint in commercial recycling, and that acquisition gives us additional focus and expertise related to scrap and metal recycling. Number three is introducing a set of innovative applications under a digital engagement umbrella that are focused on automating certain transactions and their relationships for our customers and their customers. Lastly, we will be looking at the technology landscape more broadly and at the prevalence of the cloud. We are very focused on ensuring that our entire solutions portfolio is taking advantage of cloud technologies.
One of the things that we having coming down the pipeline for 2019 is expanding into the Latin America and South America markets, specifically Brazil and Mexico. We operate as a global company, and that puts us in an interesting position to partner with a variety of customers to help them explore different, innovative business models.