When Hearts for the Homeless (HFTH), a not-for-profit serving the homeless of Buffalo, N.Y., grew from 30 collection containers to more than 400, the organization needed help. So in 2014, HFTH found Enevo North America, whose sensors and technology in waste collection bins now supports them in logistics and routing. Now it knows which bins take priority, how full they are and how best to route the three trucks they use to service the bins.
HFTH was founded in 1990, starting out with a small number of recycling collection containers around the Western New York area and has become a leading driver for the circular economy in the region. It operates a clothing and textiles recycling program, reselling lightly used clothes at a thrift store and clothing that cannot be used, is sold to wholesalers. The funds from the clothing sales support a mobile soup kitchen feeding 50 to 100 homeless people each of the five days it operates.
So managing the collection bins around town is of significant importance to HFTH and doing so efficiently, and most importantly, without having to add more vehicles and assets that would direct funds away from the mission was a priority.
Nick Calandra, COO and corporate secretary of HFTH, says when there were 30 containers, logistics were easy to handle.
“We personally checked every container and it was easy to memorize locations and estimate fill speeds in order to organize our truck routes and collections.”
However, as the organization grew and the collection points spread across a wider area, manual logistics planning became more complex and efficiency dropped. It got to the point where containers were being emptied when only 30 percent full, simply because they were located on the regular collection routes.
Calandra says now HTFH is visiting the containers on a fuller basis than it previously had been doing, which opens up new markets in terms of collection. It allows for donations from cities and towns that were not possible before the technology, he says.
Ric Hobby, president and general manager for Enevo North America, says that Enevo’s technology was just the right fit for HTFH.
“They needed to understand more about just the pure logistics of ‘how do I get to these sights and make sure that these containers are full when I get there so that I’m maximizing these trips out to these outskirts.’ I believe, and I think they would confirm, that our technology and the solutions that we offer, were critical in their ability to execute against that plan efficiently,” says Hobby.
Hobby says HFTH administrators, operations groups and drives have really embraced the technology. They’re fully integrated, he says, and they use it all the way to their advantage.
Like it does for traditional haulers, Enevo offers different platforms for the needs of the client. There’s the full routing technology that HFTH is using that works well for them, and then there’s another platform that is strictly the data points and information that allows customers to make educated decisions on what they want to achieve. So for HFTH, there’s information ready for administrators, the operations groups and the drivers. Training, either onsite or online – gives each player full knowledge of what the technology does for them, Hobby says.
From an administrator standpoint, it’s really about how to dissect the information, he says. Enevo makes it easy for customers to understand. On the driver’s side, it’s making sure they understand that the routing is done based on data points and the fullness level.
“For HFTH specifically, it’s very, very important just based on the shear logistics of windshield time that the drivers have to endure,” Hobby says.
Calandra has said the drivers have embraced the technology and appreciate making fewer stops per day, and arriving a site with a bin at a good fill level makes for a smoother day. In fact, since the partnership with Enevo, those collection containers, previously at 30 or 35 percent full, are now 80 percent full or more when they’re picked up.
“So that’s a great win-win for us and for Hearts for the Homeless so that they’re achieving what they were looking for from our technology,” says Hobby.
And businesses in and out of the waste industry can benefit from the technology.
“We’ve made some significant strides over the last couple of months in our reporting capabilities, Hobby says. “We have a platform now that will allow our customers to understand more about when collections are supposed to take place based on their schedules and be able to monitor that those services actually did take place on their static routes. It’s not just meant necessarily for hauling companies and companies like Hearts for the Homeless for routing purposes, the technology is now starting to transform more into real data points for our customers to understand more about their schedules and when their containers are becoming full and mirroring that up with when they should actually be picked up. “
Hobby says it’s really taking the data points now and finding actionable data to help them drive their business and make critical business decisions.
“It is the data points and the way that we are able to deliver it to our customers - it is something that I have not seen in the industry before. There’s a lot of hard work being done here that I’m very grateful to be a part of. It is truly—and this term gets overused—but is truly a game changer in the industry. It is great fun to be a part of it,” Hobby says.