For waste and recycling haulers like Cincinnati-based Rumpke Waste & Recycling and Phoenix-based Republic Services, technology has aided in improving day-to-day operations and fleet management, in addition to enhancing safety standards.
The data being collected by telematics systems also helps haulers identify trends and issues and improve route efficiencies. Many Rumpke trucks, for example, are equipped with onboard telematics systems, such as FleetMatics or Geotab. The company collects location and time data for safety and customer service purposes.
By using telematics, Rumpke has already experienced improvements in safety, customer service and operational efficiencies. As technology continues to improve, the company will assess ways to incorporate it into its operations, according to Jonathan Kissell, APR, communications manager for Rumpke Waste & Recycling.
An example of improved safety through telematics occurs if a driver is involved in an accident. Rumpke uses GPS to pinpoint the truck’s location, which helps staff and first responders when responding to the scene. Following an accident, the company reviews GPS coordinates and truck speed as part of a complete investigation to determine what, how, and why it occurred.
Through the use of telematics, Rumpke also is able to adjust routes or manage outside operational disruptions more efficiently.
“Let’s take a business account with a busy parking lot as an example. If our driver approaches a container for service and it’s blocked by a parked vehicle, he will make a note on his route sheet and take a picture of the blocked container if possible,” says Kissell. “His GPS coordinates will also confirm the time and location of attempted service. For repetitive issues, our sales team will meet with the customer to explain the situation, and we’ll collaborate to resolve the issue. This may include adjusting the route or suggesting ‘no parking’ signage for the customer.”
Additionally, Rumpke uses routing software to show the optimal way to service a route and to estimate how long it will take to complete a route. After a driver actually services that particular route, the company can compare the truck’s GPS coordinates and actual service time to the routing software.
“We will also discuss with the driver what occurred in reality that routing software may not take into account,” says Kissell. “For example, our driver may have adjusted his sequence in real-time because of temporary road construction or unexpected traffic congestion.”
Kissell says that the company’s pre-trip and post-trip routines have remained the same, for the most part.
“It’s the driver’s responsibility to review certain operational conditions of the truck before starting and after completing a route, and then reporting any issues to the maintenance team,” he says.
Once reported, the maintenance team makes appropriate repairs to ensure the truck is available the next day or as soon as possible for same-day repairs.
“Rumpke has an extensive preventative maintenance program that helps us identify and minimize potential issues,” says Kissell.
Rumpke uses TMT fleet management software for tracking regular and unexpected maintenance needs of its trucks.
“This allows us to effectively plan for required maintenance while ensuring that equipment is available for performing service,” says Kissell. “During actual maintenance, much of the diagnostic process is automated. Our mechanics are trained to use the programs and perform the maintenance.”
The trucks’ telematics systems send information also notifying headquarters of any issues the truck is experiencing. Maintenance shops can make decisions on whether the repair can wait until the end of the route or if a truck needs to be serviced immediately.
“We’re able to identify the nature of the potential issues and make informed decisions about returning to the shop or finding a safe stopping area for a road-call,” says Kissell.
The data the drivers see can be used to improve customer service. This may involve reviewing collected data to analyze route performance or to change a route for better effectiveness.
“We do this every day in every market that we service,” says Kissell. “We continually review routes and route performance.”
The company is able to insert new customers or remove cancelled ones from existing routes on a daily basis. For larger projects, such as routing for a newly secured municipal contract, Rumpke’s logistics and hauling teams will review how the new customers overlap with existing routes.
Route optimization technology also has helped pave the way for the introduction of automated and semi-automated trucks to waste and recycling fleets.
Rumpke uses RouteSmart for routing and route optimization, along with a team of logistics personnel for on-route analysis. This allows the company to maximize the efficiency of its team and trucks, while providing high-quality service in a cost-effective manner. It also helps identify new business opportunities.
“Routing software allows us to review all routes in a specific area from a high-level,” says Kissell. “It helps us avoid overlapping routes, which saves time and reduces frustration for our team. This in turn reduces our operational expenses and allows us to remain competitive on pricing.”
For new business, Rumpke can plot potential opportunities on a map using routing software and compare its proximity to existing routes. This helps the company make decisions about whether or not to pursue the opportunity, equipment needs for performing service, and pricing.
With about 5.8 million pick-ups per day, Republic Services relies heavily on technology for consistency.
Joe Burkel, vice president of digital operations and process improvement at Republic Services, estimates that a one percent reduction in total fleet miles traveled can save more than 631,000 gallons of fuel. The carbon emissions savings from that would be equivalent to removing 1,400 cars from the roads, he says.
“We believe that by calculating smart travel plans, we can further reduce fuel consumption, miles traveled and vehicular emissions while complying with municipal weight and operating hour requirements,” he says.