On-board garbage truck scales are changing how haulers and their customers manage waste

August 4, 2020

5 Min Read
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Competitive pressures, dumpster overloading and differences in material density are pushing waste haulers to evaluate customer tracking with hard data on every load. Accurate business data creates opportunities to streamline operations, improve profit, and create competitive advantage by feeding back waste production data to help customers reduce their waste stream. Waste haulers are investing in tools like onboard scales to improve transparency, traceability, and profitability of each customer.

The key to monitoring accurate payload-per-dumpster, measured at the first touch point, is an onboard weighing system. Waste haulers with onboard scales have reported improved per-customer profitability by up to 15%. This increase in profitability is  enabled by accurately tracking how much each customer actually discards, and ensuring each contract accurately reflects the weight, not volume, of trash in each dumpster, every pickup.

Paul Corder, director of weighing technology at Trimble, a leading provider of scales and payload management solutions, sees this growing focus on environmental issues and increased expectations around transparency and traceability in the waste industry as a good thing. “What used to be a simple calculation where customers were charged for collection based on waste volume has evolved,” Corder said. “The traditional pricing model where a waste hauler quotes a price based on dumpster size, how often the dumpster is emptied and waste type, is losing favor. At the landfill truck scale they pay by weight. The issue is the disconnect between how haulers charge (fixed volume) and their cost basis (per ton for disposal). Even a small miscalculation means losing money.”

Looking for a better way – on-board weighing

Given these changing attitudes and priorities, on-board weighing is attracting significant attention from waste haulers and their corporate customers. The technology gives haulers the ability to know the profitability of each customer, as well as provide data to customers to inform their waste minimization efforts.

The Trimble LOADRITE E2750 onboard scale system, for example, records the weight of material in each dumpster, allowing haulers to provide accurate weights to customers directly. The in-cab display shows weight data calculated using load and position sensors. During the normal lifting cycle, the operator sees the dumpster payload, and whether the dumpster is overloaded and potentially unsafe. The system automatically adds each dumpster’s weight to a running total. It informs the operator when to return before the vehicle is overloaded. This accurate payload information optimizes total pickups each cycle, as Trimble truck scales have been shown to consistently achieve much better accuracy than counting dumpsters or guesstimating material density. This all happens as part of the normal loading/pickup process. There is no delay or interruption to the operator, and payload is calculated automatically.

The LOADRITE E2750 weighing system offers accurate, reliable weighing of every dumpster and traceable data on all loading activity. Many haulers believe this move is significant because it can help waste collectors operate more efficiently. Not only that, after the payload is calculated, the total can be connected to the customer account via the dispatch software or other third-party application. No paperwork is required by the operator and if a customer requires a ticket, the operator can print directly from the cab.

More transparency improves hauler profitability

Onboard scales help make waste collection and disposal processes more productive and safer. Corder believes they also provide waste haulers greater visibility into customer waste services. Haulers can clearly see which customers are profitable and where they may be losing money. More data and reporting options also help haulers improve productivity and ensure trucks are optimally loaded. Haulers can also quickly see individual dumpster weights with time and date stamps and track customers quickly by customer I.D., number, dumpster size, and other metrics.

“The E2750 automatically measures the net weight of the dumpster as it’s emptied and integrates into the route management system,” Corder said. “Measuring payload this way helps waste collection companies improve safety dramatically because there’s no chance of overloading trucks and incurring fines. Haulers also have a complete record of each individual customer’s activity, allowing them to evaluate profitability. Optimal truck loading helps reduce trips to the landfill and eliminate the risk of overload penalties. On the other side, many commercial customers like it because they can see a complete picture of the waste they’re generating, and the difference their efforts to reduce their waste stream are producing.”

ROI for all

Waste reduction, specifically food waste management, is getting more attention, as efforts to mitigate this part of the waste stream have been slow to progress. Anything less than real-time feedback is  inaccurate, and prevents customers from making immediate changes to their operations. Haulers that help customers reduce food waste can build stronger partnerships with them and make it less likely they’ll be lured by competitors. For commercial customers, this can mean an improved bottom line, positive PR, and environmental benefits.

A recent World Resources Institute (WRI) study reports that for every dollar invested in food loss and waste reduction, there is a greater-than 14-fold financial return on investment. Last year more than $125 million went to startups working to address food waste. IKEA and Emmar Hospitality Group, using new technology, have reduced kitchen food waste by 50% and 72% respectively. That gained IKEA a cost savings of up to $100,000 per store. Any hauler that can measure and report customer waste levels becomes a valued data source

 “Data is driving our industry’s evolution, and the technology, cost factors, and contractual requirements have evolved from where volume-based decisions don’t work any longer, and weight data is available and provides a better basis for how to operate,” said Byrne. “Whether its responding to daily operating requirements or the larger perspective of how we reduce the environmental footprint of landfills, incrementally - and in the big picture - on-board weighing is the future.”

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