As technology becomes more user-friendly, the waste and recycling industry has applied it to several operational functions, making for more streamlined business decisions. With the ability to integrate systems, technology has transformed the way the industry manages its fleets through insight into vehicle maintenance, routing, driver performance and safety monitoring.
Privately held Coretex, a product of a 2015 merger among Imarda, International Telematics and Air-Trak, provides fleet management technology for the waste and recycling industry. With North American headquarters in San Diego, the company’s Coretex Air-Trak solution offers proof-of-service functions along with in-cab applications and a route management toolkit.
Waste360 recently sat down with Cliff Koutsky, head of customer success for waste and recycling smart truck solutions at Coretex, to discuss how technology has changed the industry and the role Coretex plays in providing technology and data solutions to streamline fleet management.
Waste360: How is the waste and recycling industry being transformed by technology?
Cliff Koutsky: Smart truck technology for waste collection is focused on making the driver’s job easier, safer and more efficient. For instance, now a truck can automatically record work in real time—service address by service address—resulting in reduced callbacks. Everything is paperless, such as electronic route sheets, work orders and DVIRs [driver vehicle inspection report], and electronic signature capture can trigger real-time invoicing. We also have the ability to relay engine fault codes to the fleet office as well as risky driving style behavior.
The cost of smart truck technology relative to the return on productivity keeps getting better and better, such as bigger/better Android tablets for the drivers, SaaS [Software as a Service] or cloud-based software and mobile apps for the fleet office users—so they can easily monitor route performance from anywhere.
Waste360: What are the new methods of service verification and route performance management?
Cliff Koutsky: Proximity or GPS-based service verification still gets you 80 percent of the way there, for perhaps one-fifth the cost of truck-mounted RFID [radio-frequency identification] readers. This means just having a black box on the truck and a lift-arm sensor automatically recording lifts/dumps at every service address. I recommend starting there and when budget allows, for your recycling routes or commercial routes, for example, add on truck-mounted RFID readers. However, nothing beats the precision of RFID for service addresses in high-density areas or for capturing different bin types and sizes, which is becoming more necessary.
Waste360: What is new in real-time route performance?
Cliff Koutsky: While the entire concept and technology is not new, the majority of waste haulers still aren’t doing it. It simply starts with having all of your service addresses geocoded with latitude and longitude. We also have a new “Route Replay” feature, where you can create a route template from the playback of a driver’s route.
With a GPS-enabled black box on the truck you know whether the service address was visited and whether the trash there was dumped (or not) from the lift-arm sensor. This is the first level of having “proximity-based” service verification and real-time route performance.
The next thing is to know why the truck was at a service address and did not dump the trash—and these are called exceptions. We usually have three reason codes for the driver to choose from: Not Out, Blocked and Contaminated. This gives you more accurate reporting. The driver can either press a physical button associated with that reason code or press it on the tablet on the electronic route sheet.
Now the fleet office can see if a street was missed in real time and whether a driver is nearly finished and can go help another driver who is running behind. This is very helpful.
What is also new are the many external demands being placed on the waste collection process, such as measuring recycling participation, pay-as-you-throw or dispatching a work order electronically to a driver. These tasks all require truck telematics or smart truck solutions.
Waste360: How has RFID technology been updated for the industry?
Cliff Koutsky: The good news is that most cities and counties are now including RFID chips in all of their new purchases for bins and carts. The cost of having them is so low. We believe that the high precision of RFID service verification is well suited to a lot of the stringent recordkeeping needed in the industry nowadays.
Waste360: Explain the latest advancement in waste transportation technology with the addition of camera-based verification systems.
Cliff Koutsky: Cameras are quickly moving beyond driver safety. We are working with camera systems that are using machine vision or artificial intelligence that further automates driver activity. Capturing the exceptions on camera is very compelling. You can call out repeat offenders, for example, and having video just takes the finger-pointing off the table.
Waste360: What is new for in-cab monitoring?
Cliff Koutsky: We are now offering our waste hauler customers our own DOT [Department of Transportation] compliant DVIR and Hours of Service (if needed) software modules. Users now have access to engine fault codes, vehicle service logs and the driving style behavior of drivers within the Coretex web portal. We understand that having vehicle diagnostics is important, and now you don’t have to put in place another system in parallel.