North American recycler Avangard Innovative helped its Fortune 500 clients increase their recycling profits last year thanks to analytics software from TIBCO Software Inc., a Palo Alto, Calif.-based software company.
“Our proprietary software is called Sustayn Analytics, and we can unequivocally say it is the most powerful data visualization platform in the recycling and waste industry,” says Shafiq Jadallah, chief of analytics and supply chain at Avangard Innovative. “By monitoring all aspects of our client’s workflow, we provide near real-time visualization and tracking of every piece of recyclable and waste material, turning their program into a transparent, productive and predictable profit generator.”
For 30 years, Avangard has been in the recycling and waste management industries, becoming the largest recycling company with presence in 13 countries. Its mission is to maximize what its clients put into the circular economy, minimize the cost to manage waste and generate incremental revenue from recyclables.
Using real data from some of its clients, Avangard was able to improve in three months the proprietary Capture Percentage Rate economic model to 79 percent, up from 75 percent; increase the average bale weights by 50 percent, averaging more than 900 pounds per bale; reduce the freight hauls by 20 percent and reduce labor touches by the same 20 percent; and lower the monthly waste expense by 44 percent, saving the big box retailer client more than $100,000 annually in waste services.
“We plugged the aggregated data into our [CPR] and identified that the company’s waste and recycling profile was below industry standard in terms of their capturing of recyclable materials into the waste stream, inefficient in terms of getting more freight density and wasteful … on the structure of their waste services contract,” says Jadallah. “Using our visual monitors, we were also able to physically show the client some of their employees literally throwing away valuable assets by putting cardboard, foam and plastic film into their trash compactor. Through weekly calls and our Sustayn dashboard, we worked with the client to educate and train their employees on what not to put in the compactor, when to eject bales (at the optimum weight) and renegotiate their waste services contract.”
For another client, a national grocery chain, using Avangard’s Sustayn platform with its Sustayn Analytics center allowed them to identify the misclassification of recycled/baled material. Through the use of image recognition, the Sustayn Analytics group identified this misclassification, saving the client more than $60,000 on their pilot locations.
“We are currently negotiating with them for a national rollout, and preventing this misclassification alone will increase the client’s recycling revenues by $2.7 million,” says Jadallah.
Avangard went through a request for proposal process and vetted several different business intelligence offerings before choosing the TIBCO Spotfire software.
“We did our research and, of course, TIBCO always comes to the top of anyone’s list,” says Jadallah. “When evaluating not only the functionality of the tool but also the ease of development of visuals, the support, features and pricing structure, TIBCO Spotfire was a hands-down winner against the alternatives we were evaluating.”
TIBCO provides Avangard with TIBCO Spotfire, an enterprise-class analytics platform. Avangard uses the software to analyze their data and discover insights based on Spotfire’s analytics platform and recommendation engine. The Spotfire recommendation engine is a pioneering artificial intelligence (AI) engine that suggests a pallet of visualizations that are pre-configured with visualizations that reveal hidden insights buried deep within complex data.
“The secret sauce in Spotfire is our AI-driven recommendation engine,” says Mark Palmer, senior vice president of analytics at TIBCO. “The recommendation engine evaluates the data an analyst loads and applies AI, and heuristics against it recommend insights that the user had not yet seen or considered. These insights are recommended to the user, who can accept or reject them, explore them and then refine them as deeper insights are discovered in their data.”
According to Jadallah, the partnership between Avangard and TIBCO is still evolving.
“Originally, we purchased our TIBCO Spotfire license through a third party and worked closely with them on the training, updates and Q&A in terms of new tools, offerings, etc.,” he says. “Recently, we have shifted toward working directly with TIBCO, especially now as we explore new features such as using predictive analytics within the Spotfire software.”
One of the main new areas for TIBCO in waste and recycling focuses on machine learning and artificial intelligence.
“With the recent rapid rise in Smart City projects throughout the world, we now have access to more waste and recycling data than ever before that can be used to optimize routes for waste collection, increase the efficiency of collections and optimize consumption with smart metering and IoT technologies, as national infrastructure becomes more connected,” says Palmer.