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How IOT Is Changing Waste Collection

Life is unimaginable without smartphones and while the most direct contact we have with technology are our computer and smartphones, there is new era of smart devices brewing to take over your life more than ever. While we are connected to each other more than before, we rely more on our phones than we used to. How many of us can remember our family members’ phone number right now? How many of us took the effort to remember a new phone number they had just changed?

Digitization has changed the way we live and work by making the world a smaller place by connecting and exchanging information readily anytime anywhere. This network of information is analyzed and processed as feedback for the application we worked on, returning us with new form of control. The internet of things has empowered us to do our daily task in a more efficient and productive way.

What is Internet of Things? 

The Internet of Things (IoT) is an environment in which objects, animals or people are provided with unique identifiers and the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction.

For instance, there are home smart devices that are synchronized with each other and can be controlled remotely. The ever-evolving IoT is making it only efficient as the user is able to control devices as per their usage and save resources. Think of your fridge with smart capabilities to know which item in your fridge is running low and it automatically refills your item via automatic shopping. This usage is more related on a day to day basics however it just scratch the surface of what IoT can really do. One of the main concept of IoT is to make it as efficient as possible for users to control devices as per their usage and save resources.

IoT in Waste Industry

When it comes to the waste industry, waste and recycling collectors are always looking at ways to minimise cost and increase productivity when possible. This would meant better utilisation of manpower, reducing fleet cost and increasing productivity per head while at the same time automate what used to be a tedious process ‘fixed-route’ collection method.

The IOT can change the way waste collectors carry on with their operations, know more information about their bins and bring change in the method of waste collection. Consumers on the other hand, will be able to pay reduced premium and other related costs. In short, the process of providing insurance, servicing the policies and settling the claims will be much more efficient and transparent in terms of processes.

While it is common for Singapore waste collectors to go on a fixed route waste collection, Western counterparts are already moving into on-demand collection. GoodWill Industries, a United States based recycling company is one good case study of how they had accessed their operation and look forward to a more efficient way of collection that directly brings down cost and save time.

With over 70 Goodwill collection bins in Goodwill Industries of Monocacy Valley, deducing the average volume of donations received was expensive and time consuming for the organization. “Drivers would empty the bins every one to three days and record the bin level and donor conversion. This was not the most efficient system for many reasons” says Wayne Hatcher, Vice President of Operations.



Drivers had to stop at each bin on regular intervals because they didn’t know if they were full or half full”, Wayne continued.The organization needed a smarter solution that would reduce costs and aid resource management by generating collection routes and providing near real time data about the bin contents.”

Identifying Limitations 

While we applaud GoodWill Industries for taking charge of their business longevity, we encourage local waste collection companies in Singapore to also look at longevity especially when our context of business revolves around shortage of manpower and increasing operating cost.

Wait and see

GoodWill’s initiative to find a solution that can increase efficiency and productivity comes from the need for longevity in the business while cost rise indefinitely. On the other hand in Singapore, we are looking at the problem point blank as our foreign labour policies tightens. This certainly reflects waste collectors’ dependency on foreign manpower policies whereby majority of manpower comes from foreign labour. There is no room to wait and see because it is a matter of time before the dire situation happens.

Tighter foreign labour policies

Maybe I am painting a gloom image right before you however many of business owners knows exactly what this is about. It may not be as bad as what I am saying. Aside from impeding manpower crunch, waste collectors are also looking at fluctuating fuel cost, fleet maintenance cost and decade-old method of collection with little data representation. These are limitations to your waste collection business and before you wept into the dark abyss of business failure, there is a solution that can help unlock potential of the bins you own.


Unlocking Potential (Read Profits) of Your Waste Collection Business

With the limitations identified, we now know what to do. GoodWill Industries went through this process of identifying limitations that if unlocked, could save them from wasting resources for the next 10 years and beyond.

It was at this point that Wayne and Goodwill came across SmartBin’s Intelligent Remote Monitoring Solution. Following a short trial, Goodwill Monocacy Valley deployed SmartBin sensors to each of their 72 collection bins, “revolutionizing the way we collect”.

This time round, GoodWill’s operation staff no longer have to travel all the way down to the site “just to check”. It is time wasting and resources are squandered away when collection could be arranged for another day, saving you fuel, time, manpower to travel down to a site with little to no returns.

“Now, we have a solution that measures the fill levels of our bins, monitors each pick up of material and estimates the weight of the material collected. SmartBin’s user friendly interface, SmartBin Live, will also create the most economical and efficient routing possible. It has made a hugely positive impact on our operation and overall strategy” states Wayne.


Impact of IoT on Waste Collection Industry

Welcome to effortless waste collection. The moment you decide on incorporating IoT into your waste collection with solutions such as SmartBin, you are virtually transforming any existing bins into an IoT-enabled waste bin. May it be MGB 660L, outdoor bins, skips for construction waste or even e-waste collection bins, you will be able to instantly retrofit your old bins with SmartBin sensors that collects data on the ground for you, so you don’t have to.

With battery life of 10 years, SmartBin sensors utilizes ultra sound technology to determine fill level, temperature, location and tilt angle of your bins; a feat that will not be possible in the past. It is an amazing sensor that you can simply install and forget, akin to a little genie that informs you the situation of your bins in real-time. In this case, IoT has enabled waste collectors to better utilise your current manpower which indirectly empower them to be more productive.

The results of SmartBin’s clients in the United States are impressive, with up to 50% savings (fuel, labour, fines, administration & truck servicing). We will show you how and where do they save on.

A SmartBin client, who is a top 5 textile collector operating in 14 states across the East Coast with 1,800 clothing container has always been operating on a milk-run basis decided to try out SmartBin’s solution. Over a period of 1 year, they had successfully achieved the following:

  • Increased yield per service event – 73%
  • Increased profit per service event from $29.19 to $55.93
  • 43% reduction in labor costs
  • 25% saving on fuel costs

With this results, we spread the cost and profits over a period of 5 years.

  • Monthly saving across 1000 bins – $23,930
  • Annual Savings across 1000 bins – $287,160
  • Savings over 5 year contract – $1.4m

While it has became increasingly hard to operate lean, waste and recycling collectors such as GoodWill Industries has overcame limitations with their good foresight and swift decision, enabling better income through operating cost reduction. This is also one of the reasons why Ausko has embarked on the sustainability journey with SmartBin. We firmly believe that our waste industry can be made better with IoT, given the myriad of advantages it bring.


The Future of Waste Collection Has IoT Embedded

Internet of Things or IoT is a new term to many of us. While some of us are still wrapping our heads around what cloud computing is, IoT reaches our shore with a brand new purpose and it will definitely change the way we live our life and conduct business. With our nation’s direction to become a Smart Nation, IoT is set to play a bigger role in the next 5 years where those projects being planned now, are fulfilled on the ground and that includes the waste collection process. National Environmental Agency (NEA) has ran a trial of sensors in high traffic areas to capture data of public waste bins. IDA and NEA has also ran a pilot project to determine if waste collection can be tweaked to be “On-Demand” basis with emphasis on hygiene at the same time.

Smart Nation is taking place and waste collectors are able to ride on the bandwagon while it is the best time to enter with strong support from the Government.


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