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Blog June 2021

AMCS Mobile Technology: Driving benefits to the bottom line

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Ronan Egan Product Owner Mobile Workforce at AMCS Group

By working closely with drivers and collection crews, AMCS has developed its Mobile Workforce solution to support automating tasks so this important frontline mobile workforce can focus on delivering a high-quality service to more customers. With the ongoing development of our Transport Management System, greater digitalization is helping waste and recycling companies to improve asset utilization and workforce productivity.

Drivers and collection crew play a central role in every waste and recycling business. Not only responsible for delivering the service, but they are also the most visible face of the company and, as a result, have an essential role in customer service and satisfaction.

Just like the vehicles they use, these workers represent a significant investment. Using the AMCS Mobile Workforce solution, a business can help frontline staff avoid repetitive administration and unnecessary cognitive load. When allied with the AMCS Transport Management System to plan the most efficient routes, the company can reduce staff overtime and associated stress.

Our in-cab and mobile software give drivers the confidence that their round will go to plan and the tools to overcome any likely obstacles on the way like delays or exceptions (blocked access, broken containers, etc.). These are the things that directly influence employee satisfaction. And, according to a recent Gallup workplace survey, businesses with engaged employees have 41 percent less absenteeism and a 17 percent increase in productivity.

As the leading supplier of integrated software and vehicle technology for the waste and recycling sector, AMCS has developed a comprehensive platform to efficiently connect different business units. For the collection personnel, the AMCS in-cab driver and helper apps have been designed with an easy-to-use interface to keep attention focused on the things that matter: getting through the collection schedule efficiently and safely. These same tools give depot managers and planners the real-time information they need to adapt as issues arise - and to review later for ongoing service refinement.

Efficiency on the vehicle

Historically, waste companies have sent drivers out with paper-based route sheets, reliant mainly on their local knowledge to navigate the round. While the advent of GPS and intelligent planning software has improved efficiency by identifying shorter routes, many businesses still need to send their drivers out with papers to record the collections.

Doing so has limitations. Once the crew sets off, there is little scope to adapt when problems arise. What’s more, if the driver is new to the collection round, such as covering sickness or holiday, navigating these routes while managing the paperwork can take longer and result in missed collections and delayed collections, which generates extra call volumes to the waste collectors call center.

AMCS Mobile solution is designed to capitalize on the complete end-to-end solution that the AMCS platform provides. It streamlines the workflow, directly handing off the route and collections to an onboard computer, tablet, or mobile, with the real-time data shared with the back office. This makes it possible to dynamically respond to changes to the day, with planners capable of updating a collection round already underway.

When needed, the software provides specific customer information, such as the key code for gates to access bins. Again, reducing the time spent looking up paper notes, enabling the crew to move through the round faster.

The driver experience has been optimized to minimize interactions with the in-cab display, so he can concentrate on service and safety. The AMCS Vehicle Technology solution optionally includes either GPS or RFID matching with containers so no driver intervention is necessary for positive service verification. In a situation that is not possible, the driver can mark off each collection point on the device’s touch-screen. These innovations cut out the need to record customer details on the spot or log this at the end of the shift manually. During the Covid-19 pandemic, this innovation has also helped AMCS customers using the Mobile Workforce solution to reduce contact between operatives at the depot, helping to keep their frontline workforce safe.

Coronavirus has also meant drivers working new routes at short notice, sometimes drawing agency drivers to combat staff shortages. For crew new to a route, the AMCS software offers a Guided Navigation tool, providing a turn-by-turn audible direction on navigating the collection route so that a driver can focus his full attention on the road.

Planning to get ahead

The AMCS platform can work out the most efficient route for each collection vehicle, processing data for all the scheduled collection points. The Intelligent Optimisation tool identifies ways to reduce mileage and time, and as a result, also reduce emissions.

In the current climate, environmental considerations are paramount when working with fuel-hungry waste collection vehicles, and real-time route planning offers a clear link to fulfilling these demands. Furthermore, as the waste collection industry increases the use of electric vehicles, AMCS mobile technology can calculate how these vehicles get a collection done within the vehicle’s battery range whilst considering the impact of the weather on batteries during different seasons.

This software also gives route planners the scope to adjust for localized considerations, such as a geo-fenced warning to the driver when approaching a school or even opting to avoid an area altogether at crucial times. These refinements play a valuable role in reducing risks to the crew and the general public. This route editor functionality similarly enables the planner to avoid traffic hotspots during rush hour, save time for the vehicle, and avoid unwanted emissions.

This flexibility also enables planners to work with experienced drivers, who might have other local insights, choosing to modify the planned route by the software. In doing this, not only is it possible to draw on a broader data set for efficiency, but it also makes the driver feel valued when they have the experiential knowledge to contribute.

By collecting information in real-time, the AMCS Platform also helps planners and depot managers keep on top of what is happening on the road on any given day. If a driver is behind schedule due to bad traffic or a breakdown, planners can assist by allocating some of the collection lists to another crew. These changes can be swiftly updated via the cloud server to the onboard systems for both crews.

It means no collection crew is penalized for situations outside of their control, reducing excessive overtime, which labor surveys show is a key factor in long-term staff retention. This is a major consideration given the costs associated with a high turnover of staff.

According to Jim Fish, Chief Executive of Waste Management, a leading US-based environmental services provider, it costs $12,000 to hire a new driver so preventing driver turnover is critical. Cited in a recent article in the New York Times, Mr. Fish reported that half of all safety incidents involving drivers at Waste Management are those that have been with the company for less than three years. Adding that, “In terms of safety, the longer you are here, the better you are.”

Photo capture to enhance customer service

AMCS Mobile provides the driver with both a digital map view and a list of customers during the shift. If a driver cannot complete a collection because access to a bin is blocked or not presented for collection, the software has the option of taking a photo for evidence and flag the problem.

Using linked cameras on the vehicle or the tablet running the Mobile Workforce software, the driver can immediately send the photo to customer services. They can also contact the client to reschedule a collection, which helps to eliminate costly issues related to missed collections and avoids customer aggravation. Some companies have already used this capability to upsell their service by offering a rescheduled collection for a small fee before the next scheduled lift. This process also removes any blame for a missed collection from the driver and allows them to continue working without interruption.

The AMCS Mobile Workforce solution can handle cameras mounted differently depending on the type of vehicle used. Collection vehicles can have a camera positioned on the side of the vehicle facing the curb, with images sent to the in-cab screen, so the single driver doesn’t have to get out of the truck. If the company uses a front-end loader (FEL), the linked camera can be mounted looking forward from the driver’s view.

In other situations, the in-cab tablet can be used outside of the vehicle to take a photo, such as a blocked collection down an alley. AMCS has also developed a Helper App for these situations, connected to the vehicle's ID when it's easier for the accompanying crew to walk to the source of the problem to take the picture.

Continued commitment to improving performance

Looking ahead, AMCS is continually developing our solutions. The new Transport Management System recently launched has a new user interface for planners and depot managers. The integrated rostering component provides an intuitive, visual overview of staffing and vehicle availability. It shows the collection timings for any given day, including the current day, calculated by the cloud software based on distances between each pick-up.

Crucially, enhanced flexibility of the new Transport Management System helps planners respond to changes, such as additional collection requests from existing or new customers. They can access visual tools to quickly add these to a collection round, confident the AMCS software will optimize the route and timings, automatically updating the driver, in the process and thus increasing utilization of the asset.

In addition to the workforce productivity gains through manually updating the roster, the latest AMCS updates also incorporate features for managers to analyze key performance metrics with the driver, such as productivity metrics and safety reporting. By capturing performance data, companies can identify problems sooner and support the collection crews.

Our new integrated telematics and tracking solution, AMCS Tracker will allow transport planners to see a unified view of key telematics data ( e.g. hard-driving, fuel usage, vehicle maintenance, and GPS status) along with the standard service information of the customer, orders, and routes. This will boost driver productivity, safety, service and reduce fuel usage.

With best-in-class cybersecurity, gathering data in the cloud enables AMCS to leverage the platform's intelligent optimization and analytics capabilities. This digitalization benefits everyone involved in a waste and recycling business, from senior managers to drivers who see the benefit of switching to AMCS mobile technology during every collection.

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