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Blog December 2020 Updated May 2021

How to efficiently centralise planning for waste collection routes

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Martijn Schimmer Intelligent Optimization Solution Advisor

Achieve agility and efficiency in highly demanding and dynamic planning environments is one of the benefits organizations and companies can benefit from by centralizing their waste collection planning. With a state-of-the-art system in place, they can handle multiple intricate visit patterns while at the same time increase efficiencies, reduce costs, driver churn, and improve customer satisfaction, according to Gerard Kissane, who has many years of experience in the waste and recycling industry.

"Due to centralized planning, planners are also able to deploy drivers and vehicles on routes freely. This leads to an increase in vehicle utilization while at the same time reducing the number of vehicles in the streets, which lowers the environmental impact and with that contributes to the sustainable goals of organizations and companies.”

Challenges of a decentralized waste collections planning

Typically waste companies have multiple planners across different locations throughout their area of operation, Gerard Kissane describes the average planning situation in the waste and recycling industry. “Each planning center is responsible for the dispatch and planning in its geographic area. New customers added to the depot are scheduled onto existing or new routes.”

In doing so the planners take the different restrictions into accounts, such as collection times, access points, and locations of bins, he says. “With this, the company heavily relies on the personal knowledge and experience of the planners. Even the 'best-of-the-best planners can face limitations, such as their own personal mental capacity. Therefore, the challenge for most larger companies is that at a certain point, the planner's knowledge and capacity can become a point of failure and even possibly an inhibiting factor in the growth of the business.”

Innovative technology answer to centralize the planning

An essential precondition for centralized planning is the capability to handle enormous amounts of various orders simultaneously. Gerard Kissane: “This means dynamically planning, optimization of transport routes and also the ability to re-plan and to re-optimize orders during the execution of the daily collection and transport routes.”

This extremely complicated puzzle can be solved by intelligent optimization. Mathematical algorithms calculate every specific situation at lightning speed after which the system plans or re-plans the orders whilst continually optimizing the routes. With this, the state-of-the-art technology provides a powerful tool for dispatching and real-time transportation optimization, which helps organizations and companies achieve agility and efficiency in highly demanding and dynamic planning environments, Gerard Kissane explains.

Reschedule order to another driver due to insights into the operation

With planning centralized by intelligent optimization organizations and companies can treat their entire collection areas as one without the need to break them down by route or zip/postal code. “This allows for efficiencies and synergies to be achieved whilst maintaining a complete overview of all the status of the orders and the vehicles”, says Gerard Kissane.

“Both drivers and vehicles are no longer restricted to the same collection route but can be deployed freely to the most efficient routes. The planner at any time knows if the driver is ahead or behind schedule and due to the insights into the operation, he or she can reschedule an order to another driver. This assures orders are executed within the set time frame while at the same time guaranteeing customers the highest possible service level.”

Centralized planning increases efficiencies and reduces costs

Some of the organizations who’ve adopted this innovative technology, of which Gerard refers to have all experienced positive, tangible benefits. Examples are up to a 15% reduction in the number of vehicles or drivers' shifts needed and up to a 25% reduction in miles, driving time, and CO2 emissions.

The most considerable saving is seen in transport planning, execution, and follow-up with up to 50% less time spent on these activities. Besides, these benefits ultimately lower the numbers of vehicles on the streets and as a result, also the cost. A lesser gauged benefit of intelligent optimization is the increase in customer satisfaction from the improved collection accuracy, which leads to happier householders/customers.”

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