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Blog March 2020 Updated April 2024

Smart optimization the basis for emptying Omrin’s underground containers

Real-time order information status used to adjust collection schedules

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Martijn Schimmer

Martijn Schimmer

Intelligent Optimization Solution Advisor

Real-time order information status used to adjust collection schedules

Omrin firmly believes dynamic scheduling and route optimization allow dispatchers to organize the emptying of underground containers more quickly while benefitting from a stress-free working environment. “AMCS Intelligent Optimisation also allows the waste collection and processing company to collect waste more efficiently”, says business consultant Natasja Vemmer. “Consequently, the fill level has increased from 60 to 80 percent, increasing the average weight of waste collected from 260 to 300 kilos per container. What’s more, dynamic planning saves a considerable number of trips, which has reduced the mileage driven, thereby cutting CO2 emissions. At Omrin, we believe this to be important as we are committed to a sustainable society and a circular economy.”

  • Omrin collects and processes waste from around 207,000 households in 32 municipalities
  • Collection of household waste involving 2,150 underground containers
  • Planning and optimizing collection routes with AMCS Intelligent Optimisation
  • Real-time insight into collection status and vehicle location
  • Dynamic planning and optimization, even while the collection is in progress
  • More efficient collection results in an increase in fill level from 60 to 80 percent and an average weight of waste from 260 to 300 kilos per container
  • Faster planning, leaving more time for other work, such as optimizing routes
  • Reduced environmental impact due to lower mileage and cuts in CO2 emissions

Various reasons to automate the collection

Some underground containers were being emptied too late, so residents dumped bags next to them, while other underground containers that barely had any waste in them were being emptied anyway. For Omrin, the waste collection, and processing company in the Northern Netherlands, these were two of the consequences of using fixed routes as a basis for emptying most underground containers. “We always used to play it safe”, says business consultant Natasja Lemmer, “which meant, for instance, emptying underground containers even if they were only 60% full.”

The fact that there were various reasons behind the decision to automate this process becomes apparent. “Planning routes every day involved a lot of work for our team of dispatchers. Moreover, we used to receive complaints that drivers had been sent to empty containers that were only half full. Sometimes they would drive across town to do so, which meant clocking up unnecessary extra mileage. Apart from all that, we were also aiming to reduce the amount of waste being dumped next to the containers.”

Emptying on the basis of content weight and the number of times the access flap is opened

These days, the situation has changed considerably. Omrin empties 2,150 underground containers in its operating area according to the fill levels estimated from the number of times the access flaps are opened and historical data, including content weights. The contents of the underground container are weighed on the collection vehicle. After emptying, the weight is automatically transmitted from the onboard computer to the office, where it is processed by the administration system.

The routes for the next day are created automatically using the fill-level data which is transmitted to the AMCS system at night. “The only thing the dispatcher has to do then checks the routes and make any adjustments where necessary; for example, if we’ve received notification that a container is full, meaning an additional collection is required.” Natasja goes on to explain that the fact the system had to be integrated was clear from the outset. “We have a number of principles at Omrin. Firstly, our aim is to minimize the number of human actions, and secondly, it is to ensure that information is accessible throughout the organization.”

Faster scheduling and stress-free dispatch department

The smart software optimizes collection routes through the use of unprecedented sets of algorithms. It allows real-time monitoring during the day, both on the status of the orders and on the locations of the vehicles, including where they are up to on their schedule. Calling drivers for updates on the status of their orders is therefore a thing of the past, which means that there is less stress in the dispatch department.

Another advantage of intelligent optimization is that the dispatchers can pay more attention to the planning process, and especially to optimizing collection routes, as Natasja’s explanation reveals. “Moreover, the planning process can be speeded up, leaving dispatchers more time for other work, such as the functional management of the software. For instance, they can look into whether we could achieve even better results if certain parameters were set slightly differently. The dispatch team has time to figure this out.”

Rise infill level and fall in the number of collection trips

Natasja went on to explain that for Omrin, AMCS Intelligent Optimisation has mainly helped towards a more efficient collection of waste. “For example, the number of times underground containers are emptied has fallen significantly. We have also seen a sharp increase in the fill level, from 60 to 80 percent, which means there has been an increase in the weight of waste collected. The average content of waste in the containers when they were emptied used to be 260 kilos. After the implementation of AMCS Intelligent Optimisation, this went up to 300 kilos at a time.”

Therefore, on balance, dynamic planning saves a considerable number of trips, so our vehicles can be used elsewhere. ‘That is important, she says. “If the number of underground containers increases, we can empty them with the same number of vehicles. We used to operate at full stretch. The amount of mileage driven and our CO2 emissions have also been cut. This is also important to Omrin because we are committed to a sustainable society and a circular economy. Omrin was the most sustainable company in the Netherlands in 2019 and we want to keep it that way. Another positive impact of intelligent optimization is that less rubbish is dumped alongside the containers. However, we can’t say for certain whether this can be put down to route optimization alone because we ran a campaign intended to put an end to it.”

Future challenges

Increasing the number of underground containers in the operating area and emptying them according to route optimization are among the plans that Omrin envisages for the next few years. “That is certainly a challenge”, says Natasja. “Each increase involves having to ensure the basis is sound and making sure we build up historical data. For instance, we have to work out how many times the access flap can open before an underground container is full. When we have entered that information into the AMCS software system, it works out the optimum collection schedule and plans the routes accordingly. It also takes into account the ‘must do’ containers, which need to be emptied as a matter of urgency and the ‘can do’ containers, which we can possibly empty if the schedule allows.”

When optimizing the routes, the ‘what if scenarios’ built into the software are also important. “These are used to allow us to schedule any additional collection stops”, Natasja explains. “This comes into play, for example, at those times when we would anticipate that our underground containers will be extra full on, say, Easter Monday. In AMCS we can move collections; some to the Friday or Saturday before Easter and some to the Tuesday after. Previously, all extra collections were on Saturdays. This placed an extra workload on the dispatchers and on the drivers. AMCS provides clarity and reduces stress among the dispatchers. It’s clearly an improvement on the old system.”

Efficient waste collection increases fill levels and collection weight

AMCS Intelligent Optimisation has led to significant gains for Omrin. Dynamic planning and route optimization have enabled the more efficient collection and increased the fill level from 60 to 80 percent while the average weight of waste collected increased from 260 to 300 kilos per container. Moreover, the planning process can be speeded up, leaving more time for other activities, such as the functional management of the software and setting the parameters in order to achieve even better collection results. What’s more, dynamic planning saves a considerable number of trips, cutting both mileage and CO2 emissions, whereby AMCS Intelligent Optimisation is helping Omrin achieve its sustainable goals and therefore support the waste collection and processing company’s commitment to building a circular economy.

Passion for closing recycling loops

Omrin is Frisian for the ‘recycling loop’, which also indicates the company’s passion for closing recycling loops. It uses smart separation techniques and high-tech power plants for this purpose. One example is the green gas power plant in Heerenveen, supplying 10,000 households and 1 million cubic meters of green gas for the company’s own vehicles. More than 70 percent of the collected waste is made suitable for reuse - nationwide this figure is about 50 percent.

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