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Telematics in Vocational Truck Fleets: Refuse and Waste Management

August 2017, Work Truck - Feature

by Lauren Fletcher - Also by this author

Image of refuse truck fleet courtesy of Waste Management. 
Image of refuse truck fleet courtesy of Waste Management.

Refuse fleets typically operate on set routes and monitoring their locations can assist a fleet manager in ensuring jobs are completed safely and on time.

“The most helpful data point for all these service vehicles is the ability to know the exact time the vehicle arrived and left. With refuse industries, you can also ensure drivers are following the routes and stay within the territory they are assigned. But, ultimately vehicle and driver optimization is the goal at hand,” according to Dan Shive, VP of risk management solutions for LeasePlan USA.

An important benefit of a telematics solution is its use with driver behavior and safety.

“Telematics identifies and corrects poor driving habits, from speeding to harsh usage such as cornering, braking, or accelerating. This data can also be complemented by video from in-vehicle cameras,” said Nathan Todd, director of product management at Teletrac Navman.

Safety is very important in refuse fleets due to the dangerous job conditions and work environment.

“Maximizing asset utilization, automating labor tasks, while minimizing operational costs is the name of the game in the refuse/waste industry because it is a very labor intensive industry with vocal customers (citizens and businesses) and opportunities to automate manual labor tasks to improve productivity and safety.  With refuse companies, we are also faced with relatively dangerous working conditions and high velocity and geographically dense services, for both commercial and consumer operations,” according to Kelly Frey, VP of product marketing for Telogis.

An added safety benefit is monitoring adherence to policies, such as safety policies that can be frequently found in refuse fleets.

“Many refuse fleets have a ‘no-reverse’ policy for safety. When a driver goes in reverse, an alert can be sent to management and the driver to let them know they are committing a safety violation,” said Ryan Driscoll, marketing manager for GPS Insight.

In addition, you can incorporate planning and scheduling optimization solutions.

“Progressive technology providers enable refuse companies to be more responsive to customer requests for service, be it an unscheduled pick up of large appliances for a residential customer, or an emergency request to empty a commercial bin that has been filled faster than expected. Customers want more reliability and faster reaction times, but the refuse operation has to be sure that they are not driving operational costs up too much to meet these expectations. Tightly integrating planning with telematics and mobile applications on one cloud platform can provide the ability to meet rising customer expectations while also meeting operational cost reduction targets,” Frey said. “Large 'yellow iron' providers leveraged in transfer station and landfill operations such as John-Deere, Caterpillar, Komatsu, and Volvo have adopted the AEMP standard to share equipment location and diagnostic information with service providers such as Verizon Telematics, so that refuse operations can see all of their equipment and assets (on-road, off-road, powered and non-powered) through 'one pane of glass' easily and cost effectively, while also enabling a richer and deeper diagnostic data set optimized to maximize uptime, safety, and efficiency.”

One of the most helpful aspects of a telematics solution is the ability to know and prove exactly where a vehicle is, when it left, and what time it arrived. This can help to improve customer satisfaction and driver productivity.

Overall, workforce management can be improved through the use of a telematics solution. Route optimization solutions can ensure drivers are traveling the best routes for the jobs that need to be accomplished.

“Refuse and waste management fleets too can benefit greatly from telematics solutions’ route optimization capabilities. Using the technology in this capacity allows fleet managers and drivers to maximize the number of pickups and jobs conducted per route, minimize deadhead time and mileage (the time spent traveling between the route and the disposal site) and efficiently dispatch mid-day jobs based on location, load, and remaining stops. Telematics also helps refuse/waste management fleets with proof of service. By integrating with in-vehicle systems, work flow management, and RFID tagging of the bins, telematics solutions can capture whether or not a customer was serviced,” Todd said.

And, don’t forget about any environment initiatives your company may have.

“Telematics can help reduce the environmental impact of a fleet by improving driver behavior and reducing mileage and fuel use,” said Dain Giesie, assistant vice president of Enterprise Fleet Management.

Optimizing vehicles for work flow and operation can also be handled through advanced diagnostics and integration with the maintenance aspect of a telematics solution.

Many refuse trucks operate on alternative fuels and the ability to monitor fuel pressure and temperature can help vehicles work at their optimal capabilities.

“Using telematics for CNG fuel pressure and temperature to accurately measure fuel usage,” said Scott Sutarik, associate VP, commercial vehicle services for Geotab.

In addition, monitoring the use of specific pieces of refuse equipment can help a fleet manager know whether a driver is operating the equipment properly and not overstressing the components on the truck.

“Garbage trucks have equipment on the vehicle, such as the compactor, that should only be operated when the vehicle is stopped and idling in order to no overstress the engine or create a potential safety issue.  Telematics can measure these instances where the vehicle is idling, but utilizing the PTO so that the fleet managers can ensure the vehicle is being used properly and the PTO time is not counted as idling time,” said Bob Clark, manager of commercial motor vehicle compliance and telematics for Wheels.


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