Whether municipal waste operations are managed in-house or outsourced to a private hauler, local authorities require solutions capable of responding to challenges in the waste industry.
With rapidly increasing urban populations, growing complexity in waste infrastructure, and the prioritisation of sustainability goals, local authorities must position themselves to be ready for changes in waste management.
In this article, we dive into what local authorities should be looking for from a municipal waste management software provider. This information can support decision makers in local authorities to understand available solutions on the market and help in preparing tender requirements for private sector participation.
- 1. Intelligent Route Planning
Intelligent route planning involves the optimising of waste collection routes, meaning more trash can be collected in a shorter amount of time. It goes beyond planning digital routes, with current traffic information, predictive data models, and information from IoT devices such as smart bin sensors and weight sensors being included in the formation of the most efficient route. Intelligent route planning will take into account your fleet and labour resources to ensure the optimal utilisation of resources at the lowest cost.
More advanced solutions on the market offer optimisation parameters, where the routes will be designed according to whether you want to prioritise cost minimisation, service levels or environmental impact. This provides more flexibility and choice in your route planning, rather than the default of the shortest route.
- 2. Fleet and Asset Management
Local authorities often manage a tangled web of waste infrastructure. This includes assets such as vehicles, drivers, containers, depots and disposal sites. Oftentimes, this data is tied up in spreadsheets and fails to provide a clear overview of what is being managed. When searching for new solutions, it’s important to consider a system capable of tracking and analysing fleet and asset performance.
As a bonus, local authorities should look for solutions that are capable of importing historical weight data for waste and recycling containers. This historical data can be used to help optimise collection routes, so should be considered as an important inclusion in a proposal.
- 3. Driver In-Cab Technology
The most basic in-cab technology for drivers provides turn-by-turn directions along waste collection routes and enables service verification. More advanced solutions enable drivers to submit inquiries if they come across obstacles during their daily route, such as blocked access to containers. Another feature that local authorities should be looking to include in their proposal is live rerouting, should a back office employee want to assign extra stops to drivers enroute.
Simplicity is a must when it comes to in-cab technology for drivers. Look for user-friendly software interfaces and the possibility for integration with weight sensors and RFID technology to automate repetitive daily tasks such as entering weight information and container service verification. The more automation in the life of a busy driver, the better.
- 4. Customer Management System
For local authorities, one of the major headaches in municipal waste management is the effective management of citizen and commercial customers. Solution providers are now offering tools that help to provide a clear overview of customer assets, extra requests, communications, and billing.
Advanced tools on the market will also enable your back office staff to field customer phone calls and add requests in just a couple of clicks. Automation of customer requests with little input from back office staff should also be a function that is sought after, as this minimises manual processing and administrative burden involved with customer handling.
If you have an existing CRM system, ensure that it can be integrated within your new solution. This will enable streamlined customer service and ensure that the management of customer requests can be swiftly handled.
- 5. Live Tracking & Real-Time Communication
Solution providers have been offering live-tracking and real-time communication between worktools for back office staff and field workers for years. At this point, local authorities should treat these functions as a basic inclusion in waste management software.
Live-tracking provides back office with total visibility over daily operations. They can understand driver progression along the route in order to provide time-windows for service and understand which driver enroute is best placed to handle a last-minute work order. And with real-time system communication, back office staff have flexibility and control over daily operations. They can edit live routes to add a container pickup, with updated and reoptimized route automatically flowing through to the driver’s in-cab system.
- 6. Customer Self-Service Tool
Most local authorities rely on webforms, paper forms and phone calls to take customer requests such as ordering bulk waste collection and extra container collections. This often results in lengthy manual processing from back office staff. While this gets the job done, it’s far from the most effective way to handle customer requests.
Look out for solutions that enable citizens to easily make requests, find information on their waste collection, and pay for services with a self-service portal. This eliminates reliance on time-consuming methods like web and paper-forms, while reducing phone call volumes. And as mentioned above, ensure your chosen solution is capable of entering customer requests made over the phone in just a couple of clicks.
- 7. Performance Comparison Analysis
Finding a solution that enables the comparison and analysis of daily operational performance is critical. Local authorities should be looking at solutions that compare planned versus actual performance, with a focus on metrics such as route duration, distance travelled, number of collections, number of issues, to name a few. Another important feature to look out for are customizable reports, which can be shared to relevant stakeholders in just a couple of clicks.
This information helps planners in local authorities to analyse, benchmark, and measure important KPI’s to make data-driven decisions for optimised operations.
- 8. Sustainability Analysis
Sustainability is an important item on the agenda for local authorities. It is imperative that local authorities can track the environmental impact of their municipal waste collection operations. Without this information as a benchmark, it can be difficult to identify areas for improvement.
As a minimum, your new solution should include the ability to track CO2 emissions associated with your operations, fuel consumption, waste generation and recycling rates. More advanced solutions will integrate and track vehicle telematics data, enabling managers to analyse driver behaviour and coach them to drive in a more sustainable manner.
- 9. Integration with Vehicle Technologies and Hardware Devices
There are many vehicle technologies and hardware devices for fleet management and waste collection more broadly on the market. Technologies include RFID tags and readers, onboard weighing systems, GPS, smart bin sensors, telematics systems – all of which collect valuable data to empower automation and delivery of rich insights into operations.
If you don’t want to miss out on the provided value of these technologies, ensure that these types of vehicle technologies and hardware devices can be integrated into your software solution.
- 10. Open API
This is perhaps the most important item on this list. Solution providers must offer open APIs to enable easy integration to third party information systems. Local authorities are often locked into using certain ERP, finance, and customer systems, so it’s essential that the new software provider can send and pull data to and from these systems. Bringing all data together into one ecosystem should be the goal, as this provides a single source of truth to empower better decision-making.
- 11. Automated Workflow Ability
Local authorities should seek modern solutions that are capable of taking repetitive, time-consuming work tasks, and turning it into an automated work process that requires little human intervention. This will keep costs for back office staff down while still providing quality service levels for citizens.
As an example, an automated workflow could be that a container that wasn’t able to be collected due to blocked access is automatically included on the next available collection route, while sending a message to the citizen or customer to inform them of the delay.
To be truly prepared for the future challenges in waste management, automation will be key for local authorities. Automation can be introduced across workflows for all stakeholders if the right systems and integrations are in place.
Be sure to include these 11 non-negotiables in your next proposal to ensure you’re best placed to respond to challenges in municipal waste management.
If you’d like to talk further with a WasteHero experts about your needs for a municipal waste management solution, contact us today.
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