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Efficiency drive

As the competitive pressure on companies is constantly increasing, one of the key challenges facing all members of the industry, whether they be private or municipally owned companies, family firms, or international waste disposal groups, is to cut costs and increase efficiency.

In what has become a highly developed industrial and service economy, efficient and ecological waste disposal is being driven by innovative technologies. The UK is still considered by many to be lagging behind the rest of Europe when it comes to implementing progressive IT systems. However, the choice of available software is increasing, as is the holistic approach that is coming to characterise this type of IT.

Developed in Berlin 20 years ago to meet the requirements of Germany's waste collectors, Combitour has been developed and updated over the past 15 years and is now available in the UK from IVU Traffic Technologies. With 300 employees and a UK office in Birmingham, IVU's core business is software development in public transport, logistics and waste management.

Combitour is a centralised system that co-ordinates all customer data from sites, contacts and opening times. It is designed to collate all order information from quotes to standing orders and collection schedules and brings together the sales price and disposal cost, raises customers invoices, prints driver route lists, automatic interfaces to weighbridge software and can remotely monitor how full waste containers are.

"The UK seems to be quite a long way behind central Europe, with many companies still relying on paper and diaries to track when they need to be at a particular customer to make a collection," says Alistair Quigley, managing director of IVU UK. "Very few UK waste collectors can easily tie up what they charge for a collection with the cost of the disposal of the waste. With Combitour it can be achieved in a matter of mouse clicks."

In February 2004 the sales, planning and operations administrations departments of AVR Overheid in The Hague, Holland installed Combitour, which was in fact designed to be used by the whole company, not jut the employees of those three departments.

AVR specialises in solutions for waste, environmental and cleaning problems and, beside companies and industry, also work for government authorities and consumers. "The Combitour solution replaces many processes that were previously performed by hand," says Wil Maarsman, branch director of AVR West. "Now everything has been fully automated and all operations and processes are well coordinated."

The core of the system means that all relevant data is captured at source, right from the taking of the order. "The employees of this department are right at the beginning of the process," says Rene Zoeteweij, sales department manager. "They make the contracts, control the pricing and take the individual customer orders in Combitour. From here the resulting orders are sent automatically to the planning department. The planners have the task of determining where the optimum point for a particular collection is within a given round, and Combitour helps with that too."

After printing the necessary documents, the orders are passed to the drivers of the vehicles, who adhere strictly to the planned rounds, closing each order as it is completed, which means that the data is available directly to the operational managers and accounts can be settled quickly. This means that the members of this department know exactly what work has been done and when, and can automatically invoice the client

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