The collection and movement of waste and recycling is one of the most challenging tasks within the transport industry.
The range of collection types alone results in a high level of complexity.
This is often compounded by other factors including the volume of lifts, frequency, changing requirements, geographic density and location of processing and disposal facilities.
Transport represents a significant cost for most recycling and resource management operations. The complexity and dynamics of vehicle routing make it difficult and time-consuming to conduct regular and detailed reviews of rounds to ensure that they are optimised for both service and efficiency.
As a result, there is a lot of unrealised potential for improved efficiency in manually defined routes that have developed organically.
The latest route optimisation technology addresses these issues. Operators are now able produce large-scale master plans optimised for municipal or commercial routes. These can be maintained with periodic updates with the ability to add or remove customers or jobs as required.
The latest generation of optimisation systems also have the capability to deliver dynamic real-time or daily information, which is key for ever-changing operations such as roll on-off collections, skip and portable toilet transport.
But continued pressures on budgets can limit the ability of local and commercial authorities to invest in the latest systems. An alternative is to utilise an optimisation software, such as that provided by AMCS Group.
Improving vehicle routing can deliver financial and environmental benefits. Carbon dioxide emissions, mileage and driving time can be cut by 5-30%. The ability to increase the productivity of the fleet can also help to reduce vehicle numbers and improve the accuracy of fleet planning.
Reductions in the number of missed lifts also help to improve service levels and reduce the volume of queries and complaints received.
In 2009, AMCS started working with Van Gansewinkel Group, the largest waste and recycling business in the Benelux countries and one of the top five in Europe. The company operates more than 1,000 vehicles and services more than 120,000 commercial customers and around 1.2 million households.
Before initiating a route optimisation system, Van Gansewinkel was in a similar situation to most other businesses: fixed routes were set manually, which could take several weeks and require a significant amount of driver involvement.
The result was that, despite delivering a level of service well above the market average, the group’s management team decided there was the opportunity to increase their levels of service and make significant savings through operational efficiency.
The AMCS Route Planner software implemented by Van Gansewinkel in their commercial and industrial division uses powerful algorithms tailored for the waste collection industry. Planners are able to produce efficient and realistic routes for high- and lowdensity waste collection. The algorithms optimise routes by searching for the lowest cost solution while respecting the service requirements and business rules.
Following full rollout of the system, Van Gansewinkel has realised a transport cost saving of up to 10% on its municipal fleet collections.
Implementation of the software can require a significant financial investment and in terms of in-house resources. But AMCS also offers a fixed contract route optimisation service via a dedicated team.
This was the solution chosen by Spelthorne Borough Council when it selected AMCS to undertake a route optimisation project across the borough’s kerbside collection services for around 100,000 residents.
The project has provided the council with the potential to deliver reductions of up to 30% in CO2 emissions, mileage and driving time. Coupled with this, the ability to increase the productivity of the fleet can also help reduce its size by up to 15% and support future fleet planning.
So route optimisation can bring substantial efficiency and service improvements for both municipal and commercial operations. It’s just a question of choosing the right solution to fit the task.
Elaine Treacy is head of marketSpelthorne