Routeware makes specialized software for the waste management industry, including fleet management, back office, and customer communications.

Cleaning Up Routes Makes it Easier to Clean Up Lexington

Lexington, Kentucky, is a growing city. That means waste management is growing as well. With about 90,000 customers today, they’re growing by 2,700 carts per year across all commodities. Most residential growth is outside the city center, beyond the main road that encircles the city. Without intelligent routing, waste collection routes were starting to be significantly off balance.

Eddie Dean, IT Manager for Lexington’s Division of Waste Management, relies on Routeware for route optimization over the city’s one million monthly services points.

“We’re currently running more than 90 routes for trash, recycling, and organics. But the workload was uneven. In the city center, drivers were picking up 600 carts on average, while those in the faster-growing outskirts had up to 1,600 carts on their route,” said Dean. “This translated into varying shift lengths. While some drivers had six-hour days, others were working ten or more.”

The city was dealing with other complexities as well. Their fleet consists of multiple vehicle types: Rear loaders, minis, multi-packs, hop-on trucks, arm- and rear-loader trucks, and side-loaders. Vehicle type needs to be integrated into the plan, since some trucks work better in certain neighborhoods, and simply don’t fit into others. In addition to multi-cart residential pickup, routes include 8,000 rolling carts at business locations and 4,000 dumpsters that require specialized vehicles.

Lexington has had a partnership with Routeware for several years. They needed to get those routes cleaned up, and this wasn’t a job for paper and pen.

Route optimization with EasyRoute

“It was time to completely re-work our routes. But the last time we did that it took 6 months for just one quadrant of the city – that was only 17 routes,” said Dean. “We needed a way to pull all 90 routes out of Routeware, optimize them, then implement.”

Using EasyRoute from Routeware, the team in Lexington could optimize routes quickly and collaboratively. Dean brought supervisors and office managers into one room and plugged his computer into a large monitor. They were able to see all routes on the map, or focus on one at a time. The team could then balance routes by moving carts from one driver to another.

“With EasyRoute up on the big screen, supervisors could give direct input based on their experience on the ground,” said Dean. “They could say, ‘This is a tight area, we need a rear-loader and not a side loader.’ What we accomplished in that work session would have previously taken us a year and a half – possibly even two years.”

Once the team had completed the optimization plan, they exported it and loaded it into Routeware where they ran tests until everyone was ready to sign off.

“I don’t need to use EasyRoute all the time,” said Dean. “But it’s incredibly valuable in the few weeks or months when I’m working on route optimization.”

Drivers get their say

Lexington uses in-cab tablets to connect drivers with their supervisors. This means drivers can report incidents in real time and receive information about missed carts or customer requests. They use tablets to report waste management issues and accidents while supervisors have their eyes on the entire fleet throughout the day. Drivers can be dispatched to follow up on a customer request as soon as it’s reported, increasing service satisfaction as well as route efficiency.

Driver participation is also important for refining routes and taking into account information a map could never show. “EasyRoute may plot a particular route, but when the driver takes a look at it they know they’ll arrive at 7:30 a.m. – the same time as a school bus. We take that kind of feedback into consideration to refine each route,” said Dean.

With Lexington’s diverse population, different neighborhoods have different needs. The waste management team has found that affluent areas are more likely to recycle, for example. On the other hand, the areas around three big college campuses have a lot of single residents and less frequent recycling. These differences can be factored in because drivers have a way to provide their feedback.

And that’s not all

“We use EasyRoute for more than waste collection. The streets and roads department uses it, too, for snow plowing, salt spreading, leaf collection, and street sweeping,” said Dean. “Routeware gives them real-time tracking of every snow plow during weather events.”

Now Lexington is looking at more ways to leverage Routeware. They currently use a home-grown system to handle requests for ancillary collection – things like mattresses, tires, and bulky set-outs that are called in through the 311 system.

“From what I’ve seen, we use Routeware in some very unique applications, and more than what other customers do,” said Dean.

Wychavon Council has Digital Recycling Communications Sorted

Wychavon District Council is the largest of the six districts in Worcestershire, England. It has a population of 116,900 in the three towns of Droitwich Spa, Evesham, Pershore, and nearly 100 villages and hamlets.

Ian Dipple, Joint Marketing and Communications Manager, was challenged by Wychavon Council leaders to implement a solution that would help residents recycle with confidence and reduce waste contamination. His first inclination was to build a lookup table for the Council website using in-house resources.

“Our Council members wanted a tool that not only told residents what goes in the green bin, but also what didn’t. And something that would offer alternatives where possible.” Ian quickly discovered that he simply didn’t have the resources internally to turn the concept into reality. Even a fairly elementary solution would take time to build – time in which contamination would continue to impact their recycling efforts.

That’s when the team at Webaspx introduced Ian to off-the-shelf purpose-built communication tools from ReCollect: The Waste Wizard lookup tool and the Waste Sorting Game. “What could have taken us years to implement, we had up and running in just a few months,” said Ian.

Ten thousand items are already included in the Waste Wizard database. That’s ten thousand items Ian didn’t have to set up manually. All he had to do was review and verify the proper disposal method for each item. And he could specify handling for certain contamination concerns. “For example, things like electrical items, toys, and coat hangers are recyclable, but we don’t take them in the green bin,” said Ian. The team at Webaspx also showed Ian how Waste Wizard can accommodate local recycling options like sack collections and Village bottle banks.

Tackle contamination faster with smooth implementation

Wychavon Council’s initial goal was to create a tool for their website using Excel that would address only the items going into the green recycle bin. Waste Wizard’s extensive database covers a wide range of items and provides the correct method of disposal based on the resident’s postcode. “From ease of sign up and use for the resident, to completeness and faster implementation, Waste Wizard is far superior to anything we could’ve done in-house,” said Ian.  

Before going live with Waste Wizard, Council members were given the opportunity to try it out and give their feedback. Ian reports that they were very impressed. “We had them test the content to ensure they received the right advice for the items they selected. To be honest, among 10,000 items there’s sure to be an issue somewhere. But I’m not worried because the public can flag any exceptions and we’ll be able to verify and update it instantly.”

Wychavon Council branded their tool Right Waste, Right Place, and launched it with an advert in the council magazine along with a QR code. It was an immediate hit with residents. More than five hundred people signed up in just the first hour.

Have some fun and promote recycling

While Waste Wizard quickly met Wychavon Council’s need for helping residents sort their recycling, the Waste Sorting Game is an added bonus that provides a fun and engaging way to encourage recycling habits. “Our Chairman loved the Waste Sorting Game so much that he immediately started using it as part of his educational eco visits to schools,” said Ian. Council members are sharing the game on their social media platforms and at local events, too.

Both Waste Wizard and the Waste Sorting Game add energy and substance to Wychavon Council’s promotional campaigns. Each time a resident searches for answers about a particular waste item, that data is collected by Waste Wizard and it can be used to design campaigns addressing areas of confusion, even down to a specific location.

The Council plans to use Waste Wizard’s red flag tools to raise awareness of seasonal issues like  pumpkins, fireworks, Christmas tinsel, and wrapping paper. The plan is to be proactive with messaging on social and local media, then monitor the data to see the impact on searches and actual behaviour. 

There’s often a misperception that do-it-yourself is quicker and cheaper than a purchased solution. This belief can often lead to time and resources spent trying to build something that doesn’t meet requirements. “ReCollect was definitely cheaper and easier than I thought it would be, and the support is really good,” said Ian.

If you’re looking for a fast, easy way to support good recycling habits in your community, let’s talk.

Pride Disposal and Recycling: Paperless Technology Fuels Growth

Kristin Leichner, President of Pride Disposal and Recycling, used to work summers in the company that’s been in her family since 1986. Here’s what route distribution looked like then: It took at least 45 minutes to print daily route sheets that would then be distributed to each driver. At the end of the day, the sheets were collected and stored in case someone needed to refer back to them. One of Kristin’s first jobs, at age 10 or 11, was to run old paper route sheets through the shredder.

Remembering the huge pile of paper the company went through in those days is a reminder of one reason Pride decided to go completely paperless 20 years ago. With modern technology throughout the operation, Pride has been able to take advantage of growth opportunities while maintaining efficiencies, attracting and retaining the best employees, and continuing to provide innovative customer service.

Growth without the pain

Pride Disposal and Recycling has doubled in size over the last 20 years and now serves Beaverton, Durham, Hillsboro, King City, Sherwood, Tigard, and Washington County in northwest Oregon with 45 trucks. They’ve grown as their communities have expanded and through the acquisition of other family-owned companies. Pride now offers a full range of services to residents and businesses including garbage, organics, recycling, shredding, drop boxes and containers, and bulk item pickup. They also operate a waste transfer station.

As digital solutions started to become available for the waste industry, Pride management wanted to be an early adopter. By proactively onboarding smart truck technology in 2001, they avoided the growing pains many private haulers experience when expansion plans collide with resource constraints. Now every vehicle in their fleet is equipped with a Routeware system that provides electronic routes for drivers, GPS tracking, and seamless communication with the home office. This gives Pride the kind of efficiency that allows them to expand without putting strain on their team.

Kristin puts it simply: “We would need more drivers and office staff if we didn’t use Routeware.”

With a seamless connection between drivers and office staff, every aspect of routing, dispatch, and customer service can be designed to maximize efficiency. That means Pride can stay nimble and say ‘yes’ to more new business opportunities.

Technology the team loves to use

Some worry that technology will ultimately displace hard working people. Not in the waste industry. In fact, at Pride the opposite is true. Employees are excited to have tools that make their jobs easier and safer so they can be more engaged in doing what it takes to serve the community.

Even in a tough labor market, Pride has been able to retain their best employees and attract new team members who want to work at a forward-focused company. “New drivers think it’s cool that we’re way more technologically advanced than they expected,” said Kristin. “Prospects see our use of onboard computers as a sign of innovation in other areas.”

Every truck in the Pride fleet has onboard cameras and GPS that help drivers track their routes and stay safe. Digital information is immediately available if customer service needs to follow up with any resident concern. Supervisors use fleet management technology to verify what each truck is doing out in the neighborhood. GPS data and camera images help them provide specific coaching so drivers can be their best.

Customers take pride in their waste hauler

Technology designed to make waste hauling more efficient is often relegated to a supporting role behind the scenes. But Pride Disposal and Recycling puts their technology front and center as a sign of their commitment to service and innovation. Customers want to know how the companies they do business with are caring for the environment and the community.

Pride proudly highlights their sustainability initiatives on their website. As an early adopter of compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles, they’re able to tout lower greenhouse gas and particulate emissions. CNG also powers a significantly quieter fleet – something residents can certainly appreciate. Pride’s vehicles may be quieter, but they’re not keeping quiet about the difference technology is making in other parts of their business, including paperless operations and a safer, more efficient fleet. Customers can see how Pride takes sustainability seriously.

With Routeware onboard, Pride Disposal and Recycling is growing to meet the needs of their communities while meeting the expectations of a modern workforce.