Sustainability is a major challenge in many companies. Technological progress and digital solutions can simplify processes and optimize workflows. Especially in the waste management sector, smart waste is a groundbreaking solution for overcoming a range of challenges.
Waste management logistics is an essential part of all communities – villages, small towns and large cities alike – and makes an important contribution to the cityscape: from waste management in private dwellings, business premises, and event venues through to the trash cans located in public spaces. The constant population growth, especially in metropolitan regions, results in an increasing volume of waste, which in turn puts pressure on waste management logistics companies. Yet strong seasonal fluctuations or shifts in volume – as recently triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic and society’s radical changes in consumption and working habits – also pose challenges for waste management companies. In addition, staff shortages, particularly among drivers, further aggravate the situation in the sector.
This page offers insights into the following topics
Definition: What is smart waste?
smart waste is a digital solution for the conventional method of emptying of waste disposal containers. Based on sensor data, the fill level and other parameters such as vehicle data, efficient and dynamic route planning are monitored. The optimized routes save waste management companies unnecessary journeys, helping to reduce their costs.
Why must waste management become smart waste management?
Digitalization and sustainable disposal methods are important topics in waste management. smart waste management takes care of both aspects and solves many of the growing challenges.
Fluctuations in the waste management sector became very clear during the Covid-19 pandemic in particular. According to the Bundesverband der Deutschen Entsorgungs-, Wasser- und Rohstoffwirtschaft e. V. (German Federal Waste Management, Water and Raw Materials Industry Association), 2020 demonstrated an increase – at times of up to 20% – in glass and light packaging waste from private households, while waste volumes from commerce, industry and trade either declined sharply or failed to materialize at all. Such fluctuations make it clear how important modern and flexible waste management logistics are for avoiding both overfilled waste containers and partially empty trips.
In addition to these central challenges in waste management logistics, there are increasing staff shortages. The need for qualified personnel with the appropriate driving licenses for waste vehicles in particular is great, as is the requirement for junior staff in general. Furthermore, sustainability, especially with regard to the environmental impact of the vehicles, is an essential aspect in waste management that should be further optimized.
Using smart sensor technology in waste containers and smart waste management software and infrastructure, waste collection vehicle routes and the best locations for waste containers can be planned more efficiently. Overfilled waste containers and unnecessary empty trips are now a thing of the past, and the systems offer even more advantages. Lufthansa Industry Solutions (LHIND) is the provider of just such a digital solution. It offers its customers comprehensive support, from needs analysis to selecting the ideal components and end devices, implementing the system, configuring it and connecting it to other customer systems, all the way to follow-up support and client-specific upgrades.
Main challenges in waste management logistics and how smart waste can help
Not emptying trash cans and containers at the right time – i.e. when they are sufficiently filled but not yet overflowing – incurs unnecessary effort, which also results in unnecessary costs:
Waste containers are either only filled to a fraction, or they overflow. When they are full, additional waste is often placed next to them. The disposal team then has to remove this too. This sometimes considerably increases the time the team spends on their route and leads to eyesores being left in town until disposal.
Superfluous trash cans located in unfavorable places are much more difficult to identify without a digital solution. As a result, they usually remain part of the route for too long and cause avoidable costs.
If a garbage truck always drives the same route, there is an increase in underutilized or even empty trips and unnecessary container movements. There is no need to drive to or empty trash cans that are not even half full – this only results in unnecessary time and costs.
Bottle, paper and clothing banks are an important part of waste management logistics. A wide variety of waste is collected here in large quantities. This means that overfilled containers or empty runs are a major drain on time and costs.
A comprehensive smart waste management system can remedy this by measuring the fill level in the waste containers and dynamically planning the routes for emptying them. It can also provide valuable data for optimizing inefficient trash can locations.
Unnecessary journeys to empty waste containers cause unnecessary environmental pollution, which can be easily and quickly reduced with smart waste:
Garbage trucks and the emptying of waste containers require time and take up space. Especially in densely populated cities with narrow and crowded streets, traffic tends to become stuck behind a waste management vehicle while the trash cans and other waste container are being emptied. Unnecessary emptying leads to unnecessary traffic jams.
A waste management logistics company’s fleet of vehicles is not only large, it’s also noisy. Only partially utilized or even empty runs and unnecessary check runs cause avoidable noise, which is considered to be particularly disturbing in residential areas.
The longer distances and unnecessary emptying of containers that are only partially full lead to the waste disposal logistics vehicles emitting additional CO². Furthermore, exhaust gases accumulate behind the vehicles while they are busy emptying the trash. Optimized route planning can significantly reduce this.
smart waste management focuses on transparency, fill-level-optimized emptying, and optimal and dynamic route planning, which reduces journeys and the resulting congestion, noise pollution and exhaust pollution.
As in various other sectors, the waste management industry is struggling with a shortage of labor. The need for waste disposal vehicle drivers is particularly great because fewer and fewer applicants have the requisite driving licenses.
Due to demographic changes and the lack of young people possessing the appropriate driving licenses, there are fewer and fewer qualified employees who can operate the waste disposal vehicles. This, in turn, leads to staff shortages.
Fewer qualified staff results in overworked employees. Unnecessary journeys or extra work collecting the waste left next to overfilled containers aggravate the situation.
To counteract the lack of staff, the best possible candidates are recruited. However, inexperienced employees need much more time to learn established processes than experienced professionals do.
Optimizing trips and reducing unnecessary emptying processes using a smart waste management solution significantly reduces the workload for employees, which, in turn, can increase the efficiency of the teams.
Customer satisfaction is defined by good customer care. Without digital solutions, personnel in waste management logistics have more work to do, resulting in longer waiting times for customers. This can have a negative impact on satisfaction.
Without a digital smart waste solution, the work required to process complaints and special requests is particularly high. Everything has to be researched, checked and compiled manually in order to be able to respond to inquiries.
As in all other sectors, customer demands are becoming increasingly greater in waste management logistics too. The customers' requirements can also change quickly and significantly (e.g. amount of waste generated at different locations), which results in a greater workload when it comes to customer care.
People are quick to complain if full garbage cans aren’t emptied – and these complaints involve a great deal of manual effort. Complaints are received from frequently from, in particular, residents at locations that are difficult to access.
Analyzing sites with particularly high numbers of complaints requires a great deal of manual administrative work. Frequent complaints originate from sites that are difficult to access, as the containers are often not emptied despite being overflowing.
Gathering the reasons for a complaint is just as time-consuming, making it difficult to identify the low quality of a location, a route or a container. Recognizing patterns is much more time-consuming when performed manually.
Since identifying and recording complaints in manual processes is already proving difficult, eliminating the reasons for complaints is at the very least just as significant a challenge. Without digital evaluations, it is difficult to determine which optimizations are required.
Smart waste collection with the SWM Suite from Lufthansa Industry Solutions
The challenges in disposal logistics could not be more diverse, but a smart waste solution can help. LHIND’s digital smart waste management solution for the optimal control of disposal logistics comprises several components.
A digital smart waste management solution enables optimal control of waste disposal logistics: fill level-based emptying and optimized route planning with location and temperature transmission as well as asset management option and much more.
Components of the SWM Suite
VThe overall package comes with all the necessary components – from the hardware and the software to the internet connection; this also includes a needs analysis and implementation of the solution carried out by LHIND. This means that many of our customers’ requirements are already covered, but we can also implement individual adaptations, extensions or even connections to other customer systems on request.
Intelligent sensors, which are easily installed inside the waste containers, provide the relevant data to the SWM suite. AI-based forecasting models allow for the fact that not every container has to be equipped with sensors, making the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) lower compared to other solutions.
- Ultrasound and light sensors determine the fill levels of the waste containers. The advantage compared to conventional waste containers is that the IoT technology continuously monitors and transmits the fill level. The intelligent light sensor technology works with open and closed containers, meaning that debris boxes as well as simple trash cans can be equipped with the technology. Used in combination, this results in a much more accurate fill level measurement under the different conditions. This means that contamination is no longer a challenge for monitoring the fill level.
- In addition, they detect temperature rises that may indicate fire and transmit these warnings to the central smart waste management portal or, depending on the regulation, directly to the fire department.
- The sensors register successful emptying based on container movement and changes in the fill level.
- Internal applications determine the location and transmit the position.
- The units also transmit their battery status independently for timely maintenance. As high-capacity batteries are used, they rarely need to be replaced – their lifetime is usually 5-10 years (depending on transmission intervals and mains quality).
The various components within the system exchange data in real time. The sensors report fill levels and other information to the portal, which in turn sends optimized emptying routes to the mobile devices inside the disposal vehicles. From there, information such as the condition of the container or contamination at the collection points is fed back to the portal. A corresponding dialog is available for this purpose.
- The sensors transmit their data via a mobile network with LTE-Cat-M or NB-IoT (narrowband IoT) or LoRa to the SWM suite as the central collection, analysis and control unit.
- The mobile devices used (tablets and smartphones) and the sensors receive their updates and settings ‘over the air’, ensuring quick and cost-efficient configuration and that the devices are constantly kept up-to-date. Considering the expected large number of sensors, this is an indispensable feature.
To create a smart infrastructure, the disposal vehicles are equipped with mobile terminals (tablets or smartphones) that are connected to the central SWM suite. They receive relevant information from the platform, such as routes generated dynamically according to fill levels. In addition, employees can use them to submit complaints to the platform during their emptying rounds.
- The app can either be rolled out on existing devices, or new devices are purchased as part of the smart waste rollout.
- Device management, including rollout and updates, is controlled centrally.
In the web-based smart waste management Suite, all the data comes together to unite the entire smart waste system, with all partners, routes, locations, fill levels, assets, evaluations, etc. clearly and holistically in one system. This is the core element, where optimized routes are generated using AI and sent to colleagues in the field, fill level forecasts are created, collection containers and locations are optimized and complaints are analyzed.
- The SWM Suite is a simple, clear and easy-to-use central management portal for optimizing waste management logistics.
- Data from the external organization is fed into the cloud-based software system in real time for automatic evaluation, after which it outputs specific information.
Other customer systems, such as ERP systems, external route planning and alarm systems (e.g. fire alarm via SMS) can be connected via interfaces for smart overall disposal logistics.
Functions and features of the SWM Suite
All the information comes together in the web-based portal, thus providing you and your employees with a complete overview of your entire smart waste management process, assisting with analysis and optimization and helping to relieve the burden on on-site disposal staff:
Fill level detection and monitoring of the decentralized waste containers is carried out using intelligent sensors and is compiled clearly in the central control portal.
Filling level forecasts are calculated using AI, taking not just previous filling levels (history) and their development (forecast) into account, but also other information such as weather, changes in user behavior (e.g. working from home, ordering meals to go or from a delivery service), and the filling levels of the waste containers, and included in the route planning.
Dynamic route planning is automated in the system depending on the fill levels and taking forecast models into account, so as to avoid unnecessary routes.
Through a comprehensive assessment and monitoring system, you map a diverse risk management across all stages of your supply chain with the platform.
The optimized tour is transmitted fully automatically to the tablet inside the collection vehicle. The driver is constantly guided along the best possible route to the containers to be emptied using GPS.
Visualization of container locations and routes on clear maps.
The navigation function guides the driver along the best possible route to the next emptying location.
The log book tracks successful emptying of containers using real-time sensor notifications and displays them clearly.
It is possible to track vehicles and containers geographically. This facilitates control, but can also be the basis for asset management or, for example, in combination with warning messages, indicate the possible theft of expensive containers or vehicles. It can also help to locate containers on company premises, among other things.
If objects move outside the area defined for them, alerts are sent, for example, to indicate possible vandalism or theft.
Intelligent sensors make it possible to detect increases in temperature in collection containers and issue fire warnings. They increase fire prevention measures for residents and waste disposal companies and enable the fire department to be alerted at an early stage.
An overview and information on collection regions are stored in the system and can be viewed at any time. This includes, for example, information on possible restrictions regarding trafficability in certain areas.
A convenient overview of your own or collection partner vehicles, their payload, operating times, fill levels and real-time locations can be accessed in the portal.
Container evaluations can be carried out manually or automated by the system; these are based on information about the smart containers with location, fill level, fill level forecast, temperature warnings and can be sorted according to various filter options.
Evaluation options and historic data on emptying and quantities are available in the portal.
Resources, vehicles, etc. can be managed reliably and transparently in the system.
An individually configurable dashboard with all relevant data at a glance, such as key figures, container warnings and real-time notification of emptying is available for clear control in the portal.
Advantages of the LHIND smart waste solution
- Optimization of waste management logistics and an increase in efficiency through digitalization of processes
- Demand-oriented emptying of waste containers
- Overall view of the entire collection region or individual areas
- Relief for employees by reducing the amount of unnecessary journeys
- Reduction of unnecessary work/expenses; cost savings
- Reduction in CO² emissions
- Increased disposal quality due to fewer overflowing containers and less environmental pollution as a result
- Time-saving navigation of the vehicles to the collection points
- Reduction in the number of complaints
- Transparent filling level development for each collection point
- Centralized data collection directly in the portal
- Efficient coordination of collection partners
SLOC – our technology partner
SLOC, our long-standing technology partner, provides the necessary sensor technology used. The company develops high-tech devices for IoT use cases, such as those used in smart waste management. Their industry focus is in waste management, logistics and industry.
LHIND integrates these technology components into the various setups that are individually developed for each customer and takes care of the configuration, implementation and commissioning of the overall system, as well as connecting it to the customer's other systems, among other things.
For whom is LHIND’s smart waste solution relevant?
Sustainability is becoming an increasingly relevant field for many companies and other players in waste management logistics. To stay ahead of the game, there are many different approaches and needs that must be met for a smart waste solution:
digitalize and optimize their entire waste management logistics with LHIND’s SWM Suite, the transparency, AI and forecasting models allowing for a switch to needs-based emptying; they reduce empty runs and overflowing collection containers, as well as the workload of their employees and their CO² emissions.
can promote smart waste concepts as part of the digital transformation and their development towards a smart city, thus counteracting spontaneous fluctuations in waste generation – such as those resulting from increased working from home and completely different consumer habits caused by the Covid-19 pandemic – and also have their own waste collected and disposed of as required. Especially for public utilities, a clean cityscape free of overfilled waste containers is an advantage, as this is how they present themselves to their customers. Furthermore, an increasing amount of space-saving underfloor containers are being built, which are more costly to empty. Here, automatic level measurement has a particularly great benefit.
are expanding their portfolio by offering their customers garbage cans that already have the smart sensor technology built in, so that they can immediately be connected to a smart waste infrastructure and portal solution easily, quickly and without retrofitting costs.
implement a small, reduced smart waste solution in their disposal containers and their own disposal logistics in order to obtain more transparency about waste quantities produced or residual waste that may be resold. Above all, this increases the company’s environmental awareness and sustainability through reduced CO² emissions. This additionally improves the cycle economy and reduces costs by avoiding unnecessary routes.
Application examples: Advantages of intelligent disposal containers
- Increased revenue through verifiable performance
- Optimal adjustment of container volumes
- Optimal emptying intervals for seasonal fluctuations
- Hotspot analyses eliminate reasons for complaints
- Evaluation and optimization of inefficient locations (collection points)
- Cost reduction through targeted use of the vehicle fleet
- Reduction of manual collection requests
- Needs-oriented emptying according to fill level
- Reduction of partially full or empty trips
- Cost reduction through automation as fewer vehicles are needed
- Cost reduction through avoiding unnecessary emptying
- Cost reduction through optimal container utilization
- A sustainably cleaner cityscape leads to increased customer satisfaction
- Detection and reporting of temperature increases for purposes of fire prevention
- Enabling timely intervention by the fire department
- Preventing damage to expensive waste containers
Why Lufthansa Industry Solutions and SLOC?
As a service provider for IT consulting and system integration, Lufthansa Industry Solutions plays a key role in shaping the digital transformation. smart waste and other topics such as big data, artificial intelligence and IT security are important pillars of digitalization. Using this knowledge, technical expertise and experience in the waste management industry, the experts at LHIND support waste management logistics companies by introducing such technologies. The people at SLOC, our technology partner, are recognized experts in digital waste management, developing sensors that are perfectly suited for use with smart waste. This enables us to offer our customers an efficient overall system for smart waste. In addition, this can be customized and expanded to meet individual needs. Interfaces to other customer systems are also possible.
Learn more about smart waste management for the waste management logistics sector
Would you like to learn more about how smart waste management can be used in your company? We’ll be happy to provide you with the information and advice you require regarding digital solutions for your company – a tailor-made approach for optimizing your process efficiency is right around the corner. Simply use our contact form to send us a non-binding inquiry.
We look forward to hearing from you!
smart waste management is indispensable for waste management logistics companies. Emptying waste containers and trash cans according to need, based on dynamic route planning, is the cornerstone for more efficient work in the waste management industry and brings an area that one step closer to becoming a ‘smart city’. smart waste management saves unnecessary journeys, which means that companies have to use fewer vehicles and fewer employees. This results in cost savings, higher customer satisfaction and a reduction in CO² emissions.
In addition, the waste management company can use the data they collect to decide whether to place more containers in high-traffic areas, adjust the emptying intervals or relocate sites.