Norwegian Trash Collector Uses RFID to Clean Up Its Operations
The firm is employing AMCS Group's radio frequency identification solution to track each truck's pickup routes, ensure accounts are paid before trash bins are dumped, and know when a bin may contain the wrong sorts of items.
AMCS provides its software as a platform that can reside on a user's back-end system or on a server hosted by AMCS, as a software-as-a-service (SAAS) option. Current trends, Martin says, indicate that customers are moving toward the hosted SAAS setup as the preferred model. "The hosted SAAS model offers numerous benefits to the customer," he states, "including a significant reduction in internal IT capital and infrastructure costs."
Initially, the system was designed to track bins being emptied, and to provide business analytics for users regarding which customers' bins were emptied, as well as the number of pickups each truck carried out. This information can be used to optimize truck routes, Martin explains, as well as provide even workloads. This function alone, he notes, typically enables users to reduce their truck fleet by 10 to 20 percent.
During the past two years or so, AMCS has also been offering an extension to the automatic paperless billing option that employs RFID data to determine, in real time, if the account for a particular bin being lifted to the hopper has been properly paid. Before a customer's trash is picked up, the software sends a text message to the number listed on each account in which payments are overdue. This message is typically sent on the morning before that pickup is scheduled. The user can then log into his or her account and make a payment. If the customer fails to do so, the system is designed to reject a pickup.
First, the hydraulic lifter raises the bin, after which the reader captures its tag ID number and forwards that information to the software on the user's server, as well as on the truck's own onboard computer, which determines whether the account is paid. If a bill is overdue, a trigger is sent to the vehicle's lifting system to stop the lifter, which instead returns the bin to the sidewalk. According to Aufreiter, the tag must be read and a response must be sent to the lifting system before it will accelerate its speed in order to raise the bin all the way over the hopper. Thus, a fast and accurate tag read is critical.
The AMCS software then sends a message to the customer, indicating that a pickup was rejected due to an overdue account. Once the customer pays the bill, he or she can then schedule another pickup.
A truck's onboard computer provides real-time communication between the driver and the office. The system displays data explaining to the operator why a bin is being rejected, or provides the opportunity for that worker to report to the company's managers why a cart has not yet been lifted. It can also alert the operator, as well as stop the lifter, in the event that a tag is not read, or if the bin seems to be located at the wrong address.
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