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RFID Helps Take Out the Trash

Wastech Services uses RFID to improve its trucks' productivity at hauling Vancouver's garbage.
By Claire Swedberg
Dec 08, 2005Wastech Services, one of the largest private garbage haulers in British Columbia's greater Vancouver area, is using an RFID solution to help track its trucks.

The company adopted the RFID system to manage its vehicles better as they travel between four regional transfer stations, two landfill sites and an incinerator, as well as corresponding holding, cleaning and refueling stations. "We didn't have a clear picture where the trucks and trailers were," says Wastech's manager of software development, Sandy Lawson.

Previously, the trucks were not tracked at any of their stops throughout the day, with the exception of when they were weighed at the landfill before dumping their load. Wastech needed a system to help track how long drivers took throughout their routes, ensure that cleaning and other procedures were carried out and determine if trailers and tractors were where they were scheduled to be. It also needed a way to discern where drivers were being delayed, and where Wastech might need to deploy more trucks to get the job done.

Roderick O'Keefe
Wastech researched RFID- and GPS-based solutions and found RFID to be less expensive but capable of meeting its needs. "In our environment, the routes were not that difficult; we don't have a very diverse network," Lawson explains. Instead, Wastech needed only to record a truck's arrival and departure times at each station where its trailer was loaded, unloaded or cleaned, and where it was refueled.

With the purchase of five 916 MHz interrogators (readers) and 600 active RFID tags from Identec Solutions, located in Kelowna, B.C., Wastech has been able to track the movement of 300 tractors and trailers. The company uses a reporting software application it developed, says Lawson, to track where the trailer has been and currently is. "We have built a higher-level event record that integrates with scale information to provide a complete picture of when trips began and when they completed," he says.

Wastech takes Vancouver-area trash to its own landfill, located in the village of Cache Creek. There, it dumps approximately 500,000 tons of garbage a year. It also unloads its trucks at an incinerator run by a private operator, and at a landfill owned and operated by the city of Vancouver. The company installed four RFID interrogators (readers) at its Cache Creek site—one at the landfill itself, one at an adjacent holding yard and two at a refueling station—and deployed another reader at the Vancouver city landfill. According to Larson, Wastech did not install any interrogators at the transfer sites due to logistical problems, or at the incinerator site.

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