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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.
By Claire Swedberg
Jan 09, 2013When Avfall Sør Husholdning AS (Southern Household Waste Co.), a Norwegian trash-management firm, bills the 45,000 households it serves in the city of Kristiansand, the company utilizes RFID-based data to track the quantity and type of refuse collected. Avfall Sør Husholdning is one of hundreds of organizations currently using technology supplied by AMCS Group, an Ireland-based provider of software and solutions for recycling and waste-management businesses.

AMCS has been offering RFID technology since 2003, to help municipalities and private waste-management firms in Europe and North America manage their pickup routes, as well as enable accurate billing and reject services onsite for unpaid accounts. The system employs 125 kHz low-frequency (LF) RFID tags provided by HID Global, attached to or built into bins, and AMCS' RFID readers mounted on trucks' hydraulic lifters. At some sites within the United States, AMCS provides ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) tags supplied by other vendors.

Each time an Avfall Sør truck picks up a bin, an RFID reader installed on the vehicle's lifters captures the tag's ID number.

AMCS has customers of its RFID solution around the globe, with between 9 and 10 million household waste bins tagged, says Jimmy Martin, AMCS Group's CEO. The most recent functionality being offered with the RFID system enables drivers of trash-collection trucks to determine if a customer has not paid his or her bills, and to then send a text message to that individual, and automatically reject a bin being lifted at that location until the bill is paid. What's more, Martin adds, the company is providing a function to help a waste-management firm know when a trash-loaded bin is heavier than expected, in order to determine if contamination has occurred—such as non-recyclable goods being placed within the recycling container.

Generally, users first retrofit each of their bins with either a 125 kHz Bin tag, which can be screwed to the lip of a container's top, or a 125 kHz Plug tag, a custom-designed push-in tag for steel containers—both supplied by HID Global. In some cases, bin providers attach the tags at the manufacturing site. The tags, which can be read at a distance of up to several inches from the reader, have a life span of more than eight years, exceeding that of the typical bin, says Richard Aufreiter, HID Global's director of product marketing for identification technologies. Each tag is encoded with a unique ID number.

Trucks are equipped with AMCS' readers, installed on the hydraulic lifters that raise the bin to the hopper to dump the trash contained within. AMCS also supplies a solution whereby operators can weigh each cart as it is lifted, and capture the weight-based and RFID data via a wired connection, thereby validating every lift. The readers forward the ID number and weight to the back-end software via a cellular connection, to be viewed at the company's office, while GPS devices located on the trucks simultaneously transmit GPS coordinates to confirm the time and location at which each cart was lifted.

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