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Waste-Management System Cleans Up With UHF RFID

Compta is powering its Bee2Waste system with an RFID solution from TechSigno using Chainway RFID readers to capture data from hundreds of thousands of waste bins as they are commissioned, and each time they are emptied.
By Claire Swedberg

"In our opinion," Spinola states, "both fixed and mobile solutions are essential for the whole automation of the waste-management process." For instance, some collectors prefer to use handhelds during collection, and registering a new bin cannot be accomplished via a fixed reader. "The handheld was one of the main devices that helped our customers to organize and optimize all the processes needed for the management and distribution [of bins]." On the other hand, the fixed reader on the truck provides a faster, more automatic read for waste collection on large routes.

The evolution from LF systems to UHF has been a gradual one, Spinola says. "Today," he explains, "all our customers are switching to UHF technology and all new customers are using UHF tags only." The UHF RFID solution allows Compta to offer, as part of Bee2Waste, predictive planning and behavioral recognition, as well as big-data analysis, "helping them to overcome operational and management barriers."

In the case of predictive planning, the system uses GPS and collection times to analyze how quickly collection is accomplished within specific routes, thereby enabling dispatching and scheduling that meets an area's specific time requirements, while also creating more efficient routes. The behavioral recognition feature identifies each driver's behavior so that aberrations can be identified, and so that training or other support could be provided. In some scenarios, fewer trucks may be required to collect waste throughout the company's district.

"Our product [Bee2Waste] offers a range of features that enable our customers to optimize operations and management," Spinola says, as well as to improve service quality, analyze local data and make intelligent decisions in real time. Ultimately, he notes, this results in a reduction in carbon dioxide based on fuel consumption, as well as cost savings—with regard not only to fuel costs, but to labor expenses as well. "In total," Spinola says, "we expect to have between 350,000 and 400,000 tags by the end of this year." Additionally, the company offers disposable RFID tags that can be applied to waste bags that residents or commercial customers may use, without bins, on some collection routes.

Spinola says the company will continue to evolve the way in which it is using the system. For instance, the pay-as-you-throw (PAYT) model is being adopted in some municipalities, by which customers would pay according to the amount of waste they generate. With this model, the system can be enabled with the RFID data to link a specific bin and its weight with the appropriate customer. In the future, he imagines using RFID with sensors, such as those measuring temperature, humidity, pressure and vibration levels.

In one city, Spinola reports, the UHF RFID system provided waste managers with a Christmas surprise. At that time, the tag reads were captured at a rate many times greater than that of the 150 bins that were live in the system. The company attributed that discrepancy to Santa Claus, who they said had been especially generous that year—the RFID tag reads were coming from gift packaging that had been discarded in the bins. The system can now also filter out unrecognized UHF RFID tag IDs.

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