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Partnership to Bring Intelligence to Commercial Waste Bins

Ingram Micro is employing Nordsense technology to identify waste containers' fill levels using laser optical sensors, then is transmitting data via a cellular connection and using that information to provide waste collection management to collectors and cities, in order to improve collection routing and reduce energy consumption.
By Claire Swedberg
Nov 18, 2019

Information technology company Ingram Micro is partnering with Internet of Things (IoT) solutions firm Nordsense to offer a waste-management system that automatically detects the level of waste in each of a city's bins, as well as the conditions in and around every bin, in order to streamline waste collection. The company is currently in conversations with several cities to begin deploying the technology in Canada and beyond.

Ingram Micro offers waste-management systems that include software to store and manage data about a waste-management company's or city's commercial customer bins for dispatching, operations and billing purposes. The company's software is aimed at helping its customers better manage the status of bins and their scheduled emptying by waste-management employees.

Ingram Micro's Savio Lee
Nordsense's IoT solution brings a real-time view into the contents of a waste bin, including its waste fill level and whether that bin requires attention. Although there are other IoT sensor-based technologies available in the waste-management market, the Nordsense solution offers highly precise data about the level of waste in any given container, says Savio Lee, Ingram Micro's senior business and technology lead for digital transformation. Ingram Micro has begun partnering with Nordsense to offer its sensor-based solution to existing and new customers. "When it comes to the IoT," Lee says, "we are the ecosystem aggregator and orchestrator," using data from the Nordsense technology and AI-based software.

Nordsense launched in 2016 with its wireless, sensor-based system to make waste collection greener, cleaner and smarter, according to Manuel Maestrini, the company's founder. While Nordsense opened its doors in Denmark as a spinoff from research conducted by the University of Copenhagen, it offers its solution to cities such as the San Francisco Public Works Department, and has offices in the United States and in Europe.

The IoT solution consists of a sensor device developed by Nordsense's engineers, with a built-in cellular radio to transmit data to the cloud-based software, as well as laser optical, temperature and accelerometer sensors. The device is attached to each bin's cover, facing into its interior. The laser optical sensors measure the waste fill level more accurately than traditional infrared or ultrasound sensors used in other solutions, Maestrini explains.

The system is designed to calculate the level of waste, even if materials are unevenly distributed, which could fool traditional sensor systems. A built-in multipoint laser sensor aims its beam into the container, then transmits data to its cloud-based software via a cellular connection. The software interprets the results in order to determine the surface level of the waste. By leveraging artificial intelligence in the cloud-based software, Maestrini says, the system can create a 3D granular view of whether or not the bin is full.

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