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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

Each device includes a sensor for monitoring temperatures to detect problems, such as a fire, in or around the bin. This could trigger the unit to send an immediate transmission to software, which would, in turn, alert authorized parties that a problem has occurred. The built-in accelerometer can detect movement as well, so if a bin tips over or is moved, a similar alert can be issued. Typically, the sensor stores data locally, and the built-in cellular unit sends that information to Nordsense's platform once daily. In this way, the device's battery has a typical lifetime of six to seven years.

Ingram Micro began working with Nordsense approximately two months ago to build the IoT technology into its own solution. "They're a great fit for what we see in opportunities around smart waste management," Lee states. Nordsense offers an API, so Ingram Micro provides its own software-as-a-service (SaaS) that can be integrated with the Nordsense data and can then provide route optimization and other services. Its data analytics can help waste management better schedule service calls, Lee says. If, for instance, the system determines that a bin has very little waste inside, a dispatcher can leave that bin off the waste-management crew's schedule.

Nordsense's Manuel Maestrini
With the Nordsense system, Maestrini reports, Micro Ingram can enable its customers to transition from static scheduled routes to data-driven pick-ups, thereby preventing excessive fuel use and time on the road for drivers and vehicles. With historical analytics, the data enables managers to make predictions regarding which bins may require collection either more or less frequently, as well as the locations at which an additional bin might be needed, or where fewer bins would suffice.

Nordsense also provides an app that can run on any tablet or mobile phone, allowing drivers to view data in real time as they go about their route. The app enables managers to view a vehicle's location using the GPS data from the device, as well as the status of waste bin collection, in real time, so that they can understand the progress of their routes.

Maestrini predicts that the solution will allow waste managers to optimize their waste-collection costs by 50 percent, while also helping cities to reduce their environmental impact. Additionally, he says, the company has found that the IoT system leads to less illegal dumping, since a bin that appears neglected tends to attract bad behavior. Once a bin overflows, for instance, people have a greater tendency to start dropping refuse on the side of that bin. If it is regularly emptied, however, they are less inclined to do so.

In the future, Nordsense may also sell its solution for the management of residential bins in addition to the commercial waste-management market.

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