Keep on running: Bespoke RCV tracking
Accurate tracking of refuse vehicles is essential to optimise fleet efficiency. One web-based solution has tailored itself to provide live data on activity levelsMost local authorities have large fleets to manage and are under increasing pressure to ensure best practice and high service levels. As a result, many LAs are turning to technology to help them improve their efficiency and demonstrate accountability.
Tracking and monitoring of municipal vehicles is one area that has attracted interest over the past couple of years as it can have a significant impact on the operation of a fleet when implemented properly. There are plenty of off-the-shelf packages that will provide tracking and some other functions but often they're not geared at LAs' needs.
The De-icing Business has been working closely with LAs for over 20 years and has developed a tracking and monitoring system, Exatrack, for all LA vehicles including RCVs.
Alan Sheen, commercial manager at the De-icing Business, explains: "Because we have years of experience working with local authorities we understand exactly what information they need from this kind of system.
"Our starting point was to create a bespoke package rather than try to emulate an off-the-shelf GPS tracking box. Local authorities need specific information and a straightforward black box just can't provide that."
The system works in real-time so that vehicle activity can be monitored or checked whenever required and will provide accurate, live information. In research sessions during the development phase, this was one feature that many customers listed as desirable since it is useful for engineers and fleet managers to be able to instantly check whether refuse collection has been completed or a gully on a particular road has been cleaned.
It was decided to make Exactrak web-based which means that it can be accessed from any location - customers log on via a secure online extranet and this can be done via a computer, PDA or other hand held device (pictured).
So how does web-based GPS reporting work? After logging on, customers are able to view a range of maps showing all the different routes taken by each vehicle. Placing the cursor over any part of the map gives instant details of what the vehicle was doing at that point.
There is also the option to then zoom in and out of maps, down to street level if required. Although some systems are accurate to around 10m, Exactrak is generally specific to 5m. Under the reports section, the recent activity of all vehicles can be viewed, including any exceptions reports.
One council has been using Exactrak on refuse vehicles for the past 18 months. The council has the system fitted to six out of 12 vehicles and is planning to extend it to the entire refuse fleet. The council's operations manager explains the benefits of the system: "It's useful to have an overview of exactly where vehicles have been and because it gives us a snail trail of activity for multiple vehicles, it helps us optimise the routes more effectively."
Exactrak interfaces with the control box on a vehicle so it can tell how many times the boom on a gully has been lifted or how much salt has been spread by a gritter. In relation to RCVs, the system has been developed so that it can link with the on-board weighing function allowing managers to guard against overloading. Modifications are being made so that the system can help with bin counting, by showing how many have been lifted.
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