Mobile connections at the touch of a button

By equipping waste collection vehicles with a mobile data communication system, drivers and crew can react quicker and smarter than ever before

Ethos Recycling has simplified and automated its waste collection operations by installing mobile data communication systems in its vehicles. The IWS Mobile system from P&L Software was chosen for the task and has already improved route and load efficiency, lessened environmental impact, eliminated errors and resulted in cost savings.

The new system allows the office to instantly communicate with the vehicle - updating the driver with route changes and new information. The PDA-style device also has integrated satellite navigation and colour-coded menu-driven options for ease of use. Ethos Recycling specialises in construction waste and has recycling centres in east and west London. The company has invested substantially in machinery and says it has consistent material recovery rates of 80% to 85%. With the IWS Mobile system, Ethos Recycling saw further potential to improve its efficiency.

The handheld device sits in a cradle on the vehicle dashboard and works in unison with P&L's integrated waste system (IWS). This is a software package that aims to simplify and accelerate the everyday tasks associated with running a waste management company.

Collection and delivery details are transmitted from the office computer to the vehicle via mobile-phone technology (GPRS).

The driver can view a list of tasks, which are executed through menu-driven options.

Each task is displayed on the device's touch screen, which is also used to capture the customer's signature. The driver can also update or amend any collection anomalies using an on-screen keyboard. Completed tasks are transmitted back to the office where the status is automatically updated and recorded. The waste transfer note and invoice are generated and emailed by the IWS system - providing a paperless operation with a full audit trail for duty of care compliance.

Quick response
With instant control over the fleet, it is easy to swap loads around or reorganise schedules should a cancellation or delay occur. Ethos Recycling's transport manager John Francis says: "The time we save by not having to call mobile phones is staggering. Reallocating cancelled or 'waiting loads' has allowed us to gain five to six extra jobs a week for each driver. With a fleet of 40 vehicles, that represents a substantial saving.

"Being able to adjust capacity for wheelie bin collections has also been invaluable - when a driver is scheduled to empty 100 bins and actually empties 130, it can impact on the vehicle's collection capacity. The new system not only updates the status and allows us to react, but also makes sure the correct amounts are invoiced."

Ethos Recycling's director of operations John Rae adds: "With legislation coming into force in April, construction and demolition companies will need to produce site waste management plans, and will be looking closely at who can provide the best solutions. This IWS mobile device makes us incredibly responsive, we are excited to be the first company to invest in this technology and provide further benefits for customers."

P&L Software Systems
www.plsoft.co.uk

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