Waste management gets sophisticated with IT

IT - in all its forms - from e-government at local and national level, through management systems and GIS related fleet control and tracking pollution, is an increasingly familiar and effective tool across environmental control and waste management services. In this special feature LAWE reports on recent advances in IT and reviews the fast-growing application of sophisticated weighing systems on pages 10-18 in our latest Weighing Up Your Options feature

The application of IT can pay big dividends in the waste services sector as specialist technology provider Cedilla, which offers the Regenerist solution, is keen to underline.

Spelling out the advantages at last autumn's RWM show, Cedilla's Sales Director, Jason Fazackerley, said: "Our experience of working within the waste management industry has shown that a typical mid-sized waste management company (with turnover of £750,000 per month, or £9 million per year) could save around £14,000 per year and free up as much as £172,000 of liquid assets by using a system such as Regenerist, our flagship product for this sector."

Regenerist is already used throughout Europe by over 50 waste management businesses, and the company reports that, since its launch in 2003, Cedilla has generated a great deal of interest in the software product, leading to a number of implementation by UK-based companies. The industry sectors covered by these organisations include glass recycling, metal recycling and a UK compliance scheme.

Adapting to waste stream changes

Also prominent at RWM 2004 was Schneider Electric which launched its CANopen system - a solution designed to cater for the need to quickly adapt to changes in waste stream collections and extend machine availability and uptime. This extendable and multi-functional operational solution comprises CANopen enabled products, which include HMIs and PLCs.

Schneider Electric's integrated solutions for this industry extend from plant power and distribution through to communications and safety - including vehicle systems for refuse collection vehicles.

The company has also introduced a new concept product, developed specifically for the harsh environments encountered in the waste management industry. Being IP68 rated, the controllers can withstand submersion in pressurised water. Stated to be unique in this industry, the control solutions, which have been developed for external plant and machines where easy access and maintenance is essential, can tolerate even the toughest environments and extreme temperatures.

Schneider Electric's automation and control solutions present a plug and socket approach that simplifies and speeds up installation and maintenance. Coupling this with partnering arrangements that provide expert engineering advice and guidance, Schneider Electric believes it has created a genuine solution to waste management systems. The company says that such an offering is vital, given the impact of UK and European legislation that has driven the "waste hierarchy" to reduce, reuse and recycle increasing amounts of waste.

E-government advances

On the e-government front East Lindsey District Council has enhanced its services with a range of public information services via the web. Using a geographic information system (GIS) and special address look up software from GGP Systems, East Lindsey has created a central information system integrated with their departmental systems including Plantech and Flare.

Through the council's website, the system provides quick access to council services through maps that display locations with overlain information on different services. Visitors to the site can immediately see information on planning, environmental health, housing and as many a 60 different council services.

"It is much easier for people if they can see a map that displays information, as so much of what we do is related to areas or points on a map. The map is however just the front end and there is an enormous amount of information hidden behind it," explains Garry Winterton, Head of Building Control at East Lindsey.

"The maps link to a centralised database of property addresses, streets and areas of land. This in turn links to all key information about each location. It is a very sophisticated system that has taken years to develop and involved thousands of hours work building comprehensive and accurate records," he continued.

Behind the scenes East Lindsey has played a pioneering role in the use of new technology. The council was one of the first to link its Plantech systems to the GGP system so that records such as planning applications, constraints, building control and other records could be accessed via maps. Similarly, a link will be introduced to Flare gives map-access to environmental health and licensed premises records.

On the mapping side the council has become the first in the UK to implement a new GGP-linked map-correcting system called MapRite. Ordnance Survey is presently undertaking a major update of its maps using advanced satellite position fixing systems. Any change in the maps for an area have a serious knock-on effect to local authorities, especially those in rural areas like East Lindsey where OS maps require more updating.

MapRite is developed by software company TENET and with the GGP integration, map overlay records stored in GGP can be re-aligned to the OS corrected maps automatically. For East Lindsey, this promises to save a considerable amount of time by eliminating tedious manual updating.

The biggest project at East Lindsey has, however, been the work undertaken to create a common centralised property database. The council's Local Land and Property Gazetteer (LLPG) is the basis of a database of land, street and property records for use council wide. Using GGP's NLPG gazetteer management system (NGz), work is under way to match records held in different council databases, such as Council Tax, Revenue and Benefits, Environmental Health and an existing central property database held in Plantech.

"A central property database is necessary for the council to meet its e-government commitments. At first we did not realise the enormity of the job, but it will revolutionise the way we work and will enable us to deliver top class services to the public by making information easily accessible" says Garry Winterton.


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