Route Optimization In The Age Of Noise, Traffic, And Trash
As more people return to work in the office, traffic in many urban areas is back to pre-pandemic levels or worse, making timely, efficient, and compliant waste and recycling collection that much more difficult for municipalities and haulers to provide.
A recent whitepaper from the National Waste & Recycling Association (NWRA) defines the complex bind this way:
Hiring more drivers, while desirable, is challenging given the nationwide labor shortage. Likewise, the ability to drive longer shifts is restricted by state and federal hours-of-service regulations. The remaining option is for drivers to avoid peak traffic times in order to service their routes. This is where the issue of noise ordinances and permissible collection hours can hinder collection if reasonable standards are not utilized.
The paper goes on to discuss ordinances from Los Angeles to Washington D.C. and asks lawmakers to ensure that rules about noise are clear and easy to comply with — that way haulers can avoid penalties.
But in the absence of new and better noise laws that take solid waste collection into account, what’s a hauler to do?
Optimizing collection routes can help.
Route optimization is the process of redesigning routes using purpose-built software for the waste industry, along with real-world data and expertise from knowledgeable collection staff, going beyond simple route sequencing to create efficient, effective routes that help haulers meet their goals.
For many organizations that have embraced true route optimization, these goals often include using fewer trucks, needing fewer drivers, and consuming less fuel, which result in lowered costs — conservatively on the order of 10 to 15 percent lower in general. Goals around quicker and more timely collections are fair game, too.
When the City of Virginia Beach undertook a three-phase route optimization project several years ago using Routeware’s software, they made collection quicker and more efficient, logging fewer miles on the road and fewer trips to the landfill. While the City was not aiming to comply with noise regulations specifically, it’s easy to see how these outcomes could translate to such goals. It’s worth mentioning, too, that they reduced their number of routes by 10 percent.
While routing projects take time, not all municipalities or haulers use a phased approach. And indeed, with dedication, it’s possible to make big changes quite quickly.
That’s what happened in the City of Lexington, Kentucky, when the Division of Waste Management rerouted collections of 360,000 carts across garbage, recycling and yard waste streams in just three months with Routeware’s route optimization software. By planning and resourcing properly, and selecting the right tool, IT Manager Eddie Dean and his team saved considerable time on a project that previously would have taken two years.
When time is of the essence, it’s especially important that the tools we’re using are easy to master.
Routeware’s route optimization tool is “easy to use and easy to train. We have experienced great success with utilizing the tool across the full spectrum of route optimization,” said Sean Steves, Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Solid Waste Operations Casella Waste Systems, Inc.
Casella uses the full suite of Routeware’s tools, from route optimization to in-cab computers and smart truck features, to provide top-notch collection services to thousands of customers across the northeastern US.
Excellent service is what every municipal and private hauler aims for, and complying with local regulations is part of providing an optimal customer experience. Route optimization software can help, making collections more effective and efficient while reducing the cost and strain of getting the job done.
Let’s talk. Is it time to rethink your collection routes? That’s what we do! Contact us today.