It’s been a year like no other, but how has the waste management and recycling sector coped and adapted? One thing that has become apparent is the importance of being agile and responsive – and that’s where digital solutions can be a game changer, as Conor Dowd, head of sales, waste and recycling – UK and Ireland at AMCS, explains.
Many waste management and recycling companies are relying on heroes to manage: those brilliant people who can think fast and are highly experienced in ensuring capacity meets demand. But add constantly changing lockdown rules and home-working – often without the appropriate supporting infrastructure in place – to the mix, and it’s no wonder this year has been so challenging for resource and waste professionals.
The Covid-19 pandemic has shone a light on brilliant people, but also on the lack of process and joined-up systems in some parts of the sector. Running an enterprise management system (ERP) has proved an essential tool for managing assets and records, but it’s important to embrace other digital solutions that enable businesses to be run in a fully integrated way.
Covid-19 has accelerated digital transformation
We have seen more change in the past nine months than in the previous two years. Covid-19 has altered the way we do business – it has accelerated digital transformation out of necessity, rather than choice. The organisations already on the path to adopting digital processes are now reaping the benefits of being able to anticipate and respond to change quickly and efficiently, with minimal disruption to their customers.
Customer expectations are evolving too. The trend is away from cash and paper handling – and towards electronic transactions integrated in an online ordering and payment system. AMCS has seen rapid adoption of its integrated AMCS Pay suite, as well as its unattended weighbridge automation solution.
Customers now expect more in terms of time of delivery and being able to manage – and track – a service, delivery or collection
The standard of service that home delivery and taxi companies already provide is percolating down to become a general consumer expectation. People now demand more in terms of time of delivery and being able to manage and track a service, delivery or collection, such as when a waste or recycling collection will take place, or when a skip is due to be delivered.
Over recent years, AMCS has been providing an agile-transport, software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution for sectors where time is critical – such as ready-mix cement, which has a finite life of a few hours making it imperative it reaches its destination at a specific time. We have adapted and developed this tried-and-tested scalable platform for the waste management and recycling sector. It has already been adopted by many tier one companies; now tier two and three firms are beginning to realise the benefits for their businesses.
SaaS and intelligent optimisation
AMCS’ intelligent optimisation suite has agility at its heart. It allows you to automate all aspects of transport planning and monitor the execution of jobs. It calculates distances between locations, uses algorithms to apply variables such as customer access times, driver rules and traffic volumes, and builds routes automatically so planners simply have to validate them, saving a huge amount of time.
The beauty of the system is that planning is continuous – there’s no cut-off point when bookings for the day have to stop. If emergency orders come in or circumstances change unexpectedly, the system automatically reshuffles the pool.
AMCS also offers a fully mobile platform for drivers, showing their jobs, routes and any additional information about an appointment. They can also send messages and interact with the transport planner, allowing the execution of the service to be monitored in real time and changed if needed.
Customer portals and analytics
A crucial part of the end-to-end offering is digital engagement. Texts and ETAs are sent to customers so they are able to track their service and are kept fully informed. Customers can also book, pay, track and make changes via an online portal, allowing hours of business to be extended, staff time saved and – potentially – costs reduced, because everything is carried out in one integrated system.
AMCS’ intelligent optimisation suite has agility at its heart
Historically, waste management and recycling companies looked at their reports, or KPIs, a day or a week, sometimes a month afterwards. They were looking in the rear-view mirror at what had been, rather than looking forward and anticipating what was coming up. That’s a big part of being agile.
An integrated platform offering advanced analytics and business intelligence tools allows businesses to analyse and visual data in dashboards thus giving them real-time, action-orientated insights into what is happening now and what they need to tweak or change. It gives them the information they need to make informed decisions.
The other driver of this change is the environment: AMCS’ intelligent optimisation platform plans the most efficient routes so mileage is reduced. Our clients are generally seeing around a 15 per cent saving in fuel costs and, therefore, carbon emissions.
As we move forward, an environmental policy will become more of a priority, both in terms of what is expected of our sector as far as green credentials are concerned and also through regulation. Customers will expect their supply chain to be adopting and implementing best environmental practice – it’s a real imperative.
The pandemic has given waste management and recycling companies a new mindset, a confidence that they can lead through complexity and uncertainty.
Integrated platforms allow businesses to analyse data to give them real-time, action-orientated insights to make informed decisions
Cloud technology is allowing smaller firms to avail of innovations such as 5G networks, and big data analytics that were once the preserve of larger companies. SaaS is reducing the costs of entry and time for adoption of these solutions.
The time for adopting digital solutions has never been better.
We’ve got a golden opportunity to reorientate our organisations and cultures to be more customer centric. If you can delight your customers with a smooth, reliable and agile service, you’ll be rewarded with their loyalty.
- For more on embracing digital transformation and the importance of agile working, see the AMCS ‘Becoming Agile’ webinar