A New Day for Compactor Tech

Metro Compactor turns a spotlight on waste and recycling equipment innovations
Thursday, May 9, 2019

It ’s a technological revolution, and no industry is immune. This is especially true in the waste and recycling field where advanced tools, equipment, and Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity are helping property managers extract full value from their compactors.

For more insights, we spoke with Adam Kent, Service Director with Metro Compactor.

Overall, how has technology changed your corner of the waste management industry?
IoT technology has given us the tools to monitor and maintain our customers’ compactors more effectively than ever before. We can conduct remote diagnostics and practice predictive maintenance using data analytics to help us identify potential issues and prevent breakdowns. This is particularly helpful for property managers with large portfolios since minimizing breakdowns in the waste collection room saves time, energy, and repair costs. Secondly, technology helps everyone be more efficient.

When you have the ability to track weights and minimize compactor downtimes, you reduce levies and give property management teams more focus to do their job. And on our end, the ability to track, automate, or optimize aspects of the pick-up (e.g., routes, weights, scheduling, etc.) means faster and more efficient service. Lastly, technology is being used to make waste and recycling equipment greener and more sustainable. This helps our customers leave a smaller environmental footprint.

How do Internet of Things (IoT) technologies come into play?
It all goes back to data analytics. By collecting and connecting data from our waste and recycling equipment, we “see” the asset wherever it is in real time, connect it to a network, and gather performance data relative to other pieces of equipment. We aggregate data points across multiple pieces of equipment to identify trends, highlight recurring issues, and drive meaningful insights. For example, through the use of IoT sensors and systems in waste and recycling equipment, error codes are automatically generated and sent directly to us. We then call our client and let them know what needs to be done without having to dispatch a service call, thereby saving our customers money. Similarly, IoT connectivity helps Metro
Compactor notifies property managers whenever something is going wrong, like contamination in their waste stream. We also use data from IoT technologies to solve issues on the fly. For example, say a customer had one full bin that weighed far less than another full bin. We would look at the data to see if something isn’t working, or if someone isn’t properly disposing of different items.

How important is that “real time” connectivity?
It’s very important! Without the ability to predict issues and monitor equipment in real time, problems can be expensive to fix and downtime is a certainty. If a customer leaves a problem with waste and recycling equipment unchecked for long periods of time, critical systems can get clogged and dirty. With IoT technology, however, Metro Compactor immediately receives a code when something goes wrong and calls the superintendent to let them know. It saves a lot of time for everyone and mitigates the damage. That’s not all. We don’t just do yearly or bi-annual maintenance; we monitor the equipment 24/7 so that we can predict the equipment health and get ahead of any possible disruptions. If we suddenly see unusual data outside of our internal normative thresholds, we’ll know about an issue before the breakdown or even the scheduled preventative maintenance service. That, in my view, is one of the biggest advantages of this technology.

Can you give us an example?
Consider a superintendent who starts each morning by cleaning the bin. As part of their pattern of work, they also come back at the end of their work day to ensure that everything is fine. If the photo eye or the ultrasonic sensor gets clogged at 10 a.m., forcing continuous cycles, the superintendent will not be aware of any problem until the end of the day after the compactor has already gone through hundreds of cycles. The avoidable wear and tear on the equipment ages it prematurely, and before the customer knows it, the equipment will be due for significant maintenance overhauls and possibly even replacement. Contrast that scenario with how things play out with a “smart ” piece of equipment that incorporates the technologies we’re talking about. In a monitored situation, the equipment will stop the regular cycles and send an alert to both the customer and to Metro Compactor’s service team as soon and the issue is detected.

The alert will include the cause and how long the equipment has been out of commission. Essentially, if some issue comes up, our customers will be able to stay on top of the daily functioning of their waste equipment.

Is it worth investing in these technologies now, or should property managers wait?
Metro Compactor first developed the technology many years ago with thousands of sites currently activated – including some of North America’s largest retailers. The tech component is an enabler to gain insights into the equipment so that our service and maintenance team can best support our customers. We look at the technology as part of our service offering: a service promise to the market that has decades of experience behind it. At Metro Compactor, we provide built-in monitoring with new equipment or customers can choose to add the monitoring to their existing equipment. The cost benefit is undeniable given that the savings will be realized very quickly through reduced downtime and reduced service costs. We also include annual preventative maintenance as part of our package.

So to answer your question, investment in this technology for waste and recycling equipment will pay off very quickly and that’s just based on maintenance and productivity. We could talk at length about how technology can also help to manage fullness and reduce haulage costs. In summary, the longer you wait, the longer you’ll be missing out on the additional saving and efficiencies and the further you’ll fall behind.

Adam Kent is Service Director with Metro Compactor, a division of the Metro Group that has been serving Canada for over 45 years. For more information, visit www.metrocompactor.com.

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