Austin Tests New Tech for Compost Trucks

December 13, 2017

Photo courtesy of Austin Resource Recovery
Photo courtesy of Austin Resource Recovery

The City of Austin is piloting new vehicle technology for its collection vehicles. The technology would give project leadership better visibility of activities in the field, and will allow them to better allocate assets in real time.

Austin Resource Recovery is testing technology from FleetMind, which specializes in vehicle technology for waste collection. Collection carts are fitted with RFID chips, and collection vehicles are equipped with scanners, which allow management to see where trucks are and whether drivers should be rerouted to help drivers who are behind. This would potentially reduce overtime costs and improve productivity.

The pilot will cost the city an estimated $350,000 and will be conducted in two phases, according to Mike Turner, Austin Resource Recovery division manager.

Phase 1 will evaluate the technology in six supervisor vehicles and 14 collection vehicles, looking at the operability of the technology in the trucks and considering routing, identifying exception activities in the field, and other factors. Phase 2 will focus on ensuring the city’s billing system and customer service system can communicate with the technology. Turner anticipates completion of both phases by the end of fiscal-year 2018.

Photo courtesy of Austin Resource Recovery
Photo courtesy of Austin Resource Recovery

“We anticipate a significant reduction in missed collections, once we go live as well as eliminating most of the manual processes we currently have,” Turner said. “The turn-by-turn micro routing should reduce miles travelled and drive time, both of which reduces vehicle [wear] and lowers our risk exposure.”

The program also plans on installing cameras in vehicles to maximize the functionality of the vehicle technology project, reduce risk, and improve customer relations. Cameras were not included in the original purchase request, so a timeline for the cameras has not been established.

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