AMCS Group helps route optimisation

AMCS Group has helped companies worldwide optimise their collection routes, with Ireland’s AES achieving significant cost savings from a smarter fleet.

Increasing the volume of waste collected per hour without the need to deploy extra trucks is a priority for many fleet managers across Australia.

With enough organisational momentum and enthusiasm, fleet planning technologies can be implemented to help reduce vehicle and driver costs and capacity, prioritise collection orders and free up driver availability.

Integrated software and vehicle specialist AMCS Group continues to help waste collection companies around the world improve their bottom line – with Irish waste management and recycling company AES one organisation to benefit from an optimised service.

Servicing more than 105,000 residential homes and 6000 commercial customers, AES handles recyclables, organic and general waste and manages 65 vehicles with 400-500 collections per route on average.

AES must work with various fleet patterns and multiple individual drop-off sites for each type of waste. The combination of a large number of customers spread across a varied geographic area makes waste collection planning a challenging task.

In Ireland, councils are no longer involved in waste collection services, as residential householders instead use subscription-based services from a variety of private operators. Residents can change providers if they’re not content with their service or product offering.

While the challenges of fleet management and budgetary concerns are universal, competition in the Irish sector is two-fold, according to Thorbjørn Schmidt-Jacobsen, International Sales Director, Routing at AMCS Group.

Darren Sadler, AES Logistics Planning and Operations Supervisor, says working with different visit patterns, weights, volumes and individual drop-off sites complicates waste collection planning.

“It is imperative for us at AES to be able to meet the expectations of our customers and previously we were unfortunately not always able to do so,” Darren says, adding that AES practically never created new master plans for its routes.

Before seeking the services of AMCS, Darren says that AES’ routes weren’t written down, but rather planned by drivers based on their local knowledge. As a result, routes were inefficient and difficult to execute for temporary drivers, who often missed bins.

“Adding to the inefficiency was the fact that whenever we acquired new companies, the new routes were added to the plan, but never actually merged with it,” Darren says.

“New customers were inserted manually into existing routes without any plan optimisation. As the plans were not recorded in writing, new customers were often forgotten.”

Darren says that when bins were missed, AES had to organise extra collection routes, resulting in overtime payments and increased costs and superfluous mileage. This was only one part of the problem as when bins were missed, customers were highly dissatisfied and even decided to terminate the agreement – more common around new customers as first impressions count.

He says the company then decided to follow a “learning by doing” approach by training itself in the user-friendly AMCS Route Planner system. Designed to modernise a driver’s fleet, AMCS Route Planner provides what-if simulations on expected collection times and trucks on the road, master route creation and general day-to-day planning.

The optimisation system is equipped with powerful algorithms that can be configured to match the requirements of any industry, whether suited for distribution, pick-ups, collections or a combination.

When using its optimisation service, AES only asked for consultancy from AMCS when needed and started its implementation with smaller depots to learn from its experiences.

Darren says communication was imperative when it decided to evaluate all of its customer’s service days.

AES had to change approximately 80 per cent of its customer’s service days, a decision that was not without its risks.

“Early in the process, service day changes were not well received,” Darren explains.

“Many customers never got the message regarding the changes, and the outcome was numerous customer complaints about missed bins.

“Optimising service days was crucial in order to achieve the best results, and, learning from our mistakes, we changed our communication strategy and improved the acceptance of service day changes remarkably.”

And the risk paid off for AES, greatly boosting its profitability and customer service quality. It saw a cost reduction of approximately 15 per cent per lift as a result of the changes. It also eliminated ad-hoc routes for collecting missed bins by 100 per cent and its ability to take on a greater number of new customers with existing vehicles.

Darren adds that the well-defined routes ensure effective use of temporary drivers, decreasing the number of missed bins tremendously. The use of Global Positioning System coordinate maps are also available for temporary drivers to use.

“We are now able to optimise more often, thereby improving our resource utilisation. Due to better resource utilisation and a better overview of resources versus actual needs, we have been able to relocate vehicles to other service areas, making better use of them,” he says.

“The improved overview of resources and our ability to assess spare capacity has also enabled us to be more strategic about where to make sales campaigns. We now know exactly where we have spare resources and, consequently, where it would be extra beneficial to win new customers.”