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03 jul 2020

Centralising planning contributes to more efficient collection routes

AMCS Intelligent Optimisation decreases planning time and increases customer satisfaction

Can the planning department cut down from 50 to 10 planners? “Yes is the answer to this question by centralising the planning with intelligent optimisation”, according to Madrid based Gerard Kissane who has over 10 years of experience in the waste industry.

“Companies can plan their waste collection routes more efficiently and as a result profit from benefits such as increased efficiencies, reducing costs and improving customer satisfaction. The end-to-end-solution additionally also minimises operational risks while at the same time guaranteeing business continuity by empowering planners with the strength of the system. With this, the knowledge of planners no longer is attached to a certain person or office but is available throughout the organisation to any area and any location.”

What are the challenges of decentralising the planning for waste collections?

“Waste companies typically have multiple planners across different locations throughout it’s area of operation. Each planning centre is responsible for the dispatch and planning in its own geographic area. New customers added to the depot are scheduled onto existing or new routes. In doing so the planners take the different restrictions into account, such as collection times, access points and locations of bins. With this, the company heavily rely on the personal knowledge and experience of the planners. Even the 'best-of-the-best' planners can face limitations, such as capacity. Therefore, the challenge for most larger companies is that at a certain point the planner’s knowledge can become a point of failure for the business and even possibly an inhibiting factor in the growth of the business.”

How can centralised planning lift this growth restriction?

“For companies to grow sustainably and to alleviate business risk, centralised planning using smart optimisation software can be the key. Intelligent algorithms calculate with lightning-fast speed the most efficient route sequence, especially in the case of the addition of new customers, or ad-hoc collections. This ensures a prompt and efficient collection route, which takes into account the various restrictions and limitations, all of which drives customer satisfaction. By automating this, planners are freed up to manage exceptions rather than the bulk of their normal day to day planning work. Additionally, at the same time, planners can manage up to three times as many vehicles at once. This enables companies to extend their planning capacity without the need for additional co-workers. Furthermore, smart optimisation software also provides an extensive digital mapping tool. As a result, with this complete end-to-end solution, there is no need for planners to work locally where the actual work is carried out. This opens the door for regional or central planning offices that can bring huge efficiencies.” 

Can the planning be centralised without risking the business, affecting customer satisfaction or losing customers?

“Yes, for sure. From the moment the waste collection routes are planned with the smart optimisation software the freed-up time enables the planners to manage exceptions. As a result, from our experiences, companies who have deployed the tools have actually seen an uplift in customer satisfaction. The added capacity the system is bringing also positively affects business efficiencies. Instead of losing customers due to inefficient planning, planners now can focus on adding customers. Consequently, this both increases turnover and margins while at the same time contributing to the sustainability of companies by reducing mileage and CO2 emissions. Also of the utmost importance is the fact that the bulk of the planning knowledge needed to run the operation can now sit in the system. This enables waste collection companies to reduce business risk, without such a system many companies are reliant on the knowledge of certain individuals which may have been acquired over many years of experience.”

How can companies successfully overcome the hurdles to centralise the planning?

“In terms of kicking off a centralised planning project, we at AMCS would typically look at the current structure of the company operations. Many companies can be apprehensive of this scale of a project and the business change it brings. Therefore to start with, we look at an initial countrywide business lines or a group of depots in a region. Once the system has demonstrated its power in centralising the planning processes, other business lines or regions can be brought onboard the system. For businesses running across larger areas where time zones or regional variations such as language are a factor, a distributed centralised model may be the answer.”

What are the benefits of centralised planning?

“The benefits obviously vary from customer to customer, with no two businesses being exactly alike in how they evolve or develop. But we’ve seen companies achieve numerous improvements most important of all is a 25% to 75% decrease in time spent on planning and administration. Furthermore, a 5% to 15% reduction in the number of vehicles, and a 5% to 25% reduction in CO2 emissions, mileage and driving time, and also a significantly improved visit accuracy which, as mentioned before, leads to a significant increase of customer satisfaction."