Schmalkalden Stadtreinigung GmbH has managed waste for the German district of Schmalkalden-Meiningen since May 1990. Its workforce of some 110 staff provide a diverse range of services using a fleet of specialised vehicles. The company turned to Vodafone and its local technology partner, DAKO, for an innovative logistics solution.

Schmalkalden-Meiningen is an administrative urban district in the Free State of Thuringia in the south west of Germany. The district covers roughly 100 square km and has a population of just over 123,000. Schmalkalden Stadtreinigung’s main responsibilities include disposing of domestic waste and scrap across the district plus collecting commercial waste for recycling, street cleaning and keeping the roads clear and safe in winter.

The company deals with household and commercial hazardous waste, transports that waste, and offers container-based services and private haulage. Since 1992, SSR has collected recyclable packaging and glass.

To fulfil its obligations, Schmalkalden Stadtreinigung runs a fleet of about 65 collection vehicles, as well as road sweepers, suction and flushing vehicles and other specialised technology. SSR has its own workshops for servicing and repairing all the vehicles.

Out of the 110 staff, 80 are drivers. By law, the company must keep collect and keep reliable evidence and documentation about the hours they spend driving and their rest periods. Schmalkalden Stadtreinigung has been using a digital tachograph to monitor drivers’ activity and collect this information for several years, based on drivers’ card and a storage system in each vehicle.

The need for speed and innovation

This was proving to be time-consuming as uploading the data every three months typically took half an hour per vehicle but could take up to an hour. Schmalkalden Stadtreinigung wanted a new, more efficient solution to comply with its legal obligations as well as innovation to help optimise its services. It soon became clear that a networked solution was the way forward.

Schmalkalden Stadtreinigung began its the project working with service provider DAKO, based in Jena. DAKO specialises in logistics and telematics applications, and had been providing the technology for networked logistics solutions with its partner Vodafone for many years.

DAKO designed a solution for Schmalkalden Stadtreinigung based on installing a telematics device – not much larger than an ordinary smart phone – with GPS tracking and an integrated IoT SIMs from Vodafone in each vehicle. The data bus within each vehicle gave the device to access many kinds of information, including the diesel level, mileage and service interval, and the vehicle’s location and speed.

The driver has a chip card to sign into the system at the beginning of every journey and sign out again at the end. The data is instantly sent across Vodafone’s mobile network to the logistics platform operated by DAKO. This platform is linked to Vodafone’s Managed IoT Connectivity Platform, which simplifies operations, such as by allocating SIMs and telematics devices to specific vehicles.

Schmalkalden Stadtreinigung’s employees can now quickly and easily access the platform to look up their driving times and other logistics information which can be retrieved, displayed, analysed and archived by a few mouse clicks.

Popular with the drivers too

The real-time data transfer across the Vodafone network has got rid of the time-consuming uploads, but the solution has delivered other advantages too. Initially, drivers had some reservations about the deployment due to the route documentation being GPS-based, but they disappeared once Schmalkalden Stadtreinigung realised that the system could disprove inaccurate complaints that collections had been missed. It was also possible to counter a claim of a hit and run accident as the driver could show he was not at the location at the time.

The first phase of the deployment kitted out the 62 collection vehicles which remained in regular use throughout. The other, more specialist vehicles are used less frequently.

Making waste collection smart

Torsten Jahns, managing director, Schmalkalden Stadtreinigung, is particularly excited about the system’s future potential. He said, “We are working to optimise our vehicles’ rounds based on the data.” In the medium-term, his goal is “smart waste”, which involves fitting containers with sensors that alert the company when they need to be emptied, avoiding unnecessary trips which should improve efficiency while reducing cost.

“In DAKO and Vodafone, we have found specialist partners with a solution that makes Schmalkalden Stadtreinigung fit for the future. We work together on a level playing field and are very happy with the collaborative solution that has been implemented,” concluded Jahns.

Stephan Horten, IoT principal partner manager, Vodafone, commented, “With our technology partner DAKO… It is particularly enjoyable to be able to help such an innovative company digitise its processes and business models.”

The next phase will be pilot projects to start the move towards smart waste, and denser networks of some glass and clothing containers. The partners are committed to collaborating to develop their innovative solution further.

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