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04 May 2021

Intelligent Optimization Today

Intelligent Optimization is the powerful, state-of-the-art dynamic routing optimization solution that maximizes efficiencies and productivity for exceptional customer service in all types of waste — commercial, domestic, roll-off, skips, hazardous, and more.

Lasse Jiborn, Commercial Director of Intelligent Optimization and Routing and member of the senior leadership team AMCS, recently spoke at the Waste Today August 2020 Virtual Tradeshow on How Can Intelligent Optimization Increase Efficiency?. Lasse discusses the challenges customers face today, how Intelligent Optimization can add substantial operational efficiencies and customer service benefits to routing, and the future of the technology.

ABC’s of Route Planning

Part of the AMCS Platform, IO provides waste management organizations an integrated transport and dispatch or routing solution. Typically, a customer begins by creating a long-term route plan, the Master Route Plan, for a residential area or zone, for example. The area is defined not only geographically but also according to a complete collection cycle, so that if waste is collected weekly, recycling every other week, and hazardous waste every six weeks, that area would have a six-week cycle.

To create the Master Route Plan, data for every relevant element of the area is added to the mix, such as vehicles and their maintenance schedules, drivers and their schedules, households and their account histories, container types and levels of contents, days and types of collection per address, and so on.

The created Master Route Plan would hold information on each truck, customer stop, and driver for every day over the course of the six-week cycle.

Optimization, Old School

Non-AMCS route planning for the medium term involves marrying orders with trucks, days, and maintenance tasks in the Master Route Plan. Once optimized, no more changes to orders are allowed. Any subsequent orders received will carry over to the next appropriate day. Because the plan locks down order submissions before it is finalized, we call it static.

Dynamic Optimization: How It Works

The AMCS customer, in conjunction with AMCS, takes the Master Route Plan and changes it using what-if scenarios. What if, for example, two fewer trucks are used? What if stops on a specific day are changed to another day to avoid, say, a parade? The solution recalculates the input and resulting changes to efficiency are evaluated.

The Master Plan is thus refined and optimized — but not frozen. There is no order deadline or lockdown, and any incoming orders are incorporated into the plan automatically in real time, enabling on-demand service.

Dynamic optimization where AMCS stands out as being quite different from other solutions. But other major advantages play key roles as well.

Advanced Tools and End-to-End Digitalization

“This is an area of our business that is changing very rapidly,” according to Lasse Jiborn, “with the introduction of IoT, RFID, and GPS, where we can be very precise about exactly where our trucks are at a certain point in time.”

Then there is event-driven re-optimization. “It becomes more and more interesting to do dynamic optimization, to figure out, say, if a truck breaks down right now, right here, how we can best take care of our resident,  How do we reroute the trucks to make this work? It all happens automatically.

“Thanks to IoT, on-board computers, and the connectivity of today, we can rearrange elements and re-plan throughout the day.” The result: maximum operational efficiency in real time.

“The static approach to planning does long-term simulations and master routes, but at a certain point, the on-call window closes, and the final plan is prepared and executed without further input.

“We don’t do that. There’s no need to stop orders and optimization is ongoing for a truly agile form of integrated planning and execution. We have continuous updates as we check of the collections.”

The Upshot in Benefits

  • 5 – 25% reduction in CO2 emissions, mileage, and driving time
  • 5 – 15% reduction in number of vehicles
  • 25 – 75% decrease in time spent on planning and administration
  • Significantly improved customer service and service accuracy

What Are the Biggest Customer Challenges Today?

“Right now, knowledge,” says Jiborn. “In this world as we visit customers, we meet some amazing dispatchers all the time. They know everything. They know how each driver likes to drive, how long they take to do things, what new orders go to what trucks. In their brains. Same for the drivers, they know their route.”

This “tribal knowledge” (a business term for unwritten knowledge shared by a subgroup of employees) has its risks, especially when new drivers come on board or when routes are drastically altered, as in the New Normal. There’s considerable driver churn right now, and a generational shift as well, adding to the need for sharpened change management skills.

How has the New Normal affected the industry?

The days following shutdowns have given companies a taste of what is required to manage changes with newfound urgency and agility. “When something as major as a pandemic happens, says Jiborn, companies are forced to quickly change. The challenge is knowing how to change in a very fast, dynamic, yet controlled way.

“What’s going on in the world right now, the need to automate for control becomes even more obvious when something this major happens. How do we quickly change our ability to collect based on the new situation? We no longer need 100 trucks over here, for example. Instead we need 50 here and 75 over there. How do we do that in a very fast yet controlled way? That is what companies are struggling with today.”

In the area of intelligent optimization, that means bringing new ideas to the table.

“For example,” says Jiborn, “a strong dispatcher can handle 15 to 20 trucks, assigned to one depot. So for an operation with three depots, that’s 60 trucks and three dispatchers.

“If we can automate and optimize that, we can start crossing over the trucks of the three depots for greater control and to automate Ideally, for this truck driving out of this depot, he might drop the truck off at a new depot and go from there.

“You’d want to be able to mix and match the larger pool of trucks to provide more planning options. That would be a real benefit, to gain that flexibility by sharing across areas. You’d gain considerable control by automating this knowledge, enabling better utilization of vehicles.”

About AMCS Intelligent Optimization

Making the move from manual routing and dispatch to automatic and dynamic route optimization is the best way to maximize efficiencies and enhance customer service.