Article published in Jornal Agua & Ambiente
Ecogest and XTraN are two remote management systems which provide an efficient management and optimisation of urban waste collection for recycling.
Tecmic — Tecnologias de Microelectrónica, SA, has developed a system for optimising the management of waste management to the satisfaction of local councils. These systems are Ecogest — recycling point management, and XTraN — fleet management. These solutions provide a company with real time and automatic information on external activities. “These systems provide the information needed in decision-making which is so often lacking”, states José Maria Moniz, managing director of Tecmic.
Ecogest allows the collection process to be optimised by “showing” the status of recycling bins, indicating, for instance, when a bin is full and informing the control centre. “Another advantage is that the system supports planning of the number and location of recycling points, to keep up with the needs of the public.” This system allows an effective planning of services, avoiding the overflow of recycling bins.
Recycling points can “talk” by means of a box of electronics installed within any closed bin, which detects fill level and automatically signals the control centre whenever collection is required. This intelligent unit does not communicate unnecessarily — it only communicates when a level is reached that needs requires emptying of the bin — this level is configurable according to the needs of the manager.
“This system provides a real reduction in the costs associated to waste collection, as empty kilometres and unnecessary journeys are eliminated, maximising the use of human and material resources”, emphasises José Maria Moniz.
Ecogest may operate together with XTraN — fleet management system — providing support to the collection process. Integrated with XTraN data can be transferred as necessary to allow fleet management from a single control centre.
Like Ecogest, XTraN also supports information management, resources optimisation and cost reduction, besides allowing the planning and supervision of a vehicle fleet based on data received from the vehicles. The mobile unit’s large storage capacity allows large amounts of operational data to be stored, such as waste bins emptied and jobs executed per vehicle. The communications module provides a flexible communications interface, prioritising messages as necessary and minimizing communications costs. Information stored is sent to the control centre periodically or upon request at the most convenient time.
The use of geographical information systems allows XTraN to de deployed at all collection points, recycling bins, recycling centres, separation and treatment plants, in order to optimise collection routes. For example, for domestic waste collection, only distances strictly required are covered. Currently, the Association of Councils of Vale do Ave, namely Guimarães, Famalicão, Fafe and Vieira do Minho councils have acquired these systems.
According to Paulo Santos, Tecmic’s business area manager, many other public entities besides councils are interested in these systems. “Everything depends on political decisions and the evolution of the market. However, the entities who must answer to the European Union concerning the level of recycling achieved are conscious of the need to apply new technology in order to avoid exploding costs,” he warns.