From its origins in residential high-rise compactors and containers, Metro Compactor Service Inc. has become Canada’s leading expert in waste and recycling equipment servicing and sales. Through its iSmart IoT system, the company helps customers to proactively manage and extend the life of their waste equipment, ensuring productive and efficient operations. Digi IX10 and IX20 cellular routers play a critical role in the solutions offered by Metro Compactor by keeping equipment connected at all times.
“How Full Is the Compactor?”
Whether it’s a retail, hospitality, healthcare, or industrial setting, waste disposal is a process that can be easy to overlook — until the disruptions strike. When a compactor reaches capacity earlier than expected, it can lead to trash overflows, with significant health and safety implications. Alternatively, if the container is not full, but nonetheless exceeds weight restrictions, haulers won’t be able to safely transport it. Even partially filled containers can sometimes become problematic since they create unnecessary carbon emissions and costs due to needless pick-up trips.
According to Salam El Khechen, hardware engineer for Metro Compactor, the challenge was tailor-made for an IoT solution. He said, “It starts with a simple question that all of our customers are constantly asking: ‘How full is the compactor?’ This is a perfect scenario for a network of connected sensors that monitor the volume of trash in our containers and send alerts when thresholds are met.”
Enter the iSmart IoT system. “Most compactors have their own switches and impulse e-stops,” El Khechen said. “We add our equipment to read those results. By carefully tracking how full the compactor is, we can optimize the timing and frequency of truck visits, reduce truck rolls, cut costs, and shrink the carbon footprint caused by these activities. We can even minimize the number of compactions to extend the life of the devices and reduce maintenance visits and associated expenses. We developed iSmart to bring connectivity, visibility, and intelligence to the waste management process.”
Greater Efficiency and Improved Sustainability
In addition to the various sensors attached to its waste equipment, Metro Compactor’s iSmart relies on Digi IX10 and Digi IX20 cellular routers to provide the reliable connectivity that the application requires. Digi’s industrial routers are built for trouble-free reliability over a long service life with flexible power and connectivity options. These connectivity solutions can operate independently on public LTE networks, with features to assist in network control and management with low-touch and no-touch provisioning. They also integrate Digi Remote Manager®, a cloud-based platform that provides critical insights into the health of deployed devices and simplifies provisioning, configuration, ongoing security and feature updates, and predictive maintenance.
“The iSMART Network monitors all connected waste equipment, generating reports and alerting customers to any issues that require immediate attention,” explained El Khechen. “We save the alerts in a database for future reporting and trend analysis and use them to continually refine our algorithms. The ideal time to have a hauler arrive to take away the compactor is when it is at 90-100% of capacity, but the actual call may be more complex. We must balance fullness vs. weight, for instance. Also, some haulers require advance notice of several days before picking up a container, so we need to factor that into our forecasts. In other cases, the compactor might reach its capacity on a weekend — but the hauler doesn’t work on weekends. This is where our iSMART systems help customers optimize their scheduling, minimize truck rolls, save costs and reduce emissions, while minimizing compactor downtime. It’s a win-win for everyone involved.”
El Khechen reports that some sites are seeing a reduction in hauling trips as much as 50%. “If the machine isn’t running, we send data maybe four times a day, but whenever there’s a compaction, we send that information immediately — as many as 20 times in a 24-hour period. With Digi supplying the connectivity, our iSMART application is improving sustainability.”
“How Well is the Compactor Running?”
Metro Compactor already has deployed iSmart on more than 5,000 pieces of equipment — and the benefits extend beyond improvements to hauling. “We can adjust the operation of the unit,” El Khechen said. “For instance, one site might have 10,000 compactions over a given period, but by eliminating unnecessary cycles, we can reduce that number by 90%. It saves energy, extends the life of the equipment, and reduces maintenance requirements. Instead of ‘How full is the compactor?’ the question pivots to ‘How well is the compactor running?’”
Simple issues can usually be resolved over the phone with the guidance of a technician. That means a technician visits the location only for complex situations. “Some customers reduced service visits by 17%,” he said. “We’re proud that this application is giving our customers the means to reduce the cost of waste and the impact on the environment.”
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