NATIONAL REPORT—According to the most recent AH&LA/AHLEF/STR Lodging Survey, 64 percent of U.S. hotels have a recycling program. That percentage rises to 90 percent in the luxury and upper upscale segments. Most of the major hotel companies have established goals for reducing waste. One example: Hilton Worldwide had a 2015 goal to divert waste from landfills by 25 percent in the Americas and Asia Pacific. Even as the industry has made progress in waste reduction, inefficiencies remain in the waste compacting and pickup process. Oftentimes, compactor breakdowns or operator missteps are not caught and haulers make unnecessary pickups, increasing the total cost of ownership of a compactor. Fortunately, several companies have developed systems that effectively monitor compactor performance.
Gabe Vinizki, V.P. Business Development for Toronto based PragmaTech Waste Solutions, says his company’s Pandora Intelligent Networks platform can typically cut 30 to 50 percent off a customer’s waste haulage bill. Using smart sensors that communicate with a nearby microcomputer and modem, information can be sent to PragmaTech, the hotel owner or other contact, or even the company doing the hauling. “We can see the data and share it with our customers,” Vinizki says. “Hotels can manage their own data or if they prefer PragmaTech’s consultants can review the data, analyze it and then give them appropriate recommendations.”
Historically, haulers have determined when a pickup takes place. With a system like Pandora, however, an e-mail can automatically be sent to the hauler when a bin is near full. The algorithms built into Pandora trains the system to figure out when the compactor is ready for pickup, eliminating half empty compactor pickups. This helps reduce the number of trucks on the road, reduces the number of monthly picksups required, and ultimately reduces the carbon footprint of one’s waste removal operation.
Smart Sensors Can Trigger Service Calls
By tracking metrics around compactor performance, service calls can be scheduled well in advance of an actual breakdown, thus potentially reducing repair costs and leading to fewer replacement parts over the long term. With all the data collected, patterns, trends and outliers can be easily identified among a network of machines. Smart sensors can collect information that can avoid unnecessary service calls. Being able to identify remotely situations such as low oil levels, high oil temperatures, disconnected hoses and photo eye blockages allows the hotel to easily solve problems without a visit from a technician. The data collected with smart sensors can also help identify compactor misuse and inefficiencies. Cycle counts, operating time, and other metrics are all part of a comprehensive asset management offering.
“We can quickly diagnose and identify problems that have happened or are about to happen,” Vinizki says. “We can identify human error. We can identify problems remotely. We can identify issues before real damage, very expensive damage occurs.”
Vinizki says the strength of Pandora is its combination of remote monitoring, preventive maintenance and asset management capabilities. Knowing the use history of a compactor allows one to know when parts need to be replaced. Companies with multiple compactors can compare one machine against another. Invoice errors can more easily be detected. Warranties can be aligned with actual usage. Notifications can be sent via e-mail/SMS or can be viewed in a web portal.
“There are also soft cost savings from using this technology,” Vinizki says, mentioning reduced employee headaches and involvement in solving some of these problems, as well as impact on the residual value of the equipment, as two examples.
‘Data is Power’
When it comes to monitoring waste equipment, “Data is power,” Vinizki says. Pandora allows one to build up a central repository of all waste related data, available at the click of a button. “You need to be able to benchmark and measure,” Vinizki adds. “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.” Vinizki likes to use the expression, “It’s garbage in, garbage out.” “Without a proper baselining of operations, without accurate waste data capture, how can anyone accurately assess the progress they are making around their recycling programs, carbon footprint reduction calculations, or any other waste-reduction sustainability initiative?” Vinizki asks. “[With Pandora] you have a true, accurate measurement of your program.”
In addition to PragmaTech Ltd., OnePlus Corp. and American Trash Management, Inc. also offer compactor monitoring solutions. Both companies did not return calls for this article. The OnePlus fullness monitoring system helps increase the volume of every compactor pick-up while reducing their frequency, resulting in cost savings. When a compactor container reaches a designated full level, the system sends a pickup request directly to the hauler and designated recipients via e-mail, text message or fax. All notifications route through the company’s cloud-based software platform, which automatically generates management reports and offers real-time status updates.
American Trash Management’s (ATM) SmartTrash compactor monitor hardware is installed on or near the compactor’s control panel. The SmartTrash compactor monitor timestamps, records and analyzes all compactor activity: how hard and how often the compactor is working including time and length of operation and the correlated energy utilization, directional valve shifts, safety door switches and the pickup and return of the unit. This data is relayed via wireless packet data network several times per hour from anywhere in the world with a cellular phone service to ATM’s Data Center.
Glenn Hasek can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.