Digital fill level sensors in waste containers have been a benefit for Vesthimmerlands Forsyning right from the beginning.
With the latest generation of radar sensors, the benefit is even greater, and there is no need to invest in more trucks despite having more fractions.
Per Sørensen, the transport manager at Vesthimmerlands Forsyning, is a pioneer in the use of digital fill level sensors in waste containers. Per Sørensen was involved from the start in 2016, when the utility company began Denmark’s largest installation in the field, and when he discusses with colleagues whether it pays off, there are no doubts.
- It can! We have continuously freed up time to handle more and more containers with the same resources, says the transport manager.
As with all pioneers, there have also been challenges. The first generation of sensors from a Swiss supplier was a fine enough solution, but difficult to adapt to the wishes and needs of Vesthimmerlands Forsyning, which had installed them in 370 waste containers.
Responsible for water, sewage and waste throughout Vesthimmerland Municipality, the company reached out to the market and initiated a collaboration with the Sønderborg-based company Maacks. This led to the installation of 450 sensors from Maacks in 2019. At that time, they were based on ultrasonic technology.
Vesthimmerlands Forsyning is constantly optimising the solution, and now the number of sensors is up to covering 700 containers. The latest generation of BrainyBins sensors is based on precise radar technology, mounted at the top of the waste container and sending continuous data on fill level, temperature, etc. via the cloud.
- Fill level sensor technology is now a mature technology in operation, not least with the latest generation of sensors with radar technology, says Torben Østerby, sales manager at Maacks ApS.
Hands-on data for the transport manager
Between 6:30 and 7:00 pm, fresh data arrives for operations manager Per Sørensen from the 700 fill level sensors, and based on this, he spends 5-10 minutes each evening planning the next day’s operations. He likes to be updated, proactive, and have his “hands on the stove,” as he puts it.
The operations manager was curious about how the process would unfold, but according to Per Sørensen, the installation, activation and connection to BrainyBins software via the cloud takes only about 15 minutes per fill level sensor. Additionally, he spent a total of 15 minutes introducing and instructing the driver in the use of the BrainyBins app.
- Maacks is responsive to our requests for software,” Per Sørensen says, citing an example: “We wanted the driver to be able to manually enter his assessment of the fill level so we could compare it to the BrainyBins message, and we got that feature.
It has been proven that there is a very good alignment between the driver’s assessment and the data from the fill level sensor. During the visit, the operations manager shows a current example, where the driver estimates the fill level to be 70 per cent, while the fill level sensor indicates 73 per cent.
- Radar technology provides very accurate measurements about the fill level and is not disturbed by dirty lenses or the like,” says Torben Østerby from Maacks about the patent pending solution.
Early involvement leads to the best solution
According to Per Sørensen, it is important to get involved early in the process and continuously provide feedback to the supplier about one’s needs in order to tailor the solution to the organisation’s needs. If that’s the case, there is not much to think about.
- It’s worth installing fill level sensors in waste containers and digitising the monitoring that way. I can only recommend other utility companies to consider the same. The installation and operation are seamless today, so in my opinion, there’s nothing to hesitate about,” Per Sørensen, transport manager of Vesthimmerlands Forsyning concludes.
All waste sites included in the scheme
The replacement with the latest generation of fill level sensors was completed by Vesthimmerlands Forsyning in late 2022. 450 of the sensors are replacements of existing units, while 250 sensors are installed in brand new containers in connection with the implementation of two new waste fractions and the splitting of two existing fractions.
This means that all of the municipality’s waste sites are equipped with digital fill level sensors of the BrainyBins Radar type from Maacks. At the same time, the number of waste sites has been expanded to include the municipality’s holiday home areas as a replacement for the traditional collection of daily waste.
The solution includes the BrainyBins software, specially developed for monitoring and administration within the waste sector, and an app developed for hauliers and drivers.
Waste island in a summer house area where all waste containers are monitored with BrainyBins Radar fill level sensors.
More fractions without more time consumption
For Vesthimmerlands Forsyning, the radar-type fill level sensors have made it possible to introduce two new fractions and split two others without generating a need for extra transportation. The company still collects waste 3-4 days a week, just like before.
- Thanks to the investment in the 700 fill level sensors, we can handle the extra fractions without investing in another truck. Our truck drives 40-45,000 km a year, and the transportation can be organised so efficiently that we reach the extra fractions and empty the containers in all 90 waste sites,” said Per Sørensen.
In other words, the BrainyBins solution with software and fill level sensors has been a good investment environmentally and budget-wise, and, moreover, the citizens of the municipality now very rarely see an overflowing container in the community.
The driver is happy with the BrainyBins app where he can see the service route and the fill levels of each bin.
Denmark’s largest installation of smart sensors for waste management
- Number of waste sites: 90
- Number of waste containers: 700
- More accurate measurements
- Desire for manual input of fill level estimation by the driver
- Three new waste fractions, expanding from 5 to 8 fractions
- Two existing fractions have been split up
- Installed sensors: 700
- Of which ultrasound: 0
- Of which radar: 700
- Software: BrainyBins
- App: BrainyBins
- Desired expansion: Manual input of fill level estimation
- Start: 2019: 450 ultrasound sensors
- End: 2022: Replacement of the existing 450 ultrasound sensors with new BrainyBins Radar sensors and implementation of 250 BrainyBins Radar sensors in new containers.
- Quick and easy installation of sensors, taking only 15 minutes.
- Measurements are more precise due to the new BrainyBins Radar sensor.
- The driver can visually evaluate the fill level and enter the estimation in the app.
- Even with the addition of two new fractions, no additional truck driving is necessary.
- There is more time for other tasks.
- Citizens are more satisfied as the containers are not overflowing. Fewer inquiries to the municipality.
- Today, 700 containers are being handled with the resources originally set aside for 450 containers.
- The system is always available as it is cloud-based.