COVID-19 has fast-tracked digital transformation and spearheaded the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) during 2020.

This transformation has become essential to not only help businesses be at the forefront of global trends but is being used to help them expand and retain clients within all sectors and at the end of the day to support with economic transformation.

“This is evident as South Africa’s newly formed Presidential Commission on the 4IR hopes to increase the influence of digital on the economy by working on infrastructure and resources, research, technology and innovation, capital and industrialisation to name a few,” says Ablé van der Merwe, National Logistics Manager at waste management company Averda.

“We realised that there is no better time to implement change and prioritise digital transformation to ensure growth and safety within the waste sector and that we keep moving forward,” he says.

Being the first in the industry, Averda South Africa has been rolling out their new Delivery Management System (DMS), which entails equipping each of their vehicles with Onboard Mobile Technology, and each crew member with their own digital log-in.

This means that Averda knows the exact location and the real time progress in service of all vehicles and of all staff on the ground.

This kind of digitisation within the waste management industry has been around for two years with Averda having deployed ‘TruTrak’ which specialised in medical waste services.

Averda’s healthcare clients have benefited from end-to-end visibility in the collection, transportation and disposal of potentially infectious medical waste with every container of medical waste traceable from collection through to final safe disposal.

“From our years of experience we are aware that not only medical waste can be hazardous and now want to give all our clients the same level of assurance that their waste is being transported and handled correctly. The adoption of these digital technologies and systems will change the way we serve and interact with our clients,” says Van der Merwe.

“Making sure clients have peace of mind is essential within our industry knowing that their waste could be a negative contributor to the environment if not handled correctly from start to finish. This is vital in making sure we help to curb climate change and keep our communities safe. So, this new system will be able to log each collection, check against the collection schedule and will raise any issue, for example with blocked access to roads or entries can be identified immediately.”

These newly digitised landscapes will bring the general waste management sector closer to the required level of oversight and vigilance.

These systems improve staff safety and business accountability by providing faster and more accurate reporting. South Africa is well known for illegal dumping and smaller cheaper but unreliable waste collectors taking short cuts, with many not knowing if their waste has been handled and disposed of correctly. Its’ important for all waste generators to keep and monitor these reports so that they stay within government regulations.

Also, many businesses and manufactures are still unaware of the kind of waste they may be producing and the harm this could be causing to the communities and environment.

Through constant and accurate reporting waste management companies and government are able to implement the best waste management practises for all.

Dynamic oversight and control of these real-time systems will be managed from two ‘mission control’ rooms, one for Western Cape based in Cape Town and the other for Gauteng, KZN and inland regions, based in Johannesburg. In addition to providing real-time oversight and support to Averda crews, the data collected by these technologies will allow for smarter, more efficient routes to be developed.

They will also permit intelligent route optimisation which has the potential of minimising our fuel consumption and maximising our efficiencies.

In other countries where Averda has deployed these technologies we have found they led to an average 15% reduction in fuel use and means less time on the road.

“Waste is not just the responsibility of the waste management sector but of waste generators and making sure they implement a responsible end-to-end waste management regime and partnerships with waste management companies that have everyone’s best interest at heart,” ended van der Merwe.

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