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Rhenus, REMONDIS and the Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics IML in Dortmund have developed a sensor for the Internet of Things (IoT) as part of an enterprise lab that tracks the fill levels and movement of bins. Two important pieces of information for improving the coordination of bin-emptying schedules. Transmitted to a cloud via the 5G-compatible machine and sensor network Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT), the recorded data can then be used to optimise bin collection routes. This will make it easier to plan routes and schedules and enable this task to become automated over the medium term.
The benefits offered by these smart sensors are obvious: economical, reliable, maintenance-free and extremely energy-efficient, they are perfect for being used at scale with IoT technology and are a valuable instrument for both customers and Rhenus and REMONDIS as their service provider. “We will be able to optimise our collection schedules to such an extent that we only ever travel to bins that are registered as full in the cloud. This means we save both time and fuel and can avoid unnecessary empty running. As a result, our staff have more time to deal with customer requests – increasing the quality of our service and relieving the pressure on our own organisation as well as our customers’,” explained Michael Wiegmann, a managing director at Rhenus and the person in charge of this project. This also means, of course, that the system helps protect the environment, underlining both Rhenus’ and REMONDIS’ sustainable corporate philosophy.
Once the initial development and project phases had been successfully completed, the sensors were installed in both Rhenus’ bins used for collecting confidential documents, files and data storage media and REMONDIS’ recycling bins at the end of 2019. Focus was primarily put on fitting them into customer systems that either require large numbers of bins or involve a complex ordering and time-consuming fulfilment process. “The feedback from our customers has been positive across the board. They see us as being an innovative service provider and some of them are even planning to make this sensor technology a mandatory requirement in their future procurement projects. Both sides benefit from this system,” Michael Wiegmann continued, adding, “All of our staff involved in this project have also reacted extremely positively.”
Michael Wiegmann, Managing Director Rhenus
Long-term plans are to increase the number of bins equipped with this sensor from the current 1,000+ to over 100,000 as well as to use them for similar applications within the company group. Other types of data (such as shock/vibration levels or the angle and inside temperature of the bin) can also be measured and recorded by the sensor and these are being planned for the future. By developing innovative bins, Rhenus and REMONDIS are not only showing their customers that they are the best partner for the services they need. They have also taken a further important step towards setting up fully digitised and, in the medium term, fully automated chains of processes.