In the News
Telit Magazine: "Smart Grid" for Waste & Recycling: M2M Transforms Public-Space Trash Collection Operations
BigBelly Solar is a leading global provider of innovative and sustainable solutions for the management of waste & recycling, with more than 800 customers in virtually every U.S. state and 30 countries.
The BigBelly Solar intelligent waste & recycling collection system combines a powerful management console, software-enabled network command center, and family of mix and match waste & recycling stations into a toolkit that enables municipalities, colleges & universities, government facilities and other institutional customers to reduce the operating costs associated with collection by 80 percent.
Recognized as a C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group best practice, BigBelly Solar is also enabling its customers in becoming visible leaders in practices that are more environmentally sustainable – displacing fossil fuel usage through renewable energy, increasing recycling rates, reducing litter and associated public health concerns, and creating a messaging platform to engage users and influence more environmentally-conscious behaviors.
The Challenge: Bringing M2M to trash collection operations
In 2011, BigBelly Solar was committed to evolving from our beginnings as the creator of the patented solar-powered trash compactor, to being an enterprise system provider for optimally managing public space waste & recycling collection operations.
To accomplish this goal, we had developed new and expanded capabilities at each layer of the system:
(1) a management console, accessible from any browser, providing customers with unprecedented visibility into their public space waste & recycling collection operations;
(2) behind the scenes, a network command center to deliver software functionality to the waste & recycling stations, remote diagnostics, over-the-air software upgrades and proactive maintenance alerts; and
(3) on the street, in parks and on campus, a substantially expanded family of waste & recycling stations to address a broad range of customer situations. These waste & recycling stations are capable of sensing and reporting in real time a broad range of fullness and collection activity information.
To launch this next-generation intelligent waste & recycling collection system, we needed to incorporate robust, reliable and cost-effective M2M capability.
Having already invented and patented the world’s first solar-powered trash compactor, we had a device that replaced ordinary sidewalk trash receptacles with a self-powered, self-aware robot that compacts waste as needed to increase capacity and thereby reduce the demand for expensive and time-consuming collection trips. The “BigBelly” solar compactors, and the new “SmartBelly” non-compacting receptacles, sense fullness and collection activity, gathering information that would give unprecedented insight and control over collection operations.
But to get that information to customers and integrate these solar compactors into a “smart grid” network, we needed among other components a high-quality modem to install in the BigBelly and SmartBelly components.
After extensive research and testing, we chose Telit for three reasons:
(1) appropriate form factor in terms of size and shape for our products;
(2) good support from Telit; and
(3) Telit was ahead of the competition in M2M applications, giving them and us an advantage.
Although it was not the least expensive option, we selected Telit’s solution to gain these advantages and the modems have been working very well in the field.
Benefits of the System
The launch of our next-generation intelligent waste & recycling collection system, the “Smart Grid for Waste & Recycling TM”, has been a great success for us and for our customers. The BigBelly Solar system sets us apart with a unique worldwide solution, and our customers are able to deliver an essential service at dramatically lower cost.
Combined with powerful historical analysis and reporting, the insights delivered through our M2M system provide transparency and control to customers who previously had to assign peak resources at all times given the absence of data to support more targeted resourcing decisions. The new visualization tools and reporting capabilities provide powerful insights for more efficient management of operations, better activity tracking and enhanced auditing of results.
That visibility across the entire operation is also attractive at the executive level, which is under increasing pressure to justify investments and provide measurable and verifiable results to their stakeholders.
Data-driven insights, on-site compaction and a full range of Zero Waste recycling options – all powered by solar energy and utilizing advanced information technology – are a powerful combination. In times where customers of all types face difficult budget pressures, the ability to reduce collections while improving service levels is not a nice-to-have, it’s a must-have. BigBelly Solar is helping customers remove 7-8 out of every 10 trash vehicle trips from their streets, reducing the carbon footprint and fuel cost drain for vehicles that typically average less than 3 MPG.
The BigBelly Solar intelligent waste & recycling collection system is a true asset for city, university, park system and corporate leadership looking to dramatically reduce their environmental impact while simultaneously achieving substantial budgetary savings.