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The Visible Value Blog

Effective Waste Management

Posted by John Wyer

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September 5, 2016 at 12:30 PM

We all need to get rid of our household rubbish, relying on our local authorities to clear this away for us.


And when you think about it, there are few more challenging working environments – especially for mobile technology. Not only do mobile devices need to work all day, every day, but they may be dropped from truck cabs or pockets, be covered in dust and subjected to rain and hot and cold weather extremes. It’s unforgiving work.

For this reason, when UK-based Biffa wanted to improve the way it reports on the collection of 3.2 million bin bags each week, it tested a number of rugged mobile devices, choosing Zebra’s TC55.

A true road warrior

The TC55 is a hybrid handheld computer. It looks, and works, like a smartphone with an easy Android operating system. But it’s built tough and is designed to thrive when working outside. So the touch screen will not stop working when the rain comes down or the user puts bulky gloves on, its audio is loud and clear to cope with background noise, it will survive drops, and the battery life lasts beyond normal shifts. As part of its move to the TC55, Biffa also updated its software.

New ways to work

Biffa sought an off-the-shelf solution to provide real-time, accurate data that could easily integrate with its customers’ systems. The system chosen consisted of a fully customisable field service application called AllOnMobile and a waste management back office system called PowerSuite. These apps enable Biffa to plan and schedule routes and collections while teams using their TC55s can view their jobs, request live changes to schedules, report using template forms and take images if required. The data is sent back to base over 3G, while reports and any issues are connected directly into local councils’ waste management systems. An audit trail is created, which is important given that many councils must comply with a range of legislation around rubbish collection.

Ready to work

The solution has been great for Biffa. The TC55’s robust build means it’s ready to work on the road and there have been virtually no issues with them in 15 months – performance that helps reduce ownership costs. Also, the real-time collection of data allows Biffa and its clients to see when a job has been completed. In addition, if a customer’s bin is not collected (if it was too heavy for example), they can view the issue on the council website: a feature that reduces calls to call centres and associated costs.

Topics: Mobility, EMEA, Field Mobility, enterprise, mobile devices, TC55