The City of Edmonton, Alberta, is one of Canada’s most vibrant and growing cities, with a population over 750,000, more than half of whom are under the age of 40. The city has been proactive with its waste management strategy with a focus on maximizing diversion from landfill and minimizing environmental impacts.
At the centre of its efforts is the Edmonton Waste Management Centre (EWMC) – a unique collection of advanced waste processing and research operations including facilities for composting, processing of recyclables and e-waste, power production from landfill gas, construction and demolition waste recycling and environmental protection and monitoring. The EWMC also houses a research and development facility that’s part of the Edmonton Waste Management Centre of Excellence.
Edmonton was an early adopter of Geoware software (www.geoware4.com) and has been using the system since 1992. During that time the software has grown from a simple scalehouse ticketing system, to a full-fledged waste management, ERP system.
As Edmonton enhanced its recycling programs in the 1990s, built a MRF at the EWMC and constructed a composting facility that began processing in 2000, the city’s Geoware system was enhanced to improve the monitoring and control of material flow and site operations. The implementation of the programs served by these facilities enabled Edmonton to divert 60 per cent of its residential waste from landfill.
As the closure of its landfill became imminent, the city raised the bar for itself again and set a diversion goal of 90 per cent. To further reduce dependency on landfill and reduce the associated greenhouse gas (GHG) production, Edmonton undertook an initiative to build a waste-to-biofuels facility. At capacity, this facility will convert 100,000 tonnes of municipal solid waste into 36 million litres of biofuels annually and help reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by six million tonnes over the next 25 years (the equivalent of removing 42,000 cars from the road annually).
In 2008, as part of the $130 million waste-to-biofuels initiative, Edmonton began building a new Integrated Processing and Transfer Facility (IPTF). In addition to substantial physical infrastructure, the city needed to monitor and control a wide variety of material flows including truck loading, bin movement and conveyor scale systems.
This new facility had to be effective and efficient in its operations, which meant managing such variables as staff and equipment during peak and slower periods, but also the various waste streams so they could:
- Optimize the processing of material through the facility;
- Maximize diversion rates in order to receive valuable credits and incentives;
- Optimize the use of transfer trailers;
- Avoid costly penalties in waste transfer haulage and refuse-derived fuel contracts; and
- Maximize the value of waste receiver contracts.
One of the key components in achieving these goals is access to timely, detailed and accurate information. This allows greater levels of efficiency and provides the kind of detailed reporting required to ensure qualification for various incentive program(s).
Edmonton required a fully integrated information and control system at its new IPTF. Geoware was engaged from the early planning stages to ensure integration with the overall facility design. The early engagement included:
- Detailed requirements gathering and documentation;
- Analysis of new business processes;
- Analysis of vehicle and material flows;
- Examination and documentation of expanded reporting requirements ;
- Documentation of equipment requirements; and
- Documentation of IT infrastructure.
Building on the city’s past software investment in administration and scalehouse modules, the IPTF project required additional modules including:
- Transfer Loading: Provides real-time process control and communication across the facility, between drivers, loaders, other operations personnel and administration staff for live loading of material.
- Transfer Logistics: Delivers real-time status of all personnel and equipment including loaded and unloaded trailer inventories and vehicles in transit.
- Transfer Contract Management: Includes monitoring and reconciliation tools to support the management of contracts with haulers and waste receivers.
- Inter-Facility Processing: For real-time monitoring, control and reporting on the flow of materials between processing facilities within the IPTF.
The software modules are integrated with a number of other enabling technologies including:
- Six vehicle scales, two multi-deck, vehicle scales and five conveyor scales;
- Ten lanes of automated traffic control, including lights, gates, overhead doors, and loop detectors;
- Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) of multi-component vehicles and bins;
- Multiple remote displays for scalehouse, transfer and loading operations; and
- Wireless, hand-held terminals, proximity cards and readers, and driver’s terminals.
Integration of these new modules has resulted in a highly-automated management and control system to increase efficiencies and optimize resources. IPTF managers no longer need to walk out to the production area to see what is going on. Now they have all the data at their fingertips. Reporting is easy; staff simply save the three or four main reports they use everyday so they can quickly get everything they need.
Software represents a small percentage of the overall cost of waste management facilities, but it is absolutely crucial to their success.
Guy Crittenden is editor of this magazine. Contact Guy at firstname.lastname@example.org