The tidiest part of the City of Anderson, SC, is how it collects its garbage. Here’s why.
Every morning, five garbage trucks leave the City’s Sanitation Department and embark on their daily routes. Each truck carries an operator and crew worker, who ensure that all 12,370 garbage carts throughout the City receive weekly service.
Until recently, there was a significant disparity in route distribution. This was primarily due to the concentration of new residential development within the existing Monday garbage route. This led to Monday and Tuesday overtime for drivers, resulting in a notable excess of over 1,000 carts collected on Mondays compared to Wednesdays
“We needed a way to redistribute the routes because garbage collection had become inefficient,” said Adam Cromer with the City’s Public Works Division.
The Sanitation Department considered hiring a consultant specializing in route optimization. The consultant would conduct an in-depth study and provide a solution to balance the workload. The catch? The study would take months to complete and cost upwards of $20,000.
Fortunately, Public Works staff from the City came up with an innovative solution that was both faster and free of charge. Using OpenGov Asset Management and Permitting & Licensing, Cromer and Conwell manipulated existing data to create optimized garbage routes for the next five years.
The City originally purchased OpenGov Asset Management to manage work requests, track inventory and ascertain the value of City assets.
“Before OpenGov, we knew that we picked up garbage, but the details of garbage collection were not a priority until we experienced rapid residential growth.” In other words, it wasn’t an issue until it was an issue.
Many City departments now use OpenGov to manage assets and resources, but the Sanitation Department utilized the software differently from common practice, shedding light on new ways to use OpenGov as a strategic tool.
Solving the Garbage Cart Puzzle: Distribution and Daily Workload Insights
Using garbage cart data from existing spreadsheets which were imported into OpenGov, Conwell identified that his drivers empty 12,370 garbage carts each week. However, there were significant variations in both the distribution of carts among the routes and the average number of carts handled per day of the week. For example, on Monday, the drivers assigned to Route 4 emptied 1,145 carts, but on Tuesday, only 572. This was far from ideal, as many holidays fall on Monday, leaving the drivers to double their two busiest days of the week on Tuesday.
Next: Anticipating Future Growth
While this data provided the current state of garbage collection, there was another factor to consider: future growth and development. The City has numerous residential projects in various stages of development, like new townhomes and subdivisions, that will add hundreds of carts to the load in the coming years.
The City of Anderson knew that recognizing and planning for future growth would be imperative to maintain the expected level of service. The purchase of a new garbage truck takes an average of two years, so planning for future needs while maintaining current equipment is critical to the mission. Through this study, the city was able to forecast future labor and equipment needs for the Sanitation Department.
Using OpenGov Permitting and Licensing, staff reviewed plan submittals to estimate how many carts will be added to garbage routes over the next five years.
“We receive all of our planning submittals in OpenGov Permitting and Licensing. It’s easy to collaborate with the Planning Department and quantify exactly how many homes are expected in new developments, and what stage each development is in.”
– Adam Cromer, City of Anderson, SC Public Works Division
Visualize and Adjust on the Map
Once Conwell determined the number of carts a route could pick up per day with growth in mind, he used OpenGov Asset Management to conceptualize the route changes on a color-coded map. With the information of what they were doing, what they could do, and the expectation for future growth, the daily routes could be adjusted to provide balance for now and into the future.
“It was a straightforward process that only took a few days,” said Cromer.
With data from OpenGov Asset Management and OpenGov Permitting and Licensing, the City of Anderson developed a solution to balance and optimize garbage routes for the next five years. This innovative strategy not only saved the city $20,000 by forgoing an outside consultant but, even more importantly, the Sanitation Department expects to eliminate hours of overtime work for their hard-working staff.