A team effort

Features - Fleet Management

Team Waste’s introduction of FleetMind technology has helped fine-tune its fleet operations while cutting its costs.

Subscribe
December 8, 2021

Photos courtesy of Team Waste

Team Waste Memphis LLC, based in Byhalia, Mississippi, is the largest independent, locally owned and managed solid waste collection and disposal business serving the greater Memphis area.

The company’s hauling operations include recycling and residential, commercial and industrial solid waste collection. The company also owns a municipal solid waste landfill as well as a construction and demolition landfill.

As one of the fastest-growing waste companies in the Mid-South, the company boasts approximately 85 trucks to serve the collection needs of customers throughout its 16-county footprint in the region.

As Team Waste’s service network and fleet have grown in recent years, so too has the onus on the company for managing its collection routes.

The need to verify service, optimize routes and improve its work-hour accounting came to a head several years ago when the company, as part of a pending contract in Harrison County, Mississippi, was required to provide RFID verification as part of its service offering.

Although Team Waste already utilized fleet management software in some of its trucks, the functionality left a lot to be desired, especially when it came to documenting its service records. After researching three fleet management vendors, including the provider it was currently working with, Team Waste President Andrew Densing made the decision to switch to Safe Fleet’s FleetMind solution.

“The existing vendor did not have integration with onboard camera systems and the other supplier could not provide the depth of services FleetMind offered,” Densing says. “We decided to go all-in with FleetMind—the only provider who could offer RFID, onboard camera systems and integration with our back-end ERP system.”

Team Waste also consulted with its cart provider, Cascade, prior to switching to FleetMind. Since several other haulers had successfully packaged Cascade carts with FleetMind software in the past, Cascade management was able to endorse FleetMind’s ability to work seamlessly to track its carts during service.

Team Waste originally outfitted 24 trucks with the FleetMind equipment and then quickly added it to another six. It didn’t take long after implementation for the company to realize the tangible benefits of adoption.

 

Not only was the company able to win new contracts through its ability to automatically provide service verification updates, the software’s route-tracking functions helped drastically reduce “go-backs” and refute false claims of missed pickups. This immediately helped the company save time and money since it didn’t have to send trucks out unnecessarily or reroute drivers to cover areas that were already serviced.

Additionally, Team Waste’s back-office staff was able to be more proactive in addressing service logjams thanks to its ability to monitor routing in real-time. With FleetMind, dispatchers are able to deploy additional personnel to help with a route before it’s too late to effectively manage.

“The dispatcher can say, ‘I think you need some help.’ You can proactively address an issue before the driver contacts you at 5 pm to tell you they need another two hours,” Densing says. “At this point everyone has gone home and there’s nobody to send back out to the route.”

 

Densing estimates that this dynamic dispatching capacity alone has saved the company near 20 hours per week, which has also led to a reduction in overtime hours for its collection staff.

And although FleetMind’s fleet management solution was originally desired to help with its residential accounts, Densing says the company soon saw the benefits of incorporating cameras, GPS and FleetMind-compatible scales on its commercial front-load trucks.

The result has been trucks that are able to provide real-time, accurate load data for automated accounting and invoicing as well as service verification through camera footage and geolocation data.

And while Densing says that Team Waste hadn’t thought of the need to analyze set-out rates for its recycling customers when the company introduced Fleetmind software, in hindsight, the system has unexpectedly provided Team Waste the ability to make what is routinely a painful and time-consuming task effortless.

“Anyone who offers curbside recycling is asked to provide set-out rates. Let me tell you how impossible this is. Asking your drivers to count carts on audit days is not a win-win scenario, so you often resort to having someone else count carts separately,” Densing says. “Our FleetMind system provides us with rates at the push of a button. I can get my data by the day, week or hour.”

Between all of its customers, Densing says Team Waste’s deployment of the Fleetmind software has manifested in significant cost savings.

“One of the biggest cost outlays for a waste hauler can be linked to ‘go-backs.’ If you can’t prove you [picked up the waste], you believe your customer,” Densing says. “Going back to pick up a pile, cart or waste from a dumpster costs money. And at $100-125 per hour, your costs add up quickly. All we do now is pull up the specific date and route [within the software] and provide the data as evidence.”

“I could honestly say the savings from liability and claim reductions and the ability to coach employees are worth the cost of the system.” - Team Waste President Andrew Densing

Avoiding a damaged reputation

While having documentation of service has become a prerequisite for Team Waste, the FleetMind technology has also paid off in helping the company avoid liability from damages. With the onboard cameras, Team Waste is able to respond to false claims regarding damaged property on its residential, commercial and grapple truck routes.

Densing says thanks to FleetMind’s responsiveness, his team can source video footage in minutes to either confirm or reject damage claims.

Although this type of video confirmation is most often associated with residential and commercial accounts, Densing says that the deployment of the onboard camera systems in its grapple trucks has been just as instrumental in helping the company avoid damage claims.

“Everyone wants to blame the trash guy,” Densing says. “Some of these claims can be expensive, for example, [think of] the cost of replacing a telephone pole. We’ve paid for a FleetMind system on one truck with money saved from false claims on the grapple trucks alone. I’ve reduced the need to send personnel out into the field for claim verification.”

This data can be easily shared with customers to negate any discrepancies or arguments on service.

On the grapple truck routes, Densing estimates the software is saving the company 20 hours per week and $10,000 per year in unnecessary payouts.

A Team Waste training tool

Beyond using camera footage to verify service and refute liability claims, Team Waste has found value in incorporating it as part of its driver training program.

Densing says the company now uses on-the-road video to both reinforce positive driving behavior and for coaching events when driver behavior warrants correction.

“Nothing gets my team’s attention more than video on the big screen of a situation that didn’t go as planned,” Densing says. “It’s effective at encouraging performance excellence. I view this tool as an enabler for continual performance improvement and reward and recognition for jobs well done.”

This training tool is especially beneficial when onboarding new hires who may be new to the industry, Densing says.

“Our camera systems help us train new drivers. With the labor market and the shortage of drivers, we are hiring people who have never driven a garbage truck before. We use the camera systems to coach them through the nuances of operating these vehicles. Drivers appreciate the guidance, and we benefit from getting them up to speed faster,” he says.

Although the FleetMind system requires both a financial investment and a time investment to analyze routes for training purposes, the payback in terms of improved performance is invaluable, Densing notes.

“I could honestly say the savings from liability and claim reductions and the ability to coach employees are worth the cost of the system,” he says. “And the ability to know what’s going on in the field in real-time [is essential]. The system is invaluable for someone in the back office trying to manage the board. I’m a big believer in the technology going forward.”

With all the benefits the company has enjoyed since it first contracted with FleetMind for its fleet management technology, it perhaps should come as no surprise that all new commercial and residential trucks commissioned by the company are now outfitted with FleetMind systems.

The result is that as the company continues to grow its operations, its comprehensive fleet management solution allows Team Waste to ensure it is offering expert service for all its customers.

“I wanted a one-stop shop, and that’s what I got with FleetMind. I have the cameras, the service verification and the GPS location on our trucks. I like what I have been able to accomplish with these systems on our trucks,” Densing says.

The author is the editor of Waste Today and can be reached at aredling@gie.net.