How far has digital level measurement come?

Different test scenarios

With scientific support from the University of Duisburg-Essen, the three companies tested the digital approach in the first half of 2021, which promises emptying and tour plans that are precisely tailored to needs. This is accompanied by an increase in efficiency and – not least – a further consolidation of waste and cleaning fees.

Different test scenarios were tried out as part of the cross-city collaboration. While AWISTA dealt with 25 depot containers for paper and cardboard, which are common in Düsseldorf, FES examined the fill level in 120 glass containers and 40 public waste paper bins. Wirtschaftsbetriebe Duisburg, in turn, examined five types of sensors in 13 different containers, including waste paper baskets, underfloor systems and public depot containers.

Partly very high accuracy

AWISTA found with the paper depots that a measurement is not expedient. However, it was possible to document the fill level very precisely using the container vibrations. Over a period of four months, a measurement accuracy of 94 percent was achieved. In addition, an average fill level of 60 percent was detected at the time of the regular emptying.

The FES in Frankfurt was also able to achieve good results with glass containers with the help of ultrasonic sensors and low-frequency data transmission via radio (LoRaWAN). Some containers were only 50 percent full when emptied, while others were almost full. For paper baskets, on the other hand, the process turned out to be too imprecise.

Software solutions for tour plans

In their test, Wirtschaftsbetriebe Duisburg found out that the reported filling level curves of all sensors roughly corresponded to the filling curves measured by hand. However, the measurement was strongly influenced by the shape of the waste thrown in and the position of the sensors. In Duisburg, potential for the use of sensors is seen particularly in public depot containers.

In none of the three tests has the operational processes been interfered with so far. In the future, this will require a software solution that must be equipped with interfaces for route planning. The waste disposal companies also report that the amounts of data were simply too small to intervene sensibly in established processes.

Tenders are an obstacle

Overall, the organizational and logistical adjustments that would make a fill level-dependent removal necessary, still represent a major challenge. In addition, the compulsory emptying of individual waste container types complicates both responsibilities and investment decisions for the equipment of the containers. Every waste disposal company must therefore carefully weigh up whether equipping containers is worthwhile for them in the long term. (hp)

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