West Suffolk Councils - Delivering Garden Waste Services

West Suffolk Councils

Background

Forest Heath District Council and St Edmundsbury Borough Council formed a shared service structure in 2008 and work under the banner of West Suffolk Councils.

Operational services are provided to more than 2,100 commercial customers and over 75 000 residential households. The delivery of these services is currently distributed across three operational depots in Bury St Edmunds, Haverhill and Mildenhall, and remotely throughout the “field” within West Suffolk. West Suffolk runs a fleet of 43 refuse collection vehicles covering domestic and trade waste collection services.

Streamlining the Service

In order to further increase efficiency under the shared service structure it was clear that some of the old business processes needed to be streamlined along with a number of inherited back-office software systems. West Suffolk therefore went to the market to source a single, database system to assist in the management of many of their front-line waste and street scene services, including waste and recycling collections, street cleansing and grounds maintenance.

In August 2015, following a formal tender process, Bartec Auto ID were awarded the contract to implement Collective, their operations management system.

Garden Waste Introduction

Faced with a "difficult financial climate” West Suffolk decided in November 2015 to introduce a subscription based garden waste service in at the start of the next financial year. Like many other councils, they had to make tough choices about which services to keep and introducing a charged-for garden waste scheme was seen as a way to help cope with a reduction in funding.

The Solution

It was imperative that the garden waste subscription and renewal processes were rationalised, avoiding inefficient and time consuming manual input. The solution required the Collective system to be tightly integrated with West Suffolk’s financial and CRM systems to support the automation of business processes, from initial enquiry to successful payment to bin deliveries and collections.

Initially the Collective system received a nightly file from West Suffolk’s finance system. This file included details of all:

  • New Subscriptions
  • Cancellations
  • House Moves

Automated processes in Collective, meant that upon receipt of a successful subscription, Collective automatically raises a Garden Waste Subscription service request, plus any Bin Delivery jobs required. These jobs are then automatically assigned to the relevant crews. Once the crews have confirmed the delivery of bins, collection schedules are automatically applied without any manual intervention.

Customers receive communication through automated emails, sent from the Collective back-office system. Such communications provide residents with confirmation that their request has been received and processed.

Operational crews see their collection and delivery jobs via their in-cab, touch screen tablets Premises with current garden waste subscriptions are clearly displayed to the crews. Crews can confirm completion or report exceptions via their touch screen devices and update the status of each job in real time.

The Results

David Bowman and Peter Stevens, Portfolio Holders for Operations at Forest Heath and St Edmundsbury respectively, issued a joint statement. They said: “We are really delighted with community support for this service, which turns their garden waste into compost to be used on farms and in parks.”

  • At the time of writing, the West Suffolk has a take up rate of nearly 40% of households and is servicing 30,000 premises.
  • 64% of subscriptions are received on-line and do not require any manual intervention to be put into active service.
  • Introducing the service was a difficult choice for councillors. However the use of Bartec helped with heading off any operational issues and the change from the previous scheme to the new subscription scheme was virtually seamless.
  • Whilst it was challenging to introduce new technology to both back office and front line staff at the same time as going live with a new service, the system proved to be invaluable.
  • Crews have reported the system to be very easy to use and understand and it has been instrumental in providing a good level of service to West Suffolk’s subscribers.

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