“Bartec Auto ID have transformed our waste business...they’ve built upon our ideas and delivered software solutions that work...I don’t think we’d have got this from any other organisation.”
Faced with the harsh realities of today’s economic climate, Councils are having to think about their waste activities more as a business operation - one in which they can collaborate with other Councils to reduce costs, but also one where customers are equal partners to create a win-win situation.
Tamworth Borough and Lichfield District Councils are believed to be the first to have merged their waste services, with the two areas setting up a Joint Administrative Board in July 2010, when waste services were also moved completely in-house. The Board enables both Authorities to drive service delivery, placing day to day decision making in the hands of Council employees, rather than an external waste management company.
Combining working practices, employees and organisational structures can be difficult in any sector, but doing this under public scrutiny can be even more daunting. However, Tamworth and Lichfield Councils have made it work, already saving in excess of £700,000 by merging waste collection services and going on to win an MRW National Recycling Award as Local Authority Team of The Year. A combined fleet of 23 trucks, 72 front line operatives and a small management team, covers some 140 square miles of predominantly rural and some sub-urban landscape, serving a total of 73,000 households. An influential part of the efficiency plan was to introduce a real-time, paperless solution from Bartec Auto ID, to optimise vehicle and operative movements across both regions, providing near instant tracking and reporting on waste collection from households and businesses. Savings of £51,000 have already been identified from a 30% reduction in missed bin calls, some 2,000 additional calls resolved at first contact and at least £15,000 savings emanating from increased dry recycling, by encouraging residents to segregate waste. It is expected that savings will continue to be made on an annual basis.
As Nigel Harris, General Manager of the Joint Waste Service at Tamworth and Lichfield, puts it:
“Communication is fundamental to our success. Bartec’s Collective solution is a bit like a dynamic air traffic control system. We can monitor progress of our fleet, but maintaining an overview of how much of the round has been collected at any point in the day and re-directing vehicles where necessary to complete more difficult rounds. However, there is also total synchronisation with our existing CRM system, providing instant feedback to our customer call centre to immediately answer any householder queries, for example rejected bin collections. We don’t underestimate the impact that this has had on educating customers on recycling initiatives and we have found that they are far happier to work with us if they have an immediate explanation”.
Two recycling wardens, covering five daily zones, have also been employed to visit householders and to address any issues with the fortnightly collection and three-binsystem (dry recycling, garden waste and food waste). Bartec Auto ID are now working alongside these wardens to provide a portable communication tool which enables them to link into the main system. Giles Pipe, one of the wardens goes on to say about the initial pilot scheme:
“Before Bartec’s system was in place, we were always reacting to issues from the previous day, by which time we may be in another part of the region. Now that we have the information instantly at our fingertips we can visit a householder, often within an hour of a problem occurring, enabling prompt resolution. We are providing a rapid, customised service which aims to get the householder on-board, as part of our team. The reaction has been extremely positive all round”.