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Charlotte is North Carolina’s biggest city and commercial hub. On top of regular waste collection services, the City of Charlotte provides extra services when residents request them – such as bulky waste removal, small business waste removal, and dead animal pickup. The point-to-point collection service operates five days a week, with fifteen vehicles completing up to 2,000 collections per day. Waste collection route planning and scheduling for this busy service are powered by OptimoRoute.

When Looking for a New Route Optimization Software, OptimoRoute Met Tough Requirements  

Matt Farrand is the Systems Business Specialist assigned to the Solid Waste Services Department (SWS) at the City of Charlotte. He looks after software development and SWS’ technical operations. Before implementing OptimoRoute in 2018,  SWS struggled with planning its high volume of daily orders:

  • The prior software solution was no longer being supported with maintenance, new licenses, or improvements.
  • It had to be installed locally, and any tailored configurations were also stored locally, minimizing flexibility to easily switch users. 
  • There were frequent outages, frustrating Farrand and his team. 
  • Planning daily routes took up to six man-hours every single day, giving staff less time to handle the numerous other demands of the busy SWS:

“For example, after we used to enter the orders just for one collection service – you may as well go make yourself a coffee, because it could take 15 or 20 minutes just to route!”

When testing OptimoRoute, Farrand was immediately impressed by the ability to set up various accounts to match each service that the SWS provided. He chose OptimoRoute over other providers because it was clear the software was an excellent match for the point-to-point waste collection services – giving him the stable and automated workflow he was looking for.   

Routes Perfectly Tailored to Waste Removal Trucks

Waste collection operations have specific characteristics that must be taken into account when creating daily routes – and OptimoRoute has the City of Charlotte covered. 

OptimoRoute’s unique ‘avoid U-turns and avoid crossing the street’ feature accommodates waste removal trucks and services:

  • To achieve the highest efficiency and safety in waste removal, the trucks must be able to get as close to the pickup location to eliminate or minimize the amount of time outside the truck for the driver.  
  • Waste removal trucks should not perform U-turns to minimize unsafe conditions. 

Farrand explains the impact of this sophisticated feature:

“With one click our planners configure OptimoRoute to avoid U-turns and crossing the street. Every time we plan, we know the routes won’t force drivers to do unmanageable U-turns, or waste time crossing the street on foot to pick up an old armchair – something that our previous software could not do.”

An example of how OptimoRoute routes stops on both sides of the street

OptimoRoute assigns different vehicle types within one waste removal service. It’s an important capability for the City of Charlotte, making the entire process from pickup to deposit as efficient as possible. When collecting bulky household waste, there are three ‘specialties’ – recyclable (such as appliances) or non-recyclable (such as furniture), and old tires:

“Other software solutions we looked at didn’t have the ability to handle this. OptimoRoute assigns the different trucks according to the specialties, without us needing to get involved and doing the truck assignment.”

Planning a High Order Volume with OptimoRoute is 3x Faster 

City of Charlotte plans up to 2,000 stops for 15 vehicles every day. Planning these daily routes before OptimoRoute would take up 6 man-hours every day – it now needs 2 man-hours: 

“It used to take 2 users up to 3 hours per day to plan. With OptimoRoute we have really reduced that – it takes 2 users no more than 1 hour.”

The quicker waste collection route planning process gives the busy staff members more time to focus on the main responsibilities they need to juggle every day, such as dispatch communication with drivers and also handling customer service inquiries. And, because OptimoRoute is cloud-based, multiple users can access the software from any computer. 

OptimoRoute Planning

Farrand also highlights how simple it is to insert stops to already planned routes – another capability that OptimoRoute gives them which previous solutions did not offer:

“Even if 1000 or 2000 stops have already been routed for the day, adding extra stops is so easy. We just tell the software to reroute and we’re ready to go in a couple of minutes.”

OptimoRoute Complements and Improves the Entire Waste Removal Workflow 

The daily City of Charlotte waste removal operation is made up of numerous stages and software solutions, and OptimoRoute seamlessly integrates into this existing workflow. It means the whole process functions as efficiently as possible. The citizen calls in and creates a work order, it gets routed through OptimoRoute and pushed to the driver. The driver completes the job on a tablet with the status, which is pushed back into the SWS work and asset management system to update and close the work order: 

“OptimoRoute minimizes the amount of manual data entry. It gives us a completely automated waste removal loop.”