Landfill GPS Management Systems - Business Case & Payback Points

For years, most landfill operators have tracked densities and compaction of waste by using aerial topography (fly overs) and ground surveys (topo’s.) While these methods can help track and improve a landfill’s performance, they can also be expensive, labor-intensive and time consuming. The benefit of this data is after-the-fact so its use lags a timely correction. Enter GPS machine control technology.

Many landfills are adopting GPS management systems specifically designed for the landfill solid waste industry. These systems are designed to automate and improve the accuracy and speed that critical data is realized. Reduced labor, time and associated expenses from traditional methods are the result. Increased productivity and profits are achieving results never before experienced.Software Training

I have been visiting landfills across the country over the past 2 years talking with site managers and industry experts. I have compiled various business case and payback points discussed during these visits. For the purpose of this article, I would like to document some of those benefits.

GPS positioning & machine control provides accurate, real time measurements for a landfill

I. General landfill goals improved by system adoption

A. Improved airspace utilization
B. Optimal compaction
C. Achieve desired density

II. Slope & grade management

A. Proper grade and slope design from the cab - reduce or eliminate failed slopes
B. Water management - proper slopes and grade help shed water away from waste reducing contamination or leachate. Secondary processing of leachate is costly, approximately .10-.12 cents per gallon. One site I visited processes 25,000 gallons per week or $3000/week; $156,000/year.
C. Leachate management - engineered slopes help contain leachate and optimize circulation or leachate recycling. This optimizes microbial activity that consumes waste. Some sites need to add water for microbial optimization. Thus, lack of water and leachate management is costly

D. Monitoring of slopes in real time prevent over-fill or under-fill at the outer slopes. Both extremes cost money and this technology provides accurate guidance and status.

E. Road management - better road design for getting trucks in and out.  This also means that road base material is accurately applied and optimized.

III. Monitor Lifts

A. Typically 2’ lifts are considered an optimized standard. The system monitors lift thickness keeping an operator on target.
B. If a lift is too thick, an operator can back-lay the area and avoid bridging

IV. Idle time for machines

A. If a compactor is not running, it certainly is not achieving density. Remote monitoring of machines and idle reports improve decision making for operator performance, service and maintenance, even reducing the number of machines or their operating hours in a day.

V. Historical playback

A. Provides operator analysis and training opportunity. Operators can watch machine playback back in the office. Helps break bad habits and optimize performance. “This can be an invaluable training tool,” says Scott Beathard, president of GeoShack North America. GeoShack is a leading landfill system provider.

VI. Safety & quality of work

A. The system reduces the need for laborers to be on the work face potentially in harm’s way. Technology reduces daily surveys, site stakes, vertical grade markers for active areas, etc.Solar Powered Mesh Radio

VII. Avoidance Zones

A. Areas such as gas wells, gas lines, landfill liner, asbestos zones, chipped tires, etc can be marked and stored in the system. If a machine; dozer, compactor, drill, scraper or excavator enters the user designated zones, either horizontally or vertically, an alarm will sound. Positional data is also stored providing historical data for all machine positions.

VIII. Real time surface topography (daily grids)

A. Certification may require surveys and fly overs but the technology renders these procedures nearly obsolete. These costs can exceed $12,000 annually for a midsize landfill.
B. Real time surface deflection information, pass-by-pass offers fill density, volume consumed, compactor performance and remaining cell/landfill airspace

IX. EPA and other agency policy requirements

A. This technology produces data that is more readily available, more accurate and more comprehensive than ever before making it easier to comply with agency requirements.

X. Flexible System Entry Points and Scalable System Design

A. Entry points include a Landfill GPS System for the site manager (pickup truck, ATV or man-rover) or for a single machine (compactor or dozer.) This offers affordable options easing the cost of adoption and future migration
B. Scalable/Upgradable - a landfill can adopt at an affordable entry point then add additional machines, a site manager system, an office computer system for post analysis and report generation or a mesh wireless infrastructure enabling remote monitoring, remote training and troubleshooting and even remote data management and analysis.GPS Enabled Compactor

XI. Additional benefits improved by system adoption

A. Fuel savings - Result of optimized pass counts, material hauling and placement and road grading
B. Reduced machine wear - Result of optimized machine performance and scheduled maintenance.
C. Equipment Selection - Proper analysis of waste stream, daily tonnage, water and leachate can inform your equipment selection; the right size compactor, right size dozer and how many pieces of equipment required to properly manage your site.
D. Job Satisfaction - Operators are a competitive lot and proud of their work. System adoption empowers operators to be better raising job satisfaction. This nurtures competition to perform.  Operation managers are quick to incentivize properly raising the performance for the entire landfill.

Summary
A solid waste landfill is a complex and dynamic engineering challenge. One site manager told me that managing a landfill was like building a highway on a moving target. The tools provided by a landfill centric GPS system are just that, tools. They provide real time data and feedback that greatly improve decision making. This technology has positively impacted landfill construction and operation. It is evident that adoption will continue to grow.

I hope you find the information helpful. Please do not hesitate to contact me with further questions or comments.

Randy Noland
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Note: Some of the features mentioned above are not available from all GPS landfill offerings. The sites I visited are using systems from multiple vendors so please be sure to check particular vendor features and specifications.

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