By Cassie McClure and Suzanne Michaels
Published in the Las Cruces Sun-News 12/8/2019
Trash trucks on the streets of Las Cruces just got a little “smarter” – joining the ranks of many cities across the country. Las Cruces Utilities (LCU) has installed “smart-truck” cameras and computers to document issues on a route with timestamps and collect Global Positioning System (GPS) data showing exactly where each truck is and when the truck and driver do their jobs.
“The investment in Routeware – installed on our fleet of 35 residential, commercial, roll-off, and Grappler Solid Waste trucks – allows the LCU Solid Waste line of business to not only improve our services, but also answer customer questions about trash pickups clearly and efficiently, while capturing institutional data,” explains Robin Lawrence, LCU deputy director Solid Waste.
LCU provides trash pickup services to almost 36,000 homes and businesses in Las Cruces weekly. Lawrence continues: “Every route has its own characteristics that only heavy equipment operators who drive it regularly would know. We can now capture that data, so that if we have one driver out and someone substitutes, they also have access to exactly which containers are scheduled for service on that route for that day.”
The scheduled routes were uploaded into the Routeware system. LCU then relied on the knowledge of experienced drivers who know the unique circumstances they encounter on their specific routes and each container’s exact location.
Another example of data collecting relates to scheduled pickups. If a bin isn’t at the curb at 6 a.m., the driver can quickly snap a picture of the location from inside the truck so that when a customer calls in later, it clears up any confusion. Supervisors can also stay in contact with the drivers. In the event of a breakdown, another driver can be dispatched from LCU headquarters, ensuring the route is completed efficiently.
Lawrence said, “The best way to improve is to be able to find the trends in our data and allow the data to enable our drivers to be the most efficient that they can be.” G-f
You can reach Las Cruces Utilities at 528-3500 from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Las Cruces Utilities provides GAS – WATER – WASTEWATER – SOLID WASTE services to approximately 100,000 Las Cruces residents and businesses.
PHOTO 1: Heavy Equipment Operator, Sergio Saenz, checks his route through the Routeware tablet installed in the cab of his Solid Waste truck. The new smart technology documents every stop, allowing better and more efficient service to LCU customers.