Bureau of Sanitation to Save Time and Money

City of Los Angeles Applies ArcLogistics Route

garbage binsIn the predawn hours, in City yards across Los Angeles, supervisors huddle with collection crews for daily assignment updates prior to the sanitation fleet's onslaught of the City of Los Angeles's 6,500 miles of streets, alleyways, and freeways. These meetings are normally between 20 and 30 minutes in length and, though necessary, constitute a significant cumulative impact on the unscheduled route service provided by the Bureau of Sanitation's Solid Resources Collection Division (SRCD). This service is available to those with special collection needs, including such things as bulky items, white goods (e.g., refrigerators, washing machines), and dead animals.

Relying on traditional map books, and the driver's familiarity with the assigned area is a laborious method of plotting new routes every day.

"How the sequence of stops on the routes are currently pulled is really up to the individual driver," comments Sal Aguilar, information technology manager at SRCD. "While this method has worked for us in the past, there are increasing demands on our services and we simply needed to find a more efficient method of route planning."

After an extensive evaluation of software systems, the department decided to implement Esri's ArcLogistics Route (point-to-point routing), as well RouteSmart (continuous routing) from RouteSmart Technologies, Columbia, Maryland, an Esri Business partner.

ArcLogistics Route map helps automate and optimize routing procedures for the Bureau of Sanitation"We anticipate that with ArcLogistics we will be able to automate the whole point-to-point routing process," continues Aguilar. "Pick-up calls will come in, which we will input into the database. The information will be downloaded to the various district servers and then supervisors will automatically generate the route maps before each shift. With the automation and optimization of our routing procedures, we anticipate a significant savings in both time and money, and better customer service."

Aguilar sees a number of future applications for GIS in SRCD as the geocoding of the 740,000-plus customer address list nears completion.

"The ability to develop a mailing list based on an irregularly shaped boundary is very useful to us," says Aguilar. "We can do this in the database, of course, but it is a much more complex process. With ArcView GIS we draw the boundary and say, 'Select all of our customers within this area,' then export the tabulated addresses, and it's done. This is really helpful, for example, when we have our various pickup sweeps of bulky items. This service is very important to our customers and we want to make sure that we get the word out so that they can make use of the service."

Aguilar also believes that the flexibility of the software will allow the easy expansion or modification of routes in the event of employee absence.

"At present when a driver calls in sick, we must manually reassign his route to the existing drivers, which is very time-consuming. It also promotes a lot of overtime, which is fairly inefficient. With RouteSmart, we can develop different routing scenarios to take into consideration the number of drivers available at any given time so that all routes are efficiently covered."

Requests continually come into the department for pickups, and the ArcLogistics Route software can automatically create and maintain routing folders in collection day order, which is a big time-saver for the SRCD.

"ArcLogistics Route is an intuitive software program. It is very GUI oriented, so it is really comfortable for our employees to use. Even though it is a GIS application, you really don't need to know anything about GIS, other than what geocoding means, to use it. It is very straightforward and provides an easy transition to generating routes with the computer for our supervisors, which allows them to work more efficiently."

Aguilar foresees a time when daily route data will be downloaded to a driver's handheld computer--PDA. All the driver will have to do in the morning is come into the dispatching office and pick up his PDA, which will have all the information he needs for the day's work.

collection truckThe department is also in the process of installing onboard computers in each collection truck that will automatically record the number of stops a driver makes and the number of containers he picks up at each stop. This information will be automatically downloaded at the end of the day via a radio frequency (RF) unit, so that the driver doesn't have to worry about collecting the data himself. The information will be used to help optimize the routes and make sure that each area is adequately serviced.

"I believe that GIS will play a very integral role in the future of any collection operation. You need to be efficient to stay competitive. The ability to take data that has always been looked at in a tabular format and now spatially reference it, manipulate it, and then automatically display it on a map provides us with a very powerful tool that I believe is going to give us the ability to be more competitive in the future. GIS is a tool that will help any company or local government become a world-class operation," concludes Aguilar.

For more information, contact Sal Aguilar, information technology manager (e-mail: SXAguila@GROUPWISE.SAN.CI.LA.CA.US).

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