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Sensor-based Smart bins

Overflowing bins, infrequent and inefficient emptying of bins, weather-related bin damage and features that are not user-friendly are just some of the issues that plague public waste bins in India. To counter these issues, Masstrans has brought to India Bigbelly – a sensor-fitted Smart Bin with a compaction option that is connected to a central dashboard which generates alerts when the bin needs to be emptied.
Over 48,000 units of Bigbelly have deployed in over 50 countries around the world.

Why are public waste bins often found to be overflowing?

The main reason for irregular and infrequent emptying of waste bins is not knowing when the waste bins are full. This has two types of impact:

  • Not emptying the bin in time leads to overflowing of waste and the risk of litter getting blown by wind, which in turn makes a larger area dirty.
  • Emptying the bin frequently (whether or not it is near-full) leads to increased operational costs.

Bigbelly – a customised solution

The Bigbelly Smart Waste Collection System from Masstrans is a solar-powered trash compactor with a fully enclosed design. The top is a solar panel which uses ambient light to charge the battery and hence need not be placed directly under the sun. It works in low sunlight conditions, especially encountered during the rainy season. The battery is required to power various functions of the bin.

The hopper is the opening from where the waste is deposited into the bin. It has been designed at a steep angle to help waste fall into the bin easily. At the same time, it acts as a physical barrier between the outside and inside, providing safety to the user as the hand won’t go inside the bin. In addition to the handle, the bin also has a foot pedal option for those who do not want to touch the bin.

The Bigbelly High Capacity Smart Bin has a built-in trash compactor, which is used to compress the waste in the bin. As the waste inside the bin reaches a certain height, it activates a sensor – a light beam which gets broken and initiates a compaction cycle. When the bin fills up again, another compaction cycle is initiated. The company monitors the force taken to compress the trash, and it is this force which indicates the fullness level of the bin.

Alerts for bin fullness

In the Bigbelly High Capacity Smart Bin, an optical fill height sensor is used to trigger compaction cycles. Fullness level (i.e 20%, 40%, 60% ,80%, 100%) is determined by the resistance level measured during compaction. In the Bigbelly Standard Capacity Smart Bin, fullness of the bin is measured using a bespoke ultrasonic sensor that is optimised for the geometry of the bin in order to give reliable and repeatable results.

The life of the sensor is expected to exceed the useful life of the Bigbelly bin, which can be 10 years or more, before they are upgraded to the latest model.

The type of waste determines the compression possible, but generally, one can put in up to 5-8 times more waste than a traditional bin. In the compactor bin, which has an uncompacted capacity of 120 litres, one can effectively hold about 600-800 litres in that bin after compaction.

A bespoke software

The soul of the Bigbelly Smart Waste Collection System is the CLEAN software. The web-based software enables system set-up, management, monitoring, and optimization. Throughout the day, the bin is communicating snippets of information such as the status of the bin, the fullness levels, the alerts and alarms etc to the centralized dashboard, which shows real-time collection requirements and metrics.

For example, efficiency is how often one collects waste from the bin when it is ready for collection, and not when it’s half-full or empty. The goal of the system is to collect the waste only when it actually needs to be collected. The CLEAN software enables auto-generated notifications that trigger collections exactly when needed. The company can generate a suite of reports that enable users to prioritize collections and optimize ongoing operations. The CLEAN software is also accessible on mobile devices as an app.

Rugged design

The Bigbelly Bins have galvanized sheet metal steel interior and exterior construction. The side panels and top are made of heavy-duty plastic for dent and scratch resistance. The bottom of the smart bin can be attached to a concrete block for safety purposes.

The High Capacity Smart Bin can withstand upto 20” (508 mm) of water without harming the electronics, and upto 36” (915 mm) of water with only minor damage to electronics. The Standard Capacity Smart Bin is fully weatherized, but in the event of a flood, the components can withstand up to 40” (1.06 m) of water without harming the electronics. The electronic components can withstand a temperature range of -40ºC to +85ºC.

The product in practice

The Bigbelly Smart Bin houses an inside bin that is used to store the waste, which can be easily accessed by opening the door with a key, which is provided to the authorized waste management staff. The newer models of Bigbelly also have the option of keyless access through the use of a smart card.

The inside bin could be a normal sized bin or a lift bin with wheels which can be extended and fits into the normal hydraulic lift waste trucks for depositing the waste.

The Bigbelly Smart bins are designed for total waste containment, including liquid waste. The compacting process follows the same principle of working irrespective of the type of waste being deposited into the bin.

Case Study
Times Square, New York
There are 370 Bigbelly units in Times Square. One can see two or three stations together for waste segregation – one for landfill waste, one for bottles & cans, and one for compostable waste. They were able to effectively redeploy their collection resources for other activities around the city. The other major problem New York City had was with rats, and through Bigbelly implementation they were able to get rid of this problem. They reduced collections from 28 times a week to 14 times a week. Their staff was spending 50% less time in collecting litter.

 

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