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May 30, 2017

Secrets of Waste Management Trucks

The mention of a collection truck may conjure up certain images ꟷ usually those of large, rumbling industrial workhorses. But there are other things about a collection truck you may not realize. First, kids love them.

Second, each of the more than 18,000 collection vehicles Waste Management operates every day in service of its customers houses high-tech surprises that have made Waste Management an industry leader in truck technology. Read on and discover more.

Waste Management trucks make a lot of stops on any given day – sometimes several hundred. Have you ever wondered how drivers know where to go and what to do next? The answer is the onboard computers in every truck. These devices – typically tablets – assist drivers in carrying out their duties with a high rate of accuracy that also captures real-time data on truck locations, customers serviced, and material capacity.

One of the most important aspects of these tablets is that they link the trucks to the dispatch center, which works closely with our customers to ensure timely service. In fact, a tablet is an extension of the dispatch center, and having it in the truck means quicker resolutions to service issues. They enable dispatch and managers to assign service orders and communicate with the driver immediately.

For example, if a driver runs into an issue at a commercial site, such as being blocked from servicing a container by another vehicle or object, they can communicate with a dispatcher through the tablet, and the dispatcher can then contact the customer to notify them Waste Management is outside. Issues are resolved through real-time communication.

At the same time, if a customer requests immediate service, the dispatch center will open a work order and assign it to a driver. The ability to service the customer on-demand is enabled by technology. The tablet can even let customers know once service has been completed. Customers can go to the Waste Management website for service confirmation, or even receive text alerts via the Waste Management mobile app. The website and app even offer customers estimated arrival times.

In total, 19 dispatch centers across North America help the fleet run smoothly.

Like the tablet, the cameras add an additional layer of safety for drivers, neighborhoods and communities. They offer another way to ensure operations are carried out in compliance with Waste Management safety standards.

Waste Management was among the first companies to install DriveCam ꟷ a digital recorder mounted on the vehicle’s windshield that captures audio and video when triggered by any abrupt action, such as hard braking, speeding, swerving or collision. DriveCam helps identify and address any risky behavior that could create unsafe conditions for the driver or the public. It reduces collisions and maintenance costs, as well as allowing managers to provide constructive driver feedback and coaching.

With onboard computers serving to mobilize the fleet, logistics also come into play. Waste Management has developed software that uses a sophisticated algorithm to analyze traffic patterns and hundreds of operational data points to create the most efficient route possible.

How good is this technology? Well, it’s smart enough to identify routes that may be running behind schedule and then proactively redistribute them to prevent missed or late pickups. Using it saves time, cuts costs and reduces greenhouse gas emissions by finding the most efficient route. Waste Management knows exactly where every one of its trucks are at any moment ꟷ keeping such good track is why we get 30 million GPS pings a day.

The tablet, DriveCam and routing software are all part of Service Delivery Optimization ꟷ a Waste Management initiative to refine its collection processes for customers and drivers.

Waste Management has already seen the benefits of its high-tech innovations and there are undoubtedly more to come. New developments are always in the pipeline, but one thing will remain consistent: Waste Management’s use of new truck technology to drive service and safety improvements. 

Interested in getting hands-on with these different technologies? Visit to see open driver positions.