Smarter waste management protects the environment and saves money – an innovation from Oulu tackles the most common problems with waste management
There are many housing companies, businesses and waste management operators that could both save money and help to protect the environment by being smart and optimising waste management. An innovative sensor called Jaete developed in Oulu solves the most common problems with waste management and promises to make the process a whole lot smoother.
Overflowing bins and wasted trips by collection lorries – is this what happens where you live or where you work? Most waste management companies let their customers choose when and how often to have their bins emptied. Few customers, however, are able to work out the optimal cycle or correct size of waste containers by sight.
“The biggest problems with waste management relate to bins getting too full and spilling over. Far too much money is spent on cleaning filthy bins and the area around them”, says Wastebook Oy’s Managing Director Mikko Ahokas.
Wastebook Oy is an Oulu-based company that uses IoT technology developed by another Oulu-based company, iProtoXi Oy, to solve problems relating to waste management. Jaete is an innovative sensor that can be fitted onto both traditional bins and semi-underground waste containers and used to measure surface level, temperature, humidity and even location and position. The sensor can also be fitted onto, for example, septic tanks and sewage containers.
The smart sensor sends real-time readings to a cloud-based service where businesses, waste management operators, housing companies and householders can monitor, for example, how full their bins and waste containers are. The sensor therefore makes it possible to optimise the number and size of waste containers and the waste collection interval according to each customer’s needs.
According to Ahokas, housing companies, for example, can save hundreds if not thousands of euros every year, depending on the number of residents, by choosing the right waste containers and optimising the waste collection interval.
“Moreover, the sensor produces extremely accurate information about the volume of waste that is generated and how much of it is recycled”, he adds.
Bins are also common targets of vandalism. Jaete brings a pre-emptive solution to this problem: it can, for example, sound an alarm if the temperature inside a container rises above the ignition point.
Jaete relies on Digita’s national network
The Jaete sensor transmits data across Digita’s LoRaWAN network, which was chosen specifically thanks to its low power consumption.
“Digita’s network has excellent coverage in Finland, in addition to which it is both reliable and competitive. The network consumes very little power, which is ideal for transmitting data from sensors such as Jaete. With the network’s help, the batteries in Jaete sensors can last for up to 10 years. The network also comes with a tracking feature”, Ahokas explains.
In other words, after a simple set-up process, the sensor requires hardly any maintenance and can practically be left alone.
Waste containers fitted with a Jaete sensor transmit readings to a cloud-based service that the authorities, for example, can also access to collect more detailed information about the types and volumes of waste generated and the associated environmental impacts.
The sensor’s designer and manufacturer is an Oulu-based IoT system developer called iProtoXi Oy, which also manages the Jaete cloud service. Both the sensor and the cloud service use an IoT platform called Aistin, also developed by iProtoXi Oy, which makes developing various kinds of low-power IoT solutions fast and easy. The company’s priorities in developing Jaete were making the sensor capable of withstanding variations in temperature and moisture levels as well a long battery life.
“The device also had to be as small as possible and easy to set up. The sensor had to provide value for money in terms of reliability”, explains iProtoXi Oy’s CEO Janne Kallio.
The sensor is designed to cope with Finland’s changeable weather conditions and considerable variations in temperature and built to withstand elements such as ice, snow and water. To be practical for the waste management industry, Jaete also had to be low-maintenance. The sensor has to work even when it is dirty.
iProtoXi Oy also uses Digita’s LoRaWAN network for many of its solutions. Kallio sees Digita as a reliable partner that has come through for the company all over Finland.
“Digita has always been quick to expand its LoRaWAN network to reach our customers in new locations.”
More efficient waste management with “smart bins”
Jaete helps waste management companies to optimise their collection routes by avoiding unnecessary trips to bins that do not need emptying.
“Most of the waste management industry’s carbon footprint is down to logistics. By fitting waste containers with smart sensors, a waste management company can cut its transport costs by as much as 20–40 per cent”, says Mikko Ahokas from Wastebook Oy.
Jaete is due to launch commercially at the beginning of 2021. One of the first customers to pilot the sensor was an Oulu-based waste management company called Haurun Jäteauto Oy, which signed up for the trial hoping to do away with unnecessary mileage and optimise waste collection intervals.
“Jaete delivered on these fronts, and the device itself also worked well. We were able to permanently transform our customers’ logistics – how often and at what intervals we empty their bins. This has allowed us to eliminate a few trips, which naturally makes a big difference in terms of the environment”, says Haurun Jäteauto Oy’s CEO Mikko Hauru.
Haurun Jäteauto Oy’s trial involved fitting sensors onto traditional 660-litre bins and Molok semi-underground waste containers, which are popular with housing companies.
According to Hauru, being able to measure how full waste containers and collection lorries are is crucial for lowering carbon dioxide emissions. Thanks to its positive experiences with Jaete, the company has now developed a new service concept called Hauru Smart.
“Hauru Smart is about providing our customers with smart solutions to problems such as overflowing bins and reducing our carbon footprint at the same time. This benefits both our customers and the environment.”
This article was originally published on the mtvuutiset.fi website as part of a commercial partnership.