Based on conversations with our waste and recycling customers, we think you probably know it exists, but it’s not a priority. In fact, we think that ‘AI’ – Artificial Intelligence – is a term often used by tech companies or commentators with very little understanding of what it is and how it can drive business value. But we shouldn’t ignore it. The devices, software and applications using and creating AI are powerful, with the potential to transform the way we live and work.
To support this, and to take commercial advantage of these opportunities, companies in the waste and recycling sector need to get the core, baseline software systems right and integrated FIRST before looking at adopting AI. And there are a few reasons for this:
AI technology generates a lot of data – AI applications can generate a lot of data, and if this data is not integrated into your existing applications, or fed by accurate master data, then the output is likely to be hard to interpret and of limited use driving value for the investment.
You need to keep things simple – waste and recycling companies often use a wide range of separate software systems. This can mean unnecessary expense, poor visibility over processes and a lack of end-to-end automation, which has a significant impact on overall efficiency. By simplifying the software landscape first, businesses can focus on becoming more efficient, more competitive and more attractive to their customers.
AI can distract from the important things – it’s easy to think that you might need to jump on the latest technology wagon. That you should be adopting the latest system to show that you are up to date and investing in the right things. But many of these new AI technologies are still being proven, they may not be relevant to the stage of business growth you are at, and they may take up investment that you could better spend elsewhere.
Advanced thinking vs. commercial value
For us, ‘AI’ is about very advanced thinking. Anything else is just new technology. And to use new technologies to your best advantage, you need a platform that delivers consistent, reliable and accurate data.
As an example, waste and recycling companies can make use of intelligent field equipment to improve efficiencies: equipment such as sensors that are attached to waste bins, and send data to the company when they are full so the company can schedule a truck to empty them. These, and other intelligent technology can be useful to businesses, as long as they have the central systems to support them.
So, where new technologies exist, and where those emerging technologies have a proven commercial value, waste and recycling companies that already have good central systems in place can look at adopting technologies that enhance your existing processes, improve efficiencies and produce better customer service.
And this is something that waste and recycling companies are paying close attention to. As business models move from linear to circular, companies will need more intelligent technology that allows them to meet not just market demands but regulatory demands too. We expect that, over the rest of this decade, we will see greater adoption of end-to-end core systems and the smarter technology that will be created alongside it – all for the greater efficiency of the sector and the long-term benefit to the planet.