Once a week, most of us see a large trash truck pull up to our house and drive away with our refuse, never to be seen again. Sometimes it might occur to us how much planning it must take to coordinate the routes of all those trash trucks each week. But most of the time, we don’t take notice of the trash truck fleet unless it fails to show up on the right day.
This very problem seems to be growing in the town of Ahmedabad, India. Officials regularly receive calls from customers complaining of spotty service and trash piling up. This is in spite of the fact that on paper, trash pickup personnel are consistently completing their routes and picking up all the trash they are responsible for. The only conclusion? Some trash collectors must be skipping streets or customers in order to save time, counting on the fact that their supervisors don’t have any way to prove whether the complaints against them are valid or not.
That will no longer be the case, though; the city’s Municipal Corporation will soon be installing GPS units on over 700 trash trucks operated in Ahmedabad. These units will give supervisors real-time locations of each truck, so they can tell at a glance whether or not the fleet is making all scheduled stops throughout the day. The knowledge that someone back at the station is watching their vehicle’s progress will hopefully inspire trash collectors to pick up the pace instead of skipping houses.
The top purpose of the GPS units is to give officials a way to either confirm or invalidate claims by customers that they are being skipped. If the GPS records show that the truck did, in fact, stop at their house, the customers have very little to say in response. However, if the evidence shows that the truck never passed the house, or was moving too fast to pick up any trash, the collectors certainly have some explaining to do.
Fleet management is one of the industries that has benefitted most obviously from the GPS revolution. Drivers don’t always appreciate the new level of accountability, but supervisors and customers finally have a way to quickly resolve disputes over driver activity. And perhaps the streets of Ahmedabad will be a little less smelly, thanks to some GPS units!