GPS Leads the Way to Longer Landfill Site Life

In January 2012, Halton’s landfill operators at the Halton Waste Management Site had some new technology added to their heavy machinery. GPS systems are well-known for helping people get around town by car or on foot, but it may be a surprise to learn that GPS technology can improve the way your garbage is landfilled.

Have you ever lost your way or misplaced something? We all have. Wouldn’t it be nice to have help with both — knowing where you are and where you’ve put things? Landfill GPS systems are the answer to the need of landfill operators. Placing waste into a landfill takes planning and organization. Knowing where you are, where you are putting things (garbage in this case), and seeing where you need to go are all part of the job. Any tool you can get to make it easier, while also increasing efficiency is very attractive.

Car-based GPS systems rely on satellite information to achieve just enough location accuracy for us to tell what street we are driving on, and in which lane we might be in at a particular moment. But construction and engineering crews who have moved to GPS for digitally precise surveying (think new home construction or sewer layouts) and machine guidance (think mining and road grading) need to know where things are down to within a couple of centimeters, or less if possible. This is harder to achieve, but not impossible, if more information is available from fixed objects nearby with known position co-ordinates. High precision GPS uses both satellite and fixed object information to sharpen accuracy to more useful levels.

As it turns out, compacting garbage in a landfill and knowing how well you are doing also requires some fairly decent levels of position accuracy. And so, the GPS system we have added for our landfill operations incorporates state of the art satellite receivers and fixed position base station equipment. With this system we have ‘golf-ball’ sized levels of detail for monitoring daily waste compaction. That means that we can track the position (especially vertically) of the compactor or bulldozer so finely that the reduction in the thickness of the daily waste piles can be witnessed in real-time so that the operators can tell instantly when no further compaction passes are necessary. This saves fuel and machine wear. It is also a great training tool for new operators as well.

When its green – you are done! If it’s not, keep compacting the trash!

The landfill GPS system provides visual feedback to the machine operators and office staff with graphics that depict the real-time level of compaction of the garbage within the vicinity of the moving machines and stores all that information in a database that captures the entire landfill volume 24/7, year round, from now on. This level of data acquisition also provides opportunities for contour planning, fill zone tracking, avoidance area marking, etc. This can improve both efficiency and safety.

The aim is to be as efficient as possible with the limited landfill space resource, the service life of the machinery we use, and the amount of fuel we consume in performing the landfilling task.

It is quite amazing how GPS enabled systems can transform and complement the way we compact Halton’s residential garbage. We are looking forward to reaping the benefits this new system can provide and expect to extend our landfilling journey further than otherwise possible.

Interested in finding out more about the Halton landfill? Try our virtual tour of the Halton Waste Management Site to get more information on the facility and its construction.

About Walter Scattolon

Hi! I'm Walter and I've been Halton Region's Landfill Technologist since 2004. Keeping tabs on Halton's only open municipal landfill is a big part of my job and so is managing the Landfill Gas Collection system on site. How much space do we have left for waste? What about the greenhouse gases? When should we build the next cell in the landfill? - These are all questions I find the answers to, year after year.
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4 Responses to GPS Leads the Way to Longer Landfill Site Life

  1. Great post out there. GPS is commonly used for the purpose of tracking and navigation. Navigation to the required place at less time without any confusion in track to an unknown place is possible using GPS. The employers can keep the track of their vehicles using vehicle track which helps in reduction of cost and efficiency in work.

  2. Walter Scattolon says:

    Your comment is appreciated, Truck Trackster! Waste collection truck tracking is becoming very popular through North America as the cost of running the trucks goes up in terms of energy usage. GPS tracking can help with route planning and re-routing when traffic snarls occur, while also giving the shortest, most eco-friendly routes overall. Saving fuel, saving headaches too.

  3. Pingback: Women in Waste Management: Sherry Brotherston | HaltonRecycles

  4. Pingback: Celebrating GIS Day | HaltonRecycles

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