‘Striving for Improvements and Greater Efficiencies’ – Albury Case Study
Andrea Baldwin – the Resource Recovery Team Leader at Albury City Council – shares her insights into how Mandalay’s Facility Product Suite benefits their organisation. She also covers the current transition into the Resident Product Suite which is anticipated to unlock sustainable resource recovery growth and improve collaboration amongst regions.
As one of Australia’s largest regional centres, Albury sits on the boarder of both NSW and Victoria. It receives approximately 200,000 tonnes of materials from six council areas each year and collectively services a population of 180,000 people. It has also become well known in the industry following recent news of a 45 million recycling facility that’s expected to recycle one billion 600mm PET plastic bottles per year.
Albury City Council’s Waste Management Centre has for some time stood as a prominent industry example for what can be achieved through proactive initiatives with a focus on the future. Their choice to utilise Mandalay’s Facility Product Suite and invest in the Resident Product Suite for the future is a perfect example of this.
Requirements & Objectives
When Andrea came on board at Albury in 2008, she soon identified that there was only 12-15 years of life left on the landfill. With this challenge ahead of her, she focused on implementing a number of infrastructure development and educational initiatives which resulted in Albury City Council reducing landfilling from 85-90% of received materials to 40%, resulting in an additional 30-40 years of landfill life.
Albury City Council needed reliable waste management software to effectively manage their operations and complement these developments and initiatives. They also needed a system that could provide quality data, which ultimately resulted in them choosing to use Mandalay’s Facility Product Suite in 2011.
‘Our facility is very big, so it needed software that could support that level of operations. More specifically, I needed a software system that could provide really good data, so I chose to work with Mandalay,’ – Andrea Baldwin
To further drive their proactive waste focus, Albury City Council is now also undertaking a staged implementation of Mandalay’s new Resident Product Suite. The full system is expected to be in place from July 2021.
The Challenges / Benefits of Mandalay
With Albury City Council already using Mandalay’s Facility Product Suite and in the process of transitioning into the Resident Product Suite, a number of challenges had to be overcome, and a few benefits have been highlighted throughout their time working with Mandalay Technologies.
Overcoming Unique Challenges – Mandalay had to deal with a number of challenges that were unique to Albury. For example, they had a three-weighbridge system in place that required separate software implementation for information gathering. Mandalay was very supportive at every turn and was eager to develop solutions and collaborate with Albury on meeting their unique waste management needs.
Future-proofing Operations – Andrea knew that their facility was heading down a path in the future where they would need a lot of data to reach their goals, and Mandalay had the kind of capabilities they needed. Andrea recognises that Mandalay is very futuristic in their thinking and always seems to have the right people on-board dealing with the right levels of staff as needed.
‘I see Mandalay as a very proactive organisation that is always striving for improvements and greater efficiencies. They can see all of the things that we could be doing better more than ourselves. They have a great vision for what can be achieved’ – Andrea Baldwin
Relying on Quality Data – Mandalay has provided Albury City Council and their waste team with a lot of high-level reporting capabilities that they simply didn’t have previously. They have been able to gain strong data from the system which is then used to make informed decisions about what was happening at their facility and what has to happen in the future.
‘I live by data. I don’t do anything without data, and access to that data will support the case moving forward whenever we’ve got to put something to council.’ – Andrea Bladwin
Up-Skilling Customer Service Operators in Data & Reports – With the increasing focus and importance of data, most of the landfill workers who are customer service operators had to learn and understand how to develop reports and pass information from those reports along to Andrea. While this added task and distinctive analytical skillset was initially seen as a challenge, the team had Mandalay’s support throughout which enabled them to effectively perform these tasks and gain an understanding of high-level analytic analysis.
Implementing the Resident Product Suite
The Resident Product Suite will provide Albury City Council with a more accurate picture of the people and property types that make up a community and facilitates the allocation of specific waste entitlements to the right individuals and properties.
The platform allows users to build personalised waste experiences for residents, which in turn leads to more precise information on waste service usage for council, so they can deliver higher-quality, efficient and cost-effective service to residents. The information provided through this suite also enables data driven analysis that can lead to behavioral change and inform future waste decisions on programs, and services.
A key component within the Resident Product Suite that Albury City Council was eager to use is the management and facilitation of waste vouchers. In the first stage of implementation which has already taken place, QR codes were added to waste vouchers for the current financial year 2021.
Stage two of the implementation expands into on-demand vouchers for tenants. These vouchers will be issued by council and managed through the Resident Platform. Once validation is gained to prove they live where they say they live, a voucher with a unique code is created that will be associated with that address. The voucher will then be emailed to the tenant.
‘Previously, our vouchers all went out in paper format to residents, but we only have a 34-36 percent usage of those vouchers as such, we’re sending out a lot of paper to people that aren’t using it. So why not target the program to people that actually need it?’ – Andrea Baldwin
In the final stage, residents will be allowed to manage their own vouchers by having access to a self-service portal. Because the whole authentication process will be automated, this removes the need to manually verify addresses. With the Resident Product Suite allowing them to have a property ID and corresponding PIN allocated to eligible residents, they can also allow only pre-defined residents to gain access to Albury’s waste centre and ensure it remains secure.
Another valuable tool in this suite is the ability to see a visual map that shows the total ‘source to site’ movements of every resident within their community. They can also gain useful insights through the Resident Product Suite including the number of vouchers, tickets, and vehicles as well as weight and the total amount of waste. This can be determined for all sites or specific sites. Having access to this high-level information on where people are traveling from to get to the facility and the amount of times vouchers are used can help them identify peak times at the centre and measure the effectiveness of their waste voucher program.
‘The platform will help us understand what days of the week people are bringing material in, which will allow us to make sure we are efficiently resourced on those days based on the data. I think that’s a really informative value add of the Mandalay system that will influence our resourcing on site.’ – Andrea Baldwin
Once the Resident Product Suite and the self-service portal is fully implemented, Andrea expects it will be well received by residents as many of them are already familiar with online processes.
Key Advice and Future Projections
In the future, Andrea hopes that the Resident Product Suite will be utilised by other councils in surrounding regions and the QR code system could be used for their waste vouchers too. This could result in councils being able to access each other’s vouchers. She stresses that this wouldn’t come at a huge cost, but it would ultimately lead to a more streamlined regional waste management network.
‘Councils are trying to work in collaboration. If someone lives outside our municipality, for example, and comes to Albury for shopping, they can bring their waste to our facility. We could support that even though they are from another council and could recover the cost back through the Mandalay system.’ – Andrea Baldwin
Andrea thinks that much can be done to improve collaboration with neighboring councils to enable a larger part of the region to access a range of facilities.