Improving Collections with Human-Centered Design
As a part of SOIL’s research and development initiatives and human centered design optimization, our research team has identified a number of projects to help improve efficiency for our service. This includes ongoing research on identifying ways to make the composting process faster and cheaper so that we’ll be able to treat more waste at SOIL’s composting waste treatment site in Mouchinette, as well as optimizing our collection routes to reduce mileage. Over the past few months, our team has again focused on a human-centered design approach to improve the construction of our collection vehicles.
One of the biggest challenges we face in operating SOIL’s EkoLakay sanitation service is logistics and the costs of transportation. EkoLakay’s collection crew visits the houses of families on our household toilet service every week, collecting full containers of waste and leaving clean empty containers and cover material for next week’s waste collection. To help us improve our service and reduce our costs, we have been working with our partner, DataKind, over the last year, to assess SOIL’s vehicle capacity and collection routes to design the best way to use vehicle, collector, GPS, and GIS map data to tackle this efficiency challenge. We’ve made incredible strides in operations and collections by using the improved data and mapping tools – positioning SOIL for growth. Now, we’ve turned our focus on improving the overall functionality of the collection vehicles.
We’ve identified inefficiencies in our weekly waste collection system that need some improvement. Currently, our collection moto-vehicles are equipped with a cage on the bed to transport the waste containers from households to our transfer facility. However, at household pickup and drop-off, our sanitation collectors are required to rearrange the waste containers in the cage multiple times during the collection process in order to access the empty replacement containers that are located towards the back of the collection vehicle. Our sanitation collectors could be much more efficient if the containers were able to move in an organized manner on the bed of the vehicle cage to easily access the empty containers and, such that a container of waste would not have to be handled twice once it is collected. To improve on this design, our Human-Centered Design consultants from KreativKonsum, Lukas Baumgartner and Jojo Linder, recommended three design improvements:
- Linear collection flow design: Where the flow now looks like: empty bucket comes off the front –> full bucket comes in the back –> pushing empty ones forward until the cage bed is full of waste containers.
- Improved Access: Increasing the size of the door at the front of the cage bed for more practical access of containers.
- Better mobility: Removing a significant portion of the original metal bed with the cage bed. The heavier original bed (see image below) made it difficult for drivers to access certain areas with a full load. With the new cage design, the moto becomes considerably lighter, thus making it easier for the drivers when driving uphill.
In our commitment to find a sustainable solution, being able to collect waste faster and more efficiently means we can collect more with the same team and equipment, while reducing costs. Reducing costs associated with collection is especially significant, being that transportation is one of EkoLakay’s largest cost drivers. Additionally, including the collection team in the design process and testing is critical to finding a solution that meets the needs of the team. So far, the feedback has been positive! Our collection team noted that “this new process for moving containers in the [moto] seems a lot easier, it requires less effort for the collector.” Once we finish testing our prototype in the field, we plan to modify the rest of our fleet to match. Stay tuned for updates!
SOIL depends on individual donations from people like you to fund our lifesaving, earth-restoring sanitation services in Haiti. Please consider supporting SOIL today.
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