Research Collaboration Has Increased Efficiency of EkoLakay Collection

photo credit: Felipe Jacome

The SOIL team is continually researching and testing new ways to increase our operational efficiency in order to provide better sanitation solutions and position our service for sustained growth.  In April we began implementing a new routing app that optimizes the collection routes between our customers’ households in Cap-Haitien. The app was developed for SOIL by DataKind, a nonprofit that collaborates with organizations to design and build out impactful data tools.  

The SOIL Research team has been working closely with DataKind to understand and trial ways to make our collection services more efficient using tools to digitally map collection routes, track house collections, and create knowledge systems. The COVID19 pandemic created increased urgency around putting better systems in place, as we needed to bring in new temporary collectors to support our team, and they needed a way to easily navigate neighborhoods and identify client households.  With the combined goals of addressing the immediate emergency operational measures and focusing on implementing an ideal collection strategy, the research team was able to address multiple measures, including reducing overlap between routes, filling the collection vehicles to capacity before they make a trip to one of our depots for drop-off, and uniquely defined collection routes that can be optimized each week.  

The tool has now been fully operational for a few months and we’ve seen some incredible results! We’ve successfully reduced our weekly collection mileage by nearly 5% while simultaneously adding over 100 new customers to our life-saving sanitation service. Additionally, collectors no longer have to accompany installations to learn where new customers live, as new household are now able to be easily tracked to the mapping database. Collectors are now able collect all five days of the week, instead of splitting their time between accompanying new installations and regular collections – meaning we can add many more new customers before we need to hire additional collectors.  

Reducing unnecessary driving improves the efficiency of SOIL’s operations in terms of both cost and time spent collecting EkoLakay containers from our customers. These efficiency measures also go beyond our collection routes and help benefit SOIL in other ways as well.  It’s not uncommon for Haiti to experience periodic gas shortages, which result in volatile spikes in price and can make sourcing difficult. This means that using SOIL vehicles in the most efficient way possible helps to reduce unnecessary driving and expenses.  SOIL is also very conscious about our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and the SOIL Research team continuously works to analyze and reduce the GHGs emitted from all of our processes, from composting human waste to driving vehicles. By working to improve the efficiency of our collection routes we are cutting down any unnecessary emissions from our vehicles.  We’re excited to work alongside innovative and collaborative organizations like DataKind that are equally driven to provide meaningful solutions to some of the world’s most pressing challenges.  

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