Singapore now has ‘smart’ waste bins that alert cleaners via SMS when full

Smart solar-powered bins are seen in Biopolis in Singapore. — TODAY pic
Smart solar-powered bins are seen in Biopolis in Singapore. — TODAY pic

SINGAPORE, Feb 11 — After a successful pilot for solar-panelled “smart” trash bins, industrial property developer JTC has put up more than 40 of these bins around the island.

The bins, called Bigbelly bins, have an internal compactor to crunch rubbish and can handle about five times more trash than another of a similar size. They have an enclosed design that prevents scavengers, pests and odours, and are connected wirelessly for easy monitoring and management.

Once the bin is full, its sensors will detect and send, via 3G, email or text message alerts to the mobile phones of cleaners.

Because they work on solar energy, the bins have no cabling. The solar panels power an internal battery that drives the compaction mechanism, internal sensors and the communication module. A fully charged battery can power the bin for about three months without sunlight.

The Bigbelly bins are now found in estates where JTC manages its properties, such as one-north, Jurong Island, Changi Business Park and CleanTech Park.

The roll-out of more bins was revealed in a media document on Thursday at the official opening of its J-Ops Command Centre, which houses smart facilities management (FM) systems that allow JTC to remotely and centrally monitor and manage of its developments and properties.

The company’s employees are able to access the system dashboard from the J-Ops Command Centre to optimise waste collection routines, understand waste patterns and better deploy manpower, in efforts to improve productivity and eliminate bin overflows.

In 2016, JTC had put up 18 smart bins as part of a six-month trial at places such as Fusionopolis @ one-north, Biopolis @one-north and JTC CleanTech One @ Jurong Innovation District.

The trial showed that the average time taken for waste collection was reduced by 80 per cent, and waste collection routes were better planned due to the smart technology.

Jason Foo, acting director of building management at JTC, said that waste collection “can be tedious, time-consuming and labour-intensive”. The company identified it as a “potential area” that could be enhanced by digital technology, and if done more efficiently, would “ultimately contribute to a more pleasant environment for our tenants”.

On plans to deploy more bins, Foo said that JTC would continue to “monitor the progress of this implementation” and “scale up to other estates and developments if suitable”.

Jason Kumar, co-founder of Terra Sol, which manages the bins, said that a 125L Bigbelly smart bin with sensors will cost around S$3,000 (RM8,816). Extra features such as compaction and Wi-Fi come with extra costs.

Shi Zuo Feng, a team leader with cleaning service provider CSP Maintenance, works at Fusionopolis where the bins can be seen. He said that while the smart bin is larger in size than a conventional one, it takes just about five minutes more to clean its interior.

The staff members have been given proper training on cleaning the bins, but they are more cautious when doing so because it involves more mechanisms, Shi added.

Eddie Ezhilan Dhandhayutham, assistant ops manager with the cleaning firm, said that workers need not have to check on them so often — from 21 times a week to just three times a week now. “We will be notified whenever the bins are full through an SMS notification,” he said. — TODAY

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