Clark IP has recently implemented for a client a web application that manages collection of waste material that is converted into a new renewable fuel. The application manages customer relations with several thousand independent producers of the waste stream, schedules pickups, routes travel and tracks collections.
Our client has been in business for several years. Current operations support over one million gallons of output annually with projected growth to several millions over the next two years. The company has over 50 employees, about one dozen vehicles and over 4,000 source locations that must be visited regularly but that should not be visited unnecessarily.
The client was falling behind in collection of WVO from its sources. Scheduling and routing were being accomplished with a contact management program plus detailed customer knowledge by a few key employees. WVO sources include restaurants and commercial kitchens in a large region that encompasses major cities and small towns. The company had reached its limit on span of control of the needed information. Uncollected oil at source locations was being stolen by competitors and other unauthorized persons.
The Clark IP Solution
We designed a system that manages customer relations using a web based interface. The major components are customer management (account, location, person); a scheduler-router (trucks, people, services); a sales lead and tracking system that automatically feeds successful leads into the customer management system. The scheduling algorithms track and record current activity and use it as the basis of estimates of when and how much incoming waste is expected. This is used to select locations for just-in-time pickup.
The system uses a custom database and builds upon a solid base of industry standard open software such as Linux, MySQL, PHP, HTML/CSS. This platform has significant advantages in cost, stability, and maintainability.
Using a server-client model allows the system to provide for multiple users, with access restrictions to suit each user, and provides availability over the internet allowing for use by remote facilities and users in the field via laptops and smart phones.
The system has been in operation for nine months at this writing. That period has seen an increase in locations from about 1,400 to over 4,700 and collection volume from about 66,000 to over 162,000 start to peak.
Summary and detailed reports show daily and monthly transactions using a mix of text and eye-catching graphics. The system alerts management to special issues including so-called "fires" or emergency customer service situations.
Although the system's field and reporting services are tightly wrapped around this customer, the underlying CRM elements and service management structure were designed to be adaptable to other applications.
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