- During a session on data collection at SWANApalooza, SCS Engineers CIO and Senior Vice President Jay Hatho said the waste industry is "a few years out" when it comes to a widespread adoption of drone usage for landfill monitoring.
- Hatho explained that, while drones are being used for monitoring in individual cases, the industry is "just starting to scratch the surface." Due to the expense of drones and FAA regulations around operating them, it may be some time until they're a more popular industry asset.
- Instead, other data collection technologies like sensors are helping the industry detect landfill temperatures, improve operating practices and respond to abnormal conditions more quickly.
In this session, titled "Numbers numbers numbers ... How do we use data effectively?" Hatho was joined on stage by three other industry leaders including executives from Affinity Energy and Petra Energy, who discussed the importance of "smart" monitoring and landfill gas control systems. Overall, the speakers highlighted the three Vs of data collection: volume, velocity and variety. These elements of information are the most important to ensure an overall understanding and analysis of workplace operations.
While Hatho was hesitant about drone usage to collect the "three Vs," it is not a foreign concept to landfill operators. Last year the Ada County landfill in Boise, ID received FAA permission to use a small unmanned aircraft to collect aerial images of its site. Landfill officials at that site noted the drone usage is significantly cheaper than hiring a manned flight to take photos. While it took some time to receive approval for usage, this example proves that drones have a place in the waste industry.
The construction industry, on the other hand, is one in which drone usage is taking off due to its cost-saving benefits and ability to reduce errors on-site. Construction Dive reports that drone-powered labor sources for infrastructure have an estimated market value of $45.2 billion and will likely continue to grow. While the waste industry tends to trail behind in areas of technological advancements, drones may be one advancement that the industry can soon adopt to get ahead of the curve.