In her first job at SCS Engineers, Joy Stephens worked in a small trailer, consolidating and analyzing data from landfill field techs’ notes, recorded in logbooks they lugged around while navigating the challenging site terrain, then brought to her covered in leachate and mud.
She cross-referenced their detailed, handwritten records with a master list posted on a wall, organized, and methodically examined them. Then she turned them into actionable intel for SCS’s engineers and scientists.
“That was definitely easier said than done. It was a lot of work – a lot of hours to make sure that we were ready for the next day. It struck me that there’s got to be a better way. That we could make collecting and using this valuable information easier for the field staff and OM&M (Operations, Monitoring & Maintenance),” she says.
GIS Supports Wellfield Operations
From that inspiration came a lot of brainstorming, developing, and tweaking what today is a powerful yet user-friendly GIS system that stores and organizes volumes of geographical information in one place and gives users what they need fast to troubleshoot landfill conditions. The customizable application is now used at hundreds of landfills across the country, mainly to support wellfield operations, though it has other landfill system applications.
Field techs enter information onto digital forms using a mobile app and submit the data, uploading it to the cloud. OM&M teams have it in a streamlined format in a couple of minutes and can visualize what they are looking for on maps from a dashboard.
The technology that Stephens was an integral player in launching continues to evolve, and there’s a story behind that evolution.
“In the beginning, I reached out to this brilliant young lady, Brooke Aumann, from the Tampa office, who does a lot of GIS work. I had some GIS experience myself, but more landfill knowledge. I picked her brain so we could set up a digital replacement for the logbooks that zeroed in on exactly what the field techs and project managers needed to support our clients,” says Stephens, an environmental scientist.
Together, the two women created experimental web maps to plot and visualize basic information such as the location of each monitoring point, points requiring the collection of liquid levels, and the status of maintenance tasks at each well. Then they developed digital survey forms with more detailed information and connected those forms to the maps; this enabled end-users to overlay even more data for a holistic snapshot of what goes on at wellfields.
“We tried different configurations of web maps and symbology to depict best what we wanted to convey. We talked about what we needed to symbolize and how we needed to symbolize it. And we discussed possibilities for future developments. We knew much more was possible in terms of what we could collect, how all of these data are connected, and how we could exploit the software to better tackle more complex tasks,” Stephens says.
From maps to interfacing data forms to the next level X-ray vision
“Now we’ve gone a step further. We’re doing 3D well visualizations, which give a kind of Superman X-ray vision subsurface. You are literally looking beneath to the well to get good intel,” Stephens says.
Traversing the World
With undergraduate degrees in Mandarin Chinese and geology and graduate degrees in teaching science and environmental management, Stephens has long loved learning, the environment, and nature.
“When I was young, my parents were missionaries, and I grew up in the most beautiful, pristine, remote areas, like the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu – so unspoiled and lovely.”
It was a sharp contrast to what she would see later when she moved with her young son to China, where she taught math and science. The air quality was poor, and the streets and landscape were inundated with litter.
That experience was the final push that landed the young professional at the foot of a career path she’d considered for some time; environmental sciences. She’d taught it before, but a voice inside her was telling her to pivot and actually start doing the work.
Stephens found her way into a program at a university in Scotland after researching graduate environmental management programs worldwide. At this prestigious learning institution, she first worked with remote sensors and GIS, identifying and addressing “waste crimes,” namely illegal dumping.
Seizing the opportunity to apply her expertise
After graduation, the teacher-turned-scientist took her education and experience back to the United States and SCS Engineers. The company was not foreign to her. By the time she applied, she had made as much a project of vetting employers as she had of scoping out universities. Two draws drew her attention:
“There is the ethos; SCS is genuinely committed to the environment. And the other part that was important to me is SCS is very invested in professional growth and training to foster that growth. I believed that I would have opportunities to move up,” Stephens reflects, recalling when she said yes to the first job working with those logbooks that would be the catalyst to what was to come.
When she came on board, she had to gain practical experience in the solid waste industry and learn the ropes in the field, in addition to her prior experience in renewable energy. In time she had learned her way around landfill gas collection wells, then kept building on that knowledge.
“I asked a ton of questions. Why are we monitoring for this? What constitutes good gas quality? Why is it important to know liquid levels? What is the difference between vacuum and flow? I think asking all these questions, collecting field data myself, and watching what the guys in the field had to do, gave me a good base understanding to help inform how we would capture the right information using GIS. It was a collaborative effort. Brooke worked on many landfill projects and my colleague, Chris Carver, had 16 years of field and project management work. It all came together.”
She later joined the RMC team (Remote Monitoring and Controls), where she received further training in GIS and mastered other skill sets. Today she is a project professional specializing in GIS and drone services.
At home with waste management
The hybrid techie-artist in Stephens comes out when she makes an analogy that tells a little of how her wheels turn.
She grew up playing Legos and now, at almost 40 years old, still builds with them at home with her son.
She approaches the job the same way as when she assembles those sets.
“You know the pieces fit to make something, but it takes creativity to figure out just how to build it and make it as visually pleasing and functional as you can, or to get it to function in different ways. I try to configure and piece together for the best possible design,” she says.
Stephens has married that approach with a desire to be a part of both restoring and protecting the environment. She thinks she’s in the right place to act on that intention.
“I feel like work with waste management and SCS is a way to achieve what I think is so important. We are trying to protect, remediate, and leave conditions better than we found them. That is what being a good steward is all about.”
See Joy Stephens at work in her recent educational presentation for landfill owners and operators. Joy demonstrates technologies to reduce the time to collect, process, and show data.
David Hostetter from SCS Engineers® and Dennis Siegel from Waste Management® are the feature speakers on Inductive Conversations, a podcast about the unique processes and challenges within the waste management industry, from residential to the engineering and life cycles of landfills.
Dave and Dennis discuss how operational improvements are being made in this essential service and its environmental footprint. They dive into the 24/7 maintenance and monitoring of landfills, adjusting to changing conditions in real-time, reducing cost, generating renewable energy, improving the health and safety of operators, and being proactive in a changing world. We also hear about an Ignition-based solution called Connected Landfills that improves connectivity, mobility, and visualization by using data science to facilitate better decisions.
When Melissa Russo’s boss Phil Carrillo told her he thought she should get her drone pilot license, she thought he was kidding. At the time, she worked on SCS’s Remote Control (RMC) team; selling drone services was a part of her job, but she had not thought of flying these unmanned vehicles herself.
Her thirst for competition kicked in when he turned the proposition into a bet. He was going after his pilot license himself; she bet she’d beat his score. They finished in a dead heat, but what started as friendly rivalry ended up bringing a new dimension to Russo’s job— a job that continues to expand in breadth as new opportunities turn up.
Today she not only flies, sells drone services, and teaches others how to sell and fly, but she’s helped bring geographical information systems (GIS) into RMC’s portfolio. How these technologies fit together is RMC remotely collects data from drones and different landfill systems. Then the GIS translates that data into maps, capturing a visual picture of how clients’ facilities’ systems are performing. The GIS piece is one of the latest chapters in the story of Russo’s evolving role (more to come on that).
Piloting is what especially gets her juices going.
“I love working with my team, supporting them in what they do. But when it comes to drones, I like the hands-on experience of flying myself more than telling other people how to do it.”
She controls these small aircraft from a device on the ground, sharply focused on her surroundings while keeping the drone in her sight at all times.
“You have to make sure there are no manned vehicles around; they have the right of way. And there’s a lot of continuous movement on landfills. You’re constantly aware of your surroundings. Is a truck coming? Am I in line with where dumping is going on?”
Flying drones takes muscle and mechanical aptitude.
The drone and case can weigh 45 pounds. And there are a lot of moving parts to assemble and calibrate.
Sometimes it’s manual work, pointing and rotating a remote controller to send a radio signal to tell the drone what to do. But more often, she pilots automated flights that she maps in advance and uploads the flight path specs into software that interfaces with the drone.
“When I’m flying drones, I can access areas where if I had boots on the ground, I couldn’t. I can go and explore just about anywhere, similar to when I dream— only it’s real,” she says.
With any task, she’s laser-focused, concentrating on one part of the picture at a time to grasp the details. She steps back and uses critical thinking, accumulated knowledge, and imagination to take on what’s before her.
The innovation process
“We’re pretty lucky with our timing; new and proven technologies are emerging quickly. I’m one of many SCSers with a deep knowledge of technology and practical experience in the solid waste industry. Together, we can make a difference because we understand the business and operational challenges very well. When I need an expert in another industry, I just reach out to a colleague. The learning process never ends, and each project helps me and my team constantly find better answers.
“My boss is more of a big-picture person; his ideas are huge and amazing. He comes to me with new ideas, and I figure out how to make them work and implement them,” Russo says.
She points to his idea to use proven GIS technology within RMC. She was already using GIS to map methane data, process topographic maps, and stockpile calculations. For instance, she integrates methane values into the GIS and overlaps them with imagery so her clients can zoom in on one well or get a large-scale view of the overall health of the gas collection system. But integrating GIS in new ways to incorporate multiple landfill systems would solve some expensive problems and, better yet, prevent even more expensive mitigation and repairs.
Expanding GIS applications to illustrate multiple landfill systems
“I know drones and how to process drone data. But now that we are expanding applications, I add more layers of landfill data, such as liquids, soil, the gas collection and control system (GCCS), SCADA, and surface emissions, to bring them into the RMC GIS platform. My colleagues are demonstrating these technologies at the SCS June Client Webinar.”
“I created a team of hand-picked SCS staff with both GIS and waste management backgrounds (and a whole lot of drive) to make the vision come to life,” she says. “That’s how we innovate, tight teams with access to nationwide expertise.”
Within six months of the project’s genesis, Russo and her team had integrated gas and liquid collection systems, other landfill systems, and asset management into the RMC GIS platform. She and her team now sell these applications nationwide.
Russo’s come a long way since joining SCS at age 21
In her mind, she grew up at the company. Before coming on board, she managed a shop in Manhattan Beach, California, while she began thinking about what to do next.
“I learned a lot about business and people. It was a stepping-stone – I discovered how to earn trust, build rapport, and sell. But in time, I decided I wanted a more professional job,” she recalls.
She went to work for a real estate company managing the SCS Engineers Long Beach office, where she would soon take an entry-level Accounts Payable position in SCS Field Services.
In time, she transitioned to the Health and Safety group, assisting in creating training material and managing truck fleets. Soon she was managing assets, among other firsts for her. By this point, she had developed enough software, accounting, and other administrative skills to step up fast.
Part of the job was keeping up with vehicle maintenance, so she often spoke with field staff. Many of them she already knew from her days working in the accounting department.
Growing with her SCS colleagues
“When I was in my first administrative roles, I supported many colleagues who were field techs or supervisors; they are project managers now. It feels as though we’ve grown up together, and we know and trust each other. We collaborate well and know that when we bring projects to each other that we will take care of each other,” Russo says.
She especially likes the RMC concept because remote control and automation enable her, her clients, and her team to work smarter, not harder because they leverage the technology to work for them.
“That means we can usually work from anywhere, giving all of us more time for family, friends, or allocating the time saved towards other needed to-dos. I’m up at five a.m. and, at times, may not finish work until nine at night. Somehow, us working women find the balance in between meetings, writing proposals, and answering emails; I have lunch with my two boys or take them to a park,” she says.
Bambi Lance, a veteran SCSer and her mother, works in the same business unit as Melissa does. “Mom’s been here for 16 years, and it’s interesting to have her perspective not only as my mom but as someone who knows SCS. She knows my department, and she knows me. She sees what I am doing and she along with management encourage me to do more and believe in myself.”
Russo reflects again on the concept of stepping-stones on the way to knowledge and maturity. I’m competitive and take on challenges, which has been a driving force in all I do today. It’s helped me take a personal inventory of how I am now versus the young Melissa,” she says.
She uses it to gauge her direction. And she uses it to connect to her staff. “I try to help them see you can turn almost any experience, into a positive. I want my team to see we are all learning and growing. They can, as I can, comfortably bring new ideas to the group and company, which often turn into new ways to help clients.”
She circles back to her decision to fly drones, explaining how it aligns with her career path from her first steps to today. “Becoming a pilot was a natural fit because it’s a new challenge. The craving to take on new tasks is how I grew from an accounting administrator to a project coordinator up to a business manager. It’s wanting to expand my knowledge, tackle new feats, and accomplish what I was not sure I could do. I like the challenge.”
The SCS Culture is Driven by Client Success
The Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) is hosting a virtual summit in place of SOAR this June 17th. The Landfill Challenges Summit presents sessions from 12:00 – 5:00 pm EDT and on-demand sessions throughout the conference.
The Landfill Challenges Summit brings together landfill, landfill gas, and biogas professionals throughout the United States and Canada. Industry experts, including those at SCS Engineers, will discuss current and future challenges that are expected to impact landfill operations and landfill gas production and what lessons can be applied as we move forward.
As vacant land becomes more scarce, developers are turning to former landfills, which are often large tracts in prime locations, are now use. Daniel Cooper and Somshekhar Kundral use examples demonstrating how landfills and lakefills may be reclaimed, allowing the community to realize economic benefits in previously unusable areas for development while improving environmental protection. However, redevelopment on such site poses several environmental and geotechnical challenges. The design concepts of methane gas management systems vary based on the site’s subsurface conditions, building footprint, and the perceived risk tolerance of building owners. Several gas management barriers are available in the market today and can be broadly classified into the asphaltic spray-applied liner and the HDPE liner. The use of these liner systems depends on subsurface conditions and the size of the building. SWANA CEU: .50
SCS Engineers announces its iOS and Android application SCS WDT™ for wireless data transfer of landfill flare readings to mobile devices. The app expands the power of SCS MobileTools® to observe system and environmental activity securely and in real-time.
Today’s landfill gas flares collect data using a Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system. The flare’s SCADA system records data at preset intervals generating hundreds of thousands of readings to process and analyze. Often data is stored on a data card at the flare site. A technician collects the data by transcribing it into a log or digitally reading it, then transferring the reading to a computer. The data is then uploaded into the landfill’s database for analysis and reporting.
The process, with its multiple steps, is slow and open to human error. SCS WDT™ digitally collects flare readings directly into a mobile device and into SCS DataServices® in seconds, reducing human error and multiple steps. The app’s interface provides secure access to information that drives critical operating decisions and collects historical data for trends, corporate directives, and landfill gas OM&M programs.
Landfill managers and environmental engineers can monitor their flares in real-time, seeing exceedances immediately. SCS WDT™ uses GPS to capture the exact physical location of flares and place the data into the appropriate landfill’s site location too. Flare readings are available, literally in seconds, for review, analysis, and corrective action if needed. Pilot testing at 30 landfills nationwide demonstrates that SCS WDT™ saves time and errors by removing extra steps and people in the progression; there is no need to wait until the end of a technician’s shift to transfer readings or have extra hands in the process.
SCS DataServices®, a secure web-based landfill gas management application, is part of the SCSeTools® platform in use on hundreds of landfills backed by over 50 years of landfill design, operation, and maintenance experience. SCS Engineers understands how unique landfill operations are today, so SCS WDT™ works as a standalone app with other platforms and is free to SCSeTools® users. Download on the Apple App Store for iPhones and iPads, Google Play for Android.
The SCSeTools® platform and applications help facilities operate more efficiently by continually gauging operational health and spot trends that help determine when and how to invest in infrastructure. For additional information and demonstrations of these productivity-enhancing tools, please click here.
David Hostetter, Sam Rice, Joy Stephens, and Chris Woloszyn take us on a landfill technology journey in their recent EM Magazine article. It is amazing what these YPs are developing and implementing nationwide. The future looks bright!
Most equipment data and system data are collected manually for regulatory compliance; this process is time-consuming, expensive, and sometimes dangerous. Consequently, some sites only collect a few data points per day, which may not provide a complete picture of landfill operations. They also contend with the control and maintenance of remote equipment. These YPs explain how they’ve solved these challenges using RMC and SCADA systems.
Field technicians—heavily laden with instruments, printed data collection sheets, logbooks, clipboards, maps, and other gear—spend long days collecting immense amounts of data. Additional labor awaits supervisors and managers as they transcribe, digitize, or otherwise prepare the data for analysis. This team deciphers the information recorded on sheets and logbooks, often accompanied by leachate stains, mud spatters, and water damage. GIS provides a low-cost way to streamline data collection, track progress, visualize task completion, and analyze collected data to deliver an overview of the landfill’s status.
Beyond cameras, various sensors can be attached to a drone. These sensors range from infrared cameras to LiDAR sensors to gas identification tools. One such tool helps identify the presence of methane leaking out of a landfill. A drone pilot can maneuver over the entire landfill, sniffing out methane leaks and seeking out poor landfill-cover integrity, all in a matter of hours. Drones collect methane data quickly and accurately without the need for traversing the ground on foot or by vehicle.
Integration of additional automatic and manual data collection methods, such as quarterly or annual drone flights, RMC systems, and remotely monitored and controlled wellheads, provide a comprehensive view of landfill performance and overall condition. UAVs or drones allow for safe inspections, quick data gathering, and lower operating costs.
SCS is also providing a non-commercial webinar on drone technologies providing the best return on investment in March 2021. Join us for this live, interactive session, or view the recording in our Learning Center after March 24, 2021.
When Doug Doerr got a call from a Colorado-based landfill operator with a hot gas probe at his site’s boundary, Doerr’s day kicked into high gear. Chasing down gas migration problems is nothing new in an SCS client manager’s life, but that reality makes the job no less complex. And in this scenario, he was dealing with a site that he occasionally got called to visit, so to understand the problem fast, he needed the site’s historical data and the current information to fully picture what was happening.
Doerr started with basic landfill gas information from the client: the monitoring probe’s location and a drawing of the gas collection system to determine where the probe was in relation to the gas system. But as you know, that is one small slice of a king-sized pie.
“All the LFG data that I would typically wade through to identify the problem can be overwhelming, but I had a recourse enabling me to get up to speed quickly. It didn’t take long to assess the problem,” he says. That recourse is a combination of quick teamwork from his peers nationwide and sophisticated technology developed by SCS practitioners for landfill owners and operators.
“I queried our in-house landfill gas technical group (engineers, geotechnical experts, and field personnel). And got over 25 responses within several hours with suggestions, one of which came from Ken Brynda in SCS Field Services, who leveraged DataServices to help me identify and narrow down the potential cause of the problem,” recalls Doerr.
DataServices, a module of the SCS eTools® digital platform, collects, stores, manages and analyzes large volumes of continuously accumulating landfill gas data for individual sites or multiple landfills. The module provides a quick method to view landfill gas scenarios.
The beauty of it is that it generates maps and charts to visualize every well and every probe. These system components are viewed in relation to one another and in relation to the perimeter, where the methane on that Colorado site flowed. Further, SCS Field Services’ landfill gas gurus, such as Ken Brynda, plug-in specific parameters that keep a close watch on any well or a group of wells.
“I logged into DataServices and pulled data from the five wells closest to the hot probe, which showed we had vacuum, flow, and gas quality, indicating the wells were pulling hard enough. I shared the results with our landfill gas technical group responders in a table and range map I’d created. And they started chiming in,” Brynda recalls.
As responders viewed initial results from their respective bases around the country, Brynda churned out more information in a few hours, running point charts to capture the balance gas, methane, flow, temperature, supply vacuum, and the vacuum applied to each well. He looked for trends that narrow down cause and point to solutions.
Eliminating the Possibilities – Rule Out Well System Malfunctions
“It can take days if we’d had to do it the old school way with spreadsheets laid out in a lot of rows. But we could identify the potential problem in a matter of hours, backed by a comprehensive evaluation for the landfill operator in eight hours,” Doerr says.
When Field Services staff work to solve a problem with a probe, they look for an outlier, something from a group of wells that’s not behaving like the other wells. In this case, Brynda determined that the wells near the hot probe were functioning properly. DataServices eliminated potential problems by slicing through and analyzing large chunks of data confirming the system was working efficiently.
Next, we observed that the wells are likely too far away to pull gas back from waste, adjacent to the probe in question, where there are no wells.
“DataServices helped rule out malfunctions, and that’s a big deal because if you can confirm the landfill system is working properly, you have narrowed your focus and can look toward other possibilities, ultimately leading to corrective options,” Doerr says. Brynda and Doerr suggested putting in temporary wells in that area to avoid odor migration and health and safety issues.
Doerr continues watching the situation and is prepared with a several-point action plan to mitigate exceedances and avoid falling out of compliance. “We continue watching the data to ensure the gas collection system continues to function well. Should there be issues again, we’re able to fully identify the gas migration pathways and anything in the system that looks out of the ordinary,” Doerr says.
If the client decides to add wells in time, data from the expanded infrastructure will be added to the app and monitored. “As the number of wells grows, DataServices grows with it, adding any, and as much, monitoring and collection data as the operator wants. DataServices will always be in the background to monitor, collect and analyze LFG data in real-time, whenever we need it,” he says. Being able to store, organize, dissect and analyze unlimited volumes of information from one location is powerful. And not just because it helps operators identify problems as they are happening, but because it and our teams can support them in looking for trends over time. Keeping an eye on the activities that keep the systems in balance is less costly.
For Doerr, who spends time in the field but longer hours with his clients, DataServices and the ability to interact quickly with experts like Brynda help SCS deliver more value to clients. “As much as I’d love to master DataServices, I need to focus all of my time on my clients’ business and goals; having support from Field Services and DataServices makes us all more efficient.”
Landfill Technologies and Comprehensive Expertise
SCS eTools® and SCS DataServices®, now with SCS MobileTools® for viewing data and charts anywhere; available to pull landfill data into DataServices for analyzing. You can customize and focus on exactly what you need fast. As Doug and Ken emphasize, it’s info that you likely already have, but may not be able to use quickly for troubleshooting.
SCS RMC®, remote monitoring and control of landfill equipment and systems.
Our industry is in a period of a rapid transition to digital data management, but particularly on landfills. Often you read that the latest technology, whether by a brilliant programmer or rolling out as part of a takeover, is innovative. Linking technology and innovation is becoming commonplace, but they are not the same. Innovation is a human process requiring experimentation and iteration to solve landfill issues that often have nothing to do with computers or mobile phones. Landfill technology or apps are tools.
Innovation takes a team of diverse expertise, different perspectives with a constant desire to learn, and most importantly, the primary desire to make landfill operations more efficient and safe. Innovators use technology when and how it makes sense to improve environmental management, profitability, and care for employees and the local community. Lower cost solutions for the vast amount of data collection completed faster and without human error come from people with hands-on in-the-field experience. When it comes to landfill technology, its value is clear when a landfill practitioner demonstrates how the particular technology fits into a solution. The nice part is they also get to the point and skip the tech-speak and jargon.
The Landfill Technology Evolution Started Here in 2003
Back in 2003, SCS couldn’t find technology that would enable our engineers and technicians to support landfill operations as we desired. Proving the proverb “necessity is the mother of invention,” we developed a database for our use. Its value in the field was immediate, and SCS continued to adapt and develop SCS DataServices® and SCS MobileTools®, basing refinements on each landfill and client need. It took people in the waste industry to make the right technology tools for the industry.
Meet Oliver Early, SCS’s DataServices and MobileTools Product Manager. Oliver started his career managing landfill operations. He became interested in technology because it got results for him as a landfill manager of 15 facilities. By combining a comprehensive investigation of physical landfill systems, such as landfill gas collection and control and other environmental monitoring and control systems with evaluations of compliance areas, he improved his landfill system performance and substantially increased power plant production. He used multivariate data techniques, including time series and network analysis, to scrutinize and refine results. Merging DataServices capabilities under Oliver’s guidance took SCS’s original internal database to a timesaving product for all landfills, not just the landfills SCS operates.
The platform, called SCS eTools®, includes modules for leachate, groundwater, DataServices, and the newest application SCS MobileTools, free for those using DataServices. The technology is currently in use on over 630 landfills nationwide and benefits all of SCS’s design, build, and operations work.
For example, if methane readings at a gas probe are elevated, that’s an indication of a potential LFG migration issue. While expertise is great – it could take hours to diagnose and mitigate. With DataServices, you could run an evaluation of the existing well field in a few minutes, ruling out issues with current wells. With the touch of a button, you can share the information with your team and focus on potential mitigation recommendations.
Remote Monitoring and Control Technology Didn’t Happen Overnight Either
The best and most innovative solutions come from combining the stakeholders’ experiences and thoughts. Let’s meet a few of the people who lead other landfill innovations.
In addition to being a licensed drone pilot herself, flying over 100 landfills, Business Manager Melissa Russo uses SCS Remote Monitoring and Control (RMC) technology to support her landfill clients. Her contributions increase safety and lower environmental risk using unmanned aerial vehicles to gather field data at a lower cost. Melissa developed SCS’s national drone and geographic information systems (GIS) programs to respond to her clients’ needs for expensive regulatory and operating challenges. As a result, capturing more (methane) greenhouse gas instead of releasing it into the atmosphere provides the obvious environmental benefits, and landfill personnel have better and safer working conditions.
Depending on the sensor or camera attached, her pilots can monitor methane concentrations using a tunable diode laser, measure and map surface temperatures to mitigate elevated temperature conditions, or create topography, aerial imagery, and estimate filling volumes. Operators can view, detect and measure changes over time, gaining insight into critical infrastructures such as water infiltration, liquid flow, and vegetation distributions. Melissa’s use of GIS provides a low-cost solution to data management and sharing between field and office.
Melissa is an innovator who genuinely cares about our industry, taking the time to listen and truly understand her clients’ challenges and long-term goals. Only then does she devise customized solutions, regardless of whether it uses technology or not. See Melissa at work.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is Bang for Your Buck
SCS RMC’s Business Manager is David Hostetter. His experience includes remote monitoring and controls systems engineering, construction, and operation; landfill gas and leachate engineering; and mechanical engineering. Dave’s focus is on automating remote process control of landfill systems, landfill gas blower/flare stations, wellfield vacuum and flow, along with leachate and groundwater pumping systems, weather equipment, and air monitors.
As a landfill gas engineer, his impetus was to avoid production downtime and keep operations within regulatory mandates. He wanted his clients to see what was happening at any given time and be alerted to atypical conditions. As a landfill engineer, he knows that “prevention is better than cure,” as long as it’s cost-effective. Dave’s solution is to leverage the Internet of Things through SCS RMC systems. Each piece of equipment you want to monitor gets a sensor. His team configures each sensor or group of sensors to parameters based on his operator’s business needs and environmental reporting responsibilities. A local wireless network communicates with a base station providing continuous readings from each sensor.
RMC sends alerts if readings are outside an acceptable range or if an environmental threshold is nearing exceedance. Alerts go to the landfill’s designated staff or technicians via smartphones, computers, or tablets. From these devices, users access their interface to control, start, stop, and reset field systems and analyze system operation. They can also view data, graphs, tables, alarms, and reports.
That’s more than convenience; it saves labor dollars spent to diagnose and reset these systems and is especially valuable for remote landfills. By design, clients can enable custom authorization levels for their systems. Naturally, the analytical tools are easy to use, understand, and report, as he explains in his video.
Albert Einstein Said…
“You can’t solve a problem on the same level that it was created. You have to rise above it to the next level.” We’re not comparing ourselves to Einstein, but all three SCSers leading their teams know that compliance policy never stops changing, and landfills are unique beasts made up of complex systems that need balance to perform. Performance is based on daily decisions and landfill readings generating enormous amounts of data. SCS’s job is to make your job better by collecting those millions of data bits for analysis faster, helping landfill operators use the intelligence to identify the cause and appropriate response to hundreds of issues that are part of landfill or facility management.
The backbone of every service at SCS Engineers is to design and develop based on our clients’ specific needs. As innovators, our mission is to leverage proven technology to meet those needs. As our founders did, we strive to understand our clients’ current and future needs, then develop or integrate the appropriate technology to meet those needs.
SCS is one of the most experienced and successful environmental compliance, design-build, operations, and maintenance firms in the United States. No stand-alone technology company can substitute for our knowledge and hands-on experience with innovative landfill design, build, and operations.
Visit SCS Engineers to discover SCS eTools and SCS RMC capabilities. You’ll find case studies, technology awards, and more resources for using technology to manage labor, liquids, air monitoring, groundwater, volume, GHGs, and more
EBJ presented awards earlier this month for notable solutions and response to Covid-19, in addition to new technologies and recognition of environmental firms celebrating 50+ years. The publication, EBJ Vol XXXIV No 1&2: 2021 Executive Review & 2020 EBJ Business Achievement Awards & Lifetime Achievement Awards is online here.
We thank EBJ and Grant Ferrier for getting so many influential environmental leaders into one forum. Grant is EBJ’s Editor and Founder. He and Jim Walsh had a fun exchange during the event when EBJ recognized SCS’s longevity and commitment to the environmental industry for 50 years. The presentation included a short Q&A with Grant and Jim Walsh in addition to the multiple awards presented for SCS solutions.
The Wisconsin Integrated Resource Management Conference (WIRMC) is the place to market your business to Wisconsin solid waste and recycling professionals. WIRMC 2021 will take place as a virtual conference from February 22-25, 2021. Several SCS professionals will be presenter, and SCS Engineers is a Gold Level sponsor of this important event. Please stop by our Virtual booth!
2020 Wisconsin Statewide Waste Characterization Study (Monday, Feb 22)
Speaker: Casey Lamensky, WDNR and Betsy Powers, SCS Engineers
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) has sponsored statewide waste sorts in 2002, 2009, and 2020. The 2020 study is being performed in October through December 2020 by SCS Engineers. This presentation will hit on the highlights of the project (participating facilities and methodology), share challenges and how they were addressed, and present some preliminary results and how the DNR hopes to use the information. We will discuss patterns that are standing out and lessons that can be shared.
School Sustainability Programs: Thriving in Changing Times – Panel (Tuesday, Feb 23)
Panelists include: Angeline Koch, Milwaukee Public Schools, Claire Oleksiak, Sustain Dane, Chris Jimieson, Madison Metropolitan School District, Janet Whited, Recycling Specialist, San Diego USD, moderator Debbi Dodson, Carton Council
Landfill Technology Innovations: YPs Improving Operations and Management (Tuesday, Feb 23)
Speakers: David Hostetter, Joy Stephens, Melissa Russo, and Sam Rice all of SCS Engineers
The technologies for operating and monitoring landfills are expanding and changing rapidly. Hear from several SCS Young Professionals about the exciting developments currently underway.
Food Recycling and Rescue – A Major City’s Three-Pronged Approach (Wednesday, Feb 22)
Speaker: Michelle Leonard, Vice President, SCS Engineers
Los Angeles County’s unincorporated area is home to almost 1 million people, and each year its communities dispose of approximately 128,000 tons of food. At the same time, approximately 1 in 7 individuals are food insecure, lacking regular access to quality nutritious meals. In the last three years, Los Angeles County Public Works has launched a number of programs to reduce wasted food. These include in-house recycling, food scraps collection, and edible food recovery. These programs have saved millions of pounds of food from going to waste. We will provide attendees with detailed information on food recycling and donation. Details will include how the programs were envisioned, the planning process undertaken by the County, the program results, and the County’s next steps, and will provide suggestions for how other communities can implement a successful food recycling and donation program.
Changing Air Rules for Landfills (Thursday, Feb 25)
Speaker: Mark Hammers, SCS Engineers
On March 26, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) finalized amendments to the 2003 National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) for Municipal Solid Waste Landfills. The NESHAP rules affect air permits and landfill gas system operating requirements for most active landfills. Some of the changes, like revised wellhead operational standards, may be welcomed by permittees. Other changes include additional monitoring requirements for wells operating at higher temperatures, and correction and clarification of Startup, Shutdown, and Malfunction (SSM) requirements. State agencies with air permitting authority are now incorporating the new NESHAP requirements into Title V permits. The interaction between the recently amended NESHAP rules and existing New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) rules (Subpart WWW and Subpart XXX) is creating some unique challenges. Learn about these unique challenges along with the history, applicability, timelines, and primary requirements of the revised NESHAP.