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.
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
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” We’ve all heard that proverb before, and it’s true – it’s generally easier to stop something from happening than to repair the damage after it has happened.
This is almost always the case when it comes to environmental incidents – it is cheaper to prevent the incident from occurring than paying for the cleanup and impacts the incident caused. Many of SCS’s service areas are specifically focused on prevention and optimization – doing the job in ways that are better, safer, and more protective of human health and the environment.
Environmental insurance is a product that most SCS clients likely have in place in some form to protect their facilities, employees, and neighbors from the harmful impacts of incidents that can introduce contamination into the air, soil, groundwater, or surface water. The types of coverage provided by environmental insurance policies vary in both extent and cost, and many factors, one of which being risk, drive those costs. When an insurance company is underwriting coverage for a new or existing client, the risk associated with that coverage is carefully evaluated. What the client (insured) does, how they do it, their safety record, their history of previous environmental issues, and other factors are all taken into consideration when writing an environmental insurance policy and the associated premium and deductible are determined.
To reduce the up-front costs (the premium) associated with carrying the necessary and appropriate amount of environmental insurance, the insured can do several things. One is to increase their deductible, but in the event of an incident, that could end up costing the insured more on the back end (i.e., costs expended to investigate and remediate an incident). Insureds, their brokers, and the insurers will work closely to balance premium costs and deductibles so that the costs associated with addressing an incident are not detrimental.
An insured shouldn’t reduce the type and amount of coverage – that could put them in a bad financial (and legal!) position. A more prudent choice, one that has many potential positive aspects and makes sound business sense, is reducing risk and therefore the costs associated with an environmental insurance policy that is based on coverage and risk.
SCS Engineers develops proprietary remote monitoring and control software for landfills, manufacturing, and industrial facilities called SCS RMC®. The software provides remote real-time viewing, analysis, and control of equipment and systems critical to safe operations and production. A network of sensors and Machine-to-Machine (M2M) applications enable operations teams to be alerted immediately (via cell phones, computers, tablets) of any operational issues that could potentially result in an environmental incident.
The application reduces reaction time, labor costs, and potential associated impacts. In this case, SCS RMC® puts the client’s decision-making in front of a problem rather than reacting to potential aftermaths, proactively reducing the potential environmental risks of their operations.
SCS’s service areas, including those listed here, are particularly focused on providing our clients with assistance in designing, building, and maintaining sustainable solutions, reducing risk, and helping to foresee and adapt to environmental, social, and regulatory changes:
SCS’s professionals are available to assist our clients in their discussions with brokers and insurers regarding how our environmental services and technologies can potentially reduce risks associated with their operations. We do this by providing creative and cost-effective solutions and guidance that can prevent environmental incidents from occurring and reducing the nature and extent of associated impacts.
We can help you select and implement the “ounce of prevention” so that you won’t have to face the “pound of cure.” This will proactively reduce operational risks, which can, in turn, help facilitate the positive brokering of more favorable environmental insurance coverage, premiums, and deductibles.
About the Author: Michael Schmidt is an accomplished leader with nearly 30 years of progressively-responsible experience in the environmental consulting and environmental insurance industries, with specific experience focusing on the evaluation of environmental risks and liabilities associated with insurance claims and underwriting, site investigation and remediation, due diligence, and project management.
Learn more about Waste Management’s Award at minute 30:54 of the video conference recording. Congratulations to the Waste Management Team!
The Ignition Firebrand Awards recognize system integrators such as SCS Engineers and industrial firms for their use of technology to create innovative solutions.
Today at the virtual Ignition Community Conference, Waste Management (WM) is accepting the 2020 Firebrand Award for its landfill technology and automation platform advances. The Company designed an internal solution then contracted with SCS Engineers’ RMC Practice, and Vertech Industrial Solutions to deploy WM’s new innovative ‘Connected Landfills’ pilot.
“Waste Management is excited to be recognized for our innovative work and use of new technologies,” said Bryan Tindell, vice president of disposal operations at Waste Management. “Striving for the most innovative and advanced technology in the world of waste helps ensure we are able to continue providing essential services for residents, customers and our communities. The use of advanced technology has also introduced new ways of working for our employees, further elevating their daily experience and streamlining our processes.”
WM’s Connected Landfills system was first piloted at the West Edmonton Landfill in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. The pilot proved to simplify workflows, equipping landfill assets with internet-connected devices and sensors. Technicians are able to review data remotely via dashboards on mobile devices, allowing them to monitor changes, make decisions and even directly interact with equipment with the push of a button. With less time spent in transit, landfill employees will be able to spend more time managing landfills’ productivity and health.
“The integration of remote monitoring and control helps make landfill operations more efficient, sustainable, and creates a safer environment for landfill staff and the surrounding community,” said Dave Hostetter, regional manager of SCS RMC®. “That the innovation is being recognized as well is gratifying.”
This design and integration advances WM’s existing environmental management platform by increasing worker safety, the user experience, and running the landfill systems efficiently. It also supports Waste Management’s commitment to ensuring public safety and environmental protection for landfill staff and the surrounding community. Landfills, and the municipalities and companies that operate landfills use sophisticated technology to manage the complex environmental systems that keep citizens and the air, water, and soil surrounding landfills healthy. Ongoing collection of data from these assets, often collected by checking meters positioned throughout landfill sites, is essential for landfills’ safe operation.
Waste Management operates the largest network of landfills in the industry, managing the disposal of almost 100 million tons of waste every year at over 250 sites across Canada and the US. Based on the pilot’s success, WM plans to expand the Connected Landfills system to other sites throughout North America.
About Waste Management
Waste Management, based in Houston, Texas, is the leading provider of comprehensive waste management environmental services in North America. Through its subsidiaries, the Company provides collection, transfer, disposal services, and recycling and resource recovery. It is also a leading developer, operator and owner of landfill gas-to-energy facilities in the United States. The Company’s customers include residential, commercial, industrial, and municipal customers throughout North America. To learn more information about Waste Management, www.wm.com.
About SCS Engineers
SCS Engineers’ environmental solutions and technology are a direct result of our experience and dedication to |solid waste management and other industries responsible for safeguarding the environment while delivering products and services. For more information about SCS, please visit our website at scsengineers.com or watch our 50th Anniversary video.
In the wake of COVID-19, the ability to remotely access and control critical processes is not only recommended for industrial organizations — it has become absolutely essential. Ignition Premier Integrators, such as SCS Engineers, make it seamless to set up remote control on any systems used at landfills; however, you should take the proper steps to keep your process safe from threats.
In this timely webinar, experts from Inductive Automation and SCS Engineers will show you why Ignition is such a powerful platform for remote process control solutions, and they’ll share best practices for getting the most out of it.
San Bernardino County’s almost 500-acre San Timoteo landfill upgraded with gas monitoring and controls that manage its four blowers, flare station, pumps, valves, thermocouples, and other devices. There are 340 tags, 16 screens and more than 50 alarms monitored and managed by web-based SCADA software. Simpler, streamlined SCADA is more capable and closely connected, and less costly for landfill gas monitoring and control.
San Timoteo added options such as 3D imaging from flying drones and augmented reality (AR) displays. After flying the site, the imagery is uploaded to update its map and create point-cloud graphics. Aerial data is used to create topographic mapping, 2D images, 3D renderings, and GIS, thermal and tunable diode laser (TDL) images for methane leak detection.
Landfill operators and managers can remotely view the site using a mobile device, and “walk the site” from their offices or anywhere using the HoloLens.
Now nearly all landfills can afford to gather data with Ethernet and wireless networking, analyze data with sophisticated software, and display it on ubiquitous interfaces including tablet PCs and smartphones. The trick is applying the technologies in applications that enable more effective decisions.
Inductive Automation® announced the software firm now recognizes SCS Engineers as a Premier Integrator. Premier Integrators have a high level of commitment, professionalism, and competency using the Ignition software. They must consistently produce high-quality work and must consistently demonstrate successful projects with very satisfied end-users.
SCS uses Inductive Automation’s Ignition supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) software in their solution because it is a proven state of the art software, which works well with cloud-based systems and the internet of things (IoT). It allows clients to easily control, track, manage and report on their processes.
Large landfills, counties with multiple landfills, and private waste management firms have been waiting several years for SCADA software to catch up to their business needs. Landfill operations are extremely complex and expensive since they monitor and manage multiple systems to protect the public from contamination to the air, water, or soil. There are typically multiple operations active on many sites, such as waste recovery, recycling, composting, Gas Collection and Control Systems (GCCS), and renewable energy plants.
SCS Remote Monitoring and Control®, or SCS RMC® provides a next-generation option to monitor and control systems, and see the data collected and the systems in action. It allows users to control their systems remotely, collect data and use the data to enhance their productivity, reduce their operations and maintenance (O&M) costs, and reduce their environmental risk. Other offered services include 3D imaging from drones and virtual reality (VR). SCS uses aerial data collected via drones to compose topographic mapping, 2D images, 3D renderings, GIS, thermal, infrared (IR), and methane leak detection for waste facilities. The SCS RMC® team can take rendered models and apply them into virtual reality (VR) headset as well, which allows decision-makers at waste management facilities and organizations to “walk the site” from anywhere.
Current clients save Operating & Monitoring (O&M) costs and reduce human error by generating internal and regulatory reports automatically, using data automatically collected by the system. They can also receive instant notification of malfunctions and can troubleshoot these notifications remotely.
Not only for landfills, until recent years the public did not realize the long-term value of recycling nor the associated costs. Some clients use SCS RMC® to monitor dumpsters and recycling receptacles for collection. This helps keep waste and recycling inside the container, collection schedules more efficient, and overall operations less costly.
Manufacturing, industrial facilities, and ports use remote monitoring and control for real-time viewing, analysis, and control of equipment and systems critical to production and safe operations, often for air monitoring.
Galen Petoyan, Senior Vice President of Field Services states, “We fully embrace SCS RMC® within SCS Field Services® because the software allows us to provide more value to our clients; our technicians and engineers can avert problems, and when needed, provide rapid, efficient, and accurate analysis and action.”
To support the growing use of technology by municipalities, in waste management, and by industrial and manufacturing clients, SCS Engineers is opening new offices. The newest office is in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The office provides environmental engineering, consulting, and is the base for the east coast SCS Remote Monitoring and Control® (RMC) professionals.
The office is the third SCS location in Pennsylvania, and is located at:
1861 Charter Lane
Lancaster, PA 17601
SCS RMC® works closely with the firm’s business sectors developing software, applications, and support services, which harness technology to capture, track and evaluate environmental data, provide remote monitoring and controls, and drone services with advanced capabilities.
The SCS RMC® platform and applications help public and private clients control their equipment remotely, collect data and use the data to enhance their productivity, reduce their operations and maintenance costs, and reduce their environmental risk. The tools are versatile; SCS programmers, engineers, and scientists are available to develop custom applications meeting a spectrum of industrial environmental objectives for groundwater, leachate, air monitoring, and landfill gas management.
SCS RMC® uses a network of sensors and Machine-to-Machine (M2M) applications to help minimize equipment downtime by alerting staff to maximize production or to an operational safety issue. The system supports additional monitoring components as operations grow, providing facility owners and operators with a single secure application for their supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA), data management, and reporting needs.
SCS RMC® is experiencing exponential growth, as industrial operations need technology most when reaction time is essential to avoid production downtime and continue operations within regulatory mandates to maintain public safety standards.
The Ignition Firebrand Awards recognize system integrators and industrial organizations that create innovative industry solutions.
SCS Engineers and partner Corso Systems jointly received a 2019 Firebrand Award yesterday at the annual Ignition Community Conference. The firms won recognition for their next-generation visualization and control system for landfills.
SCS and Corso use SCS’s Remote Monitoring and Control, or SCS RMC® to upgrade and provide a flexible, scalable platform integrated with Ignition 8 and Ignition Perspective. The next-generation options include 3D imaging from drones and virtual reality (VR). SCS uses aerial data from their drones to compose topographic mapping, 2D images, 3D renderings, GIS, thermal, near-infrared (NIR), and methane leak detection for waste facilities.
After flying the San Timoteo Landfill, uploading the imagery, and mapping the facility, they embed both the 2D images and 3D rendering into Perspective. The team can take those rendered images and apply them into a Microsoft HoloLens VR headset as well, which allows decision-makers at San Bernardino County to “walk the site” from their offices. Now, landfill executives and operators can view their sites remotely from any device, anywhere. Other benefits include:
The firms and SCS RMC® have received a tremendous amount of positive feedback. SCS RMC® is now rolling out similar solutions at more landfills, for pipelines, and other industrial applications. A video on the 2019 ICC Award website explains how the system works and what landfill owners and operators can expect.
Well done and congratulations on providing superior client service!
Do you glaze over when the tech-speak starts? In our blog, we’ll try to prevent that from happening while describing new technology for landfills and industrial use. We’ve merged our SCS Engineers technology with some new web-based technology that will make your landfill, facility, or plant safer for workers and help lower operational costs. Not only that, with SCS Dataservices® (already on over 600 landfills) you will have a complete and accurate record at your disposal.
You can find information on our website, but here we describe the most exciting new Remote Monitoring and Control (RMC) options:
SCS owns a small fleet of no-crew aerial vehicles (UAVs) and employs licensed UAV pilots nationwide. The use of UAV technology, commonly known as drones, can produce photogrammic and aerial photographic imagery offering site owners and operators the ability to take measurements from photographs, especially useful for recovering the exact positions of surface points quickly and efficiently. Some of the benefits of UAVs are:
SCS deploys UAV technology on a case-by-case basis as an adjunct to our RMC® services. We also offer to consult and training on the implementation of UAV programs at solid waste and other facilities.
SCS can also present real-time data in mixed reality environments (e.g., Microsoft HoloLens2). Augmented 3D facilitates the difficult task of visualizing actual and conceptual site conditions. Another application of reality technology includes analyzing landfills in more than three dimensions by combining multiple datasets. These 4D models enable operators to view conditions over time, providing the ability to detect and measure changes and insight into the benefits of critical infrastructure such as earthworks and systems. One could add costs as a 5th dimension to visualize the resources, time and money needed to move solid materials.
The SCS RMC® team integrates web-based technology called Ignition 8 into our client solutions. An Inductive Automation product, Ignition 8 enables us to build dynamic industrial applications that automatically respond to each client’s unique perspective.
Ignition Perspective enables us to build full SCADA, HMI, and alarm systems, and provide clients with a mobile view of their operations via smartphones and other mobile devices. Full-control of industrial processes is more mobile, customizable, scalable, and secure than ever before. For example, one of our clients uses advanced SCS RMC® – Ignition Perspective HTML 5 integration for remote access and control of piping and instrumentation diagrams that stream live sensor data. The application reduces O&M costs by: