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Automated waste collection

Published 9th December, 2014 by Neil Nixon

Automated waste collection

Worcestershire manufacturer, Taylor, has helped pave the way for automated waste collection within the healthcare sector following North Bristol NHS Trust's decision to combine Taylor's container solutions with Swisslog's automated guided vehicles (AGVs).

As part of the Southmead Hospital redevelopment it was decided that AGVs would be introduced to transport waste, linen, food, consumables, pharmaceuticals and instrumentation. Using this state-of-the-art technology reduces the manual handling elements of moving these items and frees up portering time to deliver patient-facing services.

The hospital approached Taylor with a specific brief to create a solution that had a capacity of 800 litres, would sit atop Swisslog's TransCar, and be flush with the vehicles' edges. With space at a premium it also needed to enable the segregation of three waste steams at any one time within the 49 disposal holds in the new Brunel building. Taylor's research and development team created a bespoke version of its Duo Bin, a split-lid bin resting on a dividing plate to enable the collection of two waste streams within one footprint, and a smaller version of its standard container.

The hospital now has 12 AGVs responsible for transporting 158 Taylor containers throughout the hospital. Collections are made when the AGV positions itself under the Taylor bin before lifting the bin into place and automatically transporting them to disposal holds at pre-programmed destinations.

Esther Coffin-Smith, sustainable development manager at North Bristol NHS Trust, said: “The results have been fantastic. Before the AGVs were available there was a significant amount of manual handling both when moving bins from the collection points and sorting waste at the point of disposal. Now, two receptacles handle three waste streams and waste no longer needs to be touched once it has been placed into a bin. To improve segregation we've also introduced magnetic pictorial bin labels, which enable hospital staff to easily identify which waste streams go where. Without metal bins we could never have adopted such an easy and effective labelling system. We've also worked with Taylor and our compactor provider, Dicom, to ensure that the bins are fully compatible with our waste management equipment.”

The magnetic labelling system is based on three colour-coded magnetic A4 posters: black for landfill waste, blue for recyclables and yellow for offensive waste. Once the containers have been emptied a magnetic poster is placed onto the front of the bin, alerting staff throughout the building to the waste type currently being collected.

Jamie Roberts, technical engineering manager at Taylor, said: “Not only does Southmead have its own tailor-made containers, but they also conform to EN840 standards having been through our rigorous in-house testing scheme, the only one in the UK. Automated waste collection within the healthcare sector represents a simple and tangible way in which hospitals can increase efficiency, save money, minimise health and safety risks, and add value to their healthcare programme. Having created a unique product for the sector that's proving to be a success, we now expect this to become a key product within the Taylor portfolio.”

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