The Work Order’s crucial role in waste management

   Hayden Nothnagel


Waste management and recycling is a hugely complex business to be in. Even the most ‘simple’ waste and recycling operation can involve hundreds of tasks and processes, all of which have to be kept track of and reported on. That’s why it’s crucial that the technology behind it all provides true integration – where every process links, is updated automatically, data flows seamlessly throughout, and reports are generated automatically and engineered to fully integrate with ERPs like SAP.

In this article, we’ll explain how a Waste Management Work Order is key to unlocking improved operational efficiency & cost savings for your business.

So, when it comes to providing Waste & Recycling One, (WR1), a software solution that standardises, integrates and automates all the processes and tasks involved in a waste and recycling business, it can be hard to understand how it’s possible to make this happen.

What is a Waste Management Work Order?

At a basic level, the Work Order is an instruction to go and collect or deliver a determined material type from a particular customer/supplier.

The Work Order will specify a defined time and day, and whether the order will be carried out using your own transport or subcontractor vehicle. The vehicle will then take that specific type of material to a certified place to be recycled, processed or disposed of. It is effectively a briefing document that follows a formalised process to ensure all parties have the correct information, and to avoid mistakes and misunderstandings.

How does a Work Order fit within Waste and Recycling business processes?

First, it’s important to understand all the different areas of a waste management business that a Work Order touches. While each waste management and recycling business has its own setup and operational focus, roughly speaking, they all have these four areas which will interact with the Waste Management Work Order:

  1. Buyers / Sellers e.g. clients buying and selling their services and/or companies buying and selling the material from them
  2. Hauling / Transport e.g. physically moving material, from collecting it to transporting it back to the depot, to transporting it to the next destination once it has been sorted for recycling and reprocessing
  3. Scales / Depot e.g. the crucial weighbridges that let you know what has come in or gone out and when, and then once the material has been processed what is going back out and when
  4. Finance e.g. managing accruals, ensuring the charges, costs, fees, taxes etc. are correct and ultimately guaranteeing the right money is being paid out, at the right time to the right companies and getting the money in.

Next, we start to get into the details of each. Understanding the detail is crucial, as there is so much of it. Once you understand the details of how to run a Waste and Recycling operation, you can see why it’s hard to integrate all the processes involved.#

The challenges of disparate waste management software

As waste management companies have embraced technology, disparate systems have been onboarded separately and at different times.

All of these systems are interrelated and a change in one may impact another, but that does not mean they all speak to each other and sync up correctly. And the issues mismatched data can cause leads to inefficiencies and delays in day-to-day operations.

Here is a basic example of one small aspect:

You normally collect waste from the local school. It’s holiday time so they want to pause this for 6 weeks. That ‘knowledge’ needs to be in the system. But school holiday dates can vary by a few days. So, they might phone in. Once that change has been made, the drivers need to know so they don’t go to the school. Finance, using SAP, needs to know so the school’s bill is reduced. Then when the school starts up and needs waste collection again, the drivers need to know, and Finance needs to know.

This involves multiple processes and tasks. They might be held in different software applications and systems. Some of these processes might still be manual and the data stored on a spreadsheet.

If the processes and tasks are not held in one integrated software application, problems can happen. Such as changes made in one place are not automatically made in another, so people can be working from out-of-date information.

The solution is to integrate all of these legacy systems into a single, smart solution, like Waste & Recycling One. The Work Order provides this crucial integration.

What is a Work Order in Waste & Recycling One?

As mentioned earlier, the Work Order is a formalised way of raising a task and includes all of the details that the various parties within the process need to know.

There are also additional Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and Service Level Agreements (SLAs) controlled in the Work Order and integrated to other mechanisms in the process. For example,did we collect the material within the timescale agreed in the SLA with the client?

This means that the Work Order contains a huge amount of information, which is linked to other sources of information and control. These include pricing for charging, payments for suppliers, routes, contracts and forecasts.

Once it has been compiled, using all these different sources of data, the Work Order is the control instruction. And because the data is all held in a consistent format, this allows for automated planning, such as grouping multiple Work Orders together to form a Route.

This results in a tightly controlled process from an initial Enquiry to a Quote through a Contract to a live Work Order with correct data all held in a single source. No more issues arising from things being forgotten, working from old information, inputting information manually or from several different software applications. The Work Order holds it all and is up to date.

A comprehensive way to bring all your data together

A good way to think about the Work Order is to imagine your organisation as a conveyor belt.

As the Work Order moves along the ‘conveyor belt’ each business ‘area’ contributes to it, but, instead of it being siloed in separate software applications and fixed, ALL the departments can be contributing to and viewing the Work Order at the same time. This is huge.


work order diagram

1. Buyers & Sellers ‘plan’ the Work Order instruction by determining what materials are to be collected from where, how and at what price, using one set of predetermined master data


2. Hauling & Transport plan and schedule the completed Work Order instruction with vehicles and teams ready to action


3. The inbound vehicle, the collected materials and any amends to the Work Order by the driver and teams arrive at the depot for weight, order, KPI & SLA confirmations. A planned Work Order is also completed for outbound materials


4. The operational Work Order is integrated to purchase & sales accounting processes, so confirmed prices based on materials, KPIs & SLAs are sent to accounts for processing.



What benefits can a Work Order bring to waste management companies? 

  • Transport can see the Work Order being completed on the vehicle.
  • Drivers and teams can interact with the Work Order on their device, raising a problem, such as a locked gate at a collection point, taking a photo, or confirming when it has been collected by onboard weighing.
  • If there’s a problem with the collection, then Customer Services are automatically notified. They can rectify the problem using information from the Work Order. Interactions with the customer are queued and logged in sequence and if necessary, penalty charges can be applied automatically.
  • As the Work Orders are scheduled to arrive at recycling or destination point at a specified day and time, the weighbridge knows exactly what Work Orders are arriving at the depot. The site can plan for the amount of materials on any given day or time to be recycled, aiding with capacity planning, recycling and reporting at the depot. Mass balancing input and output of materials.
  • Once the Work Order has been completed at the weighbridge, the Work Order then splits into payment information and charging information, as pricing has been held from a central repository. This can be altered through penalty or additional charges and the differences to planned vs actual weight or materials quality for example, captured at the weighbridge.
  • As Waste & Recycling One is integrated to Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software, the payments and charges are readily available as soon as processed. This means that Finance can run accounting transactions on and according to their desired accounting cycles.

Driving Waste Management Efficiency with the Work Order

When the Work Order is properly integrated across all systems, it really helps a business be more efficient.

Because Waste & Recycling One is one integrated system, it means when one thing changes, everyone can see it immediately and it is updated in all parts of the system.

The Work Order is at the heart of providing a truly integrated, simplified and automated software solution for waste management and recycling businesses.

Why isn’t this approach standard across the sector?

Because it’s really complicated to build and set up.

Some applications do have a Work Order type of system. However, our technology allows that Work Order to be published and interacted with across many different applications and devices.

Importantly, it has been engineered to integrate with SAP or other ERP Vendors. This means that data matches throughout the one integrated system.

To put it simply, you have an automated, integrated process from beginning to end in operations and with the result of correct accounting transactions.

You’re ensuring operational transactions are correct before they get to accounts. This allows Finance teams to get on with their tasks rather than track mistakes from different software applications used before an order gets to accounts. This speeds up purchasing and sales invoicing and gives a far more accurate and real time position of the business, which ultimately leads to improved cash flow.

This is important as generally separate waste recycling operational software applications have not been engineered to integrate with specific ERPs.

How does ISB Global provide a Work Order solution for its Waste and Recycling clients

It’s important to understand that every single waste management and recycling business is different. They operate in different areas of waste (or commodity trading). Some are brokers. Some may collect. Some may process. Some focus on one material. Some on all materials.

Then, they all have different processes and ways of doing things. They might have a bit of software for Finance, another for Hauling, one for Weighbridge. Next, add in the human ‘bits’ such as, ‘Tom in Finance found the Accruals not really working in the system so he manages that on a Spreadsheet’ and it gets more tricky.

So, we start by really understanding what’s going on in each of our client’s businesses. While we have over 17 years of experience in meeting the needs of waste and recycling businesses around the world and perfecting our Waste and Recycling One Solution, we always spend lots of time with each new client mapping out the processes for their specific business.

We have to make sure that all their pieces of software, spreadsheets, manual processes and everything else are identified, captured. We then set up Waste and Recycling One for them knowing that what feeds into each of their Work Orders is correct.

The flexibility to adapt to each business

While Waste & Recycling One is ‘preconfigured’ so it meets the needs of most waste and recycling operations and covers most business processes, we can also develop ERP, and the WR1 Core and Extension modules. We do this using the low code platform, OutSystems. This allows for some serious innovations completely designed to meet the individual needs of each client. It’s exciting and great to know that what we provide the clients with is what they actually need in their business.

All Hail the Work Order – the key to Creating and Managing Instructions to Perform and Report on a Job.

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A version of this article first appeared on LinkedIn at:

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