In just two months, Qflow has successfully tracked over 8,400 tonnes of waste movements across a £500m highways contract, revealing 60% of waste transfer notes were non-compliant and saving the project £800,000 on an annual basis.
Case study overview

With over 400 alerts sent, the highways team were able to support their subcontractors in correctly completing the required waste transfer notes and ensuring the legal compliance of each waste movement from origin, to disposal facility.

Qflow was deployed at the central depot; responsible for maintaining 2,800 miles of carriageway, 2,500 miles of footways and 1,000 structures over the 10 year contract.

The Project and Challenges

Under the Environment Agency’s Duty of Care regulation, all waste movements from origin to disposal must be carried out by licenced organisations and accurately documented using Waste Transfer Notes.

There are over 15 gangs carrying out highway maintenance works across the country, generating road cuttings (waste comprising of a mix of tarmac and aggregates), and moving this waste to processing and disposal points. Tracking each batch of waste generated and ensuring that is it disposed of or recycled in the appropriate manner is a management nightmare.

With the Environment Agency cracking down on illegal waste transfers this has become an increasing risk to construction projects across the UK.

The Solution

Qflow integrated seamlessly with the existing workflow, making it easy for any gang of workers to pick it up and start capturing Waste Transfer Notes. Qflow provides a simple app, enabling teams to capture each waste transfer note in just two clicks. The Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology then extracts all the relevant information from the ticket and highlights where there is missing or inaccurate information, and if any of the licences listed are invalid. Qflow then sends an alert to the engineering team, enabling them to chase up the appropriate sub-contractor, ensuring the waste transfer notes are accurate.

Each of these notes is then recorded in a cloud-based portal that can be accessed by the team at any time in order to dig into the details of each note and view the photo copy.

The Benefits 

Reduced Risk: 

Qflow’s comprehensive analysis and alerts proved invaluable, highlighting 397 instances of non-compliance. If not followed up, these could have resulted in fines and the potential for permits/exemptions being revoked, halting critical works on the project.

Recent changes in legislation have also made it possible for the Environmental Agency to issue unlimited fines, and for HMRC to charge tax on illegally disposed waste.

The total saving due to reduced risk was estimated by the project as £846,232 per year.

Faster: 

By automating the data capture and auditing of these waste transfer notes, Qflow saved the project team countless hours of manually inputting data into spreadsheets and trawling through the muddied pieces of paper checking licence numbers and permit details.

This is something that humans find incredibly dull and is very prone to error, but machines can smash through this. Our technology is already picking up compliance data our manual checks missed, and it is learning with every new ticket we capture. This is the power that machine learning can bring to even the dullest of engineering tasks.

Moving forward

Accurately tracking waste compliance data is just the beginning. Qflow’s data science team are working with this and other data sets to unpick the complex interdependencies within the construction and asset management process, making it possible to identify opportunities to not only improve productivity, but also reduce waste generation all together.

Want to explore how Qflow can help track waste across your project? Reach out to our discovery team on info@qualisflow.com to arrange a demo.

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