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Eureka Recycling

Implementing a Smart Fleet System for Improved Trust, Transparency and Efficiencies

Eureka Recycling is a non-profit social enterprise based in Minneapolis-Saint Paul that services over 120,000 households per week. With a mission to demonstrate that waste is preventable and not inevitable, it is the only organization in Minnesota that specializes in zero waste. Eureka’s commitment to more sustainable operations runs deep: Its collection fleet was the first in the state and one of the first in the nation to run entirely on B-20 biodiesel. Eureka also has diesel oxidation catalysts (DOCs) on its trucks to reduce particulate emissions.

Eureka has long-term contracts to provide recycling services to the cities of Minneapolis, Saint Paul, White Bear Lake, Roseville, Shoreview, and Lauderdale.

case studies - Eureka Recycling
"For our comprehensive and complex needs, we felt FleetMind was the best vendor."
Kate Davenport, Co-President of Eureka Recycling

The challenges

A few years ago, Eureka significantly upgraded its fleet to accommodate a switch from curbside bin collection to collection of carts in alleys as part of its contract with the City of St. Paul and its constituents. As a first step they purchased 21 new trucks, including 17 McNeilus trucks, which afforded them many enhanced semi-automated benefits. They started reviewing technology solutions and vendors in the industry for an onboard computing system (OBC) to provide optimized fleet monitoring, efficiencies and safety benefits. Specifically, Eureka wanted to improve:

  1. Operational, routing and fuel efficiencies
  2. Safety for both collections workers and residents
  3. Visibility into detailed truck and driver activity
  4. Detailed tracking of customer service activities to help improve response times
  5. Integration of data/processes between routes

The selection process

Eureka spent nearly three years reviewing OBC vendors and capabilities in the marketplace. They knew their needs were complex and would require extensive customization to accommodate a complete re-route of the city, including the detailed incorporation of small alleyways often difficult to map via GPS. McNeilus Trucks introduced Eureka to FleetMind Solutions, part of the Safe Fleet family of companies. McNeilus has a partnership with FleetMind for its FleetLink Vision OBC system on both new and after-market vehicles. After an exhaustive review process, FleetMind was selected for the comprehensive and customizable attributes of its solution.

The solution

Of Eureka’s fleet of 25 vehicles, almost all were to be upgraded to the FleetLink fleet management system. This included:

  • In-cab smart display with hands-free, turn by turn directions for drivers, along with electronic route sheet notifications.
  • GPS tracking and telematics for improved customer service and real-time tracking of trucks, route progress, carts and related activities.
  • DVR system and 360-degree cameras for enhanced driver and public safety, improved service verification, and an expanded ability to easily capture all service exceptions.

The rollout

"Deploying the FleetMind system was like going from a rotary phone to an iPhone overnight." - Kate Davenport

Eureka's ambitious and phased rollout plan commenced in mid-2016 in preparation for the launch of the new fleet and routes in January 2017. This posed a number of significant challenges in terms of system customization, user adoption and change management.

The rollout schedule allowed for just four months of driver training. There was a tremendous amount for drivers to learn and master in that timeframe – new semi-automated trucks, new routes and new technology that would essentially change the way they work. It was a completely new experience for frontline staff, and, as with any change management, there was significant hesitation about the change.

"Our drivers had a lot of frustrations at first. Now, they can’t live without it." - Kate Davenport

As the rollout progressed, a great deal of customization was required. A complex system of alleys and variable lot sizes had to be incorporated into daily routing. In addition, the dense urban setting with carts and containers in close proximity required a detailed and accurate tracking system. Eureka worked with the FleetMind team throughout 2017 to tweak and customize the system to meet Eureka’s exacting routing and reporting requirements.

"The rollout demands were intense. In all, it took a year to fine tune the system to what we wanted and to get our team in sync. FleetMind worked with us throughout the process to figure out the best way to implement the system for our needs." - Kate Davenport

The benefits

The benefits of the FleetMind deployment have thus far proved noteworthy and far-ranging.

Better frontline collaboration and trust

Previously, when customers called to complain about missed pickups and other issues, it often came down to a ‘who do you believe’ scenario. For example, customer service staff had an irate customer on the phone saying their recycling wasn't picked up, while drivers insisted the recycling hadn't been put out. This created tension between frontline teams. With the FleetLink system and camera/DVR systems, this type of scenario is now a thing of the past. Customer service personnel can verify if containers were placed out on time and provide any required evidence to customers, creating a much more positive environment of trust and collaboration between drivers and customer service staff. No more finger pointing!

"Drivers like that the FleetLink system provides documentation on the route so that they feel supported in their decisions and get targeted training when needed." - Kate Davenport

Routing efficiencies

Eureka used FleetMind Route System to perform an entire re-route of the city to ensure more accurate tracking and routing. This in turn enabled dramatic efficiencies by optimizing daily routes, reducing missed stops and ensuring wireless delivery of electronic route sheets to drivers. In addition, if a driver calls in sick, dispatch can now quickly re-direct other drivers to cover the route which eliminates miscommunication as to how the open route will be covered.

"FleetLink Route System allowed us to eliminate one route per day within two months!" - Kate Davenport

Improved safety and visibility

Eureka wanted to ensure maximum safety for both its workers and residents. The new semi-automatic trucks helped to reduce risk for drivers. In addition, the FleetMind camera systems and mobile DVR further allowed drivers to capture and avoid unsafe situations. With 360-degree views around the truck, drivers can now capture video of activities from all angles, virtually eliminate blind spot areas, and secure evidence for accident and dispute resolution.

Eliminating unnecessary trips

A significant side benefit to installing FleetMind camera systems was the elimination of unnecessary trips. For example, when customers call to complain about a non-pickup, Eureka can now provide evidence as to whether recycling was or was not put out. This has dramatically reduced the number of unscheduled, and costly, retrieval trips.

"If you prevent just five unnecessary trips per day, the camera system pays for itself." - Kate Davenport

Better reporting

Having a municipal recycling collections contract also means tracking performance statistics and key productivity indicators. With FleetLink Reports' enterprise reporting capabilities, Eureka can now be more responsive to the municipality, identify and solve problems faster, improve operational efficiency, meet targeted goals, make better-informed decisions, and capture the information required to better align the organization with its municipal clients.


Eureka celebrated its 17th birthday in November 2018. Over the years, Eureka has both led and significantly influenced the Zero Waste movement in its community. It has served over 500,000 people and 120,000 residences, and recycled well over 1 billion pounds of material! It has also supported the local economy with more than 100 living wage jobs and has consistently provided environmental benefits to the communities it serves. Now, with its new fleet and fleet management technologies, Eureka has ensured that the trucks it sends out on its communities’ streets every day to collect waste are smarter, safer, greener and more accountable.