Issue 6
Tuesday, 06 August 2019
Charles Darwin University
E-news
From left: Dr Deepika Mathur, Dr Bharani Shanmugam, Sami Azam, Danny Sneddon and Professor Rolf Gerritsen at the Smart Skip launch
From left: Dr Deepika Mathur, Dr Bharani Shanmugam, Sami Azam, Danny Sneddon and Professor Rolf Gerritsen at the Smart Skip launch

Smart idea skips to real-world building site

By Patrick Nelson

The Smart Skips initiative developed by Charles Darwin University to better manage construction waste could have global implications, depending on the outcome of the pilot project under way in Alice Springs.

Four smart skips fitted with weight and visual sensors have been installed at a building site in the Red Centre in a bid to improve the efficiency of onsite sorting within the construction industry.

Each skip is to be filled with different types of waste: concrete and bricks, steel, and two for mixed waste.

Research Fellow Dr Deepika Mathur from CDU’s Northern Institute said the launch at Albrecht Oval, where a grandstand was under construction, was a good illustration of how small-scale and local-level innovation could produce something with national or international ramifications.

“Using Internet of Things technology (the extension of Internet connectivity into everyday objects), the sensors will transmit data to the site supervisor and waste collection operator regarding fill levels, future fill rates and optimal collection time,” Dr Mathur said.

“We expect this will increase efficiency in onsite sorting and material recovery of construction waste.”

With the assistance of colleagues Professor Rolf Gerritsen, Dr Bharani Shanmugam, Sami Azam, Danny Sneddon and Rohan Badenhop, Dr Mathur said the project was a great example of higher education, the VET sector, industry and local government working together to address a real-world issue.

“We will fine-tune the prototype, but it has the potential to be used wherever skips are overflowing. They could be installed in remote communities, town camps or scaled up for waste management at land fill sites in big cities.”

Dr Mathur said construction waste was the largest single source of waste to landfill, making up more than 30% nationally.

“Studies show that on-site sorting of construction material is one of the most efficient ways of sorting construction and demolition waste. If waste is sent to a management facility already sorted there is a higher chance the material can be reused or recycled.”

The project was funded by the Australian Government's Smart Cities and Suburbs Program.