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How RDO Integrated Controls Creatively Solved a Wisconsin Landfill’s Connectivity Issues

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If all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.

Wisconsin in January is cold -- bitterly cold, with temperatures dipping to 20 below with wind chill. This fact was visibly apparent as members of our RDO Integrated Controls team exhaled clouds of conversation as we assessed the frozen garbage field. In the fading winter light, we planned our next move on where to place the two specially fabricated, solar powered radio-repeater stations. But these weren’t just any radio-repeater stations, they were a Rajant Radio 2.4 GHz wireless mesh system specifically tailored for Marathon County’s Bluebird Ridge Landfill; and RDOIC developed this solution while circumventing several formidable obstacles.

For landfills, Carlson Machine Control offers operators, engineers, and site managers the opportunity to omit traditional grade staking operations, increase garbage compaction efforts, and tighten up landfill slopes for federal (EPA) and state compliance standards. However, in order to produce the high accuracy of machine control, and take advantage of valuable data transfer, a combination of an Ultra High Frequency (UHF) radio signal, and a cellular (for data transmission) connection are required. It’s a fairly standard way to approach the connectivity problem on any landfill. Yet, in Bluebird’s case, the RDOIC landfill team had to get technically creative.

The cellular connection at the Bluebird Ridge site was around 1x, too poor for data transmission, and terrible as a connection to a local online server for an accurate GPS position to the landfill’s heavy equipment. Brainstorming, we opted for a robust 2.4 GHz wireless mesh network for both data transmission and GPS/GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) positioning. The landfill’s working face, where all incoming refuse is deposited and spread in layers, was hidden in a thick forest of massive pine trees; an issue for the line-of-sight Rajant system. Our solution was to install several solar powered radio stands on the perimeter of the working face (Fig 1.).

This configuration allows the 2.4GHz signal to easily bounce from one antenna to the next, providing solid terrestrial data transmission and, most importantly, accurate GPS positioning. We then layered the repeater stations over a Google Earth map to show equipment operators and management how their transmission signal appears in relation to their work area.  

Since its winter integration, the landfill personnel have adapted to the Carlson Machine Control system. They like the functionality, ease of use and overall support they’ve received from RDOIC. Were we not able to use a multifaceted technology approach with this site, this project may not have been feasible. Using our commitment to being a total solutions provider, our customer was able to find the right tool for the right job.


A professionally ground-up-designed and executed RDOIC solar stand with radio box & panels situated atop an old “capped” landfill cell. We were not allowed to pierce in any way, so we built a flat-bottomed unit which rests on top of the capped cell, weighted down by more than 400 pounds of rock and cement.

 


The Marathon County Landfill GPS/GNSS and UHF Base Station with computer server, developed by RDOIC team member James Fields.

If you have questions about Carlson Machine Control, or how RDOIC can improve your business's efficiency, contact us today.

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