Method Recycling needed to transform traditional recycling bins into IoT devices for waste management, but faced challenges amid supply chain shortages.
Golioth's single platform solution allowed Method Recycling to efficiently manage both legacy and new devices. It simplified data transmission to InfluxDB and accelerated firmware engineering workflows, saving significant engineering time.
Replatforming with Golioth streamlined fleet management for Method Recycling. It simplified device connectivity, data flow, and enhanced efficiency, reducing the need for backend services.
Recycling Bins Don’t Talk to the Internet–But We Need Them To
When it comes to net zero waste, data is everything. How full is your bin? When? What is it filled with? All of these questions help us understand how to better manage waste, recycling, and reuse. Method Recycling has grown a strong business around building a waste-to-data pipeline that helps organizations understand and better manage their waste profiles.
“We developed an IoT product called Method InSight, which collects real-time waste data from people’s rubbish and recycling bins,” explains Eli Thomas, Head of Technology at Method Recycling. He elaborates, “We operate normally in office settings and commercial spaces. Our product allows them to measure their waste in real time and use that data for compliance reporting and to help cleaning teams be more efficient. The crux behind it was to help businesses towards a waste-zero model, so reducing the amount of waste that’s going to landfill.”
“The way that companies often measure waste is quite manual. Manually recording, managing, and sharing the data. With our solution, we’re able to automate that for campuses at scale,” Thomas explains.
However, building a real-time waste solution during the supply chain shortage proved more difficult than anticipated.
“Product development was a 3-year process. During that time, we ran into challenges with the silicon supply shortages. We found it difficult to get our hands on our particular cellular model, so we had to shop around for a different solution. Plus, we wanted to update our hardware to address improvements to battery life, for example.” Thomas explains.
“We looked at everything at the market. We looked at other solutions that offered modules, but they didn’t offer the flexibility we were looking for. Being able to run off the back of Zephyr RTOS was extremely compelling from a firmware perspective, and being hardware agnostic was a big deal. Golioth was the only one to allow us to manage our legacy and new devices using a single platform that met our standards for device-to-cloud security.”
One Platform for All Devices
“I think we’re pretty much using every feature available from Golioth,” observes Thomas, “Even for our legacy devices we use releases or OTAs. We use blueprints to help manage between new and legacy devices. We use the logging features, LightDB State, and LightDB Stream for all the events of the devices and output streams with InfluxDB.”
When managing a fleet of legacy devices and new devices, keeping fleet management to a single system helps teams stay efficient. “We wanted to be able to hook our legacy devices into Golioth for two reasons. One, for device management reasons, and the other was we wanted both our legacy and new device data to flow through Golioth. It makes it a lot easier to manage it all with a single platform,” explains Thomas.
Re-platforming with Golioth had immediate positive effects for the Method Recycling team. Thomas shares, “We were able to remove three hand-built backend services and two data stores. Not having to maintain those additional five pieces of software on the backend means we can spend more time building our product and enhancements for our product.”
Thomas explains, “As we scale to thousands of devices on Golioth, the amount of time we’ve been able to invest back into product development means we’ve been able to get more early-mover advantages because we haven’t had to worry about device infrastructure with Golioth.”
Diverting Waste From Landfills with Net-Zero Toil
“I first shared Golioth with one of our firmware engineers. I asked him to get a development board and hook it up to Golioth,” recalls Thomas, “He logged in Golioth and got the device hooked up before lunchtime. And he said, ‘Man, is it supposed to be this easy?’ and I replied, ‘Yeah, this is how it’s supposed to be.’”
Thomas expressed, “The onboarding experience for firmware engineers is super seamless. The device just came online and connected and started sending data versus what we did in the past: spending hours and hours writing custom communication protocols, and messing around just to get things to work. You could see that our firmware engineer was excited about Golioth.”
An important feature of the Golioth platform is the ability to create Output Streams. Output Streams allow for more flexibility and a separation of concerns when it comes to making changes to cloud-based APIs without disrupting firmware engineering workflows.
Thomas explained, “One of the things we really needed was a way to send our device output right to InfluxDB. Golioth made that happen for us. As soon as the InfluxDB output stream was in place we could begin bringing legacy devices over.”
“The output stream into InfluxDB was critical for us. Golioth ensured that could happen for us. Going from device to data store meant we didn’t have to have to touch anything in between.” Thomas asserted, “That critical feature enabled us to move forward with moving legacy devices onto the platform.”
“Migrating legacy devices isn’t easy from a technical perspective. But we’ve created a solution that enables us to keep the existing firmware on our legacy devices while keeping things secured. Essentially they just talk to a small piece of our existing infrastructure and that sends all our data to Golioth.”