Long-term growth prospects to be stimulated by advanced data analytics, electrification, automation/robotics, autonomous trucks together with novel waste-to-energy solutions.
Technological innovation in the form of advanced data analytics, electrification, automation/robotics and autonomous trucks, together with novel waste-to-energy solutions, are set to support long-term growth in the global refuse hauler market. This will be further reinforced by business model transformation.
Against a backdrop of rapid urbanization, demand from municipal authorities for systematic waste management will increase. Major markets like China, the US, Europe, and India will all show steady growth. While developing markets will exhibit higher potential for volume growth, technological and business model innovations will spur growth in developed markets.
For instance, electric power trains are poised to see rapid uptake in developed markets such as the US and Europe, spurred by stringent regulations aimed at reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Accordingly, alternate fuelled trucks (fuel cell electric, electric, natural gas) are projected to steadily increase their share of refuse hauler sales in developed markets by 2030. This will be paralleled by the rising adoption of advanced data analytics and smart truck technologies in these markets. For example, the appeal of autonomous trucks will derive from the multiple benefits that they offer: improved cost and fuel savings, enhanced safety as well as superior time, resource, and operational efficiencies.
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Alternative fuels, waste-to-energy solutions, and automation to reshape market dynamics
Frost & Sullivan research highlights three key trends that will shape the global refuse hauler market till 2030: alternative fuels, waste-to-energy solutions, and automation and data analytics.
In a bid to minimize emissions, increase efficiency, and promote sustainable practices, many refuse hauler manufacturers and operators have been exploring the potential of alternative fuels. While diesel will continue to be the primary fuel till the end of the decade, promising options are already emerging in the form of biodiesel, battery electric, natural gas, and hydrogen fuel cells, among others.
Multiple benefits are associated with a switch to these new fuels: they align with the need for urban and intermittent operations, support lower maintenance costs, are low or zero emissions, and reduce noise pollution. However, before the shift occurs, challenges like the slow pace of infrastructure development, lack of supply chain readiness, high capital investments, and range anxiety will need to be addressed.
The second trend relates to the integration of automation and robotics technologies and the use of telematics and data analytics in the refuse hauler market, as regulatory pressures motivate technology-driven product innovation.
For example, compared to manual loaders which require operators to physically mount and dump bins into the hauler, automatic side loaders carry out such tasks automatically. This promotes higher efficiency and safety, and, in conjunction with waste compaction, higher productivity. Similarly, smart trucks deploy an array of technologies both on board as well as off board that boost productivity, safety, reliability, traceability, and efficiency.
AI in refuse trucks cover a wide range of use cases. These include sorting and waste segregation based on imagery input in real time, predictive maintenance and automatic maintenance scheduling, end-to-end tracking of waste, route optimization, and integration of sustainable practices in the waste life cycle.
Over the long-term, such smart truck solutions—AI enabled cameras, integrated software/app suite for tracking, route optimization and service verification, smart bins, automated side loader technology and telematic solutions for fleet management, among them—will open the way for the use of autonomous driving technologies.
The third trend that will shape dynamics in the global refuse hauler market is innovative waste-to-energy solutions. Here, a focus on circularity—where energy recovery from waste is ploughed back into refuse hauler fleet operations to make the entire cycle of waste management sustainable from end-to-end—will underline the emergence of transformative new business models.
Market Headed for Rapid Transformation
Rapid technological and business model innovation is likely to result in market consolidation. Leading market participants will look to inorganic growth strategies such as partnerships with startups, joint ventures, and mergers & acquisitions to expand market share. Simultaneously, startups are likely to trigger ecosystem disruption with niche products and solutions.
Strategic partnerships, cross-industry collaborations, accelerated technological development, and heightened competition will become the norm as smart trucks, alternate fuel use, and new waste-to-energy business models take centerstage.
As the global refuse hauler market transforms, we will see intensified interest in value chain integration across the waste management space as well as the development of mature business strategies like service relationship management, data driven parts inventory management, and digital waste management solutions.
With inputs from Amrita Shetty, Senior Manager, Communications & Content – Mobility