Business Challenge

Upcoming regulations for waste management operators mean that multi-utility company HERA in Italy faces a raft of new audit, compliance and environmental challenges to win tenders and expand its reach.


Working with IBM Services, HERA replaced paper-based systems with an integrated, automated SAP landscape, and introduced mobile technology enabled by IBM® WebSphere® Application Server.


Accurate, timely

information on waste collection gives evidence to prove regulatory compliance


visibility and control of waste management operations helps HERA deliver better service


streets and satisfied citizens boost HERA’s reputation

Business Challenge Story

Seeking ways to transform waste management

Forthcoming regulations on waste management services will soon fuel aggressive competition to win public tenders. HERA knows that it needs to demonstrate its value and enhance its service delivery if it wants to maintain and possibly keep expanding its operations to other regions in Italy.

In the past, HERA managed its waste and recycling operations through a system developed by a small local vendor. With regulatory changes on the horizon, the company realized that this solution was no longer suited to meet its changing requirements and business growth plans.

Milena Zappoli, HERGO Project Manager at HERA, takes up the story, “Our legacy solution was almost entirely manual, way too inflexible and customized to provide us with one single version of the truth across our whole business. Performance was another concern, as the solution was too slow to enable the rapid, accurate generation of reports and data analysis that we need to plan and manage our operations effectively.

“Such a scenario was preventing us from satisfying the new industry standards, which focus on continuous interaction with citizens on issues such as the quality of street cleaning and general waste disposal matters in a more-efficient effort to keep cities cleaner.”

With the HERGO project we have obtained a reliable and automated way of verifying our performance.

Milena Zappoli, HERGO Project Manager, HERA

Transformation Story

Selecting integrated SAP applications

A long-term IBM partner, HERA joined forces with an expert team from IBM Services to assist in the design of an optimized waste management solution. Based on SAP® Waste Management and SAP Waste & Recycling, the new solution also includes SAP ERP, SAP Business Warehouse and SAP Enterprise Portal. The entire SAP landscape is supported by Oracle databases, running on IBM Power Systems™ servers featuring the IBM AIX® operating system.

Working with HERA, the IBM Services team designed a detailed business blueprint for the SAP Waste & Recycling software component, making a number of customizations to adapt the solution to the company’s waste collection processes.

Offering seamless integration with SAP ERP, the new waste management and recycling solutions help HERA to coordinate a multitude of processes, including the management of 300,000 containers and 1,300 trucks across 17,500 routes, 685,000 bulky orders and commercial call center requests per year, and 1,900 waste disposal orders per day.

Milena Zappoli continues, “The solutions allow us to automate the entire waste management chain. All the daily waste disposal orders we receive are automatically registered in the SAP system and distributed to on-board computers or smartphone devices in the field—both for HERA’s own staff and third-party operators. This makes it much easier to co-ordinate waste management activities across the city, and helps us to ensure that our services are delivered in a timely and consistent manner.”

Results Story

First-of-a-kind mobile solution

To help teams gain greater control and visibility of activities, anytime and anywhere, HERA worked with IBM Services to develop a mobile waste management solution, using IBM WebSphere Application Server. The first-of-a-kind mobile solution is integrated with field applications and devices, including on-board computers, smartphones, RFID readers, antennas and sensors. The solution provides users with on-demand insight into waste disposal orders and routes, real-time activity tracking, field events information, field notification management with photos, operators and vehicles management.

Milena Zappoli remarks: “The mobile solution provides us with fresh, timely information directly from the field, including data on percentage of cleaned streets, service location, collected waste type, filling percentage of containers and much more. Armed with this information, our teams can make more-informed decisions about how to distribute resources and manage activities, and this will help us to comply with stricter industry standards coming up.”

In this respect, the SAP and IBM solutions also provide HERA with a solid foundation for launching a number of new services. Among these is an external mobile app that allows citizens to alert the company to any waste management issues by simply taking a picture and uploading it to the system.

A dedicated operator will review each notification, investigate it further and respond to the citizen when action has been taken to solve the problem.

With its suite of SAP applications running on IBM Power Systems technology, HERA has gained the ability to integrate waste collection processes and functions, automate all service processes, obtain near-real-time information on the service provided and perform rapid and accurate productivity analysis. With these new capabilities, the company is well positioned to meet the upcoming regulations on waste management.

Milena Zappoli states, “The solution has provided us with a simple, reliable and automated way of verifying our performance and communicating with the citizens, and this will enable us to prove the value of our services to auditors and regulators. For example, in the past, when we received a complaint regarding a street that hadn’t been cleaned, we had no way of knowing whether that specific street had actually been cleaned or not—we simply couldn’t verify the claim.

“Now, we have irrefutable data that shows us when the street was cleaned and by which operative team. Constantly interacting with citizens and addressing their requirements—also via our mobile app—is key to proving that we truly care about the service we offer, and with this kind of evidence we can assure the regulators that we are doing our job properly. Ultimately, this will become a strong selling point when competing for public tenders.”

Improved operational control and visibility, in fact, will help the company to increase the likelihood of winning public tenders in the future, allowing it to expand its operations to satisfy the requests of an increasing number of citizens.

Milena Zappoli concludes, “Despite its complex, ambitious scope, this project was utterly successful: IBM was there for us whenever we needed any training or support, helping us to make the most of our cutting-edge SAP solutions. Working with a partner who offers end-to-end support—from providing the right hardware and software solutions to delivering top-notch consulting services—is essential, especially when dealing with such large projects, and IBM was definitely up to the task.”


Established in 2002 in Bologna, Italy, HERA is one of the country’s largest utilities and operates in environmental services (waste collection and treatment), energy services (distribution and sale of electricity and gas) and water services (waterworks, sewerage and purification). HERA employs over 8,500 people and serves more than 3.5 million citizens.

Solution Components

  • EE&U: Cognitive Customer Care for EE&U
  • GBS AD&I - EA - SAP
  • IBM Global Business Services
  • IBM Power Systems
  • IBM-SAP Alliance
  • SAP NetWeaver Business Warehouse
  • SAP NetWeaver Portal
  • WebSphere Application Server

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