Experts who handle winter road maintenance in some of the counties and cities with the highest-levels of ice and snow across the country agree that the challenge can be faced with a combination of the right equipment – with the right control and communications technologies. Road weather information systems, road temperature sensors, and digitally controlled plows with digitally measured liquid and crystal salt distribution solutions help address the challenge of snow and ice removal on their county and municipal roadways. In today’s fiscally tight municipal budgeting environment, year-round maintenance takes a backseat to funding equipment, anti-icing materials and staff to clear roads in the winter.
Clearing the Road with Innovative IoT Solutions
Measuring road and atmospheric temperatures and placing liquid solutions on roadways before ice and snow hit have been proven ways to save resources and potentially prevent accidents during ice and snow events. “The pavement temperature and atmospheric temperature don’t always mirror each other,” One Municipal Transportation Director explains. “We put sensors and systems right into the vehicle and in our road infrastructure, so salt, brine or other (more expensive) de-icing chemicals spray at the right times and in the right amounts to be effective.” Now departments no longer have to wait for a truck to drive out, do an inspection and then adjust or re-apply a chemical or re-plow poorly prepared areas. The temperature sensor technology, developed in conjunction with The Ohio State University Center for Automotive Research and a leading global supplier of a full range of cab-related products and systems for the global commercial vehicle market, which includes the heavy-duty snow plow market, accompanied by anti-icing liquid salt brines, sometimes using magnesium fluoride, significantly improved road conditions before bad weather starts and decreased the amount of salt and sand used in post-winter conditions. Transportation departments are using the data to push manufacturers to develop the equipment that they need and manufacturers are getting input from the frontline of snow and ice control right to their design and development efforts.
Data Driven Results: An innovative and robust connected platform that provides users with a remote view of the condition of their highways, maintenance vehicles, plow sensor networks and salt, brine and chemical distribution systems and alerts them when vehicles or systems are malfunctioning - preventing surprises before they create “an icy patch” for their municipal maintenance department. The emergence of the new affordable smart temperature sensors (from Technicity partner OSU-CAR) and the flexible cloud infrastructure services (from Technicity and iotery.io) not only allowed clients to track their snow plows more cost effectively, it provided the “hard data” that helped one department save 1,000 tons of salt in its first year of usage. In the past, it was very typical for managers to familiarize their operators with their equipment and their route but telling them why to spread different materials at different rates during different storm conditions and why this was not always done. Now, with IoT and analytics from Technicity, they have the opportunity to dial right in to the best application rates, and tie into those sensors on the plows to give them the live information and the best result - for the first time, drive, dispatcher and supervisor can all see what is being done out in the field.
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