Why would a company that specializes in advanced traffic management system (ATMS) software choose to develop a solution for snow plows? It’s a good question, and one that we asked ourselves. What we found is that having an in-depth understanding of ATMS systems is critical for developing a successful AVL/MDC based winter road management system. Here’s why…
Annual winter road maintenance is a multi-million dollar undertaking for transportation systems. It is a complex operation that includes traffic, fuel, materials, equipment, and resource management. In many northern states, snow management is a significant undertaking by the Department of Transportation. In fact, often the same people who monitor traffic also monitor snow plow activity to ensure optimum traffic throughput.
During winter weather events, traffic patterns are dependent on snow plow activity. The integration of snow plow management with traffic management creates a single user interface for all traffic management activities. This unified view of the overall traffic and winter road management activity creates a more streamlined operation and greater savings.
Intelligent NETworks is designed with 26 modules that control different aspects of the traffic system, including a Snow Plow module. The Snow Plow module monitors volume of solid and liquid dispensed materials, blade positions, ambient and road temperature, vehicle location, as well as vehicle engine diagnostics, to name a few. In addition, snow plows can be equipped with cameras to provide the dispatcher with real-time visual road conditions. All of this data can then be used to update road message signs as clearing activity occurs, all through the use of one integrated ATMS.
Snow plows provide an optimum case study for ATMS and MDC systems because they utilize so many components of the ATMS. From air and road temperature, to camera images, to vehicle speed, to GPS location and much more, Intelligent NETworks provides customized and comprehensive reporting capabilities for snow plow fleets. This data can be easily scaled to meet any fleet management needs.
One of the benefits of Intelligent NETworks is the ability to quickly create customized reports. Delcan Technologies recently released a new set of advanced ad hoc reports for Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT). These report templates allow MDOT system administrators to automatically run custom reports based on their requested data parameters.
Here is a summary of the four custom reports created specifically for MDOT:
Salting Speed Report: This custom report measures how fast the plow vehicle is going during salting. The mobile data collectors (MDCs) on plow vehicles gather information from sensors and the engine diagnostics to determine when the salting process starts and stops, along with the vehicle speed. The custom Salting Speed Report pulls those data parameters into an automatically generated report. MDOT fleet management can then use that information to determine if the plow vehicle was traveling too fast, and therefore salt bounces off the roadway reducing the effectiveness of MDOT’s roadway treatment efforts and wasting material.
Geo Fencing Report: The Geo Fencing Report calculates the amount of salting material applied within a specific geographic area. The Geo Fence module of Intelligent NETworks creates a virtual perimeter around a user-selected area on a map. Whenever an MDOT plow vehicle enters or exits the geo fenced perimeter, the system captures that data. Another on-vehicle sensor collects data on amount of salt material applied. This custom report collates the data and shows exactly how much material was applied in a specific region. This is particularly useful for monitoring environmentally protected areas.
Plow Life Study Report: Although plow blades have a manufacturer lifecycle, it doesn’t always compare to the lifecycle of plow blades used in the field. The Plow Life Study Report measures the time a plow blade is down and compares it to the wear and tear data collected on the plow. This report helps management to understand why some plow blades wear out more quickly. They can easily see if an operator is putting a blade down too heavily or for too long.
Type and Amount of Material Applied Report: Currents reports were available to tell MDOT management how much material was distributed during each run. However, the snow removal material is usually a mix of different substances, including magnesium chloride, brine, and salt. The Type and Amount of Material Applied Report breaks down the total amounts of mixture distributed by each type of material rather than just a grand total. This report can help procurement estimate how fast each material in the mixture will be used.
These reports were customized for MDOT’s specific needs. As MDOT determines more data assessment needs, additional custom reports can be created. DTI can take any two or more data points collected and create a report to display the data. As needs change, the reports can be updated accordingly. Contact DTI today to find out how you can benefit from custom reports.
North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT) is working with Delcan Technologies (DTI) to upgrade their Advanced Traffic Management System (ATMS) from Intelligent Control to DTI’s state-of-the-art Intelligent NETworks Suite. The project kicked off in February and will be fully deployed before the end of 2014.
Benefits of Intelligent NETworks
By upgrading from Intelligent Control to Intelligent NETworks, NDDOT has access to DTI’s innovative ATMS solution. The following benefits make Intelligent NETworks a smarter, more efficient and cost-effective choice:
Flexible: Intelligent NETworks is a web-based application that uses a standard web browser. Users can access the application from any location with web or local network access.
Configurable: The 26 modules that make up Intelligent NETworks can be installed as needed. In addition, customized modules can be created to meet specific requirements.
Integration: Intelligent NETworks® is built on the NTCIP standards from the ground up. It clearly envisages a migration from the proprietary systems of years gone by, towards an environment where system expansion on the basis of standards based procurement results in lower cost, lower risk, faster deployment.
NDDOT selected the following Intelligent NETworks modules for their ATMS and they have the ability to quickly and easily add modules as needed.
DMS Module: The DMS module communicates with fixed and portable dynamic message signs (DMS) to disseminate information to motorists. This module allows the system administrator to post messages in real-time, schedule messages for posting at a specific time, or set a message to be sent to one sign, multiple signs, or all signs in the system at once.
CCTV Module: The CCTV module provides the functionality for viewing, controlling, and maintaining all the cameras in the system. Using CCTV cameras as part of the ATMS allows users to view real-time traffic and weather conditions. This includes snapshots and streaming images. The module supports all standard digital formats, and it includes the following features:
- Camera controls
- Camera presets
- Camera locking
- User priority override
- Video wall configuration
ESS Module: The ESS module provides real-time weather conditions. Individual roadside weather stations, referred to as environmental sensor stations (ESS), are set up along highways. These stations collect the following types of data:
- Air temperature
- Wind speed and direction
- Precipitation type and rate
- Visibility distance
- Pavement temperature
- Pavement condition
- Subsurface condition
The ESS data is transmitted to Intelligent NETworks and displayed as color-coded icons on a map to alert users of hazardous conditions.
The ESS module works with NDDOT’s fixed automated spraying technology (FAST). This feature combines sensors with a pump that sprays anti-icing material on the road. The ESS module collects data from the FAST Sprayers including event times, tank levels, and history. The system can then be triggered to activate the FAST anti-icing spray pump.
Delcan Technologies recently launched a number of geo service enhancements to Intelligent NETworks®. The Automated Vehicle Locator (AVL) and Winter Maintenance modules can feature a wide range of geo-fencing capabilities.
Geo Services provides a virtual perimeter around user-selected geographical areas. Authorized users can select custom boundaries around specified areas on their map. Whenever a vehicle with a mobile data collector enters or exits the geo-fenced perimeter, the system receives a notification. The system can then use that data to generate customized reports or to send alerts.
There are a number of search features available for defining the geo-fenced area. You can search by a specific address, a landmark, or pre-defined locations such as garages or cities. Users can create an ad hoc geo-fence to find the closest vehicle in the fleet to the specified area. Or, users can pre-set areas, such as garages, so they have constant data on who enters and exits the garages, the duration spent in the garage, and the exact time of entry and departure.
This technology has many practical uses. For example, it can input data for time management systems. A fleet administrator can set it up to provide alerts when a driver breaks from the route. Dynamic reports can be created to determine if certain routes are over- or under-salted by a winter road maintenance fleet. Similarly, alerts can be set whenever a salt truck enters an EPA-protected zone. It can also be used for billing activities. If the city winter road maintenance crew contracts with private companies to plow their facilities, they can automatically trigger billing whenever a plow truck enters the company location.
Geo Services can streamline workflow, reduce administrative work, prevent unauthorized usage, and provide useful statistics. This tool is a significant addition to the AVL and Winter Maintenance modules, offering greater control and additional notifications.