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.
The camera slider bar feature available on the Intelligent Snow Plow module lets you quickly scroll through your images.
How It Works
The Intelligent NETworks® Intelligent Snow Plow module collects real-time information on weather and roadway conditions. One of the data sets it collects is images taken from the cameras mounted on the snow plows. These images are uploaded to the Intelligent NETworks central system, where they are stored in a gallery.
The camera slider bar feature takes the thumbnails and groups them together by vehicle and shift so the user can quickly view the collection of images. The user simply clicks on the slider bar, and the images advance forward or backward depending on the direction the slider bar is moved. The user can also control the speed at which the photos are advanced and manually click through the thumbnails.
The camera slider bar feature provides users with a quick overview of roadway conditions. It creates the impression of a time lapse video, so the user can see how conditions change over time. Fleet managers can quickly view the roadway conditions on the snow plow operator’s shift in a matter of seconds. This way, fleet managers gain a better understanding of the conditions, which leads them to more effective and efficient decisions. The camera slider bar provides great user experience and makes viewing images more intuitive.
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.