Five Financial Benefits of using a Mobile Data Collector System
Posted on 02.05.15

An MDC system provides many benefits to all stakeholders involved, including the agency implementing the system and citizens using the roadways. Agencies are primarily concerned with the financial and efficiency benefits, while motorists are primarily concerned with safety and mobility.

Financial benefits are the easiest to quantify, and they are closely related to increased efficiency because saving time also saves money. Case studies from winter road maintenance agencies in Indiana and South Dakota show a 10–40 percent saving in their winter road budgets. The types of financial benefits realized after implementing MDCs include the following categories:

1. Fuel Management

The MDC connects to the engine codes, and it records all fuel-related data. Fleet management knows how many miles per gallon were driven on each vehicle, how long the vehicles were idling, and how much was spent on gas versus how much gas was used. It also allows management to view the location and activity of the entire fleet, resulting in logistics management. This means the fleet manager can find the closest truck to respond to an event and therefore reduce fuel costs.

2. Materials

The MDC records how much material was used or hauled during a given time interval and based on specific environmental conditions. Management can use this data to better track material usage. For instance, winter road maintenance management can analyze why one operator used twice as much treatment material as another operator driving a similar route. In addition, the MDC can connect to automated maintenance decision support systems to provide recommendations on when to apply treatments and how much to apply based on weather forecasts and historical data. Similarly, sanitation management can track how quickly each garbage truck fills up to more efficiently plan routes.

3. Labor

Fleet management can use MDC data to better track hours worked and overtime hours. Some agencies even use engine start and stop times as time card entries. Management can easily track how much time was spent driving versus idling, or how long a route took, or how many drivers were out at one time. By providing greater visibility into resource activities and work times, management can make better resource management plans.

4. Equipment

MDCs track the wear-and-tear on vehicles and on-vehicle equipment, such as plow blades, spreaders, loaders, augers, and grapples. Management can analyze the data provided to see if certain operators are particularly hard on a vehicle and if equipment is living up to the manufacturer standards. Management can then decide whether additional training is needed on equipment care or if different products should be purchased in the future. It can also help management plan for repairs, upgrades, and replacements.

5. Road Maintenance

Winter road treatments, such as de-icing chemicals, salt, and sand, are caustic and very hard on road surfaces. Because MDCs provide more efficient treatment application and result in a decrease in the treatment materials used, the costs for road maintenance and repair are decreased.