Michigan Intelligent Snow Plow Already Showing Results
Posted on 06.12.14

The first phase of the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) intelligent snow plow project was a success. MDOT worked with Delcan Technologies and ITERIS to implement a winter maintenance program utilizing Mobile Data Collectors (MDCs) and a Maintenance Decision Support System (MDSS). MDOT has already implemented over 200 vehicles with this advanced solution and has seen operational results.

Met Demanding Timeline

MDOT had an aggressive schedule to implement as many intelligent winter maintenance trucks (WMTs) as possible during the 2013/2014 winter season. DTI was awarded the contract in mid-September 2013. The central system was activated in November and all 273 equipment packages were delivered by January 1, 2014. DTI trained MDOT mechanics to install the MDCs, and, during a four-month period, they were able to install nearly all of the systems and enable advanced reporting features. All of this was accomplished amidst one of the worst winters in recorded history.

Created Custom Reports

MDOT and DTI were able to create and implement more custom reports than were initially planned. These reports provide data specific to MDOT and are rich in details. They were conceived with the input from 18 administrators representing 7 MDOT districts. Each month MDOT administrators met with DTI for training and to discuss ad hoc reporting. This enabled DTI to create extremely customized reports for MDOT based on the needs of a range of users.

Increased Efficiency and Accuracy

MDOT is able to use the information collected by the MDCs and the MDSS to proactively plan for winter weather events and to provide preventative maintenance on the WMTs.

Garage supervisors have been able to adapt their operational and resource planning based on forecasting and treatment recommendations from the MDSS. For example, one garage supervisor called in more crews based on an MDSS forecast, which came several hours before the TV news forecast predicted snow.

MDOT is also able to use data collected by the MDCs to schedule preventative maintenance for their vehicles. MDOT uses vehicle engine hours to schedule inspections and maintenance. Previously, the engine hours were manually recorded by the operators. Now the MDC system automatically collects vehicle data and integrates it with MDOT’s existing fleet management system. The MDCs streamline the data gathering process, which saves time and improves data accuracy.

MDOT uses MDC data to generate reports that can be reviewed for operational efficiency. For example, MDOT research determined that snow plows should not exceed 25 mph when applying de-icing material to maximize efficiency and provide the highest level of service. MDOT can now generate reports to show operator speeds, locations, and material application rates, which enables them to conduct operational reviews.


Before the 2013-2014 winter season ended, MDOT was already able to change the way they plan for winter weather events. They can now take the effectiveness of their winter road maintenance operations to the next level.