What is the true cost of a Mobile Data Collector system?
Posted on 02.12.15

When investing in a vehicle-based mobile data collector (MDC) system, many companies simply look at the initial price of the solution. However, the lowest price solution is not necessarily the lowest cost solution. It is important to understand the difference.

Price vs. Cost

“Price” refers to the initial financial investment made in a project. “Cost” is the total amount of money ultimately invested in the deployment, management, and maintenance of a project over its expected lifetime. Making a decision based on the true cost over the lifetime of a system can result in significant savings in the long term. While one AVL/GPS system may be cheaper initially, it may not provide the data and information required to be most cost-effective over the long-term operation of the system. A good example is the investment in an automated snowplow management system.

Cost savings over time

When a municipality plans to invest in an automated snowplow management system, price is usually the main focus, including the following factors:

  • Initial hardware investment
  • Initial and ongoing software investment
  • Recurring communications costs
  • Warranty/Service fees for the life of the agreement

However, if a municipality bases its decision on cost, rather than on just price, it may find that a more robust MDC solution ultimately results in greater cost savings over time. For example, with the data collection capabilities of a more robust solution, the municipality may realize greater long-term savings in the following areas:

  • Savings in road treatment materials
  • Savings in personnel, materials, and vehicle costs by minimizing the number of re-treatment events
  • Reduction in risk costs due to specific mapping information on the time, type, and date of treatment of particular road segments
  • Payroll cost reduction by scheduling pre-treatments, which minimize employee overtime for treatment during snow events
  • Reduction in blade maintenance and replacement costs due to monitoring speed and blade downtime
  • Optimized deployment of equipment, which can reduce the number of snowplows needed to address a snow event
  • Reduction of engine idling, which saves fuel and reduces maintenance costs

Environmental Cost

In addition, when evaluating a system based on cost, a municipality may identify significant benefits to the environment, as follows:

  • Reduced carbon emissions due to minimized idling and optimized dispatching
  • Less fossil fuels consumed due to predictive deployment of equipment
  • Less use of salt, resulting in reduced impact on the environment

Additional MDC Applications

Initial deployments of the Delcan Technologies MDC system have addressed snowplows and emergency response vehicles. However, the same MDC technology offers opportunities for cost savings in other areas, such as vehicles that deploy herbicides to maintain vegetation growth along roadways. These benefits include:

  • Operators have access to precision weather information, and determine spray volume and type based upon current and projected weather.
  • Vehicle speed could be monitored to ensure the optimum speed for type of herbicide being deployed.
  • Highway information signs could be automatically updated to keep the public informed on where spraying has occurred.

The ways you can use an MDC system are limitless. The DTI team would be happy to review your needs and determine if there are ways for your organization to leverage the power of an MDC system to lower your operating costs.