Date April 20, 2023 | Brooke Loeffler
Snow Plow Route Optimization
What is Route Optimization?
Route optimization helps road fleet crews, like snow fighters, use their resources more efficiently by:
- Balancing workloads throughout a fleet
- Providing the highest and most efficient level of service
- Organizing routes to meet your work force’s needs (for small and large operations)
- Helping fleets work smarter, not harder
- Consistently reviewing to solve problems and increase efficiency
Route optimization software uses mathematical algorithms to help teams map out their routes and prioritize the most critical arterial roadways first. These programs can help track mileage, cycle time, and other data, as crews follow their optimized routes.
Some route optimization companies offer services along with their software to help teams gather data, draft up routes, edit and review, and finalize their routes.
Route Optimization Benefits for Snow Crews
Snow fighting teams have enjoyed many benefits after employing route optimization:
- Clear roads faster
- Reduce work cycles
- Reduce vehicle wear and tear
- Save on fuel costs
- Less deicer product used
- Reduce/eliminate left hand turns (which can deposit snow in the middle of an intersection)
- Reduce inefficiencies like route overlaps, deadheading, missed routes, etc.
- Easier to plan and budget for future storms
The following webinar, from C2Logix, reported on real world benefits enjoyed by cities across Colorado after using Route Optimization. (Skip to the 9:39 mark)
According to a collaborative report from multiple snow belt states:
"DOTs have successfully used both route review and route optimization tools to improve winter maintenance performance and efficiency. Several route optimization projects report route length reductions on the order of 5% - 10% while reductions as high as 50% have been reported in one case."
Math and Manpower
No matter how slick route optimization programs are, they must be combined with real world input from your team. The best route optimization programs take the math from the software and input what your crews see in person in the real world. Here are some examples of feedback snow fighters can contribute:
- Best and safest locations to turn around
- Areas of persistent shadow (due to low light in canyons, between high rise buildings, etc.)
- Local microclimate conditions (areas that consistently see heavier precipitation/colder temps)
- Median locations
- Construction, etc.
Before A Storm
- Teams should review routes for obviously unsafe or impractical suggestions.
- If it is possible, test routes under non-storm conditions and actually drive the routes looking for problems.
- Plan and prepare for pre-treatments such as pre-wetting deicer or anti-icing applications.
- Ensure communication channels are open and functioning so team members can report back easily and clearly.
During A Storm
- Follow assigned routes and use the route optimization tools to the fullest of your ability.
- Communicate clearly if a team member is pulled off due to vehicle failure or other emergencies, and recalibrate to ensure routes get safely completed.
After A Storm
- Thoroughly revise and review the routes completed, cycle time, product used, etc.
- Document trouble areas, or practices that need to be modified.
- Listen to real world feedback from your teams as well as statistical feedback from your software.
- Be ready to implement changes before the next storm.
Ice Slicer®: Proud Snow Fighting Partner
Ice Slicer® partners with snow fighting crews all across the country, and we know that providing you with the best products, improves safety for all of us. By selecting higher performing deicer like Ice Slicer®, snow plows can reduce the number of passes they need to make, reduce cycle time, and achieve bare pavement faster.
We are so grateful to the brave and hardworking snow fighters who keep us safe all winter long. You truly are the first, first responders. Ice Slicer® is proud to offer tools and support to snow fighting teams that improve safety and increase productivity. Thank you for all you do!
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