At the end of 2011, Winnebago County installed a GPS fleet tracking system inside every one of the city’s trucks to wage the war against snow.
Highway fleet managers can now locate where their trucks are in the county, how much salt the drivers are applying and what kind of salt they are using. The new tracking system also shares the air and road temperature from the truck’s location.
A fleet tracking system offers a unique combination of tools to help a city manage their response to snow storms. The mapping solutions help administrators deploy their snow plow fleets to attack the storm as it happens. The software gives real-time feedback of the location of each truck and plow and helping identify where they’ve been and where they should go. The information will help cut down on redundant routes, identify overlap and missed routes.
“The fleet tracking system makes us smarter, it makes us a lot more efficient and it saves money in the long run,” said Ernie Winters, the highway commissioner for Winnebago County, reported Fox 11 News.
City fleet managers aren’t certain about how much money the fleet tracking system will save the city, but managers have already noted marked improvements in their ability to clear snow more efficiently and effectively with far fewer complaints from those in residential areas.
Using a fleet tracking system could reduce overall salt use by up to nine percent, according to a recent study from the UW-Madison Traffic Operations and Safety lab projects.
Winnebago’s highway department leaders say the new software will be a useful tool to analyze their use of salt. However, they say the most important parts of their operation remain the drivers on the road.
“You can’t sit in here and try to run a snowstorm from a computer, you have to rely on that driver outside,” said Demler.
The Department of Transportation says two-thirds of Wisconsin’s county highway departments are installing the new flee tracking system.
For Winnebago County, the art of plowing snow and applying salt hasn’t changed.
“As soon as it starts snowing on the freeway system, we get out there,” said Bill Demler, a superintendent for the Winnebago County Highway Department.
But the way the county monitors its crews and it’s approximate 1,864 miles of road has evolved.