As the weather begins to get colder and with many cities around the world already seeing snow, it’s time for winter operation programs to kick their initiatives into full gear. For many departments this includes performing comprehensive research on how they can improve their efforts.
Sound familiar? Keep reading as we will discuss the various factors that winter maintenance fleets must stay on top of and how new technology is critical in their success.
How Some Winter Operation Departments Are Falling Behind
Depending on several factors including budget, need or even manpower, some winter operation fleets fall behind in terms of leveraging smart technologies. What this means is that many fleets may not be utilizing new strategies, initiatives or technologies. As a result, certain operational efficiencies are automatically lost causing a decrease of productivity, optimization, and visibility.
What should winter operation programs look out for to know whether this is happening to them?
First, they should look at the operations of their competitors or the industry as a whole. This is a critical first step to easily see whether you’re behind in certain areas. Fleets should look out for the following:
- How other municipalities or fleets can share mapping information publicly on a visible and modern map solution
- How other teams are maintaining workflow and reporting easily and efficiently
- Productivity or costs that are quickly diminishing
Next, teams should research best practices online and see what the conversations surrounding new initiatives are.
Things That Every Fleet Needs To Know About
Things are constantly changing – it’s evident. However, it’s important to know what GoFleet, an industry leader in 360 fleet solutions, has observed and thinks is important for fleets to know about.
Smarter Software Than Just GPS
Certain software solutions are already widely used. Often this incorporates basic GPS tracking solutions to ensure the location and route of a vehicle is known. This allows on a basic level, for teams to monitor compliance and route completion.
Where things get innovative, is when software is leveraged to utilize this GPS data to monitor more data. Pushing data into software with algorithms that leverage GPS information visually is how the data can be displayed publicly. Often this is via an embedded code on a website that automatically pulls real-time information that the fleet pre-categorizes to be available to the public. By doing this, it allows winter operations departments to be transparent so civilian drivers can better plan routes and ensure that safe roads will be used for travel.
Additionally, this map data can be manipulated to show compliance on an internal level. Efforts can be reviewed for efficiency and steps can be taken so roads are cleared in adequate times. Reports can also be created to prove that compliance is met at all times. How is this possible? Geofencing – a tool which divides map locations into zones to section off tasks or designate tasks and routes.
To summarize, connected software solutions allows for the following to be completed within winter operation fleets:
- Vehicle optimization and fuel usage reports to ensure efficiency
- Fleet compliance to regulations in regards to snow clearing
- Driver behaviour reports to ensure safe driving is monitored
- Resource utilization reports to monitor quantity and location span of where resources are used – this can include fuel, salt and even sand
- Geofencing to track progress, next routes and restrictions
Connected Hardware Options
Hardware may seem obvious, it’s not that simple. There’s more to hardware in winter department fleets than one may think. By leveraging connected hardware solutions and sensors to track pre-existing hardware, even more intel can be collected on fleets – this is a necessity for winter departments reviewing current operations.
By leveraging connected hardware, more data can be collected. Meaning the above points related to software solutions can in fact be accurate so proper actions can be executed. Not only does this include GPS tracking such as the GO9 device, but also a dash camera system, driver ID system and much more. Integrating these products and connecting them internally allows for the following:
- The GO9 monitors HOS compliance, GPS location, engine performance and more
- Dash cameras can monitor and record not only driving events or accidents, but whether the driver is attentive to the road ahead
- Driver ID systems ensuring that the right driver is operating the proper vehicle and the timing of shiftwork
For aspects of the vehicle that don’t allow for an initial connected piece of equipment like plows, salt or sand dispensers, sensors can be leveraged. Installing smart sensors to track various vehicle actions or tasks ensures complete visibility. In regards to winter department vehicles, sensors monitor when plow equipment is used – proper tracking of route and work commencement can happen as the sensor will detect when the plow is truly in operation (being down or up). As well, sensors can display a proper picture of resource utilization throughout a route and whether certain locations were over or under served. This ensures resources are not wasted to keep costs low.
Have All Of This In Place? This Is What Is On The Horizon…
If you’re one of the winter department operations who have all of this in place, it’s still important to stay up to date with future trends. This will ensure that your team is prepared with new tools and strategies in upcoming seasons. The following is predicted to be introduced:
- Intelligent camera technologies will use artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to improve data collection from equipment via smart city networks
- The environment will become a larger focus as electric snow plow vehicles are leveraged to reduce carbon emissions and lower operational costs
- Vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication will evolve on a 5G network that will provide fast lines of communication
- Operations can be automated as autonomous vehicles are introduced to eliminate human error and costs
While much of the information stated above is directly related to winter operation departments, the same technology and thinking will be seen in other industries. If you’re interested in learning more about how your fleet, regardless of the industry, can improve or better prepare for future technical challenges, contact us today.