Research Projects | Completed Projects

RSS feed for this section

Standard Specifications for Plow Blades with Carbide Inserts

Problem

Carbide inserts provide a life expectancy 10 to 20 times longer than traditional steel blades. This extended longevity has proven to save time and resources for winter maintenance agencies around the country. Unfortunately, there are no common procurement specifications for carbide inserts, and agencies use a wide variety of requirements.

Still, many agencies do have experience using standards developed for the use of plow blades with carbide inserts. This project gathered information from these users and from carbide insert manufacturers/distributors/vendors to compile a set of standard specifications that can be used and shared among Clear Roads members and others.

Objective

The goal of this project was to develop a set of standard specifications that can be used by agencies across the country to specify carbide-insert plow blades. State DOTs currently specify a variety of carbide-insert blades, and having a common specifications used by many of the 36 Clear Roads states would simplify and streamline the procurement process for state DOTs and vendors. The buying power connected to a widely accepted specification would be greater, and procurement coalitions could potentially use the standard specifications for bidding. In addition, if more agencies specified the same product, vendors could reduce their costs and pass those savings on to state DOTs. The standard specifications would provide a starting point for agencies that want to develop their own specifications. Counties and cities would also be able to take advantage of the specifications.

Results

This project produced a set of standard specifications addressing the following:

  • Carbide inserts, geometry, and dimensions
  • Blade materials, assembly details, and dimensions
  • Plow blade configuration (front, underbody, or tow blade) and blade dimensions (length and height)
  • Quality assurance inspections and accept/reject procedures
  • Details of procedures to accept/reject inserts

Specifications include text and AutoCAD details of insert dimensions, insert material, blade dimensions, and mounting details (including bolt pattern and inside measurements, amount of insert inside a blade, and blade/insert mounting configuration).

The Final Webinar took place on March 25, 2020.

Continue Reading

Weather Event Reconstruction and Analysis Tool

Problem

After a storm, transportation agencies need to conduct after-action studies and prepare after-action reports. To do this, data from numerous sources needs to be accessed, collected, and analyzed. These data may be difficult to access and use for a number of reasons. They may not be easy to find, or it may be difficult to parse readily available data. Some kinds of data may also be difficult to export, particularly video of radar or forecast maps.

Objective

The goal of this project was to allow transportation agencies to more quickly and easily reconstruct winter weather events, with a focus on drawing from data sources that cover the entire United States or large regions.

Results

This project developed an easy-to-use web-based tool that gathers existing online weather data for a specific location and time and prepares the results in a single clear and comprehensive report. By using the tool, agencies will be able to spend much less time finding and preparing weather data before moving to analysis and follow-up. This will help agencies better understand the development and outcomes of winter storms, react appropriately to such events in the short and long term, and refine future maintenance decision-making.

WEATHER EVENT RECONSTRUCTION AND ANALYSIS TOOL

Continue Reading

Developing Test Bed Software to Qualify Plug and Play Technology

Background

Clear Roads has been leading a “Plug and Play” initiative to specify a universal bi-directional communications protocol for in-cab electronics, regardless of the manufacturer or service provider. Establishment of this protocol will mutually benefit Clear Roads member states and their vendors by standardizing how critical operational data are shared on modern snow and ice vehicles, namely between compatible Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL) devices and anti-icing/deicing joystick and spreader controller systems.

Objective

The goal of this project is to develop a software suite that will be used to validate and certify candidate spreader controllers and AVL equipment for compliance with the current Clear Roads Universal In-Cab Performance Specification and Communications Protocol.

Expected Results

Clear Roads members will be provided with a software suite composed of the following three components:

  1. The SQL Database. Stores test parameters and vendor/equipment information.
  2. The Web Portal. Web application used by both vendors to initiate and complete the certification process, and Clear Roads members to administer and view lists of compliant equipment and test results.
  3. The Device Test Application. A MS Windows Application that performs the actual tests on the device, provides feedback to the user, and communicates results to the SQL Database via the Web Portal on completion of the test. The Device Test Application installation package will be downloaded from the web portal by the vendors after the minimum required information as specified in the current Protocol Document has been entered.

CLEAR ROADS TEST BED PORTAL

Continue Reading

Standards and Guidance for Using Mobile Sensor Technology to Assess Winter Road Conditions

Problem

Today, data collected by vehicle-mounted sensors are useful but limited. For a given parameter (for example, grip, road condition, water film height, etc.), sensors from different manufacturers may provide disparate values under the same conditions, making the information hard to interpret across manufacturers.

Moreover, even when a given manufacturer’s measurement scales are well understood, the resulting set of measured values for an array of parameters (road condition, grip, road temperature, dew point temperature, water film height and others) are not easily translated into unambiguous guidance: what are the road conditions, how can they be characterized in terms of a performance measure, and what operational steps should a maintenance agency take?

Objective

Through rigorous testing of sensor equipment, development of standardized scales, and creation of guidance for using an array of measurements in concert for decision-making, Clear Roads will make better use of road sensor data than is now currently available.

Expected Results

The guidance developed from this project will help in multiple aspects of winter maintenance—in the short-term for responding to a winter storm in real time, and in the long-term in making policy and planning decisions based on performance trends. It will also help practitioners avoid guesswork by providing guidance based on vetted equipment and reliable numerical standards.

The Final Webinar took place on April 11, 2019.

Continue Reading

Synthesis of Material Application Methodologies for Winter Operations

Problem

Transportation agencies have been managing their salt and liquid anti-icing applications based on the results of multiple testing efforts over the years. These agencies have gained significant practical experience in the use of chloride-based liquids for winter maintenance since the earlier guidelines were published, and have developed locally-based approaches for their use alone or with other winter materials.

However, discussions at recent National Winter Maintenance Peer Exchanges have repeatedly identified the need to update the existing guidelines for material application rates as a function of road weather scenarios in the field environment.

Objective

The goal of this project is to create a synthesis of best management practices for application rates, material application methodologies and material usage, including chloride brines applied directly or as additives to abrasives and rock salts.

Expected Results

A key deliverable of this project will be a handbook that is succinct, decisive in its instructions and recommendations, and professionally created. This handbook will provide winter maintenance professionals with the ability to access the needed information with ease and will be essential in driving the successful implementation of this project’s findings.

The Final Webinar took place on February 11, 2019.

Continue Reading

Defensive Driving for Snowplow Operators

Problem

Each winter, snowplows are struck by other vehicles, costing agencies money in repair and replacement costs and effecting traveler safety due to lost plowing time. Rear-end collisions and crashes during turning movements are two common types of crashes. Although snowplow operators are rarely at fault in these crashes, training operators on defensive driving practices—as well as reviewing general safe driving practices—may help reduce the likelihood of collisions caused by other drivers.

Objective

The goal of this project was to examine key causes of collisions involving snowplows and other vehicles, and identify defensive driving strategies that snowplow operators can use to reduce the likelihood of being struck by other drivers.

Results

This project resulted in the creation of two PPT-based training modules on safe driving and defensive driving for snowplow operators, which include videos that demonstrate defensive and safe driving scenarios.

Continue Reading

AWSSI Enhancements in Support of Winter Road Maintenance

Problem

State DOTs are always looking for ways to better prepare for winter storms/seasons, but this is a difficult proposition because tools and software programs to provide this kind of information are not commonplace.

The Accumulated Winter Season Severity Index (AWSSI) is a simple and straightforward tool that was developed by the Midwestern Regional Climate Center using nonproprietary data that is available from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for numerous locations within each state, nationwide.

This project modified this tool to make it more useful to state DOTs as they prepare for future winter storms/seasons.

Objective

The objective of this project was to expand on the current AWSSI tool to add more stations and provide features to allow for winter severity projections and connect winter severity to winter maintenance costs.

Results

A simple tool that states can use to conduct their own calculations in order to relate storm severity to other factors, such as winter maintenance costs.

Tool

ACCUMULATED WINTER SEASON SEVERITY INDEX

The final webinar took place on February 26, 2019.

Continue Reading

Developing a Training Video and Manual for Best Practices and Techniques in Clearing Different Interchange Configurations and Other Geometric Layouts

Problem

There are many types of interchange configurations and intersection layouts that must be cleared during winter maintenance operations. These include, but are not limited to: diamond, cloverleaf, single-point urban interchange (SPUI), roundabout, Michigan left (boulevard turnaround), continuous flow intersection, diverging diamond, collector distributor lanes/interchange, and auxiliary turn lanes. There are numerous pass sequences that snow and ice professionals can use to clear a given snow route, intersection or interchange configuration. Agencies need a resource that provides guidance on the most efficient and effective means for snow removal utilizing common equipment setups.

Objective

This project involved researching and documenting current snow removal practices used by transportation agencies to determine the most efficient practices for clearing various interchange and intersection geometries. The goal was to develop resources that will help agencies better train their operators, justify the purchase of specialized equipment, manage resources, and improve service levels to the driving public.

Results

Researchers developed a 66-minute video (available below) that showcases the most efficient pass sequences for plowing 10 different interchange and intersection layouts. Training for each layout is also available as a separate video. A practice manual and reference cards complement the video training.

The final webinar took place on October 18, 2018.

Animations of Interchange and Intersection Clearing Best Practices
(Full Video)

 

Intersection/Interchange Animations

Introduction to Animations Roundabout Intersection
Four-Leg Intersection Displaced Left-Turn Intersection

Median U-Turn Intersection

Double Roundabout Interchange
Diamond Interchange Cloverleaf Interchange
Single-Point Interchange Diverging Diamond Interchange
Directional T Interchange
Continue Reading

Utilization of AVL/GPS Technology: Case Studies

Problem

Much is known about what winter maintenance AVL/GPS technologies are available from different vendors as well as which highway agencies are making use of them. Among other sources, these have been documented through Clear Roads project 14-01: Synthesis on GPS/AVL Equipment Used for Winter Maintenance. However, highway agencies will significantly benefit from a deeper examination of winter maintenance AVL/GPS implementation.

Objective

The goal of this project was to help state DOTs make more informed decisions with respect to implementation of winter maintenance AVL/GPS.

Results

Detailed agency case studies were developed in this project to bring to light more nuanced issues related to winter maintenance AVL/GPS. These case studies highlight the types of issues that agencies should consider, provide guidance for successful implementation, and can serve as templates to help agencies get the best value out of different levels of AVL/GPS applications.

The Final Webinar was held on August 31, 2018.

Continue Reading

Training Video for the Implementation of Liquid-Only Plow Routes

Problem

While some agencies have used liquid-only plow routes with great success, others are unable to secure the buy-in needed to implement this practice. Clear Roads believes this is largely a communication issue—a need to put the right message in front of the right audience in a compelling way and to dispel myths and misconceptions.

Objective

The goal of this project was to help state DOTs garner support for and accelerate the implementation of liquid-only plow routes.

Results

This project resulted in the creation of two videos designed to explain the benefits of liquid-only plow routes, the fundamentals of how and when to use liquid-only plowing, and steps to implement a program.

The final webinar took place on May 23, 2018.

 

Implementation of Liquid-Only Plow Routes (Full Video)

 

Implementation of Liquid-Only Plow Routes (Short Video)

Continue Reading