Control the Snow – Part 2

Continuing on with a synopsis of a few of the sessions I recently attended at the APWA Snow Show held in April of this year in Louisville, Kentucky:

One of the great benefits of attending a conference is the chance to find out what is new in our industry from others who are already using these tools and products. For me, some of the products I discovered at the show were the APWA training DVDs covering snow control and removal. Although I had previously seen these discs at past shows, I never really knew much about the product. A disc sitting on a shelf does little to convey the content within, and I had never really seen anything offering more information about the DVDs.

Fortunately one of the sessions I attended presented in detail how the training videos were developed, showed examples of the content, and then demonstrated the ease of use and interactive interface.

Mark DeVries from McHenry County Division of Transportation and Steve Gannon with GanTek Multimedia discussed how an APWA snow and ice committee met in January 2006 to help develop the products with funding from Clear Roads. AASHTO is managing the computer based training project.

The Winter Maintenance CBT Suite is made up of the following topics:
– Equipment Maintenance (released July 2007)
– Proper Plowing Techniques (released Sept. 2007)
– Deicing (soon to be released)
– Blowing Snow Mitigation (released March 2008)
– Winter Maintenance Management (scheduled for release in June 2008)

Each DVD covers one topic and can be set up by an organization to be available for their entire staff to use at their own pace. After finishing each DVD and successfully passing, each member of the staff receives a certificate of completion.

Without having seen the demo given at the session, I would have never realized how professionally done, interactive, and easy to use these training DVDs really were. Training is important for our industry as older and more experienced workers retire and more regulations and rules add to the knowledge base required for us to perform our job. And now in today’s world, the need to conserve energy and decrease trips adds to the benefit of CBT products. It definitely is a product that my department can make good use of.

More information about the training videos can be found by clicking here.


Control the Snow

In today’s world, rapid changes in technology are even reaching into the world of snow and ice control. I just spend three days at the annual APWA Snow Show in Louisville, Kentucky, and learned an incredible amount of new information to take back home.

On the first day, Richard Hanneman from the Salt Institute introduced a new software tool that can be used by an agency to determine the most cost effective chemical to use. This program, offered by the Transportation Research Board (TRB) as NCHRP Report 577, requires the user to input the costs of the chemicals to be considered along with the importance of cost, performance, the environment, or infrastructure. Using this information, the model predicts which chemical most likely meets the users objectives with respect to those four parameters.

Hanneman showed the outcome of two different scenarios. The first had the following assigned percentages for each objective: Price, 45%; Performance, 35%; Environment, 11%; Infrastructure, 9%. The outcome using current market pricing was that above 15 degrees F, salt earned a score of about 90 while the other products only reached about 60-70. Once the temperature dropped below about 10 degrees F, Magnesium Chloride moved up to a score of about 90 while salt dropped significantly.

Then he showed what happens if cost is not a factor changing the priorities to: Price, 0%; Performance, 25%; Environment, 37.5%; Infrastructure, 37.5%. The outcome was that above 15 degrees F, all products clustered close to scores of about 60-65. Below about 5 degrees F, Potassium Acetate moved up to a score of about 70.

For some reason, the TRB Web site was not working well when I wrote this. I found a place to download the tool at the Salt Institute Web site. You can access that link here:

(The download link is at the bottom of the page.) Tune back in later for more about the show….