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Application Note: Maintenance Decision Support System (MDSS) for Winter Road Maintenance

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Weather-related delays on U.S. roadways contribute to significant productivity losses. Every year, adverse weather creates more than 500 million vehicle-hours of delay. For trucking companies, these delays add up to $3 billion in lost productivity annually.

The weather’s impact on roadways also takes a toll on human lives. On average, 1,921 people are killed
and 146,647 more are injured each year in accidents involving snow, slush, sleet, and ice.1 Agencies
responsible for road conditions spend $2.3 billion fighting snow and ice, which is approximately 20 percent of their annual maintenance budgets.

When adverse weather threatens road conditions, maintenance managers must take many factors into
consideration in order to plan an effective response:
• Which routes to treat
• When to apply chemicals
• What type of chemical to apply
• What chemical application rate to use
• The cost of the chemicals, fuel, and labor
• The environmental impact of the chemicals

To make the most effective decisions, agencies require technology that provides the best available observed and forecast weather information, integrated with operational recommendations.

For the ground transportation industry, this tool is known as a MDSS, first developed in 2001. The MDSS
integrates relevant road weather forecasts, coded maintenance rules of practice, and maintenance
resource data to provide winter maintenance managers with recommended road treatment strategies, based on available resources and best practices.

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Application Note: Maintenance Decision Support System (MDSS) for Winter Road Maintenance

  1. 1. 1 ____________________________________________________________________________________________________ ©2014 Schneider Electric. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be used, reproduced, photocopied, transmitted, or stored in any retrieval system of any nature, without the written permission of the copyright owner. www.schneider-electric.com Rev 2013--0 Abstract Agencies charged with maintaining optimal road conditions face many weather-related decisions. Schneider Electric’s Maintenance Decision Support System (MDSS) integrates weather and pavement forecast data with maintenance best practices, and provides treatment recommendations to mitigate the adverse effects of winter weather. Introduction Weather-related delays on U.S. roadways contribute to significant productivity losses. Every year, adverse weather creates more than 500 million vehicle-hours of delay. For trucking companies, these delays add up to $3 billion in lost productivity annually. The weather’s impact on roadways also takes a toll on human lives. On average, 1,921 people are killed and 146,647 more are injured each year in accidents involving snow, slush, sleet, and ice. 1 Agencies responsible for road conditions spend $2.3 billion fighting snow and ice, which is approximately 20 percent of their annual maintenance budgets. When adverse weather threatens road conditions, maintenance managers must take many factors into consideration in order to plan an effective response: • Which routes to treat • When to apply chemicals • What type of chemical to apply • What chemical application rate to use • The cost of the chemicals, fuel, and labor • The environmental impact of the chemicals To make the most effective decisions, agencies require technology that provides the best available observed and forecast weather information, integrated with operational recommendations. For the ground transportation industry, this tool is known as a MDSS, first developed in 2001. The MDSS integrates relevant road weather forecasts, coded maintenance rules of practice, and maintenance By Jeremy Duensing and Shawn Truelson APPLICATION NOTE Maintenance Decision Support System (MDSS) for Winter Road Maintenance
  2. 2. 2 ___________________________________________________________________________________________________ ©2014 Schneider Electric. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be used, reproduced, photocopied, transmitted, or stored in any retrieval system of any nature, without the written permission of the copyright owner. www.schneider-electric.com Rev 2013-0 APPLICATION NOTE resource data to provide winter maintenance managers with recommended road treatment strategies, based on available resources and best practices. MDSS technology from Schneider Electric Schneider Electric’s MDSS solution analyzes observed and forecasted weather and pavement conditions to determine what is expected to happen on roadways in the near future. In addition, it provides winter road maintenance best practices and strategies for a 36-hour window. The tool is available in two versions: a basic, a low-cost option providing treatment recommendations for pre-defined weather and pavement conditions at Road Weather Information System (RWIS) points; and a route-based version with intelligent treatment timing, fully customizable to specific agency parameters. Both provide maintenance managers with the insight needed to make timely, effective decisions for specific routes during winter events, which helps mitigate dangerous road conditions. Instead of reacting to changing weather conditions, agencies can proactively treat roadways with targeted amounts of chemicals at the right time — before, during, and after a storm — to keep road surfaces free of snow and ice. Above: recommended treatments within Schneider Electric’s MDSS solution are based on a client’s standard maintenance best practices.
  3. 3. 3 ___________________________________________________________________________________________________ ©2014 Schneider Electric. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be used, reproduced, photocopied, transmitted, or stored in any retrieval system of any nature, without the written permission of the copyright owner. www.schneider-electric.com Rev 2013-0 APPLICATION NOTE Route-based, graphical display enables timely, accurate decision-making The advanced display offered by Schneider Electric’s route-based MDSS enables maintenance managers to interpret road condition information at a glance. The map provides an animated forecast showing pavement conditions, pavement and bridge temperatures, and snow depth on specific routes. Color-coding indicates the routes that will be affected by weather and when they will need attention, while chemical treatment recommendations are represented with bold icons within a detailed, hourly forecast table. Above: detailed atmospheric and pavement forecasts are available for every hour. Customizable to the needs of individual agencies Schneider Electric’s route-based MDSS allows users to add specific parameters, such as route, traffic impact, cycle times, chemical types and rates, and application best practices based on their own experience. This capability results in treatment recommendations that are calculated for the user’s unique weather and pavement condition scenarios.
  4. 4. 4 ___________________________________________________________________________________________________ ©2014 Schneider Electric. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be used, reproduced, photocopied, transmitted, or stored in any retrieval system of any nature, without the written permission of the copyright owner. www.schneider-electric.com Rev 2013-0 APPLICATION NOTE Highly accurate weather forecasts from experienced meteorologists Any MDSS is only as accurate as the pavement forecast information that it integrates, making the weather data provider a primary consideration in selecting a solution. Schneider Electric has been providing forecasts for transportation clients for more than 25 years. Its current client base includes 33 state and provincial departments of transportation and more than 1,000 city and county departments of public works. Schneider Electric’s MDSS receives weather data prepared by a staff of 50 experienced meteorologists, four of which are Certified Consulting Meteorologists (CCM). As a result of this expertise and experience, Schneider Electric has been rated number one in temperature and precipitation forecast accuracy for seven consecutive years, based on an independent study. Advantages of Schneider Electric’s MDSS With its highly accurate pavement and atmospheric forecasts, Schneider Electric’s MDSS enables maintenance managers to make decisions that benefit their community and agency alike. In addition to providing data, Schneider Electric works closely with MDSS clients, not only to provide information they need now, but also to continually improve future services. Benefits of Schneider Electric’s MDSS include: • Faster time to bare pavement • Safer travel conditions and reduced crash risks • Increased mobility due to restored capacity, reduced delays, and more uniform traffic flow • Improved productivity for commercial freight and the traveling public • More efficient use of chemicals, equipment, and labor, resulting in reduced winter road maintenance costs • Reduced environmental impact • Increased employee satisfaction through strategic use of human resources • Better use of budget dollars • Increased management approval A 2009 RITA case study 2 on MDSS revealed a significant cost/benefit ratio. For every dollar spent on an MDSS, agencies realized $1.33 to $8.67 in benefits.
  5. 5. 5 ___________________________________________________________________________________________________ ©2014 Schneider Electric. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be used, reproduced, photocopied, transmitted, or stored in any retrieval system of any nature, without the written permission of the copyright owner. www.schneider-electric.com Rev 2013-0 APPLICATION NOTE Schneider Electric’s route-based MDSS in Alberta Bearing 30,000 to 50,000 vehicles per day, the Queen Elizabeth II Highway stretches from Calgary to Edmonton, a 162-mile thoroughfare vulnerable to inclement weather, particularly during winter. Alberta Transportation selected Schneider Electric to deliver a comprehensive road weather information system. Schneider Electric initially supplied more than 100 RWIS stations, each including multiple pavement and six atmospheric sensors to send real-time data to Schneider Electric’s forecasting division. In turn, Schneider Electric returns hourly atmospheric and pavement forecast with treatment recommendations through its route-based MDSS. This installation has been proven to deliver a level of pavement forecast accuracy of up to 94.4 percent. Because of the system’s success, an additional 38 RWIS stations are in the process of being deployed in urban, rural, and unique locations throughout the province. Schneider Electric’s intelligent MDSS not only helps Alberta Transportation to increase road safety and travel efficiency, it also supports environmental protection as its timely, accurate weather data helps eliminate unnecessary chemical and road salt applications. Reduced use of chemicals and staff overtime also decreases maintenance contractor costs and realizes savings for the province. 1 http://www.ops.fhwa.dot.gov/weather/q1_roadimpact.htm 2 http://www.benefitcost.its.dot.gov/ITS/benecost.nsf/ID/066310D542585E388525787E006E0BE5?OpenDocument&Query=Bapp About the Authors: Jeremy Duensing is Schneider Electric’s transportation product manager. He joined the company more than 15 years ago, after graduating from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln with a bachelor’s degree in meteorology. In addition to several years on the forecast desk, Duensing started a forecast verification program. Most recently he has been involved in expanding weather products and services into the transportation community. He is also a member of the American Meteorological Society’s ITS/Surface Transportation Weather Committee. Shawn Truelson serves as Schneider Electric’s transportation industry relationship manager, supporting clients with weather and pavement forecasting services. With the company for more than 10 years, she specializes in weather decision support systems for road maintenance operations, MDSS systems, and customized meteorological solutions. Truelson has additional involvement in co-sales and consulting projects with the company’s transportation group in Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS), including advanced traveler information systems and traffic control center software. She also offers experience with Geographic Information Systems (GIS), particularly the integration of GIS weather intelligence into transportation applications.

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