On top of the usual challenges of winter maintenance, Local Authorities have been under increased pressure from the Department for Transport (DfT) to include both walk-in and drive-in COVID-19 test centres in their essential gritting routes for this season, alongside maintaining the other crucial parts of winter maintenance.
The pandemic and associated lockdown has meant working with a reduced and partially remote workforce, all while trying to balance needs with budgetary constraints.
That’s no easy feat, but automation could be the answer.
Navigating winter with the added pressures of COVID-19
In a letter to Local Authorities dated the end of October, the Department for Transport requested all walk-in and drive-in Covid test centres were included in the essential route planning for winter road maintenance.
With winter maintenance routes usually planned and dry run by October, for some Local Authorities the pressure was on to create additional routes to test centres and quickly familiarise gritter drivers during the season itself.
However, for Local Authorities using Map-a-Route, additional routes could be mapped with ease, and automatically added to the relevant pre-existing routes to ensure the gritting process is as lean and efficient as possible.
Routes could then be instantly transferred via the cloud to the gritter’s on-board navigation system, removing the need for close worker contact in line with social distancing guidelines.
While working with a reduced workforce can cause disturbances to performance, especially if certain drivers usually cover certain routes, our in-cab navigation system allows any driver, to safely drive any given route, regardless of experience.
Better still, thanks to our recent remote working update, these routes, and the rest of the network can be managed away from the depot, whilst the Government’s ‘work from home’ rules still apply.
Managing and forecasting salt usage
In order to avoid a national salt shortage, Local Authorities and highways agencies were also asked to undertake regular monitoring of their salt stores, and report stock levels back to the DfT.
With the DfT declaring that salt producers and hauliers should not be expected to deliver salt within 24 hours of receiving an order, being able to accurately forecast salt preserves helps to eliminate the possibility of salt stocks running dangerously low.
Our Map-a-Route software records the data on the amount of salt distributed for each route (in line with the desired spread rate), allowing Local Authorities to easily and quickly calculate the amount of salt required to cover their routes throughout the entire winter season.
Map-a-Route’s powerful reporting function facilitates fast and effective winter resource forecasting. Providing the depot with vital statistics from the entire gritting fleet, all in accordance with your own pre-determined business objectives, such as cost reduction or resource allocation.
Data can include service distance and estimated salt and fuel usage, plus route efficiencies to help manage winter budgets and forecast future requirements.
This can be further enhanced by integrating our gritter tracking solution which confirms driven journeys and provides accurate salt usage reports by returning all salting attribute data from the gritter control box.
Continuing the routine cleansing of drains and gullies
Drains and gullies are an important part of winter maintenance but could become overlooked given the challenges faced during the pandemic. The DfT has made it clear that Local Authorities are not to stop or reduce routine cleansing of drains and gullies, despite having less staff and treating the additional COVID-19 test centre routes.
Our Map-a-Route route mapping software, combined with our vehicle tracking and navigation system can also be used to map out and record drain and gully emptying routes – recording journey data as proof of performance.
Take the next step in winter maintenance
For more information on how our solutions can support your winter maintenance programme, fill in the form below to speak to one of our experts: