BCP Council is using Navtrak and Map-a-Route solutions to optimise winter maintenance route planning, drive efficiencies, and keep gritter drivers safe.
The winter months are notoriously challenging in the UK, with snow and icy conditions making it harder for people to travel. Winter maintenance routes need to be salted to allow for safe travel and to avoid accidents, however effective route planning can be a complicated task for local authorities.
BCP Council has embraced new digital mapping and route navigation technologies to increase the efficiency of its winter maintenance service. Route planning software, Map-a-Route, allows BCP Council to create and amend winter maintenance routes in minutes, as well as pre-determining salt levels. While Navtrak route navigation software guides gritter drivers round winter maintenance routes, automatically dropping salt where needed.
Digital route planning
With five primary gritting routes covering over 500km of roads, winter maintenance route planning for BCP Council is a major task. The council traditionally used paper maps and written instructions for each route, but these took hours to produce and didn’t account for any last-minute changes, such as road works or disruptions, which are common in winter months. Paper maps were also proving inflexible when it came to managing human resource and the council were relying on the same drivers to drive the same routes time and time again.
The council adopted Map-a-Route in 2018 and now store and manage its winter maintenance routes within the software’s online portal. Not only has this allowed the council to amend routes within minutes and instantly feed them into the gritting fleet, but they have used the quick turnaround time as an opportunity to work closely with gritter drivers to fine tune routes for the 2019 winter maintenance season.
Once a route is uploaded into the gritter, Exactrak’s in-cab route navigation system guides the driver round the route, allowing any driver to drive any route with no prior knowledge. While automated salting technology drops pre-determined levels of salt, automatically adjusting the spread width and asymmetry as it progresses round the route.
“The GPS navigation and automated salting system installed in our gritting vehicles has made our work far easier as we can now concentrate fully on driving safely in harsh conditions”
Mark Stevens, Highway Maintenance Operative, BCP Council
While the gritters are out on the road, back at the depot Map-a-Route tracks each gritter journey in real time, as well as the amount of salt dropped and where. The system alerts admin users if there is an exception to a route, for example, if a piece of road has been missed. It also alerts the driver to allow them to return and salt the missing section of the road, ensuring full coverage of BCP Council’s routes.
In the case of a road accident, a worst-case-scenario for any local authority, Map-a-Route can be used to prove the route has been salted and if the salt spread rate has followed best practice guidelines for the temperature that day.
Map-a-Route’s toolbox function calculates the time and distance of each route to determine the amount of salt needed, ensuring gritters will have enough salt to be able to complete each route. Not only is this a benefit at individual route level, the data allows the council to forecast and manage salt stocks for the entire winter maintenance season.
“Map-a-Route has made our service far more efficient, it’s allowed us to provide a far better-quality service to our residents and visitors to the town”
Simon Legg, Street Scene Manager, BCP Council