Issues Affecting Salt Management
Although road safety is a high priority for agencies involved in winter operations, the use of salt during winter months must be balanced against environmental concerns. The excessive use of salt in the past has resulted in regulations governing the amount of salt that may be used, by both the Canadian and U.S. government.
The rising cost of salt is another issue affecting public agencies, as it can be a significant expense to agencies with tight budgets. According to Craig Eckert, Public Works Commissioner for Henrietta, “We budget a certain amount of money every year and we have to contend with that.” During particularly harsh winters, stock shortages have been experienced, making it even more critical to use salt efficiently.
Using Technology to Balance Road Salt Benefits and Concerns
The growing cost and increasing issues of using salt to address dangerous driving conditions make it even more important that agencies be more strategic in its use. Today’s telematics technology makes it possible to use this commodity more intelligently – using better weather data, improving the measurement of salt application and fleet location data, and attaining a better understanding of ice-melting strategies.
1. Measurement Technology for Strategic Salt Application
Tools for controlling and measuring the use of road salt offer significant improvements over traditional systems of estimating salt use on a visual basis alone. Employing automatic spreader controls, over the traditional mirror and flashlight approach, ensures greater accuracy with application and tracking.
2. Using Improved Ice-Melting Knowledge for Smarter Salt Use
A better understanding of the ice-melting process can also assist with using the right amount of salt exactly where and when it is needed. Recent studies add to the information available on melting ice and snow with salt, as well as the proper use of pre-wetting liquids, which enhance the salt’s melting work. This knowledge can be used by fleet managers to plan salt dispersion rules.
3. Accurate Weather Forecasts for Planning Ahead
Weather forecasts provide the information needed to make smart decisions regarding the use of salt, as they allow snow management professionals to allocate resources appropriately, a task easily accomplished with their fleet management solution. Weather forecasts can also help agencies prepare to apply salt to roads when it is most critical, preventing the overuse of road salt. Equally important, pavement temperature forecasts allow for the efficient use of both salt and pre-wetting agents.
The right GPS/AVL solutions make it possible to use salt more efficiently to clear dangerous roads. At the same time, these tools can help prevent the overuse of salt, saving on operational and material costs as well as minimizing liability and increasing transparency for snow and ice management teams. For more information on Salt Management, find out white paper ‘Smarter Usage of Road Salt’ HERE.
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