Snow is a commonplace issue in winter throughout much of the United States and Canada. Municipalities typically clear streets with their own fleet of snowplows. While businesses, apartments, shopping malls, and other commercial properties are left to contract outside snow removal companies to make sure that their parking areas are cleared in a timely manner.
Whether you are a small-scale operator, private company dispatcher, or a municipal fleet manager, keeping all the critical details in line can be a challenge. Many will turn to modern-day GPS technology, with logistics software, paired with dash cams for the many benefits these systems provide.
Real-Time GPS Logistics For Efficient Route Planning
Municipal snowplow fleet managers are tasked with the important job of making sure that all public areas are cleared of snow in a timely manner. Failure to clear an area in a reasonable amount of time, or a public parking area that is missed can lead to major liability issues for the city or township.
When snow removal vehicles and equipment have real-time GPS tracking technology installed into their onboard electrical system, it allows fleet managers to accurately track their service area. If a particular street or parking area is missed, they can catch it before the responsible vehicle moves on to their next scheduled service area.
Some urban areas also have “Snow Emergency” policies. When an emergency is issued by the city, it requires residents to park on a specific side of the street. This allows plow operators to operate with greater speed and efficiency. When a particular vehicle doesn’t comply, it may require the snowplow to make a second or third pass. With a GPS tracking system set up with alerts, the operator can quickly contact towing professionals who are tasked with removing non-compliant vehicles to help clear the roads.
Private Snow Removal Companies
Of course, municipal snowplow fleets aren’t the only snow removal services that can benefit from GPS technology. There are a variety of private snow removal companies that need to manage multiple vehicles in the field. Many of them benefit from GPS functionality and logistics on a number of levels.
There are some clients serviced by private snow removal companies who will sign seasonal contracts. This is most common with commercial properties and multi-family residential complexes where snow removal is an important liability issue. When all snow removal vehicles and equipment are equipped with real-time GPS tracking technology it allows fleet managers to monitor which properties have been serviced. It can also help monitor the location of vehicles to make sure that operators aren’t “Moonlighting” with off-books clients, or using company vehicles for personal reasons.
GPS Tracking Technology Helps With Emergency Logistics
Privately contracted snow removal companies tend to deeply appreciate clients who contract their services throughout an entire winter. Being able to plan services in advance helps with efficiency and overall client satisfaction. Yet there are times when something might have been accidentally missed, or a site needs emergency snow removal services. It’s also not unheard of for a non-contracted, new client to need emergency snow plow services during a major storm. This could include things like:
- Hospitals and medical clinics
- Schools and childcare facilities
- Residential properties
- Construction sites
- Delivery depots
- Transportation hubs and airports
- Clients of other snow removal companies dissatisfied with a competitor’s service
In these situations, a fleet manager can quickly assess which units are closest to the emergency to efficiently deploy the company’s resources, without compromising service to any existing clients. Not only does this maximize client satisfaction levels, but it can also help attract and retain long-term new clients through positive referrals.
Monitoring (PTO) Power Take Off Usage
Most snowplows and snow removal equipment has some type of power take-off (PTO) system that engages the plow or accessories by tapping into the power produced by the engine. GPS tracking systems can also be set up to monitor PTO usage. Not only can this information be used to determine if a specific area was plowed, but it can also spot areas of inefficient use. This can then be used to correct the problem or to help with operator retraining.
Dashcam Technology Limits Liability And Improves Operator Performance
Dashcams and other types of onboard videography are increasing popular with service fleet vehicles. Snowplows and other types of snow removal equipment have to deal with very tough conditions. At the same time, other vehicles on the road don’t always display the safest behavior. Some will outright defy vehicle safety codes which put them and the snow removal vehicle at risk. When a snow removal vehicle is equipped with a dashcam or other video monitoring equipment the footage can be beneficial in a variety of ways.
First and foremost, it is an excellent way to either prove or disprove a safety or liability issue. Snowplow operators typically have to work in poor visibility conditions. Not to mention the fact that some items can be easily disguised under deep snow or within drifts and large snow piles. There have been many snow removal operators who have struck and damaged personal property such as vehicles, landscaping features, and trees, without knowing it. Sometimes the sheer power of the vehicle itself makes it hard to tell the difference between a large patch of frozen snow and an object. Should the property owner complain, the dashcam footage can be used to ascertain if the operator was truly at fault, or if the weather or another party may have caused the damage. It can also serve as evidence in case of an accident or mechanical injury.
Not only can this reduce liability settlements, but it can also prevent unnecessary hikes in a snow removal company’s insurance premium.
Driver Accountability And Training
A snowplow equipped with a dashcam system and real-time GPS also helps improve driver accountability as well as safety performance. Operators who are aware of a system are far less likely to abuse company vehicles. This includes things like safe driving, moonlighting, and using company equipment for personal reasons.
Yet it’s also worth bearing in mind that snowplow drivers often encounter situations where a safety risk was thrust upon them by an irresponsible motorist or pedestrian. Video footage of these incidents can later be used to develop safety training videos.