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Advanced Salt Management System for Municipalities Now Available

Flodraulic set out to create a semi-automated snow plow truck. After rigorous development, commissioning and field testing, Flodraulic’s patent-pending control system is now on trucks and the response is very positive.

There are several aspects to the Archimedes Precision Spreader:

  1. Salt Measuring
    • Using a sensor array, the system would measure the amount of salt being dispensed accurately through cross sectional area measurements of the granules on the belt.
    • Because salt application would be measured not estimated to ensure accuracy, the need for periodic calibrations will be little to none.
    • This is contrary to other systems in the field where salt is calculated based on assumptions of how much material is being dispensed at any given belt speed, gate height and road speed. The issue with assuming the amount of material being dispensed is that it is based on averages based on sample runs and not a true representation of the truck- gate heights change, blockages occur and belts degrade over time.
  2. Cloud Connectivity
    • Trucks become connected to the cloud for telematics and asset tracking.
    • This includes photos from the truck for road conditions and blade positions.
  3. Plow Position
    • Measure and detect where the plow and wing are at all times.
    • This would be used to detect plow down and take photos of the moment and push to the cloud.
  4. Object Detection
    • Using similar technology to self-driving cars.
    • We would detect objects in the distance and warn operators if the plow or wing would collide with them.
  5. Cloud Connection & Control
    • Automatically meter salt based on pre-mapped locations from the cloud.
    • A ‘storm severity’ slider that will dynamically raise or lower recommend application rates – specific to any road or route.
  6. Automated Salt Control
    • Operators could manually adjust, but the truck would automatically apply specified application rates.

Snow and ice vehicles are large and by definition are only operated when road conditions are at their most dangerous. As a result, being an operator of one of these vehicles requires skill and concentration. When all of the driver’s attention is consumed with the safe operation of the vehicle, minimizing the operator’s non-driving tasks allows them to focus on road conditions and vehicular traffic. This system will increase the safety of drivers by almost entirely removing salt control from their operational procedure.

With advanced salt controls, municipality salt usage will be much more accurate. The University of Guelph has partnered with Flodraulic and is working on develop algorithms for the next generation of smart salt trucks so we can use real-time weather forecasts and monitor road surface conditions for precision salt application. As a result, our road network will achieve higher road safety standards, while better protecting identified salt vulnerable areas (protecting municipal drinking water supply wells/aquifers and Ontario’s freshwater streams/lakes/wetlands from salinization) while lowering the cost of winter road maintenance for the road authorities (due to reduced road salt use on salt vulnerable areas). This is often attributed to combating blockages, erring on the side of caution, or proactive applications from weather forecasts. The technology in these new trucks will automatically respond to blockages for the operator and will recommend an application of salt that will use less salt than current trucks on the road while maintaining the same level of public safety.