Well-designed snowplow routes allow winter maintenance agencies to make the most effective use of their fleets. A Clear Roads review of snowplow route optimization projects showed that detailed data about a plow route network and close collaboration between route modelers and the operators who drive the routes are critical factors in an optimization project’s success.
Researchers conducted a survey of state and local winter maintenance agencies and provincial winter maintenance agencies in Canada about their route optimization efforts. In the survey, agencies were also asked about the relative importance of route optimization goals and routing constraints that optimization software features should accommodate.
Survey respondents overall put greater priority on minimizing the time until all roads are cleared as a goal for route optimization than on minimizing the total vehicle hours of travel, although many respondents rated both objectives as important.
The five most important optimization software features identified in the survey were accounting for roadway prioritization, accounting for different vehicle load capacities, allowing reloading at remote material storage facilities, lane-specific routing, and accounting for vehicle/road compatibility limitations.
The researchers also generated a project matrix that shows the different features of the optimization software packages used.