“There are some things you learn best in calm, and some in storm.”
—Willa Cather, American author
From New England to the Mid-West in the US and from Vancouver Island to Nova Scotia in Canada, Webtech Wireless’ Shane Finnigan has been criss-crossing the continent ensuring Public Works’ and other Winter Operations organizations’ AVL solutions are in top shape for winter storms. Or as Shane puts it, “All the places that have snow”. He’s been to a lot of sites including one outdoor site at -40 C in northern Canada (Fort McMurray, Alberta) working under a parachute, which they used to extend the amount of floor space available for their service garage.
“When I visit a site, I make a thorough check of each vehicle and make notes. This is an audit of the vehicles AVL equipment, which I use to let the fleet manager know of the status of their equipment”, says Shane adding, “Some clients aren’t aware of the levels required for equipment to run as intended so it’s my job to inform them. After the audit, we send in a repair technician in to complete repairs.”
Shane describes a number of scenarios he’s found during his inspections. “During the summer, vehicles are often repurposed and the equipment undergoes changes, which require recalibration to return them to winter readiness. Sometimes a locator is moved to another vehicle, sometimes new vehicles or spreader controllers are purchased, and sometimes the client de-activates the units to reduce their cellular bills over summer months.” Whatever the cause, Shane says it all boils it down to the AVL equipment, when tested, isn’t reporting as designed. Shane identifies these problems and corrects them.
Having snow removal equipment working as intended is a matter of safety and having AVL equipment working properly is a matter of risk reduction.
“You’re using AVL as a measuring tool”, says Shane, “It shows location, speed, time, telemetry (plow sensors, augers, wings) and more data, so the cost of one liability suit would easily equal the cost of one Light Up.
AVL is used to prevent liability. ” Shane mentions that the AVL components he ensures are working have a direct impact on salt management, idling, safety of crew, route management, distribution of equipment adding “that’s why we have the telemetry of vehicles. Ideally, you want to check your equipment once a year.”
AVL is about Safety
“Sometimes, operators think AVL is like Big Brother”, says Shane, “but once they understand that the equipment helps keep them safe, they warm to it.” And there are two types of safety here: safety for the public and safety for the operators themselves. He recalls hearing of the combined AVL and panic button installed keeping a Columbus, Ohio operator safe when confronted with a shot gun toting driver protecting his driveway from windrift (the operator summoned state troopers to the scene in this case).
Check and Double Check
While Webtech Wireless has highly trained installation experts, for geographic reasons, there are three types of installers: installers employed by Webtech Wireless, third-party installers (trained by Webtech Wireless), and self-installers (some organizations have their own installers trained by Webtech Wireless). “Winter Light Up is a great way to double check the quality of installations and make changes or updates, says Shane, “It gives a second set of eyes on the installations.
“Where are you off to next”, I ask Shane and he replies that he’s off to Buffalo next week to audit the city’s fleet of 60 vehicles. “We conducted a Winter Light Up audit there last year; they were so happy with it, they’re going to have a full audit again this year”, he says and then adds an insight into Buffalo’s wintry and windy location at the east end of lake Erie, “When Buffalo gets hit with snow, it’s not pretty.”
Photos courtesy of Shane Finnigan, Service Technician, Webtech Wireless