Snowplow Forums banner

1 - 20 of 25 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
18 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hey guys,

I am starting to really try and gather some info for a project I am working on that could potentially revolutionize the plowing industry. I am working on developing a product that would allow you to see all the obsticles in your plowing area.

Imagine if you pulled in a snow covered parking lot with 12" of snow, and were able to tell exactly where the parking curbs were with sub-inch accuracy? Not only that, if a customer came to you and said that you had damaged their landscape and you could hand them a print out showing exactly where you had been in their lot that would prove to them beyond a shadow of a doubt that you had not damaged anything in their lot.

If you had to get a sub last minute, you could put him in a truck in a lot he had never been in his entire life with 18" of snow and feel confident that he would not damage the customers facility or your equipment (at least not because he hit anything, lol).

What I am asking from you guys at this point is if you can give me a rough estimate of what you may shell out each year do to damage from impacts of objects. Both on your equipment as well as any customer disputes that may have to be setteled.

Unfortunetley I can't give you guys the complete specifics about this project yet as it is still in the early stages of development and I don't want to spread the word just yet. But I feel that you are the perfect group to help me with this project. Once I get to the testing phase, I would also like to send a few set ups to a couple of you guys for testing purposes as well.


So, for right now, I am looking for info on damage estimates per year.

Also, would it appeal to you to have high speed internet available in your truck with you?

Also, the ability to get online and track where you other units are and what they are doing real-time.

And for you guys that run spreaders, I could possibly implement a automatic shut off for the application of your product.(This will come a little later, frirst things first)

This is no joke, I am looking at adapting real technology that already exists in other industries for strictly the snow removal industry. Any and all feed back is much appreciated. As I said, I would like you guys to be involved with this project to make sure it is the best it can be.


Thanks and I look forward to hearing from you. Please feel free to ask questions as well and I will tell you as much as I can at this point in the game. I have been working on this for about 9 months already and that has brought me to the point where I need some expert input.

Thanks,
Ryan
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
189 Posts
OK I'll chime in here. I hate to be a downer on your ideas, but... here goes. I'd be impressed if your system will know about the hidden changing conditions throughout the winter. Our biggest nemesis' are: ice so you can't steer or stop as planned, hardpack that kicks your vehicle sideways, or frost that heaves objects mid-winter (water shutoffs, manholes and concrete) and turns them into plow-stoppers in the middle of winter. Oh yes don't forget about wheel chocks scattered around chained to the loading docks, extension cords for the semi that was parked in a different spot, the list goes on and on and on .......

I think there will always be unpredictable variables in snowplowing that will require operator input, and you know you can't guarantee their won't be human error.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
18 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
No, this system will not be able to do that. There is no way you can adjust for variables. Basic overview of how this system would work is that when you sign the contract, before the snow flies you would be able to enter the perimeter of the lot and also mark any constants such as parking curbs, landscaping, manholes, water shut-offs etc... so that you would now the location as to where it currently is. Now once provided this information, you would be able to adjust accordingly once you got close to these objects so that you are aware of it's presence. But it's location that is shown to you will not have shifted more than one inch year to year. So if you mark a small parking lot island and come bck in 15 years to plow this lot, it will still map the island's location within 1" of where you marked it 15 years ago.

This will not totally take human error out of the equation, as you have stated there are always going to be variables to look out for. But if you can know exactly where everything for this parking lot started out that you have to be aware of, won't that help drastically?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
189 Posts
Your post started as "stop damage to equipment and facilities", it will have to be a fairly low cost investment since now it will only "reduce" the possibility of damage. It's a gps mapping system much like the farmers have been using in their fields, and you still have to go through the parking lot or driveway and input all the data (every jog in the curbline, every manhole, every water box, bumper block, handicap sign.....) Next while plowing you need to watch for all the variables: drifts, ice, hard pack, cars, cords, chocks, pedestrians.... Oh, and do all that while looking down at a computer screen to figure out when exactly to turn and or stop???

So far our visual memory, $0.20 plow stakes and 61 years of company experience seems safer and cheaper than a few mail box posts or chips in the curbs over the years.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
273 Posts
Not to mension the accident you got into while looking at the screen , and not paying attention to the panicked driver that was in front of you not shure witch way to go because you were'nt making good eye contact!
I can see my ins. rates on the rise already and its not even avalible yet!:grinz
 

·
GO GO Gadget Plow!
Joined
·
1,380 Posts
Our damages to property and equipment runs about 1% to curbs and plows.
So if we do $ 100,000.00 in sales our costs to repair would be about
$ 1000.00
In my experience the largest cost of damage comes from backing. Whether it be spreader shutes or cars having a cost effective solution for that would be awesome.
To my fellow posters, lets not drag this guys idea through the mud, lets support and help.
Dino
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
189 Posts
Sorry, I hear a lot of sales pitches day in and out, hearing about something that will revolutionize an industry always has me on guard for the big sales pitch.

I can see some uses for the system, to maybe give an approximate location of a hidden manhole or other object, but I still struggle with the idea that this system is going to work that great.

Every truck, tractor, loader, and plow is a different length and width, which means tons of individualized vehicle and plow specific programing and configuration to get within less than an inch, and within an inch of what? If the computer moves in the truck a few inches is everything misalligned? Would the system know which way my plow is hydro-turned, or if the wings are in or out on a 8611, or if a Daniels wing plow on a loader is folded or not, or or the exact wing position on an Ebling 8'-16' backblade?

It has some useful applications, but like Stargazer said "years, not months", and like I said "Reduce damage", not eliminate.
 

·
GO GO Gadget Plow!
Joined
·
1,380 Posts
All I am saying is lets answer his simple question before you all start ripping the man and his idea. He hasn't even mentioned what his idea is and yet some think they have it all figured out.
So far I am the only one who had even touched on the info he asked for.
dino
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,332 Posts
All I am saying is lets answer his simple question before you all start ripping the man and his idea. He hasn't even mentioned what his idea is and yet some think they have it all figured out.
So far I am the only one who had even touched on the info he asked for.
dino
Agree Dino, The guy is asking for our professional opinions to help perfect his idea. Kudo's for even trying. Just think about when someone had a crazy idea to put moving wings on a plow. That changed the plowing industry.

For me we dont' have much curb damage. I charge for my staking of my commerical parking lots. This is the insurance for me if me or my guys damage something. Really the places I take care of I have been for a long time and don't even stake them anymore. That part of the contract is really for new commecial customers. Resi's must stake their own driveways. Like Dino Said most damage is from backing into something like light poles that mysteriously move in the middle of the night. :rolleyes:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
189 Posts
Our damages average less than 1/16% of sales, but damages that could have been prevented with this system are around 1/100%, this is based on the numbers below.

So far this year:
3 extension cords roughly $100 (not our fault, but replaced for a good customer)
paint chips on the corner of building $20

Last year:
3 extension cords roughly $80 (not our fault, but replaced for a good customer) anyone see a pattern here :rolleyes:
Manhole, no cost to us, the owner took care of it
1 mailbox post $10
4yds topsoil and some seed (pushing piles back to make room for snow)

Insurance covers us if we have a major incident, so worst case a $500 deductible, but its been quite a few years (knock on wood)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
18 Posts
Discussion Starter #12
I thank you all for your input and feedback. As I said all is welcome, and that means good and bad. I agree woodenshoe, maybe eliminate was a bad choice of wording and should have used reduce. And this is in no way a sales push. There is nothing that I am going to push on you or try and rope you to buy. Simply trying to accomplish something that with enough work and some help I may be able to present to the industry. And like in my first post when I mentioned maybe having some board members here try this stuff out, I was already thinking into next season at least. This will definitely take some time to make sure that it is done right.

No as far as this system knowing how big your plow is, wings out or not, which direction you are tilted.....Already thought of that and am including that technology into the system. No biggie on that end and all VERY easily entered and changed in the system. Would take about 10-15 minutes to set up all peramiters for the first time use, after that would simply be the push of a button on the touch screen. Computer would be able to be moved anywhere you want to put it in the truck at anytime, you could even hold it in your hand while plowing and you will not mess with the locations of your marked objects. All tied into 2 little antennea's mounted on the roof(look like cell antennea's).

As for obstructions while backing up, as long as you marked that light pole, you are going to see it behind you. And this is not somthing that you are continously staring at the screen trying to see what you have in front of you. The screen is small enough not to obstruct view much, yet large enough to be able to tell what is going on. The colors are different enough that a quick glance and you would be able to see what is coming up. Also, for cars that may be in the lot when you show up to plow, you would be able to pull up that parking lot and all previously marked obstacles and just real quick mark those cars on there as well so you were always aware of where they were.


I am taking this kind of position on this. This will be totally new technology to this industry. I understand that there are many proven methods that are already out there and work just fine. But what if can improve on that just a little bit. I know this is certainly not going to be for everyone, but some will hopefully like it and embrace a new method of doing things. I have truely opened this up to not only make this mine, but yours as well. I came here to not only get info on monetary damages, but also hoping that you guys may as well throw in a few features that you would like to see. Maybe you don't like it as I have explained it so far, and you don't need it. But what do you need? Maybe something that you could find useful could also be part of this project. I have no complete list of things that this will need to do be any means, technology and needs are always changing. So lets work together and see what kind of a monster we can put together, cause in the end, this is suppossed to be something helpful.

Thanks,
Ryan
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,332 Posts
Ryan, Sounds like a good idea. One area I think it would help is where obsticles like manholes are and pavement heaves. When you are plowing and hit something would you be able to mark the area via this system to alert you to when you where approaching these obsticles?

I have a parking lot where the pavement heaves pretty good. I am sure people who plow roads would like to be remembered of areas that are more dangerous than other areas. Like pot holes, manholes, or even run offs that are always icy.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
749 Posts
Perhaps program it to log location automatically when something is hit with a threshold force that creates a shock to the system (speed/shock moment/location .... that sort of thing). An audible alarm could remind the driver when they are near that location again.

If you really want to be fancy with the GPS technology, have it send a signal to lift the plow 6" when it is perpendicular to and 6" from the curb, when driving forward, automatically.

BTW, we've chooched mostly our own bumpers, plow wings and sheet metal - we leave the site taking our damage with us:rolleyes:. Never much to the site.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
111 Posts
This system would be great as long as it was affordable.I have been plowing for 7 years with no damages occured Knock on wood.Couid you map out miles of roads,this could be good for city plows.Then if they could tell where all there trucks are that would be a plus.I had a nephew that plowed for a township and they were always screwing around.I'm sure larger cities have tracking on there trucks but you never know.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
13 Posts
Damage

Hey Oz, this type of technology sounds suspiciously like the type that lets my farmer brother in law pull in the field, drop the planter, push a button and bail out of the tractor to run to town for a case of beer! Here, the latest genious idea is put a Target or Home Depot in a lot where you CAN'T go 150' in any direction without hitting and curbed planter or cart corrale or CHOKED OFF entrance/exit. That's your Market my friend.

I gotta love an Idea Man
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
18 Posts
Discussion Starter #17
Hey Oz, this type of technology sounds suspiciously like the type that lets my farmer brother in law pull in the field, drop the planter, push a button and bail out of the tractor to run to town for a case of beer! Here, the latest genious idea is put a Target or Home Depot in a lot where you CAN'T go 150' in any direction without hitting and curbed planter or cart corrale or CHOKED OFF entrance/exit. That's your Market my friend.

I gotta love an Idea Man
That is exactly the idea. This will allow you to mark any obstacle, wheather it be a building or a landscape island, shopping cart corrale or parking curbs. It works on almost the same premise as what you are talking about for farming, but is quite a bit different.

Something else to go along with it that I have been toying with the past few days is also a automatic plow height control that would automatically allow your plow to adjust height without your input as you travel across the lot. Should be especially helpful for gravel lots and roads. Working right now on tying it in with hydraulics and figuring out the best type of sensor to use for this. I have a good idea of features that I would like the final product to have.


CAT 325

Yes the amount of miles you could map out on roads would be indefinite. It would be ideal for cities and state depts as they could monitor their drivers locations at all times.



Deere John

It will have the functionality to be able to mark hazards on the fly. You will be able to mark manhole covers, curbs that have moved, cars, etc...



Am loving the feedback on this guys, I fear that it will at least be next year before this is ready for testing, but as it comes closer to that stage, I will definetly rely on you guys for more information and feedback and feature ideas that you would like to see. In the mean time please keep the comments coming and if you have any specific questions, by all means please post them here and I will be sure to answer them for you.

Thanks,
Ryan
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
13 Posts
Damage

Hey Oz, One thing I'd add from a guy who LOVES his all hydraulic Zero Electronic Plow setup, People love their Toyota until it decides it doesn't need a driver anymore.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
940 Posts
Sounds like an interesting concept.

I can see where woodenshoe was coming from. I'm sure some the guys on this site who have been plowing the same accounts for years have the accounts memorized and could envision every kick in a curb, man hole, pot hole etc, in their head with their eyes closed. It could be true that the expense of the system vs. the cost of repair from damages would not be beneficial.

However, for a company like the one I work for, I could see it coming in handy. We run around 20 plows every time we go out and we sub out 10. It's hard for us to get the same 20 guys to run plows every night, especially when we are running back-to-back nights. We may have the same group of guys 1 night and have 6 different guys the next. While most of us "specialize" in a certain route, this means sometimes we have to take on parts or entire routes that we are not familiar with. This is where damages occur due to the operator not knowing the lot. That is where this system could really shine.

For upcoming obstacles I think it would be handy to have a different audible alert for different obstacles. For instance different tones for curb kicks, a separate tone for man holes, so the driver doesn't even have to technically look at the computer screen to know what they are coming up to.

I also think it would be a neat feature (for insurance purposes) to have an option that allows the system to "log" data for each account. Like completion times, conditions of the lots, special hazards, business hours v. after hour run instructions. That way a boss could go and download all the info after each run and put it into a database. The driver could pull up an account click "Start Account" and the program records start time and everything the driver does. When he finishes, click "Account Complete" it pops up optional fields like "Full Plow", "Salt Applied", "Sidewalks Cleared" and an empty field for misc. notes that the driver could enter or what ever options they could want. After selecting the fields click "Finished" and it logs all the completed fields and the completion time.

That way when Mr./Mrs. Bitch and Moan calls and says "you hit my car!" you can pull up all the information on that specific run and say "We didn't hit your car. We were there from 3:30-3:45 am and the driver only reported one car in the parking lot which is on the complete opposite side of the lot from where you say your car was parked."

There is a LOT that can be included in this system and kudos for you to being bold enough to take on such a task.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
13 Posts
damage

That is very thoughtful, This feature would be REALLY cool if you could load the Info audibly, not having to stop and type in the info.
 
1 - 20 of 25 Posts
Top