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Using Advanced Data Analytics to Reduce Snowplow Fuel Consumption

Status:  Complete
Report Date:  08/02/2023

Summary:

MnDOT snowplows, while keeping winter roads safe, consume over 1 million gallons of fuel annually. In addition to the taxpayer cost, these trucks are a substantial source of greenhouse gas emissions. To be more efficient and help meet its sustainability goals, MnDOT continually seeks ways to decrease fuel consumption. New advanced analyses of existing data can inform these efforts and illustrate the potential of using this data for enhancing winter maintenance management. A database created from onboard computers installed in snowplows was mined for specific data on snowplow fuel consumption and factors that may impact it. Analyzing idling events of over 900 vehicles from the 2018 to 2022 winter seasons found 52,000 hours of idling consumed 4.2% of the total fuel used. Also, a process combining snowplow data with historical weather data illustrated the impact of snowfall levels on snowplow fuel efficiency. On days with a snowfall of 4 or more inches, fuel use increased 29% on average compared to dry days. These results can inform MnDOT’s placement of snow fences and efforts to reduce truck idling.

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