Vaisala Route Optimization

Route Optimization

Route Optimization is a bespoke consultancy service that specializes in the development of winter treatment routes in order to optimize resources and comply with best practice.

Vaisala Route Optimization is a bespoke, impartial and comprehensive winter maintenance consultancy service. It specializes in the development of winter treatment routes, to meet a range of targets, including cost reduction, selective treatment plans and resource reallocation.

The Route Optimization service is easily configurable to specific customer requirements. Precautionary (anti-icing), reactive (de-icing) and snow ploughing treatment regimes are all accommodated, as are pre-wetted and dry spreading methodologies.

Vaisala’s Route Optimization team has over a decade’s experience of designing anti-icing, de-icing and ploughing routes in the UK, Europe and the USA.

Whilst sophisticated computer tools are employed during the contract process, experience has shown that the production of successful routes is a two way process, requiring the additional flexibility of skilled personnel offering face-to-face consultation and advice. Vaisala's Route Optimization service offers the benefits of extensive in-house expertise, from highway engineers and GIS specialists to professional meteorologists and vehicle specialists.

The Route Optimization team act in partnership with the service provider to ensure that new routes meet all legislative guidelines and any other desired targets or benchmarks. Regular feedback loops allow stakeholders the opportunity for input during the design process, ensuring that the finalized routes are operationally acceptable to all.

The initial stages of a Route Optimization project will typically involve a review of current client operations to assess which alternative operational scenarios provide the best opportunities for savings. Typically, route design will commence after this review has been completed. However, this initial review can also be commissioned separately to deliver an independent consultancy report detailing current levels of service. This can be an invaluable method of benchmarking existing treatment regimes, and can be used as the framework for developing
a structured series of future recommendations and actions. 

Consultancy Service

In the ever-changing field of winter maintenance, service providers are continually expected to improve levels of service whilst rarely being provided with the budgets to match. Regular legislative changes also provide new challenges for the service provider, often stretching resources further still. Although authorities are expected to make best use of their resources by adhering to the broad principles of 'Best Value', often a lack of any coherent Performance Indicators can make it difficult for an authority to benchmark its current level of service against what is considered best practice.

Vaisala’s position at the forefront of winter service solutions means it is uniquely placed to offer customers the benefits of its extensive global experience in lieu of any effective performance benchmarks.

A typical consultancy review will address issues such as network coverage; conformity with neighboring authorities; treatment materials and storage; treatment criteria; depot and fleet review; calibration issues; effectiveness of the ice prediction system; scope for potential savings via Route Optimization, and any other areas requested by the client. All reviews will set out a structured series of recommendations designed to add value to winter services and provide ongoing savings in the short, medium and long term.

An ever-growing number of authorities are asking Vaisala to help benchmark their current levels of service, and to help seek out innovative solutions to local circumstances with a view towards achieving best practice in winter maintenance. A Vaisala consultancy review will provide stakeholders with greater confidence that the services being delivered represent the best possible use of available resources, and if this isn’t currently the case, what steps need to be taken to achieve this standard.

Vaisala’s Route Optimization service can be implemented as a stand-alone project or fully integrated with other Vaisala products and services.
Thermal Mapping data can be integrated into the route design process. Thermal treatment routes are designed with respect to the warmer and colder areas of the network, giving the potential for route-by-route decision making for selective treatment on marginal nights where temperatures are forecast to fall around freezing.
Route Optimization will always aim to maximize the use of existing (or proposed) resources, typically leading to reductions in route numbers without compromising levels of service (typical route reduction is in the range of 10-20%, depending upon network type and size, and the overriding project aims).
GIS Deliverables: Route maps for operatives can be produced in hard copy or electronic image formats. Routes maps are created in a GIS environment, where individual route layers are geo-referenced and can be exported for inclusion in GIS platforms if required.
Route Optimization is applicable to all network types (urban, rural and linear) and sizes. The smallest contract to date designed three routes for a 130 km network, the largest 297 routes for a network of 9450km.
Route Optimization can be undertaken in response to changes to networks, depots or fleet, and in response to changing limiting constraints (treatment rates and times).
Route Optimization can be used to propose optimum treatment regimes and vehicle capacities before the procurement of new resources.
Modular routes that cater for multiple treatment scenarios can be designed.
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Key Benefits

Save money by treating the same network with fewer routes
By designing the optimum set of treatment routes, reductions in route numbers are typically achievable without compromising existing levels of service (typical route reduction is in the range of 10-20%, depending upon network type and size, and the overriding project aims). Vaisala’s independent audit of current treatment methodologies can also often highlight other areas of the winter service where further savings can be made.
Helps protect against litigation
Undertaking a comprehensive Route Optimization process shows that a service provider takes its commitments to winter maintenance seriously, and is striving to achieve the best possible use of its resources. To commission Vaisala’s Route Optimization service would be acknowledged as a strong commitment towards achieving Best Practice, and could be a significant advantage if the integrity of the service provider is ever challenged.
Reduced environmental impact
On marginal nights, selective salting via Thermal Routing may mean that only part of the maintained network will require treatment, leading to both monetary and environmental benefits in the use of treatment material. An independent assessment of current treatment methodologies can also highlight potential improvements in areas such as treatment rates and storage facilities, which in turn can lead to a reduction in treatment material usage.
Changing operational criteria
Performance Indicators such as treatment rates, treatment times and route efficiencies can often be subject to change due to external political concerns. Route Optimization ensures that treatment routes conform to any overriding external pressures imposed on the service provider.
Resource change and rationalization
Route Optimization ensures that changes to the maintained network, revised depot locations or changes to fleet number and capacity will be taken into account. Ongoing Route Optimization contracts can be put in place to cater for year-on-year changes to routes due to factors such as long-term highway maintenance or construction projects and staged vehicle procurement.
Succession planning
Control and modification of treatment routes is often in the hands of an individual or small team. In an increasingly dynamic working environment, it is important to ensure that the loss of one or all of these individuals does not impact on the level of service provided. An independent Route Optimization exercise can help to ensure that this impact is minimized.