Business Center

Celebrating the Winners of the 2019 Innovations Challenges!

By: Keke Kosse and Mark Santon, Office of Process Improvement Intern

March 11, 2020

In 2019, CDOT Executive Director Shoshana Lew sponsored two Innovations Challenges to support CDOT’s values of Safety, People, Integrity, Customer Service, Excellence, and Respect. The Plow Challenge and the Employee Safety Challenge charged CDOT employees to share new ideas to improve employee safety and to deliver quality to our customers.

CDOTers from the Regions and Headquarters submitted 71 innovations total for the Challenges. From those submissions, the CDOTwide Innovation and Improvement Program Sponsors reviewed and scored the finalists, selecting one winner for each Challenge.

The Plow Challenge winner was the Plow Wing Early Collision Warning System from CDOT’s Southeast region (“Region 2”). This innovation protects snowplow wings from striking objects while the plow wing is deployed through an early detection sensor that alerts the operator when an object is in the way of the wing, allowing the operator to lift the plow wing before there is a collision. This innovation improves employee safety and prevents damage to the equipment and road objects. The innovation requires some equipment to install on plows but the costs are offset by the increased safety and decrease in damage to the plows. Check out the video for an interview with the innovators, Jeff Ercul, Aaron Reed, and Mike Martin for more information on how they developed their idea. Congratulations team from Region 2!

Vance Kelso and Chris Bennet from CDOT’s Southwest region (“Region 5”) won the Employee Safety Challenge with their innovation that improves employee safety by changing how to transfer brine salt into tanks. The previous system required an employee to spend an entire day transferring salt to the tank, resulting in higher safety risks and more room for error. The new system allows employees to transfer salt from the delivery tanker to the mixing tank in about an hour and reduces material and time waste. This innovation is relatively simple; it removes the use of an auger from the process and only requires the salt to be delivered in a pneumatic trailer, and to use a cam lock to fit the pipe to the mixing tank. Check out the video to hear Vance talk about his innovation with the support of Regional Transportation Director for Region 5, Mike Mcvaugh. Mcvaugh was glad to see Region 5 be recognized but moreso, the creative and driven spirit that Team CDOT exemplifies recognized as well. He said, “Both of these systems can benefit every maintenance operation across the state and we are pleased to highlight these products for statewide implementation.” Congratulations team from Region 5!

The winners of the Innovation Challenge were announced at the January Colorado Transportation Commission meeting on January 16th, 2020. The winners came to CDOT HQ to be recognized for their achievements by Executive Director Lew (pictured to the left) and the rest of CDOT’s executive leadership team. You can watch these innovators be recognized in this video. Gary Vansuch, Director of Process Improvement at CDOT noted, “All of the innovators involved in developing these improvements demonstrate that terrific CDOT “make it better” attitude, which is also a wonderful tribute to our CDOT Excellence Value: We are leaders and problem solvers, continuously improving our products and services in support of our commitment to provide the best transportation system for Colorado.”

Thank you to all the 2019 Innovation Challenges participants and sponsors! For more information on Team CDOT innovations, please visit the CDOT Innovation and Improvement Hub website.