Increasing Safety with Plow Operations Guides

#LeanEverydayIdeas #Plows #Maintenance#Improvement #Training

By Kailyn Haskovec, Process Improvement & Change Management Intern

October 7, 2020

As many Transportation Maintenance employees at the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) know, not all plow operations are the same. The department owns a variety of plow trucks each with its own unique operating system. This presents a problem to drivers who must switch plows often. However, Robert Bell, Utilities Project Manager in central Colorado, had the innovative idea of introducing and clarifying the differences between plow operating systems during the Winter Operations Training.

As an employee who no longer spends much time plowing, Robert was surprised to find a newer and different control system than he was used to operating when he climbed up into the plow. Unfamiliarity with different plow operating systems can lead to safety errors such as turning on the wrong lights or signals. As the Lean Everyday Idea Leader for central Colorado, Robert knew how to address this problem. On CDOT’s innovation and improvement site, he entered his idea using the “I Suggest” button. After receiving his suggestion, the Office of Process Improvement (OPI) reviewed his idea and connected him with people in the department that could help it come to fruition.

New Raven control system picturedNew Raven Control System

OPI, Robert, and the Maintenance and Training team came together to think through ways in which to share the different plow operating systems with all necessary employees. With the help of Kevin Macvittie, Maintenance and Operations Training Manager, 1,500 employees will now become familiar with the ways in which the different vehicles operate. The winter training is offered multiple times prior to the snowy Colorado winter to prepare all employees for the busy season. This year, the training began for the first time virtually on September 14th and will include photos and instructions about the various plow operating systems.

CPS Multi-Stix Series Control SystemCPS Multi-Stix Series Control System

The now virtual training webinars have so far been successful. Additionally, the added plow information serves the veteran operators but is also a great introduction for the new hires. “Every year, CDOT adds approximately 350 new employees to maintenance staff statewide, and giving them an introduction on the different types of configurations they’ll see in our plows is a huge help to them as well”, says Kevin. There will be approximately 15 more sessions between now and the middle of October to make sure all employees get a chance to participate. Afterwards, they will shift to two sessions per month specifically for new hires and temporary employees through early March.

The average age of the fleet vehicles is about 15 years, so depending on the age of the plow, employees may run into a similar issue of being familiar with the older systems and not the newer ones. There are at least five different systems, and now thanks to Robert’s great idea, employees will become familiarized with each system during the orientation meeting prior to utilizing the vehicles. It is crucial that the drivers understand the equipment before tackling the Colorado storms. This simple step will increase safety and provide a better experience for all employees, enhancing both CDOT’s internal and external customer service.

If you too have a great idea, please visit our website and submit it via the “I Suggest” or the “I Fixed It” buttons. We’d love to hear from you!