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Automated technology has not only made the delivery of an essential winter service safer it will help save money.

Eight mainline gritters are now fitted with a system that uses GPS to determine where the vehicle is, the road speed and width before calculating the correct amount of salt to be spread – previously drivers had to use their own judgement regarding the amount of salt to use.

Because the technology also acts as a satellite navigation system it ensures drivers use the best route and no longer need to pull over to read hard copy maps or instructions.

Gordon MacLachlan, Area Roads Engineer (Operations) came up with the idea when looking to make gritting safer and more cost efficient.

The idea was then incorporated into the Council of the Future (CotF) Digital Solutions for Design, Roads & Transport project with Gary Neill, Area Roads Engineer, project lead.

Speaking to the CotF Board in November, Gary said installing the technology would help “save money, as we will use a lot less salt, and we’ve reduced risk.”

Collaboration helps spread information

Gary went on to tell the Board that working closely with another team in another Service had helped save money while creating a digital tool to keep communities informed during winter.

Having been told by an external company it would cost £18k to buy an off-the-shelf interactive map that tracked the movement of our gritters, he turned to our Web & Digital team for help.

Making that connection allowed him to tap into the wealth of digital expertise held within the seven-strong team who created a bespoke gritting map for a fraction of the cost – just £1,500!

Gary said having that conversation and working in collaboration meant we “got exactly what was needed to keep our communities informed during the winter months”.

He said: “The map isn’t a gimmick but a tool to help reduce the strain on our contact centre and my team during the winter months. Both the map and the FAQ provide the public with an easy way to self-help and access relevant information 24/7. Although we’ve not experienced a long period of bad weather so far this winter viewing figures are encouraging, and anecdotally we’ve only had one call about gritting so far this winter.”