If you’ve ever lived in a place where seasons change, then you know how beautiful winter can be. At the same time, you may also know that it can definitely change the landscape of driving. Getting in your car to go to work turns from a routine activity to something you have to focus closely on, as you traverse through rain, snow, and/or black ice.
That’s where Mowic comes in. Mowic is the market leader in GPS systems for road maintenance. Recently, the company acquired FYM, which develops low-power battery operated sensors and wireless communication networks for telematics, roadside sensors and road maintenance.
Mowic saw an opportunity to reduce the operating costs of spreading salt on roads. Not knowing what terrain you’ll face affects traffic patterns, wears down brake systems, and most importantly is very dangerous. In addition to added time and danger on the roads, it’s no small cost to municipalities to run trucks for salt distribution.
That’s why Mowic developed TrackIce, a unique ice warning system designed to save lives and money. The system is comprised of a mother unit and several road sensors connected wirelessly with Digi XBee RF modules. The wireless mother unit contains meteorological sensors which measure air temperature and humidity. The system measures temp and conductivity at the ground level and determines if salt is necessary to meld snow and ice.
Thanks to the cost-effective deployment per unit it is possible to build grids of sensors for more precise and updated road status. The wireless XBee network provides reliable communication and the sensors perform a synchronized sleep mode which improves energy efficiency and saving valuable battery life.
In combination with information from the road sensors, hazardous situations can be identified and avoided. Due to the nature of icy roads, there is a need for multiple sensors--for example going from road to bridge or across several lanes on one road.
Because the system is wireless, deployment is much easier than in the past. The wireless sensors measure temperature in the road and can also measure conductivity which is used to calculate how much salt that is left on the road. And the installation is very simple—a hole is drilled into the ground, and the sensor is inserted. There’s no need to tear up the road and bury cables to link the sensors together. TrackIce is battery operated and wireless. The distance between the sensors can be as much as 100 meters with an operation time of up to 60 months before a new battery is needed.
Weather forecast companies such as Meteogroup receives data from Trackice and deliver specific weather forecasts for the municipalities. Today, municipalities are using TrackIce and just two days of unnecessarily spreading salt pays one full year of service.
TrackIce was recently introduced in Sweden, and it’s helping companies be more strategic in regards to maintenance and preventative measures. By using historic data from the sensors, the system can help create skid forecasts which predict danger ahead, such as black ice. Risk areas can be identified in advance, allowing, for example, insurance companies to focus efforts on accident prevention, instead of accident triage.
With Digi XBee technology, TrackIce helps companies understand and resolve problems cost-effectively, saving time, money, and most importantly lives.