Reducing Winter Maintenance Equipment Fuel Consumption Using Advanced Vehicle Data Analytics


Will Northrop, Dinesh Reddy Challa, Matthew Eagon, Peter Wringa

January 2023

Report no. MnDOT 2023-03

This project analyzes the impact that idling and snowfall have on the fuel consumed by MnDOT's snowplow fleet, with the underlying objective to determine and advise MnDOT on ways to reduce fuel usage of the fleet using vehicle telematics data. This is a significant problem to solve as fuel use reduction contributes to MnDOT?s sustainability goals of achieving a 30% reduction in fossil fuel use and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from 2005 levels by 2025. Furthermore, rising fuel costs are a future cause for concern due to an increase in business operational costs that increases the burden on taxpayers to keep roads safe in winter. This problem is challenging because existing on-board diagnostics (OBD) data do not contain mass information for the trucks' fuel use, which can fluctuate significantly when they are applying deicing substances to the road. Taking a mean value for the vehicle mass, we observe a clear positive correlation between snowfall and average fuel use. For days with snowfall totaling 4 inches or more, fuel use rises more than 25% on average compared to days without snowfall. In addition, the results from the idling analysis indicate that the idling time associated with the fleet is about 23% of total recorded hours and constitutes about 4.3% of the total fuel used. Daily idling activity reports containing information about idling events and fuel economy are generated for the sampled vehicles and shared with MnDOT.

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