Customer Tip: Tracking Overweight Vehicles to Save a Historical Bridge

November 20, 2019

This blog post is a part of our “Customer Tips” series that highlights innovative ways our customers are using Samsara. Have a great tip to share? Email customer-tips@samsara.com to get in touch with our team.

As one of the last remaining swing bridges in the state of Florida, the historic 100-year old Snow-Reed Swing Bridge is one of the City of Fort Lauderdale’s most cherished treasures. That’s why when Marla Donald, Senior Management Analyst for the City of Fort Lauderdale, began receiving complaints from citizens about frequent bridge closures, she looked into the situation.

As it turns out, over-weight-limit vehicles crossing the bridge were the root cause of the frequent closures. Due to the historic bridge’s age, it can only bear a certain amount of weight before its mechanisms break—and in a typical tourist season the bridge was closed for two to three months due to maintenance, forcing citizens and visitors to take a three-mile detour. 

Recognizing that the city’s own heavy vehicles were likely contributing to the bridge closures, Donald and her team used Samsara’s Time on Site Report and geofence alerts to track down which of the city’s heavy vehicles were crossing the bridge. 

Together with Drew Newstrom, an Automotive and Equipment Engineer for the city, Donald was able to identify and tag all city vehicles that exceed the bridge’s 5-ton weight limit. Then, they were able to utilize Samsara’s geofence alerts and Time on Site report—which show how long a vehicle has been at a specific location— to determine how often heavy city vehicles were crossing the bridge and how long they may have stopped on the bridge. 

With these new insights, Donald was able to identify who was driving the heavy vehicles so she could follow up and determine why they were crossing the bridge. “We’re not policing, but we are, you know, nicely notifying people,” said Donald. “The goal is to meld the city and the neighbors together. We have been trying to find ways to address concerns that come up often, and Samsara allowed us to pinpoint this situation and resolve it.” By coaching city drivers on how to avoid the bridge, Donald and her team were able to decrease heavy vehicle crossings by 90% within five months.

How to keep tabs on specific vehicles using Samsara’s real-time alerts and Time on Site report:

  1. Tag your vehicles by weight (or other custom metric)

  2. Set up a geofence alert for the area you want to monitor.

  3. Use the Time on Site Report to see how long your vehicles were within that area.

1. Tag your vehicles by weight (or other custom metric)

In order to track heavy city vehicles crossing the bridge, Donald had to first identify which city vehicles surpassed the 5-ton weight limit. By tagging each heavy vehicle (such as claw trucks, dump trucks, and 18-wheelers), she was then able to filter those vehicles in her alerts and reports later on. 

To do this, Donald added a new tag (Swing Bridge) and then added each over-weight-limit vehicle to the tag to signify that the vehicles should not be crossing the bridge.

 

2. Set up a geofence alert for the area you want to monitor

Once her vehicles were tagged by weight, Donald configured geofence alerts to receive a notification each time an over-weight-limit vehicle crossed the bridge. Since Donald was only interested in tracking whether heavy vehicles were crossing the Snow-Reed bridge, she set up a geofence alert and drew a custom perimeter around that area on the map. “Now, as soon as someone drives over it, we get the alert if it’s overweight,” explained Donald. 

3. Use the Time on Site Report to see how long your vehicles were within that area

In one example, Donald found that a claw truck—which is over the weight limit—was on the bridge for more than four minutes. Thanks to the Time on Site report, she was able to identify the driver and ask them why they spent time on the bridge. 

Providing better service for the City of Fort Lauderdale’s citizens

Although they recognize that they can’t prevent all heavy vehicles from crossing the bridge, with the help of Samsara, Donald and Newstrom are able to confidently say that heavy city vehicles are contributing less of the damage. “Samsara helped us decrease the number of people driving over the bridge,” said Donald. 

With the insight into which vehicles were frequently crossing the bridge, Donald and Newstrom have been able to provide better updates to city residents on when repairs need to be made. “With us being able to monitor it better, we have a system where we can accurately inform customers and give them updates,” said Donald. 

Do you have a great tip on how to use Samsara?

Email customer-tips@samsara.com to get in touch with our team. Please include details on the creative way you’re using Samsara, as well as any results (like time or money saved) that you are able to quantify.

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