Iowa DOT Could Save Millions with More Frequent Snowplow Purchases

Oct 25, 2016

Analysts at Iowa State University say the Iowa Department of Transportation could save millions of dollars each year by simply replacing its snowplows more often. The researchers combed through 10 years of maintenance records to reach this conclusion.

Associate Professors Kevin Scheibe (left) and Sree Nilakanta (middle) worked with the Iowa Department of Transportation's fleet manager David May (right) to determine costs of maintaining and replacing snowplows.
Credit Christopher Gannon, Iowa State University

The Iowa D-O-T operates a fleet of 900 single and tandem axle snowplows. Traditionally, it has replaced each truck after a 15-year life span. Analysts in the I-S-U College of Business say this results in extra maintenance costs. An associate professor of information systems, Kevin Scheibe, says the D-O-T could save between two-and-five million dollars a year by reducing the window between purchases to six-or-seven years.

“The caveat is with each new class of vehicles that comes out you’re going to find new problems," he says. "With new equipment you could have increased costs, so we would recommend a continual analysis.”

Scheibe and his colleagues poured through 10-years of maintenance records to arrive at their conclusion.

“We are highly confident that at least keeping these two classes of vehicles for as long as they have is too long," he says. "If they were to reduce their normal replacement window they would see pretty significant savings.”

Scheibe says Iowa State has given the tool used to develop the recommendation to the D-O-T so it can keep an eye on what it spends to maintain snowplows.