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KCRC Awarded Innovative Idea Award at 2020 Snowplow Roadeo

KCRC Awarded Innovative Idea Award at 2020 Snowplow Roadeo

Constantly seeking ways to improve its winter storm response, the Kent County Road Commission (KCRC) was awarded the 2020 Innovative Idea award for the organization's sander system redesign at the annual Snowplow Roadeo, sponsored by the American Public Works Association (APWA) Midwest Michigan Branch. The award-winning creation is fabricated by KCRC equipment specialists and allows for more even and efficient chemical distribution from snowplow trucks.

“This type of award affirms what I have always said: our greatest assets are our employees and the expertise that they bring to the job,” said Steve Warren, KCRC’s managing director. “This design was developed by Jim Huisken, who recently celebrated 25 years at KCRC. We are very fortunate to have colleagues like Jim who are constantly searching for ways to improve operations.”

During winter storm response, distribution of deicing chemicals from a live bottom truck can be challenging. This is caused by too much or too little chemical being collected in the sander and then being applied disproportionately. To address the issue, Huisken fabricated an automated shut-off system that ensures the appropriate amount of material is available. Material can then be discharged from either side of the truck by utilizing dual short chutes that minimize bounce. The sander can be installed and removed from a truck within 15 minutes, which allows the truck to be utilized for maintenance efforts other than storm response.

The snowplow roadeo gathers plow truck drivers from throughout the region for some friendly competition that helps to test their skills on an obstacle course while readying them for the winter ahead. Although typically in attendance, vendors did not participate in the October 14 event held in Grand Rapids, Michigan, due to enhanced safety measures. Innovation was still on display, however, as road agencies showcased their own best practices.

“To me, this is what we’re all about, ingenuity and how to do things better,” said Dave Morren, a KCRC commissioner. “We are stewards of tax-payer dollars, and this type of innovation demonstrates how seriously we take that role. It shows how our crew members seek to address challenges and stretch our funds.”

Small picture includes:  Steve Roose (right), KCRC's director of facilities and equipment, accepts the 2020 Innovative Idea award from Matt Anderson (left), president of the APWA Midwest Michigan Branch. The two are in front of a KCRC live bottom truck with the award-winning sander system.