Rijkswaterstaat, responsible for keeping Dutch main roads ice and snow-free, has outfitted its entire fleet of snowplows with IoT trackers. Collaborating with Simac IoTech and Belgian-based Sensolus, this innovative solution eliminates manual tracking of subcontractor work hours, previously done through outdated RFID systems. The integration ensures seamless and error-free processes, leading to accurate invoicing and significant administrative savings.
As the executive agency of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, Rijkswaterstaat oversees the design, construction, management, and maintenance of key infrastructure in the Netherlands. A crucial responsibility is maintaining main roads ice and snow-free during winter, managed by a fleet of approximately 650 salt spreaders and 1,400 snowplows across 72 depots nationwide. When weather stations predict potential ice or snow, Rijkswaterstaat engages local subcontractors to deploy these machines along specific routes for salt spreading or snow removal.
Challenges and Administrative Burden
“Accurately tracking subcontractor work hours posed a significant challenge.” Jan Rients Slippens, Senior Adviser for Winter Maintenance at Rijkswaterstaat, explains, “Historically, we manually recorded truck license plates as they left and returned to depots, resulting in time-consuming manual entry into our invoicing platform. Six years ago, we invested in an RFID system for timekeeping, but it presented challenges and high administrative burdens. Tag reading errors led to mistrust in the data, causing disputes over invoices.”
Tilt and Vibration Detection
Approaching the end of the RFID system’s lifespan, Rijkswaterstaat sought a new solution and found it in the combined offering from IIoT specialist Sensolus and technology partner Simac IoTech.
The entire snowplow fleet was equipped with Sensolus’ TRACK 1100 trackers.
Michiel Raat, Sales Executive Netherlands at Sensolus, highlights the tracker’s built-in accelerometer: “Unlike other market solutions, the Track 1100 features an integrated accelerometer. This allowed precise adjustment for tilt detection when the snowplow is lifted by the truck and vibration-based activity detection. Seasonal profiles were set to reduce data transmission during summer, extending battery life. After the first winter, most batteries still indicated a charge between 92% and 96%, ensuring longevity.”
Less Work, More Accuracy
Tracker data are fed into Rijkswaterstraat’s invoicing platform via an API. Slippens shares an unexpected snowstorm scenario during implementation: “Snowplows hit the road, and all data flooded into our platform. Despite being unprepared, we successfully generated invoices based on Sensolus data. Clear end times aligned with the salt spreader’s TMS data behind the snowplow. This ‘unintentional test’ confirmed 100% data accuracy.”
Since tracker installation, Rijkswaterstaat is confident that this data will make a significant difference. Alex van den Hoek, Senior Adviser for Winter Systems, emphasizes, “Once the data is in our platform, it provides accurate insights into subcontractor start and end times, ensuring foolproof invoicing. Automation reduces manual work and lowers the risk of human errors in administration, providing peace of mind.”
Co-development and Integration
Simac IoTech led the integration, facilitating meetings, understanding Rijkswaterstaat’s needs, installing trackers across the entire fleet, and engaging Sensolus experts for precise tilt and vibration detection adjustments. The 1,400 units were deployed, activated, and fully documented by SIMAC IoTech’s installation team across 72 locations in the Netherlands in two months, ready for the winter season.
Dave Engel of Simac IOTech concludes: “This project marked another successful collaboration with Sensolus. Working closely with Sensolus experts, we fine-tuned the trackers to meet Rijkswaterstaat’s needs and assisted in developing a bracket for easy installation of the TRACK 1100 tracker on new snowplows. The expertise of Simac IOTech, excellent collaboration with Sensolus, and Rijkswaterstaat’s team led to the most optimal solution.”