- How FDOT developed a centralized, secure Freight Operations eXchange (FOX) platform to organize and analyze data to produce knowledge and insights
- How by leveraging data gathered through routine daily operations, Transportation Data and Analytics (TDA) and ITS networks, algorithms are developed that will allow trucks previously screened and found in compliance to bypass subsequent weigh stations
- How FOX data is currently being used by the FDOT Design and Maintenance Offices in the evaluation of pavement design and performance, the Forecasting and Trends
In response to forecasted growth in truck cargo movements and to maintain the high level of performance and associated infrastructure preservation, the need to allow more commercial motor vehicles to bypass weight stations at mainline speeds, while still evaluating size and weight criteria, was identified as necessary to improve safety by reducing the exit and entrance movements to the facility and enhance mobility by keeping trucks moving. The plan included increased technology deployment, inter-connection of the weigh station facilities through a statewide fiber optic communication network and expansion of the existing databases to process freight flow based on enhanced data processing and analytics. By installing a mainline WIM and leveraging a subsequent ramp WIM, the citation rate increased to one citation for every 86 commercial vehicles static weighed. Historically same number of citations were written with traditional static weighing and delay with complete stops. This clearly illustrates that enforcement of regulations can still be done using more technology and less stops.
The primary mission of the Motor Carrier Size and Weight (MCSAW) division of the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) Office of Maintenance is to provide a safe transportation system through enforcement of commercial vehicle size and weight laws, rules, and regulations. The USDOT Bureau of Transportation Statistics data shows that 65% of the nation’s total tonnage in 2019 is moved by truck. FDOT’s 2019 Freight Plan states from 2017 to 2045 truck tonnage is expected to increase 80%. Florida currently operates 20 interstate weigh stations responsible for verifying that commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) operate within a safe, congestion free, reliable, efficient, and informative transportation system which supports both international and domestic trade and passenger movements. High quality infrastructure supports reliable cargo movement and is attractive to manufacturers, distribution centers, and logistics providers, providing jobs, resources, and tax revenues.
In response to forecasted growth in truck cargo movements and to maintain the high level of performance and associated infrastructure preservation, MCSAW developed the 2019 Business Plan. The Business Plan focused on TSM&O strategies to more efficiently advance activities that increase safety and mobility of CMVs through technology solutions. Prior to the plan, MCSAW used a system of permanent installations at its weigh stations, which included internal ramp Weigh in Motion (WIM) bypass lanes. Mainline electronic bypass based only on safety scores were also used. The 2018 average statewide CMVs had an electronic bypass (based only on safety scores) of 31% or 7.6 million vehicles, a 44% or 11.1 million ramp WIM bypass rate with a constant operating speed of 45 MPH, and 25% or 6.5 million static weights, requiring a complete stop. The need to further bypass CMVs at mainline speeds, while evaluating size and weight criteria, was identified as necessary to improve safety by reducing the exit and entrance movements to the facility and enhance mobility by keeping trucks moving.
TSMO Planning, Strategies and Deployment
MCSAW first held a “Vision Session” workshop that brought together stakeholders from FDOT, partnering agencies, and the trucking industry to develop Specific Measurable Actionable Relevant and Timebound (SMART) goals to address the forecasted growth in truck movements. Through the implementation of clearly defined tactics and activities, these SMART goals would be achieved. The Goals were aligned with overarching FDOT Vital Few goals of Improve Safety, Enhance Mobility, Inspire Innovation, and Foster Talent. The plan included the following strategies:
- Increased technology deployment for site efficiency of freight movement through mainline interstate device deployment – leveraging technology advancements to increase safety and mobility
- Inter-connection of the weigh station facilities through a statewide fiber optic communication network – enabling real-time data exchange for future process enhancement
- Expansion of the existing database to process freight flow based on enhanced data processing and analytics – providing centralized data management and decision support
Standardized plans were developed for the installation of mainline WIM, allowing for the processing of CMVs at interstate travel speeds. Currently, mainline WIM is installed at the I-75 weigh stations located in White Springs. Construction of mainline WIM is in progress at the other locations. Through close coordination with each of the FDOT districts, MCSAW was able to obtain dedicated fiber optic communication cables to implement the closed wide area network which facilitates secure, reliable, high speed data transmission, processing and decision making.
A centralized, secure Freight Operations eXchange (FOX) platform was developed to organize and analyze data to produce knowledge and insights. The centralized FOX houses records from the individual facilities and serves as the interface for external data sharing. The FOX system also provides an interface for use in performance monitoring, reporting, planning, and other freight management activities. FOX will serve as the future for intelligent decision making, leveraging the millions of records of individual vehicle movements captured every year. With the focus on increasing safety and improving mobility, FOX will provide enhanced decision support through machine learning and artificial intelligence.
Communications Planning and Execution
Collaboration was key throughout the planning and deployment process including input from various FDOT Offices, Districts, partner agencies including Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, Florida Department of Revenue, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Florida Trucking Association, Federal Highway Administration, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the trucking industry. The communications process leveraged formalized meetings through the FMCSA Innovative Technology Deployment working group as well as follow up Visioning Sessions. FDOT staff and partner agencies were collaboratively engaged throughout the deployment process. Follow-up working groups as well as individual meetings were leveraged. Execution occurred at all levels of FDOT, including both Central Office and Districts, an example of mainstreaming TSM&O for success.
Outcome, Learnings and Public Benefit
Following the initial installation of mainline WIM at the White Springs weigh station, preliminary performance measures were generated to compare the static weighed vehicles to the written citations. Historically, the MCSAW facilities wrote one citation for every 116 commercial vehicles static weighed. By installing the mainline WIM and leveraging the subsequent ramp WIM, the citation rate increased to one citation for every 86 commercial vehicles static weighed. With the same number of citations being written, this clearly illustrates that fewer commercial vehicles are being stopped for weighing, directly achieving the safety and mobility benefits desired through innovation. It also supports the 20-year Benefit Cost Analysis (BCA) of $565 million accounting for safety, travel time savings, and environmental impacts upon full deployment.Key to the success of MCSAW is effective decision making based on performance of key factors. The FOX system is a game changer providing essential data to decision makers, allowing necessary bypasses, and providing a focused approach for further evaluation. FOX is saving resources, providing accurate and timely reporting, and improving key performance indicators. The FOX system reads, stores, analyzes and presents data for agency use in screening vehicles for inspection, reducing the workload of staff, even as commercial vehicle-based freight travel increases. The FOX system facilitates the development of business-intelligent solutions. By leveraging data as gathered through routine daily operations, as well as other services such as the Transportation Data and Analytics (TDA) and ITS networks, algorithms are being developed that will allow trucks previously screened and found in compliance to bypass subsequent weigh stations.
The ability to expand is an additional benefit of this comprehensive system, allowing for the incorporation of new technology. Currently, tire pressure and brake monitoring systems are being deployed to identify faulty equipment and remove vehicles from the roadway— increasing safety and mobility through innovation.
An additional benefit that was realized through communications with the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) was the desire for enhanced multi-state data exchange. Collaboration between Florida and Georgia resulted in the execution of a Memorandum of Understanding, facilitating data exchange to enhance interstate freight mobility and safety. FOX data is currently being used by the FDOT Design and Maintenance Offices in the evaluation of pavement design and performance, the Forecasting and Trends Office for transportation system performance evaluation, the Permits Office for systemwide performance evaluation, and seaports are considering uses for terminal applications. MCSAW is providing immediate, measurable improvements to increase safety, enhance mobility and drive economic resiliency through leveraging technology for digital infrastructure advancements.