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New Technologies Improve WIPP Fleet Safety

September 1, 2012 - 12:00pm

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Randy Anderson, a CAST Specialty Transportation Inc. driver, demonstrates the new hand-held Zonar system used to perform truck and trailer inspections at a September WIPP transportation exhibit in Carlsbad.

Randy Anderson, a CAST Specialty Transportation Inc. driver, demonstrates the new hand-held Zonar system used to perform truck and trailer inspections at a September WIPP transportation exhibit in Carlsbad.

CARLSBAD, N.M. – Recently, Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) carriers, Visionary Solutions LLC and CAST Specialty Transportation Inc., equipped their trucks with new safety systems to further improve the WIPP transportation system.

The DOE Carlsbad Field Office (CBFO) National TRU Program's (NTP) remarkable record of safety for transporting transuranic (TRU) waste to WIPP is the result of a world-class transportation team.

The success of the NTP transportation program, which relies on the expertise of waste characterization experts, packaging engineers, emergency preparedness trainers, preventive maintenance teams and highly skilled drivers, is also enhanced by developments in technology.
 

One new feature installed by the carriers is a lane departure system. Sensors mounted on the front of the trucks detect road stripes on either side of the driving lane. In the event drivers may deviate from a lane, they will be alerted by a jarring sound similar to driving over rumble strips, which are the corrugated strips on roadway shoulders. If a driver crosses the stripe on the right, the sound is emitted from the passenger’s side of the tractor. If a driver goes too far to the left, the sound is heard on the driver’s side. The system also assures that drivers use turn signals when changing lanes or, literally, they will hear about it.

Visionary Solutions’s new tractors feature anti-collision systems. The forward facing radar system detects distance between the truck and the vehicle ahead of it in addition to the speed of the vehicle ahead. If the distance falls below set safety parameters, the system will automatically begin to decelerate the truck. Drivers emphasize that the truck will continue to decelerate even if the accelerator is used.

CAST Specialty Transportation equipped its trucks with new electronic inspection systems that will save drivers time in completing post-trip paperwork. WIPP drivers, who are required to stop every three hours or 150 miles en route to inspect the tractor and trailer, must complete checklists and record the conditions they observe. Now with 10 radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags installed along the truck and trailer, the driver can use a hand-held scanner that reads each RFID.  As the RFID is scanned, it prompts a specific checklist, and the date, time and duration of the inspection is recorded. Once the inspection is completed and the driver returns the hand-held scanner to its charging base, the information is automatically uploaded to corporate offices.

“We’re very pleased that the WIPP trucks have these new features,” said CBFO Manager Joe Franco. “Technology advancements on the trucks translate into improved safety and efficiency in the transportation program, further benefiting the nation.” Drivers have safely delivered more than 10,700 waste shipments to WIPP for disposal and logged over 12.8 million loaded miles to clean up the nation’s defense legacy waste from the
Cold War. TRU waste cleanup has been completed at 22 sites in 14 states.

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