Rearden’s $60 solution potentially saves thousands for ITD fleet
Mike Rearden's elegantly simple solution to a time-consuming, tank-loading issue in ITD's northern Idaho office may eventually save thousands per district as the department adopts the measure statewide. For just $60, his innovation allows a necessary task to be done more quickly, which translates into getting trucks back out on the road faster during storms, a direct safety benefit for area drivers.
For just $45, Rearden, D1's Signing & Striping Foreman, created a plumbing change (pictured above) that dramatically cuts the time it takes to refill tanks with critical winter deicer or salt brine. For $15 more, he added a drain valve and tube (pictured below) to recapture waste brine and run-off, and reduce backsplash.
Beyond winter activities, the solution could also be used for herbicides, pesticides or any liquid where multiple tanks are used in the same operation.
Filling the two brine tanks on any sander in the district's winter fleet was time consuming. An employee would fill one tank, then wait as the other tank filled…slowly…via gravity flow. This could take up to 40 minutes.
In the past, after loading, when unhooking the load hose from the truck, the employee was splashed with the excess product. The $15 drain valve, which drained off the excess, eliminated that.
"Where it used to take up to 40 minutes to fill the tank, it now takes just a few minutes to get back on the road and continue deicing," explained Rearden. "That extra time on the road during a winter storm can be significant."
"Plus, there's no splashing salt brine to ruining your shoes and clothes."
"When you finally un-hook the new coupler, there is a drain piece that dumps the residual brine into the recycle drain that pumps the run-off back into the main tank to be recaptured and reused — no waste, no splash," said District Business Operations Manager Scotty Fellom.
"This system saves hours of down time, and not only enables our equipment to be more efficient and safe, but our employees as well," he added. "Mike went the extra mile and took the initiative to study and solve a long-term problem on his own, for the benefit of our maintenance employees, their work efficiency, and at a low cost, saving us thousand in the long run."
District 1 will install Rearden's coupler on all of its brine sprayers. The coupler and drain valve may offer an innovative solution to other ITD districts grappling with the same problem, as well as other departments of transportation nationwide.