Monday, February 11, 2019

Using resources wisely: KDOT employees work smart to keep Kansas moving

KDOT employees routinely engineer ways to work smarter to save time and resources. They know it’s important to use taxpayer dollars wisely.

Two recent examples of working smarter come from District Five’s Medicine Lodge and Anthony subareas in south central Kansas.

Dewayne Roland, Highway Maintenance Supervisor for the Medicine Lodge Subarea creates a machine that helps him program school zone signals. 

The interesting contraption hanging on the wall to the side of Dewayne Roland, Highway Maintenance Supervisor for the Medicine Lodge Subarea, is one of them. 

Modeled after a similar creation that crews at the Anthony Subarea built, it saves Roland a lot of time programming school zone lights on K-2 in Barber County.

Roland checks the calendar for South Barber High School online, and inputs days that school is out for holidays, in-service days and the like. Then he takes the programmed control box to each of four poles and plugs it in, downloading the data he input so the lights don't flash on days school is closed. 

Now it takes just one person about two minutes per set of lights to program the school zones. It used to take two people.

"One person would read out the dates, and one would program the control box," Roland said. "It saves two people having to stand there and program each light. We just plug it into an identical control box, and it automatically downloads everything. Used to be you'd stand there 15, 20, 30 minutes."

Crews in Anthony recently completed building a storage rack for a hydraulic hammer that will help protect the piece of equipment by keeping it stored upright and out of the elements.
Equipment Operator Jason Wolff and Equipment Operator Senior Paul Thompson built the rack using six retired guard rail posts as H-beams, snow plow backup blades and spare iron.

Anthony Highway Maintenance Supervisor Greg Bayless, left, and Equipment Operator Jason Wolff pose with a storage rack for a hydraulic hammer that crews made with spare parts. 

The rack can be loaded with a forklift or loaded onto a truck. It can be moved to a job site or to storage.

“It’s supposed to be stored in an upright position with pressure on the point,” said Greg Bayless, Highway Maintenance Supervisor. “We’re trying to take care of our equipment.”

The rack with the hydra hammer and attachments on board weighs 1,760 pounds and took a week to make.

“I let them run with the design because they’re good builders to begin with,” Bayless said of Wolff and Thompson.

Hydra hammers are used for tasks such as hammering and breaking up concrete, cutting asphalt and tamping down materials such as dirt.

The hydra hammer fits the subarea’s new backhoe/loader. Crews can take the bucket off the backhoe and attach the hydra hammer.

The Area Mechanic in Winfield found videos about the hydra hammer, and “I had the whole subarea crew watch all of them,” Bayless said.

The Anthony crew estimates it would have cost $5,500 to have an outside company manufacture a similar rack. Anthony shares the hydra hammer, new rack and attachments with the Wellington Subarea. Similarly, the Wellington Subarea shares equipment Anthony doesn’t have.

“We want to be good stewards of KDOT resources,” Bayless said.

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