By Jenni Spinner
The brainchild of retired Missouri DOT (MoDOT) engineer Bob Lannert, the TowPlow is pulled behind, rather than pushed in front of, a vehicle. By clearing the lane to the right or left of a vehicle already equipped with a plow, doubles the volume a single operator removes.
Lannert drew on agriculture equipment for design inspiration.
“Farmers have continued to implement enhancements to do more acres per day for every operation,” he says. “Some equipment is so wide they have to fold it up to access and use a road, then unfold at their destination to finish fields faster.”
Many state DOTs have continued to build more highway lanes, which can minimize the resources available to keep up with maintenance needs.
“They needed to do more with less, but just didn't know any method of doing more in snow removal,” he says.
So in addition to enhancing an operation's efficiency, his cool tool — introduced in 2005 — also is designed to cut fuel usage, increase service, and improve safety.
While its large size and unusual design originally met with doubt, its performance is turning nay-sayers into believers. Users are finding it saves between 20% and 50% on fuel and labor, allowing agencies to recover their investment in one to five years.
The Viking-Cives Group fabricates and distributes the TowPlow across North America. For more information, visit www.towplow.com.
— Jenni Spinner (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a Chicago-based freelance writer and a former editor of PUBLIC WORKS.