Welcome to ThomTech Design
tel: 651.287.0249


Press Releases
    Press Releases

ThomTech set to release upgraded AVL user interface operating under new SAAS architecture

ThomTech Design has redeveloped its AVL system, middleware, database, and communications configuration to provide Software As A Service (SAAS) for our clients. This upgrade in addition to new features such as landmark tagging, improved breadcrumb trails, and analytical reporting offers improved productivity for our clients.

Realtime Tracking PDF file

Passive Tracking PDF file

802.11 WiFi Tracking PDF file

Automatic Gates PDF file


ThomTech Design- GSA Approved

"GSA Approved Small Business Under Environmental, Information Technology, and Security for Automatic Vehicle Location and Automatic Road Closure Gate Systems."



SAFEPLOW Attracts Crowds at Demo

SAFEPLOW, the newest project of the ITS Institute's Intelligent Vehicles Team, had a successful showing at this year's Demo '99 in East Liberty, Ohio, July 26-28.

"It was clearly 'Best in Show,' said Gregory Thompson, president of ThomTech Design Company, which supplied several of the technologies used on the vehicle. Thompson said he first heard that phrase used by several event attendees from Japan, and soon others followed suit. "SAFEPLOW was the only exhibit that had 'standing room only,'" he said.

This year's Demo '99, sponsored by ITS America, drew about 260 attendees and participants. The event featured live demonstrations of emerging vehicle systems developed for safety and productivity based on advanced sensor and control technologies. The SAFEPLOW, a modified snowplow truck, participated by demonstrating its adapted sensing, navigation and guidance, graphical display, and control technology intended to improve the safety and productivity of snowplow operations. "It was pretty amazing," said Steve Bahler, deputy director of ITS for Mn/DOT's Office of Advanced Transportation Systems, another Demo '99 attendee. "Everyone I talked to was pretty impressed with how our technology worked," he said.

According to Bahler, SAFEPLOW's technology stood out from the pack. "This helped me understand that Minnesota is leading in a lot of areas," he said. Bahler added that although other exhibitors used various pieces of ITS technology, the SAFEPLOW was unique in the way it fully integrated so many into one vehicle.

An estimated 180 persons withstood sweltering summer heat to get a taste of winter and ride the several miles of test track in the SAFEPLOW. "There was so much to experience in one truck that a few attendees rode the course more than once, to ensure that they saw it all,"

Thompson said. Thompson also commended the IVI team's enthusiasm, especially notable considering the 100-plus degree temperatures throughout the event. "The team concept, fostered by Mn/DOT, hosted and integrated by the U of M, and contributed to by private industry characterized the entire SAFEPLOW team," he said.

Intelligent Vehicle team members attending Demo 99 included Dr. Max Donath, director of the ITS Institute; Dr. Craig Shankwitz, director of ITS' Intelligent Vehicles Program; Bryan Newstrom, Lee Alexander, Alec Gorjestani, Heonmin Lim, Walter Trach, all of the University; and John Scharffbillig of Mn/DOT's maintenance office.

Real-time Snowplow Tracking & Salter/Spreader
For more information

ThomTech Design Company & the Minnesota Department of Transportation District 1B Collects Sand & Salt Spread Rates in Real Time for Better Management of Material Usage

ThomTech & Mn/DOT District 1 team up to improve winter storm reaction-

(ST PAUL, MN ) - ThomTech Design Company of Saint Paul, MN announced today that the Minnesota Department of Transportation District 1 in Virginia, MN successfully demonstrated the integration of their satellite based communication system and on-board snowplow controller.

For the first time, snow plow material usage of salt & sand data (pounds per lane mile) can be accessed remotely (via satellite) and recorded in real time for better management of valuable resources and to meet environmental standards.

A. Introduction
Mn/DOT District 1 has configured fifteen of their snowplows with satellite automatic vehicle location (AVL) and two-way data messaging. During 1997, the highway maintenance crews and the supervisors have experimented with tracking snowplows during winter storms and the dispatching and troubleshooting using digital message and preformatted forms. This year, an added upgrade provides a direct connection between the on-board spreader/salter controller from Force America and the AVL satellite equipment from ThomTech Design Company. This allows the driver to record and send the material usage from the spreader/salter back to the operations center in real-time. While the project is only in its infancy, the data collected can provide supervisors and operators with real-time data to make informed decisions on material usage, spread rates, historical usage data, and refill times.

B. Background
The installed system provides the capability to track highway maintenance vehicles via global positioning system and to communicate via data link between vehicle and dispatch center. The system includes the development of forms for location, material usage, accountability, emergency, and route assignment. The purpose of the system improves communications between highway maintenance vehicles & the Advanced Rural Transportation Information & Coordination (ARTIC) Communications Center (ACC). Additionally, the system will attempt to improve accountability of actual road crew hours, tasks, and responsibilities.

C. Design
The system actually employs two satellite information systems: (1) Global Positioning System (GPS) constellation of satellites are used to determine the vehicles location (2) the American Mobile Satellite Corp (AMSC) satellite (in geosynchronous orbit) for the transmission and acknowledgment of each vehicle location to the ARTIC Communications Center. Once the receiver computes the vehicle's location the transceiver will transmit the location to the ARTIC Communications Center. The location can be transmitted on demand or at regular intervals. The system provides a means for snowplow drivers to send and receive text messages or more importantly preformatted forms. These forms, which require only a few keystrokes, record valuable data that previously was collected at end of shift or next day by operator completed paperwork. The data is transmitted back to the ARTIC Communications Center for review and analysis that assists supervisors in managing snow removal during the peak portions of the winter storm. The signal path originates at the vehicle & goes to AMSC's satellite & back to the Land Earth Station (LES). The location message is stored at the LES until requested by the ARTIC Communications Center. The Communications Center displays the vehicle locations on a digital map.

D. Description
The print port from the Force America spreader/salter is connected to the second COM2 port on the mobile data terminal (MDT). The mobile earth terminal software has been modified to accept the download of the current data from the print port and automatically compose a text message. The operator views the data and sends the report back to the operations center. The controller provides information such as pounds per lane mile for up to three types of material. The data is automatically stored in a database at the operations center hard drive for analysis and post storm evaluation.

E. Summary
Mn/DOT's vehicle fleet (road maintenance, snow removal) represents a significant investment and the tracking, tasking, and accountability can save lives, time, dollars, miles, and provide Minnesotans with improved service-not to mention the savings in efficiency and effectiveness. The integration of a wireless computer aided dispatching system provides the communication, mapping, and tracking element to complete an already advanced decision support system to aide managers, supervisors, and foremen; as well as provide high level data for the staff to review when making policy, procedure, strategic, and budgetary decisions.
© Copyright 2002-2003, ThomTech Design, Inc.