With the winter maintenance season that has just begun, Destia’s Winter Maintenance Management Centre is celebrating its 30th anniversary. The Winter Maintenance Management Centre, currently operating in Helsinki in connection with the Finnish Meteorological Institute, began operations in Turku on October 7, 1991. At the Winter Maintenance Management Centre, Destia’s experts specializing in winter road maintenance and the Finnish Meteorological Institute’s meteorologists are on call around the clock during the winter maintenance season, i.e., from 15 September to 15 May.
At the Winter Maintenance Management Centre, experts monitor weather and weather changes in real time. They assess the evolution of weather and traffic based on data generated by satellite and radar images, road weather forecasts, road weather stations and weather cameras, and pass the information on to Destia’s maintenance contractors across the country. The Winter Maintenance Management Centre also receives real-time information on maintenance measures, such as plowing or salting, from approximately 1,600 Destia and its subcontractors’ vehicles. The contractors will be informed of the necessary road maintenance measures in advance based on the situation awareness from the Winter Maintenance Management Centre. Proactive and timely winter maintenance has a significant impact on traffic safety and flow.
For example, chemical anti-skid measures are applied, among other things, before snowfall to prevent snow from freezing and forming icy ridges on the roads. Proactive anti-skid treatment can be started up to two hours before it snows or when the road temperature drops below zero.
“In northern weather conditions, preventive maintenance plays a significant role in road safety. The Winter Maintenance Management Centre has been using state-of-the-art digital know-how for thirty years and has been able to provide a real-time and accurate situational awareness to Destia’s maintenance contractors. I believe that Destia’s Winter Maintenance Management Centre is unique on a global scale,” says Seppo Kaarto, Head of Winter Maintenance Management Centre, who has worked there since its first on-call shift.
Over the past thirty years, digitalisation has accelerated development at Winter Maintenance Management Centre. The first weather camera was installed by the Winter Maintenance Management Centre in September 1992, today it utilizes Fintraffic’s approximately 1000 cameras. In 1991, there were 133 road weather stations, now there are 440, many of which have optical stations in addition to the main station. Over the years, the information received by the Winter Maintenance Management Centre via satellites has also become more accurate. While during the first years a satellite image was received only once a day, today Winter Maintenance Management Centre analyzes several dozen images daily. In the beginning there was only one person working at the Winter Maintenance Management Centre, and eventually at some point as many as 40, but with the development of technology, there are now 12 people working at the Centre during the winter maintenance season.
Winter maintenance enables safe traffic, but it is still important that the driver reduces speed, monitors other traffic and road edges, and takes weather conditions into account. Speed should always be proportional to the situation, which means slowing down in dark and slippery weather. Pedestrians and cyclists should use reflectors to make them visible in traffic.
Destia’s new five-year road maintenance contracts also began in October: Nummi, Kangasala, Harjavalta, Pietarsaari, Ii and Ranua, and the six-year-old Imatra. Like other Destia maintenance contracts, they use the information provided by Winter Maintenance Management Centre to ensure the best possible winter maintenance. Destia’s market share in road maintenance is about 47 percent.