Highway department’s ‘chute shaker’ honored

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The "chute shaker" diagram presented by the Granville Town Highway Department at the 2022 Build a Better Mousetrap Competition in Ithaca.

The Granville Town Highway Department has been recognized at the state level for its creativity in developing technology that improves the quality and rate of work as well as protecting its own staff members.

The “Chute Shaker,” an idea conceptualized by highway superintendent Scott Taylor, was declared by the New York State Local Technical Assistance Program – Cornell Local Roads Program (NYSLTAP – CLRP) of Ithaca as an example of “exemplary ingenuity” and “outstanding achievement in innovation.”

Consisting of a vibrator, rocker switch and carefully placed wiring, the “chute shaker” can safely remove built-up sand and salt primarily from plow trucks by the flip of a switch, rather than a department member exiting the vehicle in hazardous conditions and removing the built-up residue.

The Granville Town Highway Department’s “chute shaker” invention. Photo courtesy of the Granville Town Highway Department,

“I’m not worried about my guys getting out of the truck, slipping and falling, anymore,” Taylor said. “The trucks are still moving. Generally, they’d (crew members) have to stop at the end of every road, get out and beat on it (the residue) because it (the sanded/salted road) wouldn’t come out the same.”

Taylor’s portfolio presented at the competition stated that it cost $300 per truck to put the device together.

“In the municipality when we are out plowing, we put a sand and salt mixture down on the roads. The sand comes out of a conveyor chain system and goes down a chute to the spinner on the truck. After sanding when plowing, the sand builds up on the chute making the sand pattern on the roads not spread even. The sand also backs up in the chute to the conveyor system and the sand will plug up everything so sand will no longer come out,” the presentation said.

“The solution that was made is to use a shaker or vibrator that goes on a pickup sander to shake the material down in the hopper when using salt.”

The highway department’s entry into the 2022 Build a Better Mousetrap Competition was evaluated on “cost, implementation, transferability, and commonality of the problem solved.”

Taylor said he’s passed on his idea to other local highway departments, including Salem and Whitehall, with the intent of ensuring the safety of crew members and the effective completion of each job.

“We did the same for Louis Pratt and Whitehall,” Taylor said. “A lot of different people have put them on their trucks because of that.”

The Washington County Department of Public Works earned first place in the competition this year for its “Culvert Cleaner” and gained entry into the national competition.