Employees often create innovative solutions to everyday problems or develop alternative ways of doing things in their workplace to improve safety and efficiency, reduce costs, and enhance the quality of transportation. The NJ Build a Better Mousetrap (BABM) Competition seeks entries from employees of local and state public agencies who have created and successfully implemented innovative solutions. This annual competition uses cost, savings/benefits to the community, ingenuity and/or innovation, transferability to others and likelihood of implementation, and effectiveness as the criteria to judge all the entries.
Scott Ainsley and Mark Crago of NJDOT’s Operations and Training Unit were the winners of the 2020 BABM Competition for the design and development of their Anti-Jackknife Device under the Maintenance Tools and Methods category. This early warning device is designed to prevent damage to trucks and trailers while new employees are maneuvering these vehicles during training for their Commercial Driving License tests. The device, costing $165, saves 17 hours of repair labor, amounting to $2,100 with each incident. The device also increases efficiency in new employee training. The video shows the mechanism of the Anti-Jackknife device developed.
This year's winners were announced at the 22nd NJDOT Research Showcase held as a virtual event in October 2020. The annual event serves as a showcase to spotlight research, innovations and the benefits of the NJDOT Research program.
This year’s BABM competition attracted other notable submissions from NJDOT employees that highlight team and individual examples of ingenuity in advancing innovative solutions, including:
NJDOT Bridge Navigator – This bridge navigation app improves efficiency by assisting inspectors, resident engineers, and maintenance personnel navigate to bridges and fuel stations around the State. The Bridge Navigator website is hosted on GitHub pages which are free and open source. (Submitted by: Asim Zaman; Transportation Operations Systems and Support, Asset Management Category)
M.R.T. Grass Diverter – This modification to a mower discharge chute improves safety by redirecting grass and debris away from traffic and reduces costs of potential litigation (Submitted by: James Nunn, Crew 333, Maintenance Tools and Methods Category)
Traffic Signal Explorer - This comprehensive Traffic Signal Assets database improves efficiency and reduces costs by providing readily-accessible information on the 2,800 State-managed traffic signals, traffic signal flashers, and sign-based traffic control devices (Submitted by: Brendan Rahl, NJDOT Bureau of Traffic Engineering, Asset Management Category)