Transportation agencies in northern environments spend a considerable amount of their budget on salt for winter operations. For example, in the state of Indiana, there are approximately 120 salt storage facilities distributed throughout the state and the state expends between 30 M USD and 60 M USD on inventory and delivery each year. Historical techniques of relying on visual estimates of salt stockpiles can be inaccurate and unhelpful for managing the supply chain during the winter or planning for re-supply during the summer months. This project report describes the implementation of a portable and permanent LiDAR system that can be used to inventory indoor stockpiles of salt in under 15 min and describes how this system has been deployed over 300 times at over 120 facilities. A quick and easy accuracy test, based on the conservation of volume, was used to provide an independent check on the system performance by repositioning portions of the salt pile. Those tests indicated stockpile volumes can be estimated with an accuracy of 1%–3% of indicated stockpile volumes. The report concludes by discussing how this technology can be permanently installed for systematic monitoring throughout the year.

Report Number



winter operations, salt management, stockpile, weather, LiDAR

SPR Number


Performing Organization

Joint Transportation Research Program

Publisher Place

West Lafayette

Date of this Version