Pokey-picker-upper tool gives maintenance crews a pick-me-up

By Kim Larson / Arizona Department of Transportation Communications

What’s a “pokey picker upper,” you ask? This uniquely named idea implemented by Timothy Mitchell, highway operations supervisor for the Quartzsite Maintenance Unit, has allowed his team to spend less time transporting equipment to the shop and is creating savings in repair costs. 

“When we were doing regular spot litter removal, the number of flat tires we were getting was so high, we needed to come up with a way to reduce that waste,” Mitchell said.

That push for a countermeasure became the idea of the pokey picker upper. 

Because so many pieces of metal were causing the damage, a magnet seemed the best way to tackle the problem. The real quandary, however, was how to find a way to use the magnet to grab the metal before it could puncture any tires. Mitchell brainstormed an idea and quickly welded together a prototype. A 3-foot bar was affixed to the front of the truck and the magnetic bar hung from that, hovering just above the ground. That’s what you see in the photo at the top of the post. He also made it interchangeable so it is easily moved to either the passenger or driver side of the vehicle, depending on where it is needed. 

Crews began using the new tool in August. The maintenance unit discovered it worked well and since then their welder has improved upon the prototype. The upgraded version will be reproduced for other vehicles across the agency doing similar duties with potential for tire damage.

They are still compiling data for the number of hours and costs related to the flat tires. But Mitchell said before they were trekking to the shop two to four times a week for repairs, and now it’s only once or twice a month, which is a substantial improvement. 

And what about the very scientific name? Mitchell said “It kind of just came to me.”

Spoken like a true inventor!

This device is an example of how ADOT employees are committed to solving problems and eliminating wasteful processes by using Governor Doug Ducey’s Arizona Management System

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