Standard Specifications for Plow Blades with Carbide Inserts


Carbide inserts provide a life expectancy 10 to 20 times longer than traditional steel blades. This extended longevity has proven to save time and resources for winter maintenance agencies around the country. Unfortunately, there are no common procurement specifications for carbide inserts, and agencies use a wide variety of requirements.

Still, many agencies do have experience using standards developed for the use of plow blades with carbide inserts. This project gathered information from these users and from carbide insert manufacturers, distributors and vendors to compile a set of standard specifications that can be used and shared among Clear Roads members and others.


The goal of this project was to develop a set of standard specifications that can be used by agencies across the country to specify carbide-insert plow blades. State DOTs currently specify a variety of carbide-insert blades, and having a common specifications used by many of the 36 Clear Roads states would simplify and streamline the procurement process for state DOTs and vendors. The buying power connected to a widely accepted specification would be greater, and procurement coalitions could potentially use the standard specifications for bidding. In addition, if more agencies specified the same product, vendors could reduce their costs and pass those savings on to state DOTs. The standard specifications would provide a starting point for agencies that want to develop their own specifications. Counties and cities would also be able to take advantage of the specifications.


This project produced a set of standard specifications addressing the following:

  • Carbide inserts, geometry, and dimensions
  • Blade materials, assembly details, and dimensions
  • Plow blade configuration (front, underbody, or tow blade) and blade dimensions (length and height)
  • Quality assurance inspections and accept/reject procedures
  • Details of procedures to accept/reject inserts

Specifications include text and AutoCAD details of insert dimensions, insert material, blade dimensions, and mounting details (including bolt pattern and inside measurements, amount of insert inside a blade, and blade/insert mounting configuration).

NOTE: Based on a peer review conducted by industry, Clear Roads has revised a portion of the specifications, which can be found under Study Documents > Final Products.

The Final Webinar took place on March 25, 2020.