Every snow season brings with it new challenges. If you want to stay on top of your facility’s snow removal plan, here are four key habits you should develop.
#1: Start preparing in the fall
Fall is the time to inspect your equipment and make sure everything is working properly.
Review your notes from the previous snow season to identify trouble areas and refresh your memory about strategies that worked well. This will help you develop rough action plans for the main storm scenarios you are likely to encounter this year.
Use the previous three to five years as your baseline for how much anti-icing agents, de-icing agents, scrapers, heat mats, and other material inventory you are likely to need.
Make sure employees are comfortable with all snow-removal tools they may need to use. Do a dry run to familiarize everyone, but especially new employees, with their role in the different scenarios for a smoother process when it counts.
#2: Do regular fleet maintenance
Although the most important times to do maintenance on your vehicles are before and after each snow season, doing regular equipment maintenance during the season will maximize your equipment's effectiveness and extend equipment life.
Remember to wash, dry, and apply salt remover to your snow removal equipment after each storm system; this will help cut down on corrosion. Apply lubricant as well to reduce unnecessary stress.
#3: Stay in constant communication
In 2008, the Missouri Department of Transportation published an in-house study of the best snow removal practices. Four of the five districts studied cited effective communication as one of their best practices. Some of the communication practices mentioned include:
- Conference calls with key facility personnel
While all districts agreed that communication is key, their communication strategies varied. The strategy you use will depend upon the size of your facility, the technology available, and other factors specific to your industry.
You can’t fix problems you don’t know about. So, as a storm system builds, you need to keep tabs on:
- How fast the storm is coming in
- Potential precipitation type and load
- How long the event is expected to last
- Whether the storm will hit during high-traffic times
While pretreatment is advisable prior to most storm conditions, good communication is key to keeping your facility running smoothly in a snowstorm.
You should also encourage facility users to report risk areas they encounter, even if no incident has occurred. This gives you extra eyes and ears on the ground without biting into your budget.
#4: Conduct an end-of-season review
Conducting an end-of-season review allows you to increase your effectiveness, costs, and efficiency in the following year.
Tallying the total amount of anti-icing and de-icing agents used and inventorying how snow removal tools held up to the demands placed upon them should also be part of this process. Charting problem areas and areas where your strategies excelled allow you to identify patterns, brainstorm solutions, and keep an eye out for new products and processes helpful in developing increasingly effective snow removal tools specifically for your facility in following years.
Expenses tend to run high when working to keep facility users safe during the winter. Planning, preparing, communicating, and analyzing effectiveness keep you from having to sacrifice safety in order to stay within your budget.