With winter upon us, facility managers should take the a cue to get busy stocking up on tools and equipment that will be needed for wintertime snow and ice removal. Along with a well trained staff and a well thought out operational plan, acquiring the best equipment is one of the key factors for effective and timely commercial snow removal.
Heavy Duty Machinery
The core, heavy duty equipment that you rely on to move and remove ice and snow needs to be carefully selected. The choice is crucial because of the greater efficiency gained by using the most appropriate tool for the job, as well as the fact that it involves a major financial decision.
Some suggestions on the kind of equipment to select to keep your facility grounds clear all winter long are:
- A plow truck, which needs to have a tough transmission and a high-output engine. Preferably, you would also add four-wheel drive.
- An attachable plow to mount onto your pickup. A straight plow may be adequate in some cases, but a V-plow's blade can be adjusted to handle angles in a superior fashion.
- A truck-mountable salt spreader. Be sure to buy one with enough capacity to avoid making numerous "refill runs."
- A tractor that can be equipped with blades, blowers, or brooms. Brooms sweep away light dustings, while blades and blowers move heavier, more compacted snow.
- A skid steer that can be set up with a bucket, blade, or blower. Alternatively, you could use a front-end loader or a tractor. Any of these vehicles are capable of pushing, plowing, or loading large quantities of snow quickly.
- Topdressers, which can spread a salt-sand mix onto walkways. This is much easier than doing it by hand out of a wheel-equipped garbage can.
- Two snowblowers: a powerful two-stage to clear the sidewalks, and a single-stage machine small enough to work on outdoor steps.
- A riding mower that has been equipped with blades and/or a rotary broom. This kind of versatility can save you money and simplify maintenance tasks.
- Snow-melting mats, whether purchased or rented, that can melt snow as fast as two inches (5 cm) per hour and keep high-traffic walkways, stairways, and entryways clear and dry.
In your haste to stock up on the main equipment, do not overlook more basic tools that you will need. Have one or more storage sheds that contain such "expendable" items as gloves, hats, shovels, and snow stakes. Also don't forget to buy aluminum garbage cans with lids to store your rock salt in. These "little things" are necessary, and some of them often get their supply levels depleted, so do inventory and make a purchase list after every major winter weather event.
Keep Everything "Ready to Go"
You should mount all your plows, change out all fluids and filters, inspect every aspect of your equipment, and thoroughly clean it. Keep it stored in a dry, sheltered area if at all possible. When a storm is expected, make sure fuel levels are topped off and everything is ready to go. Just before usage, each operator should do a quick check-list inspection, and should repeat that process immediately after use.
To tackle every snow and ice situation effectively, you need the best equipment, and it needs to be properly stored and maintained. While you don't want to over-purchase and watch your investments sit idle, it is best to have a few back-up pieces on hand rather than to under-purchase and suffer the consequences.