As the leaves turn into their fall colors, winter maintenance contractors should also change their thinking toward winter. For all of us in the snow removal industry, fall is the time to consider whether you are truly ready for the upcoming season, and to prepare for the challenges of winter.
EQUIPMENT MAINTENANCE AND CALIBRATION. Properly care and calibration of deicing equipment is critical to successfully meeting winter’s challenges. This list of equipment checkpoints can save you time and money during winter operations.
Mechanical: All equipment should be checked for such things as loose bolts, missing nuts or retainers, proper lubricant levels in gearboxes, loose or worn belts and drive chains, proper hydraulic fluid levels, etc. A little time spent here can save a lot of down time as winter storms hit.
Tanks on liquid application equipment should be flushed and cleaned to eliminate rust and grit. Pumps and lines should be checked for function and replaced as necessary. Filters and/or screens need to be checked, cleaned or replaced.
If you have new spreaders or trucks, be sure that they fit with each other and can be mounted in a reasonable amount of time. A storm is not the place to learn that new equipment is incompatible.
|SAFE DRIVING REMINDER|
Cover the following winter driving reminders during your pre-winter prep. Source: CNA Commercial Insurance
Source: CNA Commercial Insurance
Electrical. All electrical connections should be inspected for corrosion, cleaned and sealed. Silicone caulk works well for this purpose. Check all controls and relays to see if they function properly. All safety and warning lights should be tested and replaced as necessary. When testing lights, do not puncture wires or seals with a probe, as this will expose the system to corrosion. If testing for the presence of power is necessary, check the ends, not the middle. If testing in the middle is required, cutting the wire and then making a weather resistant splice is recommended and normally saves time and money in the long run.
Calibration. Once the mechanical and electrical systems are checked, calibrate the spreading equipment to assure that you are really applying the correct amount. Calibrate spreading units with variable application rates on at least two rates, preferably at the upper and lower limits of your normal application rates. Record the settings and place a laminated card in the vehicle with the settings and date of calibration. Proper calibration ensures correct application rates.
STOCKPILES AND STORAGE. Fall also is the best time to take inventory of your stockpiles of materials and prepare them for use on approaching storms.
Stockpiles. Stockpiles should be frost-proofed if necessary and the sites cleaned up and access roads repaired as needed to allow for easy access when needed. Check all environmental safeguards and repair if needed. This includes drainage sumps, erosion checks, and any permanent seepage barriers. If premixed materials (e.g., sand/salt) are needed, it may be desirable to mix in advance and cover awaiting use.
Liquid Storage. Tanks, if empty, should be flushed and cleaned out. Here again, check, clean or replace all filters or screens as needed. Pumps and lines should be checked to ensure that they are functioning properly and should be replaced if necessary. Loading areas should be clear of obstructions. Have environmental safeguards in place and functional if required or used.
Preparing your plow for winter is key. Use this plow prep checklist as a guideline, but always consult the manufacturer’s recommendations for proper care.
A-FRAME, QUADRANT AND LIFT FRAME
Source: Western Snowplows
PERSONNEL. Your winter roster may include permanent employees, or temporary or contract personnel. They need to be fully aware of your expectations or goals and be trained to use your equipment and methods. If there are any special considerations or concerns in some areas, be sure that this information is disseminated.
Equipment Operation. The personnel need to be familiar with the operation of most, if not all of the equipment. Your full-time workers will be able to refresh their knowledge along with training the new and/or temporary employees. This task can be accomplished in conjunction with the calibration and inspection activities.
Safety. Safety meetings outlining the known hazards in operating winter maintenance equipment are necessary. All planning for winter should include safety discussions.
Training. Proper techniques for plowing, spreading and removing snow and/or ice should be reveiwed. Also a review of how chemicals work and the processes of anti-icing (if used) and deicing should be covered. A brief summary of recommended application rates for each of the materials under different conditions should be presented to employees.
Expectations. Each employee needs to understand exactly what you expect in terms of on-the-road results (sometimes called level of service or LOS). Employees also need to be aware of their customers’ expectations and how you plan to meet them. Any political or environmental issues regarding winter operations should be clearly understood.
Scheduling. Work schedules for all employees should be developed and posted. The schedules should be discussed with the crews along with the call out procedures. Any labor contract requirements concerning shifts, call outs, overtime, standby etc. should also be reviewed with the appropriate people (personnel, shop stewards, etc.) and reviewed with the employees.
The author is president, Ice & Snow Technologies, LLC. He can be reahced at firstname.lastname@example.org.