Critical Facilities Summit

4  FM quick reads on snow and ice

1. Snow and Ice Management: The Equipment Factor


Equipment, materials, and training are three key components of a comprehensive plan for effectively managing snow and ice. Grounds can undergo myriad changes during non-winter months, whether it is new construction projects, renovations, or changes to landscapes and hard-surface areas. These changes affect snow and ice operations, so managers need to ensure their plans still provide safe, efficient, and reliable snow and ice removal.

Equipment often is the first place managers start in their review. The work is tough, and it can take its toll on equipment, including plows, skid-steer loaders, utility vehicles, dump trucks, and a range of attachments. An equipment breakdown during a snowstorm can create a stressful situation.

To ensure equipment can withstand the rigors of snow and ice removal, operators and mechanics should perform preventive maintenance related to the most important areas of the equipment:

Hydraulics. Check hydraulic cylinders for stress cracks in the paint, leaking or bent fittings, and damaged hoses. It is important for mechanics to eliminate contaminants from the hydraulic-unit systems because if mechanics leave contaminants in the system, they can turn into rust and sludge while in storage.

Electrical components. Mechanics should check and protect motors, wires, solenoids, switches, and connections to ensure they operate correctly when winter arrives. Using a quality rust inhibitor also can protect electrical systems from damage.

Mechanical and structural components. Mechanics should inspect each unit from top to bottom, checking for cracks, bent pins, broken cutting edges, missing or broken bolts, twisted framework, and other cosmetic damage. Mechanics then need to repair any damage they find.

A key component of the equipment-maintenance process is the way departments store equipment. After cleaning and repairing equipment, mechanics should grease anything with a grease fitting. They also should remove chains, binders, sprockets, and floors from salting units and soak them in oil throughout the summer. Mechanics should remove nuts and bolts from containment plows and soak them in oil, as well.


2.  Snow and Ice Management: Focus on Equipment

Equipment, materials, and training are three key components of a comprehensive snow and ice management plan. Buildings and grounds undergo myriad changes during non-winter months, whether it is new construction projects, renovations, or changes to landscapes and hard-surface areas. These changes impact snow and ice operations, so managers need to ensure their plans still provide safe, efficient, and reliable snow and ice removal.

Equipment often is the first place managers start in their review of snow and ice operations. Snow and ice removal is tough work, and it can take its toll on equipment, including plows, skid-steer loaders, utility vehicles, dump trucks, and a range of attachments.

An equipment breakdown during a heavy snowstorm can create a stressful situation in the field. To ensure the equipment can withstand the rigors of snow and ice removal, operators and mechanics should perform preventive maintenance related to the most important areas of the equipment, including:

Hydraulics. Check hydraulic cylinders for stress cracks in the paint, leaking or bent fittings, and damaged hoses. It is important for mechanics to eliminate contaminants from the hydraulic-unit systems because contaminants can turn into rust and sludge while in storage if mechanics leave them in the system.

Electrical components. Mechanics should check and protect motors, wires, solenoids, switches, and connections to ensure they operate correctly when winter arrives. Using a quality rust inhibitor also can protect electrical systems from damage.

Mechanical and structural components. Mechanics should inspect each unit from top to bottom. They should check for cracks, bent pins, broken cutting edges, missing or broken bolts, twisted framework, and other cosmetic damage. Mechanics then need to repair any damage they find.

3.  Snow and Ice Removal: Pre-Treatment Strategies

This is Chris Matt, Managing Editor of Print & E-Media with Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today's tip is strategies for clearing snow and ice more effectively.

To make clearing snow and ice easier for grounds crews, managers more often pre-treat sidewalks and other paved surfaces with anti-icing products. These products help keep exterior surfaces clear and safe for vehicle and pedestrian traffic. With a better understanding of the evolution of these products, managers can develop a more successful game plan to prepare with confidence for the coming winter season.

Professionals involved in snow and ice management have begun to move away from using exclusively granular materials and in many cases have adopted liquid anti-icing materials as the product of choice. Why? As a pre-treatment on roadways, parking lots, and walkways, anti-icing products tend to perform better in preventing snow and ice from bonding to paved surfaces.

Liquid anti-icing products coat the surface of roads and parking lots. Once precipitation starts, the melting process begins. The primary objective of these chemicals is to keep snow and ice from bonding to the pavement, which provides better traction for automobiles and allows for easier removal of snow and ice down to the paved surface.

Salt, also know as sodium chloride or NaCl, is the most common and inexpensive deicer and has been the industry standard for almost a century. Unfortunately, NaCl as a deicing agent can harm the environment, including landscaped areas near pathways and parking lots, and it can cause erosion.

Today, it is common for crews to wet NaCl with a liquid agent to increase its effectiveness and reduce the amount needed. Converting rock salt to brine also is more common. Crews should never use NaCl products around electrical boxes, structural materials or anywhere safety is a priority because of the corrosion it can create.

4.  Seven Alternatives to Rock Salt

This is Chris Matt, Managing Editor of Print & E-Media with Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today's tip is seven alternatives to rock salt.

As grounds managers fine-tune their deicing and anti-icing programs, they are seeking alternatives to rock salt, or sodium chloride. Here are seven alternatives:

Calcium chloride. Calcium chloride, or CaCl, is a byproduct of some chemical manufacturing processes. Proper storage is imperative — in plastic or metal bins with lids — because CaCl absorbs water easily.

Magnesium chloride. This deicer comes in a granular form blended with other chlorides or in a liquid solution. It is safe to use around vegetation, but crews should not apply it too heavily because it can become slippery.

Potassium chloride. A good all-around deicer for pedestrian areas, potassium chloride shares the chemical makeup of some fertilizers. As a result, it is safe for use around vegetation and causes minimal impact on soil and water sources.

Urea. This product, which is also a fertilizer, comes in a granular form. When applied in recommended amounts, urea should not harm vegetation and, in fact, can promote growth.

Calcium-magnesium acetate. Calcium-magnesium acetate has limited melting capabilities but is a biodegradable product primarily used to prevent ice formation on concrete, bridges and roads, which are sensitive to corrosion.

Liquid potassium acetate. This environmentally responsible liquid solution is another pre-treatment option that prevents snow and ice from forming on and adhering to paved surfaces. It is biodegradable and available in liquid form, and crews should apply it before a snowstorm to achieve maximum effectiveness.

M-50. This anti-icing product causes minimal environmental impact, is biodegradable, and is less corrosive than distilled water.


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