Seasonal Needs for Snow Removal Contractors
Even though the sun may be shining and warm temperatures are still the norm during autumn months, it’s not too early to plan for snow removal operations utilizing your fleet’s compact equipment. As little as 2 in. of snow can create hazards on sidewalks, driveways, parking lots and other areas used for automobile travel and by pedestrians. Advanced planning is smart when considering the best attachments for your snow removal needs, and there are several attachment options for use with snow.
Many compact equipment owners simply use the bucket that was purchased with their skid steer loader, compact wheel loader or backhoe loader at the time of purchase. Unfortunately, the general purpose or GP bucket that comes with the machine usually has a small volume capacity, so the operator will need to make many trips to clear large areas covered with snow. The GP bucket will get the job done, but the operation will take quite a long time and effort. Some end-users may use a compact excavator to clear a driveway or other small area covered with snow. It is very slow due to the compact excavator’s travel speed, but the blade on a compact excavator will be very effective pushing the snow while the bucket can create larger piles farther away from the cleared area if needed.
These general use attachments may be effective only in light use snow removal operations, such as a single, small parking lot or driveway. If the need for snow removal is greater and for bigger jobs, it’s worthwhile to look at other attachment options. Other snow attachment options for compact equipment owners include:
Angle broom attachments can be used on all three compact pieces of equipment — skid steer loaders, compact wheel loaders and backhoe loaders — and the angle broom is ideal for clearing sidewalks, small parking lots and driveways. An angle broom attachment will work best for snow clearing operations when snow is very dry and not very deep. Unfortunately, if there are more than a few inches of snowfall to clear or if the snow is heavy and wet, it becomes too difficult for the angle broom to push all of the snow off the surface being cleared.
Snow blades can also be used with all three compact pieces of equipment. A snow blade attachment does a good job of clearing snow from a roadway surface or pathway where the work area allows for continuously pushing snow to either the left or the right side to clear a path. This attachment can also be used for snow removal in large parking lots where there is room to place several snow piles on the site.
V-plow attachments can be used on all three pieces of compact equipment. A V-plow attachment is a versatile tool for snow clearing and removal as the blade can be adjusted in five different plowing configurations.
- Straight blade — This position can be used to back drag, remove windrows and performs as a general cleanup tool.
- V-configuration — In this position, both blades on the attachment are pushed toward the rear of the machine. The V-configuration is usually used to make a first pass during snow plowing, such as down the middle of a snow-filled lot to start the pass. The V-configuration can also be used to punch through a snow drift during snow removal.
- Scoop configuration — This configuration is set with both blades of the attachment pushed forward for use in trapping snow. Using the scoop configuration is ideal for finishing and cleanup work when the heavy pushing and removal of snow has been completed.
- Left/right angle blade — Setting the blade angle to the left or the right allows the operator to widen an initial cut through the snow and continue pushing snow toward the edge of the worksite area being cleared.
The snow push attachment can be used with all three compact pieces of equipment. The attachment is designed to help clear large volumes of snow without leaving windrows or allowing for snow to spill over the top of the push attachment. This useful attachment has an optional pull-back kit that can be added for use in conditions requiring snow removal from next to buildings, walls and fences. Sizes for snow push attachments can vary from 140 to 238 in.
Snow buckets are specially designed buckets that are ideal for moving large volumes of snow. Because the buckets are large in size, many of them have cut-outs in the backside to allow the operator better visibility through the bucket while clearing snow.
Designed to tackle the toughest snowfall and accumulation, the blower can have the ability to throw snow as far as 40 ft from the operator while removing snow from finished surfaces. The snow blower usually requires a high-flow auxiliary hydraulic function on most skid steers, or it could have a self-contained power unit to provide power for a blower mounted on a compact wheel loader or backhoe loader. No matter what attachments are selected for snow removal operations using a compact machine, there’s no getting around the fact that winter weather will include some snowfall and a need for clearing snow.
Dan Rafferty is the attachments manager in North America for Volvo Construction Equipment, based in Shippensburg, Pa.