'The outcomes of the meeting were both powerful and clear: changes need to be made immediately for the upcoming winter season.'
By Martin Tirado, CAE
On Tuesday, August 26, over 100 snow and ice contractors, property/facility managers and manufacturers/suppliers met in Madison Heights, Michigan to work together on a critical issue. The issue discussed was how can we, as the professional snow and ice management industry, better manage, control and apply salt and other snow & ice melting materials? The outcomes of the meeting were both powerful and clear: changes need to be made immediately for the upcoming winter season.
The reality we are all facing is that salt supply for snow contractors is both limited in availability and of increased cost to obtain for use in the upcoming 2014-15 winter. Bulk rock salt is still extremely effective in melting snow and ice. With its broad usage by both the government and private sectors, when we have heavy winter storms like in the winter of 2013-14, supplies get low and production mines have a difficult time keeping up with demand. (View the Detroit Free Press article covering the event and more on high rock salt prices here).
So what do we do now? After morning speakers provided some background on liquid applications, chemical temperature effectiveness and establishing best practices for application rates, attendees spent the afternoon discussing solutions is small focus groups. This peer-to-peer interaction is powerful, as often times the best learning comes from discovery of what other companies are doing to solve the same challenges we all have. A complete report of the results is forthcoming, with some of the immediate takeaways being:
- Consider using liquid applications, both applied to bulk salt supplies and as pre-treatment to reduce the amount of salt used and enhance its effectiveness.
- Be diligent in training your operators on knowing how to properly calibrate spreaders, and know the optimal application rates needed to get the job done.
- Communicate with your property and facility managers on chemical effectiveness, air and surface temperatures and proper application rates. Over-application is not a sustainable solution.
- Maximize the use of truck and plow snow clearing.
- As the contractor, position yourself as the expert in your field.