When Old Man Winter Brings the Snow

written by Gabi Olpp on Wednesday, January 13, 2021

What makes cold-season fans very happy, means working at full speed for the employees of the winter road clearance service.

Ice-cold challenge

"Finally, it's really winter again", say some, very happily. Others get upset about ice and snow.

For the municipalities, winter means that at the beginning of the cold season all winter vehicles are ready to go, the last test runs have been successfully completed and the grit bunkers are full. With heavy equipment, road salt, grit and a lot of experience, the employees of the winter road clearance service will work day in, day out to "get on top" of the white magnificence. In a large city in Germany today, between 1.000 and 3.000 tons of salt are spread per winter.

Winter road maintenance – how it all began

As much as necessary, but as little as possible!

When it comes to salt, you should always follow this motto. For the sake of nature and the environment, of course, as well as to protect vehicles, road accessories, retaining walls and ultimately the budget. Road salt is very expensive!

Something a lot of people don't know: salt is only effective down to a minimum temperature of around minus 8 degrees Celsius, and it requires moisture to develop its full effect. This effect is amplified by the flexing/churning effect of car tires.

Due to their physical properties, de-icing salts lower the freezing point of water to below 0 °C. The ions of the salt try to bond with water. As a result, they "nibble" individual water molecules out of the ice – the ice melts. Dry salt crystals can only do this very slowly. The wetter they are, the faster the thawing process begins. Saline solution seeping downwards finally separates frozen layers from the roadway. What's more, the road traffic itself acts as an accelerator of the thawing process, because the car tires break up the snow mechanically and "work" the salt into it some more. This is particularly important because the thawing process only starts when the salt combines with snow or ice.

Visualization of the physical effect of road salt

This is why pre-wetted salt, a moistened road salt, is also used frequently. Damp salt acts faster and, thanks to its better adhesion, is not thrown into the roadside by following vehicles.

The winter road maintenance challenge

In organizational and legal terms, the municipal winter road maintenance service has to cover a very broad spectrum. It stretches from pedestrian zones through fully parked residential streets right up to fast-moving city freeways. To suit these varied tasks, the equipment pool and organization for urban areas are much more complex than for roads linking communities. It is therefore extremely important to avoid vehicle downtimes.

Innovations improve reliability and environmental protection

An innovative, high-performance, precisely meterable spreading system assists the pre-wetted salt and brine technology. It reduces the application rate and protects the environment.

The right choice of vehicle and machine

Whether single-function machine or multi-function vehicle, rollers, disc or combination spreaders, the choice of the right technology depends on the task to be performed by winter road maintenance services. Small, maneuverable multifunctional vehicles or tractors are usually used for municipal applications. In all vehicles, the space in the driver's cab is very limited. In addition, there are different body types and various spreading systems.

Precise and accurately metered application of the spreading material

Responsive and accurate

Due to the high control accuracy of our valves, simple spreaders can use low-cost current control. Intuitive operation and menu navigation enables even untrained personnel to use the spreader after just a short briefing. The control unit can be mounted and installed in the cabin very easily.

Extremely accurate, with intelligent control electronics

Anyone who has to work with extreme accuracy and is confronted with demands for verifiable minimum and maximum spread rates can, with the help of speed sensors, virtually eliminate system-related influences and achieve the target spin-speed even more precisely. In order to satisfy these demanding applications, Bucher Hydraulics offers digital control units for very precise application rates, metered with the greatest possible accuracy. It hardly needs saying that spread-data logging, including a protocol for GPS applications, is available, and just as self-evident is a high degree of flexibility in adapting to the spreading system.

Convenient operation and evaluation

In the municipal sector, service providers face demands for verifiable minimum and maximum spread rates. By adding a telemetry device, the position of the spreader can be recorded and the spreading data can be transmitted to the utility. Service providers can thus prove at any time when, where and how much was spread.

Avoid stoppage times 

Combining carrier vehicles with different bodies and attachments is always a challenge. Thanks to their very low power losses, our hydraulic systems offer full compatibility between different carrier vehicles and bodies. They are also completely maintenance-free. Because in winter road maintenance it is vital that you can rely on the complete operational capability of your equipment.
Read more about one of our group-wide development projects – a perfectly harmonized, worry-free solution for driving, controlling and operating municipal salt/grit spreaders:

Lesen Sie mehr über eines unserer konzernweiten Entwicklungsprojekte – eine perfekt abgestimmte, Rundum-Sorglos-Lösung für Antrieb, Steuerung und Bedienung von kommunalen Salzstreuern:




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