Snow Safety: Why 3 Different Kinds Of Snow Plows Exist

As winter slams into us with full force, we become increasingly dependent on snow removal services. Whether you’re trying to get out of your driveway or simply manage the morning traffic, snow removal services are crucial to a safe and efficient trip.

Have you ever — either on your daily route to work, or as you’re peering out your office window — seen the variations in snow plows and wondered just why that snow removal company needs more than one kind? The difference lies in workload management; plows can become fatigued and may even break down if they’re forced to tackle a storm that is too much to handle. Let’s take a closer look.

  • Straight Plows: When you picture a snow plow, chances are you’re imagining a straight plow. This equipment is used to angle snow away from buildings and toward the perimeter, hence why they’re the ones typically used on highways and parking lots. The operator angles the blade away from the building so the snow can be pushed completely out of the way.

 

  • V-Plows: These plows are generally used to make an initial breakthrough. Snow storms can vary in composition and severity: freezing rain on top of snow can compact it, and wet snow (when the temperature is hovering between freezing and not) is considerably heavier than dry, fluffy snow — six inches of wet snow is equal to the weight of around 38 inches of dry snow. V-plows are especially effective against this type of snowfall; operators set the blade for general, wide-path plowing or stacking, and then can use the scoop position to carry the snow away.

 

  • Pushers/Box/Containment Plows: Snow pushers on loaders, backhoes, or compact utility tractors allow operators to move large volumes of snow quickly and efficiently. This allows loaders to haul the snow away should the need arise.

Many home and business owners are forced to shovel their own walkways, plow their own lots, and make sure the entire area is safe for foot traffic. However, when a sudden snow storm arises (the probability of which is always high), it’s almost impossible to manage it all on your own. Employing commercial snow removal services is a solution that pays for itself, both in time and headaches.

How Can I Stay Productive After A Winter Storm?

From power outages to blocked roads, snow storms cause a lot of problems. To make matters worse, they’re not always easy to predict.

The good news is that you can still be productive in the aftermath of a storm. Here are a few ways you can still keep your business up and running effectively when you’re trekking through several inches of snow.

Get your snow removed (professionally)

One of the first steps to keeping your business productive after a snow storm is to make sure that everyone is able to get to work. Don’t rely on your own elbow grease to pay the way through the parking lot.

A commercial snow removal company works like magic to plow your driveways and parking lots. Not only does it take less time than DIY shoveling but it also ensures your employees can get to work on time and get to work safely.

Postpone meetings

Scheduled meetings are crucial, but they can sometimes be problematic after a snow storm. Attendees may not be able to make it on time while others may not be able to make it at all.

To keep everything running smoothly, consider rescheduling meetings and notifying attendees of the cancellation if live meetings were planned. If attendees are able to talk over the phone or through video-chat, consider having a virtual meeting instead.

This way, attendees are still able to participate in the meeting and you’ll be able to move forward with what the meeting was scheduled for.

Keep your company connected

To stay productive and efficient after a snow storm, be sure that you’re still accessible to everyone anywhere. Certain software programs allow you to quickly collaborate with employees and management so you can answer questions.

Staying in touch with employees after a storm is crucial to ensure everyone is on the same page and customers are receiving optimal customer service despite any issues you might have.

It’s always good to have a backup plan in case your network fails and you’re unable to get online. For instance, notify your customers that there may be an issue due to the storm or that there may be delays.

Plan for your next work emergency

Speaking of having a backup plan in case your network fails, if your post-storm experience doesn’t work out as well as you’d hoped, begin planning out what to do for the next snow storm.

The more prepared your workplace is to deal with these emergencies, the easier it will be for you and your team to get your business back up and running. Plan for remote access of files and consider investing in communications software that allows you to reach your employees wherever you are on the network.

Looking for snow removal services this winter?

Shoveling is responsible for 100 deaths every winter in the United States. This is because your blood pressure is higher when it’s cold, which makes strenuous work dangerous when you’re outside.

Sneller Snow Systems provides commercial snow removal services Grand Rapids MI businesses trust to remove snow safely and effectively. Leave the shoveling and snow plowing up to the professionals this winter and give Sneller Snow Systems a call today.

3 Questions You Should Ask When Looking for Snow Removal Services

Lansing snow removal - Deicing truck

Snow removal services are something every business needs. Trying to plow snow and remove ice by yourself can not only take a lot of time, but can be dangerous too. In fact, snow shoveling is responsible for as many as 100 deaths in the U.S. every year. So investing in snow removal services is always a good option. But before you sign up for snow removal, make sure to ask these few important questions.

What kind of equipment and products do you use? It’s important to know that not all commercial snow plowing companies use the same products and equipment. Some products are more effective at removing ice while causing less damage and certain plows may be gentler on your property. So when you’re meeting with potential snow removal companies, make sure to ask about their methods. In doing this, you can ensure you feel comfortable with the products and equipment being used on your property.

How will you communicate with me after a storm? It’s important to know how your snow plow company will get into contact with you after a storm. Communication is key when it comes to response time — your snow plow company should have a detailed plan of how they communicate with their customers when they’re arriving and leaving their property. So before you sign up for services, make sure you know how your snow plow company will contact you before, during, and after a storm in regards to your property.

Will my business be given priority? Most snow removal companies have several clients and you may not be at the top of the list for their schedule. While you don’t necessarily need to be the first stop of their route, you should know when you can expect your property to be taken care of. If you have specific business hours that mean you need snow removal services at a certain time, it’s important to communicate that. Many companies will be understanding of their customers’ needs and will do their best to be accommodating.

It’s important to understand the services and quality being offered to you before you decide on a snow removal company. Asking these questions can help ensure you choose the right snow removal company for your needs.

The Cost of Snow Plowing

wild car tracks in snow covered parking lot

Many commercial property owners new to collecting bids for commercial snow plowing are a little shocked at the cost.  “How hard can it be to plow my own lot?” they asked themselves.  While certainly most people can learn how to safely remove snow, there are a lot of costs that go into snow and ice removal that are not always accounted for.  Let’s go through just some of the costs that go into snow plowing.

The Cost of Snow Plowing Equipment

The most obvious expense is going to be a snow plow.  With a bottom end plow or a decent used plow coming in around $3,000 and new, contractor grade plows costing up to $6,000 after you throw in installation, the plow isn’t cheap.

Do you think your plow is going to last you 10 years?  Unless you only plow one or two driveways or a small parking lot, think again.  The nature of plowing means snow plows get beat up…a lot.  Many professional contractors are replacing their plows every 3 years, and if there are light winters or they are extra ginger in how they plow, maybe another one or two winters can be squeezed out of them.

What gives a plow a short life span is, as the plow is being pushed along the ground, you hit hidden objects…lots of hidden objects.  The trip springs will lighten (again lighten, not eliminate) the impact, but there are times you will accidentally knock the edge of the blade or you will hit a really big object under the snow.  The snow plow takes continual pounding which is hard on the hydraulics and the frame of the plow.  After a while, you WILL need to repair or replace the plow, so be ready.

It is not just your plow that takes a beating.  The transmission on your vehicle feels all of those jolts as well.  If you have a one-ton truck or smaller that you intend to plow with, plan on replacing your transmission or your vehicle every few years.  On the low end, that is another $3500 for the transmission or on the high end you could spend $50,000+ on that new pickup of yours (love those leather heated seats).

The Cost of Snow Plowing Documentation?

A professional commercial snow removal company will document all the work they do with date and time stamps plus the best companies taking before and after pictures.  That documentation will be retained for up to a decade.  Were you planning on documenting all of your work?  You wonder why someone would even bother.

The reason to document your work is to ward of frivolous lawsuits.  Someone could bring a slip and fall suit against you literally years after they supposedly fell on your property after a snow storm.  If you did not properly document the work you did, be ready to pay an average of over $15,000 per lawsuit.

The Cost of Insurance

One of the benefits of hiring a snow removal company is transferring some (not all) of the risk to the snow removal company.  The company is now responsible for keeping your property safe and it is also the snow removal company’s responsibility if there is any damage done to your property.  That is why one of the largest expenses for a snow removal company is their insurance.  It is not uncommon for a landscaper who plows snow to find their insurance bill for the 3-4 months snow season higher than the insurance for the 8-9 months of landscaping.

If you are plowing snow on your own, you are now accepting the liability for everything.  You may find that affects your insurance bill or at the very least your out-of-pocket expenses when you have to make property repairs after the snow season.

Spreading Salt

You can’t plow ice up from an ice storm.  You also need to plan on spreading salt or a salt mix.  If you just get a tailgate spreader, you are only out a few hundred dollars, but the cost of salt adds up.  Rock salt, the cheapest material to spread, will quickly add up to well over $1,000/year for a small parking lot in an average winter when you buy it by the pallet (more if you buy it bag by bag at the local store).

Hidden Costs

Who is going to plow for you?  Oh, you will save money by plowing yourself?  Yet your time is still worth something, because you could have been doing something else to either make or save money.  That time is lost.  Even if you plow at night and go in for a full work day, you will be far less efficient and less effective because your mind does not function as well when you do not get a full night sleep.

Other costs are going to include fuel (plowing is not a fuel-efficient activity), replacing your tires more often, and replacing your truck battery every 2-3 years (plowing is hard on your truck’s electrical system too).

Then there are the little costs that add up.  Most plow guys will have the constant flow of caffeinated beverages to keep them awake during the wee hours of the morning.  You will also want to spend a few dollars on extra warm clothes for when you are out of the truck shoveling.

On top of all the dollars that are going out, you also have to remember you have to remain available to remove snow from October through March and every once in a while, in April or May too!  That means no overnight trips can be planned, important meetings need to be rescheduled when a storm rolls through, and make sure you don’t get sick or injured, because you will still need to be out there removing the snow no matter what happens.

The Question Becomes “How can the Pro. Snow Plow Guys do it so Inexpensively?”

Yes, we are biased in saying we think hiring a professional snow plow company (we prefer professional snow and ice management company) stretches your money just as far as plowing on your own.  There are some things that help us keep it economical on our end.

We can spread out the equipment costs over many properties instead of just one or two.  With as many properties as we plow, the equipment cost per property drops way down.

We can also use different equipment.  Using skid steers, loaders, and dump trucks is way more economical for snow removal than a pickup truck because we can move more snow both safer and faster.

We have economies of scale.  When you are buying multiple pieces of equipment every year, the dealers give you…well, a good deal!  We get our salt in bulk truckloads instead of pallet loads which means we get better pricing on our salt as well.

Finally, our crew members are well trained and well-practiced in snow removal, so they can do the work at top speeds while maintaining the highest levels of safety.  Our crews have dedicated software for documenting work done while we are on your site, so it takes almost no extra time to carefully record what work was done as we are working.

The added benefit of using a professional commercial snow removal company is you never have to lose any beauty sleep to ensure your property is safe for vehicles and pedestrians.

Those are the big costs, though I am sure we missed some items.  If you are still thinking of snow plowing on your own, good luck and be safe!  If you are in the Grand Rapids or Lansing areas, feel free to give us a call about a free assessment of what it will take to keep your clients and team members safe from winter storms.

Reasons Why Snow Contractors Should Get a Snow Plow Prep Package for Their Smaller Trucks

Currently Ford and GMC offer snow plow prep packages for their pickups and you can pick one up for the Nissan Titan beginning with the 2018 model year.  There are good reasons to opt-in for the snow plow prep package for trucks that have one available.

What is a Snow Plow Prep Package?

A Snow Plow Prep Package is a package offered by Ford and GMC to make your truck better capable for handling the strain of running a snow plow.  You will generally find snow plow prep packages for vehicles in the ¾ to 1 ton range with Ford also offering it on their F-150.

Snow plow prep packages are relatively inexpensive.  When Ford introduced their F-150 plow prep package in 2015 it was only a $50 upgrade and still today the plow prep package for the F-150 and F-250 can be had for less than $100.  GMC is on the pricier end with a package on the 2500 setting you back just under $400 (it is less on the 3500).

So what are the reasons to have a Snow Plow Prep Package?

Reason 1: Without a Snow Plow Prep Package, You Could Void the Warranty.

In the fine print of every warranty there is wording that allows the manufacturer of your truck to void the warranty for any unapproved modification on the truck.  A snow plow on a truck that does not have a snow plow package could be used as an excuse to void the warranty.

How bad can it be?  Bad enough that some snow plow installers refuse to put plows on trucks that do not come from the factory with a snow plow prep package.  I know, I used to live a couple of miles from one.

To be fair, most truck dealers want to work with you and they will try to put as much work through warranty as they reasonably can, but if your truck seems to lack electrical power while plowing or your front springs fail early, you could be out a lot of money in repairs to save a few dollars by avoiding the snow plow prep package.  It is just not worth it.

Reason 2: A More Robust Alternator Helps with Electrical Demands While Plowing

Hydraulics take a lot of energy to run…I mean a lot.  When we look at the alternators on trucks 1 ton and smaller, many of them can’t keep up with 10 hours of continuous snow plowing especially if you are running an electric spreader.

Every once in a while, someone will bring a plow into the shop saying, “my plow won’t go up like it should,” and then the mechanic finds it works fine.  What happens is that the battery charges while the operator is driving down the road and then by the time the mechanic sees the plow, everything is working just fine.  The operator goes back out and has problems again not realizing the truck is just not keeping up with the electricity needs of the equipment.

Almost every snow plow prep package will mean a beefier alternator in your truck.  The alternator will pump more electricity into your battery so that you can go for hours without taking a break.

Reason 3: Most Trucks Are Not Designed for Hundreds of Extra Pounds Hanging in Front of Your Bumper

Even a small plow weighs hundreds of pounds and you can easily find plows that weigh over 1000 pounds for a pickup even before you get any snow on the plow.  Unlike throwing 1000 pounds in the bed of your truck, the weight of the plow puts almost all of its strain on the front of the truck and will even give you less traction on your rear wheels if you do not add ballast (extra weight in the back to balance the extra weight in the front).

The snow plow prep packages are meant to strengthen that front end, in particular the springs, so you don’t damage your truck.  Just driving around with a snow plow on a bumpy road without doing any plowing can be hard on the front end of a pickup not designed for that kind of weight hanging off the front, so be very sure to follow the manufacturer recommendations regarding the size of plow, the minimum amount of ballast, and the GVW (Gross Vehicle Weight) limitations.

Reason 4: Some Prep Packages Add Extra Protection

The GMC package comes with a guard to protect your transfer case as well as electrical for a strobe light on top of your truck.  These keep your vehicle safer and make it easier to install safety lights so everyone can see you.

In the end, you won’t lose with a Snow Plow Prep Package.  For the few extra dollars you spend on the package you will get the better alternator and a front end better equipped to handle extra weight, so if you are getting a Ford or a GMC, definitely consider the prep package as a worthwhile option.