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Mandate for Snow Removal in 2024 - 2025: Do More With Less

Tue June 25, 2024 - Northeast Edition
SnowWolf


Given the harsh environments where snow removal is required, these attachments must not only perform efficiently but also must last over time.
Photo courtesy of SnowWolf
Given the harsh environments where snow removal is required, these attachments must not only perform efficiently but also must last over time.
Given the harsh environments where snow removal is required, these attachments must not only perform efficiently but also must last over time.   (Photo courtesy of SnowWolf) The optimal return on investment when considering snow removal equipment is achieved through the utilization of adaptable and agile attachments, even if the upfront expenditure is a little higher.   (Photo courtesy of SnowWolf) These attachments offer more flexible choices that allow a variety of movements in tight spaces, while adding to the value of skid steers, which are specifically designed to be nimble.   (Photo courtesy of SnowWolf)

Many snow removal businesses base their decision on acquiring snow plow or pusher attachments on the initial cost, overlooking long-term expenses, improved efficiency, quality of clearing, and the potential to secure additional projects. When considering these factors, the optimal return on investment is achieved through the utilization of adaptable and agile attachments, even if the upfront expenditure is a little higher.

According to Degen Kelly, director of operations at Outdoor Pride, a company that generates approximately $13 million in annual revenue from snow removal services, it is tempting to focus on the lower initial purchase cost or to simply order the same attachments other companies use. This leads many to just "rinse and repeat" for par thinking, he said.

However, for the greatest overall returns, more attention should be given to the ROI that higher quality attachments provide. These attachments offer more flexible choices that allow a variety of movements in tight spaces, while adding to the value of skid steers, which are specifically designed to be nimble. Unfortunately, many standard snow plows and pushers have limited functionality, and if big and bulky, turn a nimble skid steer or wheel loader into a large, clumsy piece of equipment with limited maneuverability.

Of course, given the harsh environments where snow removal is required, these attachments must not only perform efficiently but also must last over time.

"Once you crunch the numbers, you see how much time [high quality attachments] can save, how much onsite equipment you can eliminate, how much quicker your operators can work, and how much longer the equipment lasts," said Kelly, who earlier in his career was responsible for operating snow clearing machinery with a range of attachments from different manufacturers.

"Once you start to think about the ROI with the goal of doing more with less equipment, using a more flexible, quality attachment is a no-brainer," said Kelly.

Photo courtesy of SnowWolf

The optimal return on investment when considering snow removal equipment is achieved through the utilization of adaptable and agile attachments, even if the upfront expenditure is a little higher.

Effectively Removing New England's Heaviest Snow Loads

Founded in 1988, Manchester, N.H.-based Outdoor Pride has become one of the largest landscape and snow management providers in New England. Like many landscape contractors, the company offers year-round service that includes snow removal in the winter for large commercial and government-owned properties.

"All the facilities we maintain are zero tolerance, which means that if they ever had to shut down, they could lose a lot of revenue every hour. So, the ability to quickly and safely clear snow from a site is essential. We need our entire fleet of equipment effectively performing every day during snow events," said Kelly.

According to Kelly, the average annual snowfall in New Hampshire amounts to approximately 60 in. However, as recently as 2020, the state experienced winters with snowfall exceeding a 100 in. To keep up with the high demand for snow removal services, Outdoor Pride maintains a large fleet of more than 300 machines, ranging from trucks and full-size loaders to skid steers and walkway equipment.

For snow removal, the company has 85 Bobcat skid steers and mini loaders, each equipped with a unique AutoWing attachment from Minnesota-based SnowWolf Plows.

Founded in Minnesota in the 1970s as a family run snow removal and landscaping contract business, SnowWolf transitioned into the role of equipment manufacturer in 1990. Today, the OEM offers a variety of models and sizes of snow plows, pushers, blowers, and other snow removal accessories that are compatible with skid steers, wheel loaders, front-end loaders, tractors and other machinery.

Among the OEM's offerings is its AutoWing QuattroPlows, available in four models and machine operating weights, which are specialized attachments that allow operators to switch between angle plowing, wide-angle plowing, pushing and back dragging on the fly.

According to Kelly, Outdoor Pride discovered the QuattroPlow seven years ago, at a time when they were looking for an alternative to the attachments they were using.

"Most of the other options were flimsy, fixed box [snow pushers]. You really didn't have the flexibility to drag or angle. The attachments where backdragging and angling was an option were bulky and limited the ability to easily maneuver the skid steer," said Kelly.

In contrast, a key feature of the AutoWing design is the ability to extend and retract its side wings independently, depending on the width of the road or the amount of snow cleared. This allows operators to efficiently clear wider swaths of snow without manually adjusting the plow's position, increasing productivity and reducing the need for additional passes.

The AutoWing also is unique because it only requires one hydraulic circuit for efficient operation. No additional wiring is necessary and there are no specialized controls. The attachment can be angled left or right with a standard control feature on the joystick. The user-friendly design simplifies operator training.

"[The QuattroPlow] has all the great aspects of a fixed box, along with the ability to easily angle and back drag. It has a very simple setup with just two hydraulic lines," said Kelly.

Outdoor Pride also elected to utilize SnowWolf's ActivEdge, a unique design involving multiple cutting-edge sections with individual adjustability and adaptability. The floating cutting edges allow for more precise snow removal even on varied surfaces and minimizes the need for excessive salt or deicing agents.

"We have seen a benefit from utilizing the [ActivEdge]. Our plow edges are now following the contours of the pavement a lot easier," said Kelly.

The increased efficiency of Outdoor Pride's snow removal equipment has substantially improved its operations. Kelly estimates the amount of time to clear a complex area has been reduced by one-third, which often means an additional machine is not required. Due to its ability to conform to surface contours, the ActivEdge more effectively clears the area, reducing the necessity for additional passes or excessive salt applied post scrape.

Although decreasing operator time is important to Outdoor Pride, Kelly said there are other ancillary factors that contribute to the ROI. A major factor is the ability of the equipment to withstand the rigors of annual snow clearing.

The QuattroPlows the company purchased seven years ago are still in service and other than new edges from time to time have required very little maintenance.

"The [attachment] is an investment, but from what we have found, it is an investment that gives us results and lasts," said Kelly. "We are experiencing significant ROI in decreased operator time to get through an entire property. We also see it in the longevity of the product."

While the initial cost of equipment like snow plows or pushers can be a significant factor, it is essential to evaluate their long-term benefits, including increased efficiency, better quality of clearing, and the ability to handle more jobs.

By opting for more flexible and nimble attachments, snow removal services can enhance their operational efficiency and effectiveness. When the ROI is carefully analyzed, it becomes evident that the initial higher investment in advanced attachments pays off, making them an indispensable component of modern snow removal strategies.

For more information, call SnowWolf at 800/905-2265, email [email protected] or visit www.snowwolfplows.com.

Photo courtesy of SnowWolf

These attachments offer more flexible choices that allow a variety of movements in tight spaces, while adding to the value of skid steers, which are specifically designed to be nimble.




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