Back to black with Bucher
Andrew Manson, regional sales manager for Johnston Sweepers Ltd, discusses how to stay ahead of the ice and snow at the sharp end.
There is a growing recognition within the industry that traditional approaches based around salt gritting in winter service are becoming less sustainable. Salt is inexpensive and relatively abundant, but comes at other costs of logistics, storage and delivery. Every spreader must have a snowplough and yet very little consideration is given to what it must be capable of doing. During winter operations, more often than not the plough is left parked up in the depot, and only called upon in the most extreme winter conditions. But it doesn’t have to be that way, and more frequent, considered use of the correct plough technology will help to reduce salt application levels and help offer a better winter service.
Bucher Winter snowploughs are designed and manufactured in Northern Italy, in a factory that sits in the shadow of some of the highest and most magnificent mountains in Europe. Over the years, challenging winter conditions on the roads and highways around these mountains have helped to evolve Bucher’s range of snowploughs, delivering innovative solutions for moving all types of snow and ice. One of the widest concerns commonly raised regarding the use of ploughs is the damage to road infrastructure. With standard UK ploughs, jockey wheels are employed to raise the plough blade a couple of inches off the ground to make sure that road studs remain intact. But in the gap between the plough blade and the road surface, a compacted layer of snow is allowed to remain, and that remaining snow is effectively flattened and graded by standard UK ploughs before the spreader passes and dispenses salt on top of it.
If the temperature is low, and the amount of salt spread is insufficient, this approach can be a recipe for disaster. Any remaining snow will be partially melted, but in low temperatures it has the potential to re-freeze as a slicker, icier surface. It is therefore paramount that if a plough is used, it is used correctly. The biggest difference offered by Bucher ploughs is the interface with the plough and the road surface. Bucher plough blades sit on the road surface and deliver a back-toblack treatment as standard. They have a negative attack angle and as such they serve to squeegee off the fallen snow, as opposed to chiseling and scraping it off, which is the more common approach in the UK. Bucher’s neoprene ‘bi-shore’ plough blade deflects around any road obstacles, ensuring that road studs are safe. The blade is designed with a softer leading face that deflects well around obstacles, and a harder trailing face that provides the necessary strength to push the blade along without flexing backwards. The bi-shore neoprene blade is standard across the range of ploughs delivered by Bucher and can be complemented with a positive angle icebreaker blade that can be deployed in times of ice accumulation. Both blade types can be configured on straight edge or V-formation ploughs. Straight edge ploughs are ideal for standard highways operations, where high speed snow clearance is critical. Bucher’s V-shaped Universal Ploughs incorporate the same safety systems as their straight edge counterparts, but can be configured to offer straight, V-formation and Shovel-formation, and as such are perfect for use in narrow inner-city environments as well as rural environments where narrow access routes need to be ploughed. Bucher Winter innovations also include the MBS brine injector system for snow ploughs. Brine or indeed any de-icing liquid is delivered through apertures in the plough blade, and ejected directly onto the road surface at the interface with the snow and ice. The combination of mechanical force from the plough blade plus chemical force delivered by the liquid de-icer has a dramatic and almost immediate effect on the carriageway. During product tests carried out last winter, one driver described the process as ‘painting the road black again’. The MBS plough system can be fitted to any combi or pre-wet snowplough with liquid de-icing tanks. Alternatively, spreaders can be retrofitted with liquid storage tanks used to feed the MBS delivery system.
Bucher Winter will be presenting a wide range of its snowplough technologies at Cold Comfort alongside its innovative salt spreaders