The Best Equipment for Snow Removal: Heavy Machinery to Use This Winter
The Best Equipment for Snow Removal: Heavy Machinery to Use This Winter
Reading time: 6 min
As autumn gives way to winter and construction projects come to a halt, heavy equipment moves onto the street where it performs a critical task—snow removal.
Snow removal is an important part of keeping roads safe and accessible during cold winter months. In northern states, where heavy snowfall is common, heavy equipment is required to meet the demands of frequent snow removal.
While many types of heavy equipment can be used for snow removal, they differ in efficiency, maneuverability and convenience. In this guide, we’ll go over the best equipment for snow removal. Understanding the pros and cons of the various machinery used in snow removal will help you and your crew work efficiently and safely this winter season.
Types of Equipment used for Snow Removal
If you’re moving large amounts of snow, wheel loaders are a great solution. Although wheel loaders aren’t as compact and maneuverable as smaller alternatives, they can move up to several feet of snow with ease. Wheel loaders have great reach and the position of the operator cabin provides excellent visibility.
Not only are wheel loaders powerful, they’re highly versatile. They can be fitted with a range of attachments, including snow plows, snow buckets, snow blades and snow blowers. Their productivity and versatility make them an ideal solution for snow removal on streets or at airports, stadiums and mines.
Pros: high capacity, versatile, good traction, comfortable operator cab.
Cons: expensive to operate, large footprint, high fuel consumption.
If you need to remove snow in a cramped setting, such as in a parking lot or between buildings, then skid steers are a worthy option. Their small footprint and tight turning radius make them easy to maneuver, which comes in handy if you’re working in a confined area.
Like loaders, skid steers can be fitted with a range of attachments to make them more efficient at snow removal. Common attachments used with skid steers to remove snow include snow blades and snow buckets. Wheeled skid steers tend to perform better in snowy conditions.
Pros: highly maneuverable, variety of attachments available, good visibility, quick attachment changes.
Cons: limited capacity, slower snow removal, operators are exposed to the elements.
If you need to dig through deep snowfall and haul large amounts of snow into a pile, then backhoe loaders are an efficient alternative. Backhoe loaders feature a bucket on the front of the machine and a backhoe on the back. This makes it very simple to switch between digging through snowfall and plowing it.
Pros: dual functionality, stable, easy to operate.
Cons: limited attachments, slower than other options, not very maneuverable.
For plowing and removing snow in challenging terrain, like farmland or wooded areas, utility vehicles tend to be more effective than the alternatives. Utility vehicles are specially designed for off-roading and they commonly feature all-wheel-drive, special tires and nimble suspension systems.
Utility vehicles can be fitted with snow blades that make plowing a simple task. However, utility vehicles come in a wide range of sizes and not all models are equally capable. If you plan on moving large amounts of snow or heavier/wetter snow, you’ll need a larger model.
Pros: cost effective, small footprint, versatile.
Cons: limited capacity, operators are exposed to the elements.
Recently, telehandlers have been gaining popularity for use in snow removal. These machines are speedy and highly maneuverable, moving around the work area quickly.
In addition to their dexterity, telehandlers have the unique ability to pile snow into tall piles/stacks. Whereas other machines are capable of simply pushing gathered snow into the base of a snow pile, a telehandler's high reach means it can place gathered snow on top of the snow pile.
Pros: high reach, versatile, stable.
Cons: higher cost, limited capacity, more training required.
In many cases, tractors are the ideal machine for snow removal. Tractors have impressive ground speed, which makes them more productive than slower options. They also have great fuel efficiency and can be fitted with useful attachments like snow blades or snowblowers.
Pros: cost-effective, suitable for large areas, fast.
Cons: limited snow plowing, slower than other options, operators are exposed to the elements.
Popular Attachments for Snow Removal
Snow buckets are a type of bucket attachment designed especially for pushing and scooping snow. Advantages include their high snow-carrying capacity and suitability for clearing large areas. However, they may lack precision for detailed snow removal and have limited casting distance.
Snow blades are flat, adjustable steel blades that attach to equipment like skid steers, backhoe loaders and tractors. They function as powerful snow plows, pushing and leveling snow to clear roads and parking lots. Snow blades offer excellent control over snow depth and direction, making them versatile for various tasks.
Snow throwers, or snow augers, efficiently break up and eject snow, making them ideal for clearing tight or congested areas. They excel at handling compacted or heavy snow.
Snowblowers are self-contained attachments with rotating augers and impellers. They offer high snow-throwing capacity, making them suitable for deep or heavy snow and long-distance snow casting. However, they are more complex and costly to operate and maintain than some other attachments.
Salters (Salt Spreaders)
Salters, or salt spreaders, are attachments used to dispense salt or de-icing material on cleared surfaces. Salters play a crucial role in preventing ice buildup on roads and walkways, ensuring safety by reducing slip hazards. While they don't physically remove snow, they are essential for maintaining safe conditions on roads and walkways.
Protecting Your Winter Equipment
When operating heavy equipment in cold, snowy weather, it’s important to take the necessary preventative measures to protect it from becoming damaged by the elements.
Here are some important measures to include in your winter heavy equipment maintenance plan:
- Check your tires regularly for adequate pressure and signs of wear
- Inspect your machine’s fluid levels frequently and top them off as needed
- Clean your machine at the end of each shift, clearing away caked-on snow and debris
- Inspect your machine’s battery frequently and keep the battery connections clear of mud and debris
When working with heavy equipment for snow removal, it’s important to ensure the proper safety measures are in place. Potential dangers of improperly operating heavy equipment in snowy conditions include reduced visibility, slippery surfaces and a heightened risk of collisions/accidents.
To reduce these risks, ensure that adequate safety protocols are in place. Some important measures to take include the use of high-vis clothing, adequate lighting and clear communication between operators.
When it comes to snow removal, selecting the right heavy equipment can boost your team’s productivity and reduce operating costs.
While there is a wide range of heavy equipment to choose from, it’s important to take into consideration important factors such as the layout of your working area, the amount of snowfall and the attachments you plan on using.
Harsh winter weather can wear down your equipment’s components and force your machine into costly downtime. Luckily, the EquipmentShare online shop makes it easy to find and order replacement parts for your heavy equipment. Our extensive inventory of OEM and aftermarket parts makes it easy to find exactly what your machine needs. If you’re having trouble locating a part, reach out to our parts experts and get personalized assistance.
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