By Cheryl Higley
As a senior area manager for Eastern Land Management (ELM), Richard Bevilacqua is responsible for ensuring the operational efficiency of the crews in his territory. His approach to routing and equipment staging is essential to making sure snow operations run smoothly.
Evaluating site needs
Bevilacqua outlines the equipment and labor (including backups) needed to service the site properly. He then puts himself in the shoes of the site personnel to make sure no detail is overlooked.
“I try to visualize what would happen during a storm and where weak points could exist,” he explains. “I also look at logistics, such as where we can store supplies, where the employees can go to take a break during long events, etc.”
When possible, Bevilacqua will walk the site with the facilities manager or property manager and then create color-coded site maps to illustrate the plan of attack, priority areas, etc. “I review my plan with them since there may be an area I view as nonessential that they do not. I will then do a preseason snow inspection and planning meeting with the crew leader and driver/operator to get their thoughts,” he says. “I have found that a plan on paper versus real-world operations doesn’t always come together, and I appreciate the feedback from the guys who will be doing the actual work.”
The best-laid plans don’t always translate when the storm hits, so Bevilacqua builds in a backup plan in the event of equipment breakdowns, labor shortages or heavy storms when employees just can’t keep up.
“It would be a pleasure if we made a plan and the snow fell exactly when and where it was supposed to, but that’s usually not the case. Plus, equipment and labor are always variables in the equation. There is always a real potential to fall behind, which is why having a backup plan is critical.”
On-the-job frustration changes preseason approach
Richard Bevilacqua says a lesson he learned while working for another snow & ice management company helped him realize the importance of operational efficiency.
“I was head of snow operations, but often operated with my hands tied behind my back because we used inefficient service methods. We would fall behind and have to field a mountain of complaint phone calls and emails,” he says. “I made a promise to myself that I would never go through a snow season like that again.”
Bevilacqua is a firm believer in utilizing new technology and efficient operations to get the job done and believes the industry is becoming more advanced with the tools available, from software to new attachments to a variety of plows to fit any circumstance.
“Our industry changes quickly. The most important thing I learned is to not be afraid to change and try new methods and technologies.”
Operations routing checklist
Following are Richard Bevilacqua’s suggestions for routing success:
- Plan for the worst-case scenario.
- Utilize Google Maps, which is free and highly efficient.
- Make your routes and action plans realistic. Equipment and labor can only do so much when it comes to snow.
- Keep spare parts in the trucks - downtime is your biggest enemy.
- Be open-minded about using new technology.
- Provide your teams with maps and clearly outline your expectations.
- Keep in constant communication with your clients and teams before, during and after every storm.
Cheryl Higley is editorial director of Snow Business magazine.