By Ryan Frey
Selecting efficient snow removal equipment can be challenging for contractors. Snow, which can be light and fluffy one day and heavy and wet the next, further complicates the decision process. Versatility, efficiency, longevity and uptime all influence blade selection. More importantly, applications, budgets, carriers and dealer support must be considered.
A wing blade allows operators to switch from an angle blade to a box pusher on the go, saving time by not having to disconnect and attach blades.
Versatility ensures efficiency
Efficiency, which leads to higher profit margins, is the center of any successful business. Selecting the blade that matches the application is crucial in snow removal efficiency.
When clearing large parking lots, a blade that can windrow snow to one side allows for fast clearing. Another option is a box pusher, which allows operators to push a high volume of snow long distances and stack it into piles. For versatility and maximum efficiency, when clearing large lots, a two-in-one wing blade is an excellent piece of equipment. This type of unit operates as an angle blade when its hydraulically powered wings are open and converts to a box pusher when the wings are brought ahead. The unit saves considerable time since the operators can switch from one to the other without having to stop to disconnect and attach blades.
Although wing blades cost slightly more, there is a swift return on investment. Contractors using wing blades for clearing parking lots can complete projects up to 60% faster than with just a box pusher.
From smaller 70-horsepower skid steers to 60,000-pound wheel loaders, wing blades come in various sizes and work with nearly any size carrier. When comparing models from multiple manufacturers, consider the following:
- Tire protection systems eliminate the risk of the blade wing puncturing a costly tire as the blade angles.
- Wing systems powered by a rotary actuator use fewer parts and a more robust system.
- Choose a model with wings that can be rotated inward. This allows the blade when angled - even when attached to the machine - to be loaded onto and transported by a heavy haul trailer, which helps avoid the need for an over-width permit.
Just getting started
Ensure your two-in-one blade is equipped with a tire protection system, which eliminates the risk of the blade wing puncturing the tire as it’s angled. This can save upwards of $3,000 not to mention lost revenue.
Although a two-in-one blade is an excellent choice, it may not be the best option for those starting out in the snow business with a small customer list. In that case, a box pusher with back drag is a great option. It not only pushes snow, but the back drag allows operators to place the blade within inches of the structure and then pull the blade back to clear the snow.
These blades cost 35% to 40% less than a two-in-one wing blade, making it a viable option for companies without much capital. They come in various widths, usually 4.5 to 18 feet.
Parking lot challenges
Parking lots are engineered for water control, meaning they have high breakpoints and low spots for storm sewers. The rigid blade of a box pusher doesn’t conform to varying levels and can leave as much as 1.5 inches of snow on a lot.
To minimize salt use, contractors should consider a blade that features several independent sections along its length. These sections “float” along the surface. The blades, which can be used to stack snow, feature a full metal parallel life system that eliminates blade damage.
Beyond a blade
In milder, maritime climates, there are a few alternatives for moving snow. Snow baskets feature cutout designs along the bottom, sides and top edge of the bucket that allow slushy water to flow from the bucket so it can carry the bulk of the snow. Similarly, snow buckets feature cutouts on the top edge of the blade, which gives operators a clear view of the cutting edge.
Attention to detail
Along with selecting the correct blade type, it’s important to keep a few features in mind to ensure blade longevity.
Use a dealer
- Carbide-tipped cutting edges can last as much as seven times longer than traditional heat-treated steel blades.
- Rubber cutting edges are another option for mild climates, but should not be used in cold, dry climates where there isn’t lubrication from melted snow.
- Blades with a spring-trip cutting edge can bounce over obstacles, protecting the blade and carrier from damage.
- High-quality snow removal blades have thick steel and strong welds on seams.
To minimize downtime, it’s crucial to ensure wear parts are available when needed. Working with a trusted, local dealer ensures good product recommendations for the area’s climate as well as troubleshooting support.
It’s no secret that removing snow can be a challenge for contractors. Whether it’s parking lots, streets or sidewalks, the most efficient equipment for an area will offer the most profit potential for a business.
Ryan Frey is general manager of Horst Welding, which has been manufacturing innovative equipment solutions for the snow removal markets for more than 20 years. Learn more at www.hlasnow.com and www.horstwelding.com.