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Evolution of salt management

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  • SIMA
- Posted: June 19, 2018
By Diana Clonch

Many of us have heard the old saying “life is about change; nothing stays the same.” That applies to changes in our work environment, industry as well as the approach needed to stay ahead of the curve in a competitive market. The winter maintenance community is not excluded from this phenomenon, so recognizing change and seeking options to adapt and overcome are critical factors required for maintaining a competitive edge for every snow and ice contractor.

Best practices take hold

The mindset of simply performing removal (plowing, pushing, blowing) followed by throwing whatever amount of chemicals deemed necessary to achieve good surface conditions seems to be a thing of the past. Best practices have long promoted proactive treatments and deicing methods based upon factors to support the right applications, at the right time, for the given conditions. General awareness of overapplication of deicing materials and the negative impacts from improper treatments have been drawing attention nationwide.

SIMA’s “Best Practices Guidelines for Sustainable Salt Use, Benchmark Your Snow Removal Operation” is an excellent resource that offers a good footprint for planning, managing and executing salt management. The guide provides a set of policies and activities designed to allow for the opportunity to capitalize on the changes occurring within the industry when coupled with training, research and practical application and experience.

Offering guidance within three sections - Purchasing, Storage and Transport and Operations — the best practices touch all areas of an operation as needed to support successful outcomes. The Operations guidance is designed to aid with general implementation as well as documentation and follow-up addressing areas such as applications, calibration, anti-icing and use of new technology.

Download the Best Practices for Sustainable Salt Use at www.sima.org/bestpractices.

Practical practice
Since salt is the primary deicing chemical used in snow and ice control and represents an ever-growing percentage of the cost of doing business, employing good management practices can have a huge impact on the bottom line. Good management clearly involves understanding estimating and forecasting for needed amount; inventory management and timely order; product availability awareness; cash flow accountability; and the ability to control use.

Although the amount of salt used depends on many variables, whatever is used must be accounted for by the amount on hand and/or what is available for use. Thus, accurately tracking what is used compared to what is estimated and forecasted become key components of success or failure. Since we cannot manage or control what we can’t measure, we begin to quickly appreciate the value of calibration to support the ability to accurately measure and control usage.

Although adapting to the ongoing changes and evolution within winter maintenance creates challenges for how we run our operations, it also presents opportunity for the evolution of new service types and business growth. Opening the door to embrace good management practices, new methods, and alternative treatments as well as tapping into what they can offer creates the opportunity to leverage benefit by capitalizing on the change. 

Learn more about salt management from Diana Clonch during her session at the 21st Annual Snow & Ice Symposium. Her session, which is on Thursday, June 28, at 9:45 a.m. will focus on real-life tools and tips to help manage salt and deicing material inventory more effectively, with a focus on the following:
  • Managing salt supply
  • Understanding output
  • Evolution of ice salt management, including the growing popularity of liquids
  • Sales opportunities, including engaging with municipalities, brine, and different prospects
Diana Clonch is in industry consultant with over 30 years of experience in snow and ice control. Email her at dwclonch@gmail.com. 
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