An industrial-sized task

An industrial-sized task

Manufacturing and distribution complexes often required round-the-clock attention

  • SIMA

By Nate Hendley

Industrial and manufacturing facilities present special challenges for snow and ice management companies. Many of these sites operate around the clock – meaning parking lots are always full and delivery trucks are constantly coming and going. And everybody wants the work done by shift change. That 24/7 challenge on sites that can be large and quite complex is key to consider when developing an accurate price for service.

Start/completion times
Unlike an office complex or shopping mall, many plants operate three shifts and are open 24/7. Ensuring that workers can safely get to and from their cars at shift change is essential.

In general, “these sites typically are more time intensive than a shopping mall that closes at night,” says Rick Lemcke, president and founder of R.M. Landscape in Hilton, NY. “They usually tell you they want the work done 45 minutes before a shift change.” That can be a difficult level of service to achieve if snow is still falling.

Removing snow and ice so employees can park and make it into the plant is only half the battle. Many sites feature constant truck traffic, as supplies are dropped off and products picked up. This means dealing with loading docks and big transport vehicles.

Brian Churchill, CSP, co-founder and COO of The GroundsKeeper in Ashland, MA, says his customers expect “cleanups at all the docks” following several rounds of snow or a storm.

Although this sounds like a simple task, it’s more involved than it seems. The company has to move its transport trailers out of the loading dock, “then we go in, clean everything up in front of the docks, then they put the trailers back,” he says.


Equipment and Labor

With the level of service expected, contractors typically dedicate personnel and equipment to the site. Staging equipment on the site allows operations to start as soon as the team deploy.

“we’re not fortunate enough to be in any indoor garages, but we require all of our sites to have outdoor electric plugs. Our equipment has preheaters plugged into them. That way, with big equipment, when it’s preheated you can show up and five minutes later be moving “ lemcke  says.

Larger equipment is the typical go-to solution for these sites, given their size and the fact that constant traffic and cars can create hard-packed snow that is difficult to clear.

“Snow in the parking lot area gets driven on when it’s still falling. We don’t have a time when the parking lot is empty .we’ll use Sectional Pushers with metal tip edges to make sure there’s no hard pack”  Lemcke says, who also notes that the size of the pushers they can us depends on the congestion in the lots.

The biggest thing to keep in mind is dedicated resources. If you’re going to do large manufacturing and industrial places, you have to have dedicated personnel and equipment,” Churchill adds

Deicing operations can also be a delicate matter at industrial/ manufacturing properties.

Some food manufacturers that work with GroundsKeeper have internal health and safety department that insist upon reviewing and deicing solutions before they ‘re applied  For one such client “we’re only allowed to use untreated salt on the parking lots. We’re only allowed to use [calcium chloride] in the walkways,” states Churchill.

Know the details

A preseason walkthrough and a close working relationship with facility manager at industrial/ manufacturing site are strongly recommended.

“we take a map of the property and identify any existing damage the might have been done by a previous contractor.  Then we talk to the facility manager to see if they have anything different in production –another shift, more or less people, and peculiar situations. Some of our Sites have government contracts, so we need to have our people pre-screened for security. We start that process way in advance. If they have parking lot gates, we get the key and remotes for [opening them],” says Lemcke.

When the GroundKeeper does a preseason walk-through, company officials photograph existing damage and conditions, Churchill Says .The Company also has a preseason discussion with the client about where snow can be piled during storms and if they want it moved when the weather clears.