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What Makes Sense in Snow, Skid Steers or Compact Track Loaders? NO. 2 2020

Compact Wheel Loaders Offer an Impressive Array of Options

COVID-19

and the perfect storm of

2020 Salt Supply Shaking Out OK in 2020 An AC Business Media Supplement

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From dusting to blizzard, from sidewalks to parking lots, Wacker Neuson skid steers, wheel loaders and telehandlers easily manage what Mother Nature delivers. Standard universal attachment plates on all machines make changing a variety of snow removal attachments fast and hassle-free. So, when the snow starts blowing, you have all it takes to clear the way.

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

MESSAGE FROM THE EDITOR

Number 2 - July/August 2020

A Whole New World

F

or contractors, 2020 has been a myriad of changes including new cleanliness and sanitation protocols and the likelihood of renegotiated contracts for numerous customers seeking to save money. The hospitality and convention center businesses have been hammered by COVID-19, which has led to alterations in contractors having opportunities for continued education in learning the most efficient and effective ways to operate their business. The Accredited Snow Contractors Association Executive Summit was rescheduled from late July to midSeptember. In addition the Snow & Ice Management Association’s 2020 Snow & Ice Symposium will be an online event August 26-28. Originally scheduled for dates in mid-June, the event was rescheduled to the August dates due to COVID-19. Subsequently, the Connecticut Convention Center, the host facility for the 2020 Symposium, announced that it would not be open in August for events. Both events are expected to still offer the numerous educational opportunities they usually do. ASCA’s event, at the Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort in Florida Sept. 16-18, is currently slated to be in person with proper safety protocols in place. Multiple speakers will offer presentations on various topics including assessing properties, short and long-term planning, ice management best practices and much more. SIMA’s virtual Symposium will include a virtual tradeshow and a mix of live and recorded educational sessions. In past years, attendees had an opportunity to setup one-on-one meetings with specific vendors. Typically, the purpose of the tradeshow is setting up those important business relationships. This year, SIMA will attempt to keep that feeling alive through an Internet connection. The challenge for both associations is getting people to attend either of their events. When will the world adapt to living with this virus? Who knows? For now, COVID-19 is something we must live with and try and adjust to. I encourage you all to sign up for one or both of these events and keep learning. Ryan Whisner (920) 542-1238 rwhisner@acbusinessmedia.com

04 IN THIS ISSUE

04 COVID-19 and the Perfect Storm of 2020

SIMA and ASCA executive directors take a look at the current trends and outlook for the 2020 winter season.

10 Salt Supply Shaking Out OK in 2020

Mark Arthofer, CSP, of Dubuque, IA-based Skyline Construction shares his views on the 2020 salt supply outlook.

14 What Makes Sense in

Snow, Skid Steers or Compact Track Loaders?

A look at the various considerations in choosing between skid steers or CTLs for snow removal.

18 Compact Wheel Loaders Offer an Impressive Array of Options

Leading equipment manufacturer experts offer their insight on compact wheel loaders benefits and options

23 Snow and Ice Removal Products

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By Ryan Whisner

COVID-19 and the Perfect Storm of

2020 T

his has been a year like no other. It represents the perfect storm of problems hitting the customer base of many snow contractors. Leaders of the two largest snow contractor associations, Martin Tirado, executive director of Snow & Ice Management Association (SIMA) and Kevin Gilbride, executive director of the Accredited Snow Contractors Association (ASCA) agree that the 2020 winter will be tumultuous for contractors for a variety of reasons. On the macro level, the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to have a significant impact. The overall economic impact on property and facility management will likely lead to budgets being lowered. In addition, retail sites and other facilities are going to close permanently or be slow to reopen and COVID-19 has forced many into the new reality and accepted method of working from home. There are also going to be several new cleanliness and sanitation policies that everyone working on a property need to be aware of and comply with. Looking at long term weather forecasting, the winter of 2020-21 appears to be headed for a rebound. The winter of 2019-20 had low snow and ice accumulation in several parts of North America. After lower snow years, the averages historically ‘catch-up’ and produce average to above average snowfall in areas that were low the previous year. “You can’t control whether it snows or not,” ASCA Executive Director Kevin Gilbride said. “What you can control is your communication with your clients and that’s what you’ve got to focus on.”

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Weathering a Virus Going into the winter of 2020, snow removal contractors are coming off one or two lower than average snowfall years. “I don’t think you can talk about the COVID issue without talking about the light winter that we had last year,” Gilbride said. “I think there’s going to be a dual effect this year.” He noted that customers with seasonal contracts are likely looking at that and saying, “we paid for a whole bunch of stuff that we never got.” Conversely, contractors that were operating on largely seasonal contracts in areas where there was little snow did very well because of the lower expenses. The challenge becomes maintaining those customers on those seasonal contracts after a low snow winter. “It seems to be whenever you have one of these ridiculously low winters, these people decide I’m not going seasonal and I’m going to go per push and then they end up getting whacked the next year,” Gilbride said. The ASCA director says the best way to go for property owners is to decide the style of contract and then maintain that annually. “If you go per push, stay per push, because in a low year, you’re not going to pay and in a high year you’re going to pay a lot,” he said. “If you want to manage your budget, and you want to stay consistent, go seasonal, because you’re going to have a year where you go real low and you’re going to pay for stuff that

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is not going to happen but then you’re going to have another year with 60-inches of snow but you are paying the same rate.” Contractors need to best manager their business by having a mix of both, so the proportion of seasonal and per push offset each other depending on the snowfall each year. With the lower snow totals from the 2019-20 winter that customers are already thinking about their contracts and then you add in the COVID-19 pandemic. “Hopefully, there is a light at the end the tunnel and we have a good snow and ice year and that’s going to just necessitate services be performed,” Tirado said. For contractors, it depends on your base of business. “If your base of business happened to be customers that were deemed essential manufacturing plants during the COVID-19 shutdown, then you’re probably going to be okay, because they made money throughout,” Gilbride said. “However, if your base of business was shut down during that time, you’re probably going

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implementation of a higher trigger amount, so crews are not dispatched to come out until two or three inches is on the ground? With foot traffic, that’s not likely to work well but for a retail establishment or restaurant that didn’t do business all year and this is being paid for out of common area maintenance charges, what’s their budget going to look like? Do they reduce areas of lots? Does that mean that they anticipate 50% of traffic in the area, so they’re only going to maintain 50% of the parking lot? “This could look like absolutely anything to every different customer,” Gilbride said. “This is really a year if you’re a snow contractor, you need to get on it. You need to be talking to your customers and be understanding what their issues are.” Although as a contractor you may have been deemed essential and made it through the pandemic, your customers may not have. They will be looking to renegotiate their contracts to save a few dollars. “If you have customers that you’re not communicating with, somebody’s trying to communicate with them, and so it better be you,” he said. “The earlier you get out in front of these things, the better you are. There are some customers that aren’t open yet, though, so what does that look like? We just don’t know. If you’re going into a mode in which you’re waiting on things, you’re going to be too late.”

to have a challenge.” Those with retail accounts as primary clients may be facing even more of a challenge. “We have no idea what’s going on with the retail sector because while it’s back in many states, it’s certainly not being frequented as often as it used to,” Gilbride said. “So, what are retail plazas going to look like?” Tirado agreed, citing JC Penny’s closure of numerous stores as an example of how difficult it may become. Some retail stores may not be able to survive the pandemic and in general occupancy in some of the retail plazas may decline. “You’ve got to keep the lots open in case there is some type of safety accessibility but it would be pretty bare bones service,” he said, noting that operators need only plow the main route in front of a facility and that’s it. On the other hand, Tirado sees opportunity in the shipping and receiving world. He noted the large warehouse facilities where essential products and goods for grocery stores and Amazon and other online businesses may need services. Similarly, he said healthcare facilities will continue to need service. ”It has always kind of been that way but really even more so right now,” Tirado said. “Hospitals, clinics, health care facilities are going to need to be open 24/7 for emergencies.” For those serving residential customers, that service appears to be holding steady for now. “I think residential is going to be pretty stable,” Tirado said. “There are more people working from home but there’s still a large collection of people who just like to buy a snowblower and shovels instead of hiring someone to do it. “ From the property management side there is going to be some budget pressure to lower their expenses. A primary method to reduce expenses will be looking at contracts with service providers. Tirado recommends those snow and ice contracts be signed by September 1. Looking ahead to winter, contractors are anticipating that there will be many customers that are going to renegotiate terms of agreements. Gilbride noted that it is not clear what that is going to look like. Will it be

One-on-One

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The fortunate thing about trucks, skid steers, excavators and other large equipment that is used for snow and ice management is they are generally one person in a vehicle types of jobs. For the most part, it’s one guy in a salt truck, one guy in a plow truck, one guy in a skid steer, which is probably 75% of the work. “There’s been a lot of good material and landscaping companies and publications on how to adapt to COVID-19 and how to manage crews,” Tirado said, noting that it would have an impact coming into the fall and winter as snow removal contractors change some of their protocols. “The nice thing about landscaping is you could kind of do a lot of the work outside,” he said, noting that companies were setting up hand washing or sanitation spaces entirely outside. The challenge coming up for the winter is the exposure to the elements and the cold. Crews need to come inside to warm up or work on trucks or other equipment. “That’s going to be a real challenge,” Tirado said. Generally, landscapers have been trying to limit one person per truck and have specific crews or crew

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members assigned to particular tools. When they’re checked back in, the tools are wiped down and sanitized. “All those things are going to come up even more so just because, you just can’t keep people sitting outside when it’s 20 degrees and freezing rain and all that kind of stuff,” Tirado noted. Among the greatest challenges for the snow and ice industry, how do you manage sidewalk crews during a pandemic? Gilbride said plans for those types of things are what (contractors) they need to be putting in place right now. In the past, he has seen every option considered from using their own vehicles to using busloads of crews from site to site. “That might not be feasible this winter based on how things are,” Gilbride said of the bus option. “Like everything snow, all of the hard work gets done, not when it’s snowing, but in the spring, summer and fall, when they’re doing their planning and they’re doing the route planning and part of that this year is going to be alternate alternative ways to

get sidewalk crews to sites.” The two CEOs encouraged contractors to have plans in place well in advance of the coming season.

BOSS Snowplow

Turning to Technology Despite the challenges of 2020, technology continues to advance in assisting contractors being more effective and efficient. Overall, technology for snow and ice contractors is continuing to improve. “Plows that you bought five years ago are not nearly as efficient as what’s on the market today,” Gilbride said.

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One of the unique challenges to the snow removal industry is proof. of service. Customers frequently challenge contractors as to whether they have been onsite. Property owners will come out and say, “you billed me three times and I didn’t see you there three times.” The contractor replies by saying they were there at 2 a.m. , 6 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. and the client was not present until 8 a.m. “Great record keeping and great communication with your clients is very key to a successful snow operation,” Gilbride added. Tirado noted that more contractors are adopting some type of a software system that is also allowing for verification services to ensure customers services were completed at certain times with specific equipment and personnel. “With all the smartphones that are out there and products such as sitefotos, which has very quickly become one of the most popular products in the marketplace, it allows you to give photographic evidence, that’s time stamped,” Gilbride said. Photos are taken onsite before and after any work is completed and saved for documentation if a customer claims work was not completed at a specific time. “It’s fairly inexpensive today and contractors are certainly embracing it more and more,” he said. In addition to service verification, such software serves as a risk management tool. Tirado explained that it is really needed when things potentially get to a litigation point on slip and fall or other accidents.” It could even just be damage to property accidents that you need to kind of verify that service via technology to protect yourself and your company,” he said.

Law and Liability “There’s always little stuff that happens in businesses and when you’re riding around on big equipment in properties, where there is moving traffic and secured fixtures like light poles, there’s property damage, but generally that’s what insurance is there for, and it shouldn’t happen all that often,” Gilbride said. “The slip and fall is really just a unique one to this industry because after that, it’s just like any other business, you can have employee problems, you can have equipment problems or you can have, client disputes.” That risk of slips and falls and the potential impacts on insurance premiums will certainly not diminish in 2020. The Snow Removal Limited Liability or Liability Limitations Act is ASCA’s model legislation that is in the

8

plow

process of being developed in multiple states. Gilbride says the bill would make the hold harmless and indemnification agreements in snow and ice management contracts null and void when the property owner or property management company passes their liability onto the snow and ice management company. Illinois enacted ASCA’s model legislation in 2016, a version of it was approved in Colorado in 2018 and Connecticut signed it into law in July 2019. There are active efforts in Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania where the law is being reintroduced or introduced. “Now that most COVID-related legislation has been executed and budgets are done for the most part at the state level, we’re starting to see other legislation starting to get worked on and moved through,” Gilbride said, noting that he is hopeful the election year will spurt legislatures to start returning to work on items such as the Snow Removal Limited Liability Act. However, Tirado suggests that change is needed at a larger level to push for an agreement on reasonable standards of care and snow and ice as naturally occurring events. “If a reasonable standard of care can be proven and verified, that should substantially limit slip and fall liability,” he said. “Snow and ice cannot be caught in the air as it’s falling, it’s a naturally occurring event and that needs to be accepted across North America.”

Final Preparations “It should always be noted that the fortitude and perseverance of the entrepreneurial business owner is strong,” Tirado added. “The people and companies in snow and ice have always worked hard to be successful and increasingly, they are working smarter and are an underappreciated employer of good jobs.” In past instances facing a tough economy, he said snow and ice services were found to be somewhat recession proof. “They are essential services for access to properties and public safety,” Tirado explained. “If services are lowered to reduce budgets of properties, the impact could be increased liability in the form of slip and fall issues and they will still need professional snow and ice services in order to manage and control risk.”

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By Ryan Whisner

SALT SUPPLY

Shaking Out OK in L

ast year was a very complicated year in terms of salt supply. Mark Arthofer, CSP, of Dubuque, IA-based Skyline Construction recently shared his views on this year’s salt supply outlook and other trends during the Snow and Ice Management Association’s Summer Pop-Up event in June. Having been in the snow business for a little over 20 years and brokering salt for at least 15 years, he is aware of some of the trends and how things are going and changing. “When I first started 20 years ago you didn’t have to worry about getting salt,” Arthofer said. “You just went to the pile and you were able to get it. There was never talk of shortage.” It was more within the past decade that the issue of salt shortages has become more of an issue. “It brings a whole new dimension to how you prepare your salt and what you should be looking at as a contractor,” he said. “It’s time to be thinking about next winter. Let’s start thinking snow and tell COVID to go away, we’re done.”

Salt Shortage No More “If there was ever a year that everybody was questioning whether or not they’re going to get salt, it was last year,” Arthofer said. Salt supplies were depleted across the

2020

Midwest and even the East Coast area due to the widespread winter the year before. It became more of a challenge in the aftermath of the snow which led to extensive spring flooding that created challenges for barge traffic on the Mississippi River. Arthofer said ultimately the barges are the key to the Midwest salt supply coming up the Mississippi River. “Now we’re coming off of a not so big winter,” he explained. “In a lot of areas, it was well below average, so the Midwest didn’t get hit hard, there are some salt stockpiles around, so most of the salt companies were able to get restocked.” Also, flooding was minimal this spring and barge traffic was able to get on the river early. He says due to those factors, the prices are coming down in 2020. “It is not a tremendous amount, but substantial in comparison to last year because last year was a demand market.” However, Arthofer pointed out that it doesn’t take much for things to change. “We get a lot of heavy rains and the river goes to

Getty Images

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flood stage,” he said. “They haven’t made any more rivers, but they’re making more roads and parking lots and the drainage. Whenever we get a big rain everything’s going towards the river, so it’s changed the dynamics of transportation.” Arthofer said contractors often don’t think about that aspect of sale procurement. “When it comes to salt supply 75% of the cost of salt is logistics,” he says. “It’s not the salt. It’s where you are located, how can they get it to the easiest and where can you store it? The more times you have to handle it, the more cost there is.”

COVID Conundrum Early in the pandemic, there were concerns when President Trump talked of closing the ports, which could have eliminated ships coming in. Ultimately, road salt was included under essential business for public safety purposes which alleviated many of the issues. However, there remains the chance of outbreaks of COVID-19 in the salt mines, which could have some impact on the salt supply chain. “Everybody is trying to put things in place, planning for things that they’ve never planned for before,” he said. For example, for snow contractors trying to plan around COVID-19, say a blizzard hits but your

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business has been impacted by an outbreak of coronavirus. What are you going to do? Who are the back-ups? “We’ve never had to think that way before,” Arthofer said. “Maybe for some of us it’s a wake-up call Pexels that we should have plans in place but I’m not liking being forced into making those plans.” From a salt perspective, he notes that early on it appeared there could be an impact. There has not been, and it now appears the supply is going to be fine. While the salt supply appears fine, COVID-19 has led to some snow removal customers in holding off on signing their contracts. “That’s a challenge because you know, depending on how large those accounts are it’s like how big of a risk do you take,” Arthofer said. “If you’ve got a very large complex and they’re holding off signing, what if they need 500 tons of salt. Do you gamble on the fact of purchasing that and having it, or,

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taking the chance of not being able to get it?” Without making a direct recommendation, he notes that for this year, the supply is there. “If there’s ever a year that I that I would say you could take that gamble this would be that year,” Arthofer said. “I wouldn’t wait till December January, because what if all of a sudden, it gets to be a gangbuster winter.” Undoubtedly, people are nervous across the country because nobody knows what’s going to happen if there is another substantial outbreak this fall. Many companies are talking about furloughs and if that’s the case, their parking lots may not need to be cleaned all winter long. “It’s going to create some challenges for us as an industry, there’s no doubt about it,” Arthofer said.

Procurement Arthofer said there are more small salt brokerage companies starting to pop up. Also, he says there are more companies bringing salt in. From a domestic perspective, the salt is coming out of the ground and only so much can be mined in a day. “When you get mild years like this one, they can get restocked, but then you have to think too that the piles can only hold so much,” he said. “With the demand getting bigger, the storage areas are not getting bigger.” Many municipalities or states are starting to take summer fill and get everything maxed out to ensure having salt for the winter. When you when you look at the major players in the salt business, the contractor market is a secondary market.

Salt Management

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“Given the fact that that’s the case, salt supply is going to get short quick if we have a bad winter because they’re going to take care of the municipal contracts first,” Arthofer said. “That could be a challenge. If you’re a contractor and you’re serious about snow, you need to really look at your salt procurement procedures and look at what you can store. If you don’t have storage, it might be one of the things you want to start looking at because if it’s important for your business, then you might want to think that way.” By diversifying and obtaining salt from multiple sources, he says Skyline has never run out of salt. “I’m not going to say the prices have stayed the same,” Arthofer noted. “Again, it gets to be back to a logistics thing. I may have had to bring it a long way to get it, but I’ve never had anybody run out of salt.” As a broker, he tries to personally not be a salesman. “I want to try to help people learn and if I can learn from them, I mean that’s what it’s all about,” Arthofer said. “It’s about really creating a partnership.” He noted that for himself, he has observed and learned from times in different municipal shops and garages. “I’ve been able to take some of that technology bring it into our own business, which is just helped us out tremendously,” he says. “As I’m out brokering, I’m doing the same thing I’m trying to educate people, my salt customers what I’ve seen and what I’m doing different as a result.” When procuring salt, it’s important to note whether the person that’s selling you the salt is really only selling you salt or are they someone who really wants to cultivate a business relationship and have your best interest in mind. “Whoever you’re dealing with, you kind of need to know their background also,” Arthofer said. He sug-

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gests asking about their supply chain, their storage capacity and history in meeting customer demand. Also, to help counter any concerns from a salt supply perspective in relation to cost, he recommends adding a clause for your end customer in any contract related to salt supply and price. For example, his price on salt is contingent on supply and price of the Dubuque terminal. “If you’re able to get it in somewhere else and not spend a lot more money at least you’re covered but all of a sudden, you know, you go from $70 on salt to $140 on salt, you got to make that up someplace,” he said. Commitments for salt are being brokered earlier than they would have five or 10 years ago as well. The companies that are supplying municipalities, their goal is to supply the municipalities, figure out what they have left for pad space and then take that and sell to the contractors. “If you want the sure thing, try to find a provider that’s going to be able to get your salt earlier,” Arthofer said. Typically, on those earlier shipments, the prices will be better. Closer into the fall, more materials are moving on the river so there is competitive for space. As with most products, salt prices are driven by the market. Arthofer notes that if you want the best pricing, more contractors are committing to sale totals early. “At least your bigger players are the ones that are definitely looking ahead to make sure that they are getting their salt supply,” he said.

Foreign vs Domestic There are so many different types of salt all over the world. Procurement of either domestic or foreign salt has its own risks and opportunities. Arthofer said he has started to bring in foreign salt

to handle more supply. “I’ve learned some lessons,” he said. “There’s a huge difference in qualities of salt. You want to ask for analysis, and you want to know what the moisture content is and guaranteed moisture content.” Everybody just thinks salt is salt. In snow removal, that is simply not true. Based on his own experience, Arthofer suggests asking for analysis and inquiring about where it’s coming from what the analysis on it, the grade, and the moisture content. “If it’s a really fine grade you end up using salt way faster than you would if you have the rock salt but you don’t want too much rock salt in there either because now you know you’re just spreading gravel,” Arthofer said.

Treated Salt As an industry, snow and ice contractors are generally trying to use less salt. “If you really look at the global picture of it, how are we going to use less salt when there’s more pavement every year? If we’re just using salt, we’re never going to use less so we must look at alternatives and treated salt, I do believe is going to get to be very up and coming trend.” More states are looking into treated salt with some legislation coming down related to chlorides in water bodies. and you’re starting to see more and more states that are looking at doing it. “Because of that, you know, what’s your alternative, the only way you’re going to use less salt is if you if you put some kind of an additive with it, to try to make that happen,” Arthofer says. “I think the demand is there.” He notes that when he first started with treated salt eight years ago, he is now about 50 percent white salt and 50 percent treated. “People are seeing the difference,” Arthofer says, adding that the 2019-20 winter wasn’t much of a season to really push people toward the treated salt option. “The winter before was so cold and nasty out so they definitely saw the benefits of treated salt,” he says. Among the benefits of having a mix, Arthofer points out that white salt can be utilized when it’s a bit warmer and the treated salt when its cooler, in conjunction with a liquid application program. “Hands down using liquids with that it’s going to minimize salt usage,” he says. “I sell salt, but I know I’m still going to stay selling salt no matter what.”

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By Sheena Ingle

What Makes Sense in Snow

SKID STEERS OR COMPACT TRACK LOADERS?

B

oth skid steer loaders and compact track loaders offer the ability to move large amounts of snow at a time. Which makes the best choice? When choosing between a skid steer loader (SSL) or compact track loader (CTL) for your snow removal projects, it is important to first understand what the machines do and how they differ. Both skid steers and CTLs are compact pieces of equipment that can turn on a dime and maneuver in tight spaces. They can also both be outfitted with various attachments, such as buckets, brooms, pushers, and plow blades. Where these machines differ, however, is primarily in the way they traverse ground. Skid steers have wheels and tires, while compact track loaders operate via high-floatation rubber tracks.

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In the Snow

Skid steer loaders and compact track loaders both offer excellent snow removal capabilities, but experts cite various considerations for choosing the best equipment for your needs. “Skid steer loaders (SSLs) have been used in snow clearing and removal applications due to their fast travel speeds, which allow them to quickly traverse the area they are working in or move from one location to another,” Caterpillar product specialist Kevin Coleman says. “With SSL tires, the contact area of the tire is small, so they transmit high ground pressure that delivers a good grip for moving snow. In contrast, the travel speeds on compact track loaders (CTLs) are slightly slower than that of a comparably sized SSL.” Coleman goes on to explain how CTLs differ from SSLs for snow removal. “A CTL also delivers lower ground pressure, due to the long rubber belt,” he says. “While the lower ground pressure is normally thought of as a negative in this application, this objection is overcome by equipping the CTL with rubber tracks that have a bar-style tread. This tread pattern can grip and bite the snow, allowing the operator to push and turn with a rubber track machine, much like a SSL.” He also says, “Equipping your CTLs with a barstyle tread pattern allows the track to grip the snow much better than the traditional block-style tread, and delivers great stopping, turning, and pushing performance. In fact, the CTL platform has its other advantages in snow clearing and removal applica-

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The long undercarriage of a compact track loader gives it an advantage in stability when performing tasks in snow removal. Shown here, a Caterpillar 289D Compact Track Loader with Multi-V Plow

tions. The long undercarriage of a CTL gives this platform an advantage in stability when performing tasks like loading or stockpiling the snow.” Wacker Neuson product manager, skid steer and compact track loaders, Nathan Ryan says loaders are usually equipped in three different ways when used for snow removal. “The first and most common method is to push or scrape to clear the snow,” he explains. “This is done using a plow blade, a larger snow push or most often, a bucket. Snow pushers are wider and taller than a bucket, so they are capable of clearing more area quickly.” Ryan says this large-area-clearing ability leads to loaders with snow pusher attachments commonly being used to clear parking lots. But he adds, “[Snow pushers] can’t be used to lift, carry, or dump the snow, so they require enough space to pile the snow on-site.” “A second common snow application is to sweep the snow using a broom attachment. Brooms work well in light snow and long-run applications because they continuously move snow without the need for all the forward/reverse cycles that pushing snow requires,” he adds. Lastly Ryan says the final common snow removal application is with a snow blower attachment. “This configuration excels in moving heavier snow from long-run situations, however; it is most often the slowest of the three methods for snow removal,” he says.

Wheels or Tracks? When asked which machine he recommends most highly for snow removal, Ryan says in general, he believes the SSL is the better machine for snow removal, as many of its attributes provide superior performance. He notes that SSLs are often faster, less expensive, and lighter weight than CTLs. Their tires may also hold up better to wear than the tracks on CTLs. “That being said we have seen more and more CTLs being used in snow removal,” he says. “This is due in part to track technology improvements with track manufacturers developing all-

Generally, in the debate between skid steers and compact track loaders in snow removal, the skid steers are generally considered the superior due to performance. Skid steers are often faster, less expensive and lighter weight than a CTL. As shown here, with a Wacker Neuson SW17 Skid Steer Loader, rubber tires on a skid steer can last longer and cost less to replace than the tracks on a CTL.

season or multi-season tracks that provide improved traction in these types of application.” Ryan also notes the biggest factor as to why more track loaders are being used in snow applications is due to operators’ recognition of CTL performance in non-snow applications. “If a business or operator is going to buy a machine, they usually buy the machine that provides the best performance during the nine months of the year when most of North America isn’t using machines for snow removal,” he says. “ “Even in some of the more northern areas of Canada, I’ve seen that track loaders are very commonly found in snow applications.” Coleman echoes many of these sentiments, touting the impressive snow clearing abilities of both machines. “One of the shared benefits is the versatility of the SSL and CTL platforms as it pertains to snow clearing attachments,” he says. “These machines have the operator comfort and hydraulic capability that allows them to be connected to, and efficiently operate, a wide range of attachments, such as snow wings, angling plows, multi-v plows, straight plows, snow blowers and snow pushes.” He adds that both the Cat SSL and the CTL platforms are equally adept for many of the aspects of snow clearing and removal. “Both the SSL and CTL have the benefit of being extremely nimble and maneuverable, especially when compared to larger wheel loader machines,” Coleman notes. “The SSL or CTL machines are also very transportable, making them a great tool for snow clearing and removal applications,” he says. “In addition, both platforms feature great sight lines to the attachment, the tires or tracks, and the sides of the machine, allowing the operator to work confidently in these tight, challenging conditions. As a complement to the front and side visibility, an integrated rear-view camera enhances rearward visibility for the hard-to-see areas behind the machine.”

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The first and most common method loaders are usually equipped for snow removal is is to push or scrape to clear the snow. This is done using a plow blade, a larger snow pusher and occasionally still a bucket. Snow pushers are wider and taller than a bucket, so they are capable of clearing more area quickly as shown by this Caterpillar 289D Compact Track Loader with a snow pusher.

Coleman also points out that choosing the right equipment for your needs comes down to preference and all-season applications. “Machine utilization is also a contributor to which platform (SSL or CTL) may be preferred for snow clearing,” he says. “As an example, customers that work in landscaping applications in the summer may also be involved in snow clearing or removal in the winter and would likely [already] own a CTL. [At the same time], a paving customer may prefer to utilize their existing SSL assets for snow clearing.”

Tips for SSL and CTL Users Coleman and Ryan each offered tips for owners, renters or users of skid steer loaders and compact track loaders. Coleman explains that utilizing owned machinery may require some planning when transitioning from one season to another. “For a SSL owner, this may require the exchanging of traditional SSL tires for a more aggressive snow tires,” he says. “In contrast, a CTL customer may be able to avoid the need for seasonal changes by taking advantage of a track with bar-style tread that provides an all-season track solution.” Not only

does the bar tread grip the snow for clearing or removal applications, it also provides low ground disturbance for warmer weather grading and landscaping applications. Ryan adds, “In general, when working on paved surfaces, operating using wide turn angles and y-shaped turns will help prolong either track or tire life. [Users should also] remember that a single attachment may not be the best solution for your snow removal needs.” “When a business earns its revenue by the amount of area they can clear per hour, or number of properties they can maintain, it may make sense to have two attachments available so you have the right tool for the right conditions, your local attachment manufacturer can usually provide time-study data to help you make the right buying decision,” he says. Either style of machine will get the snow off the pavement. The final decision comes down to how you use the machine when it’s not snowing and determining which machine will offer the lower cost total for ownership or operation. Both machines will get you there. The nuance of which machine will offer a lower total cost of ownership/operation will come down to how you use that machine when it’s not snowing. Skid steers offer distinct advantages if the machine is only used in snow work and for operation on improved surfaces. CTLs provide greater operator comfort and a smoother ride, especially when working in off-road applications, and contractors have proven willing to pay extra in terms of the initial price and long-term undercarriage costs. The appeal of either skid steers or compact track loaders for use in snow removal is understandable. Both machines have advantages and disadvantages in snow work. One benefit is the variety of attachments available, such as this Caterpillar 289D Compact Track Loader with SR321 Snow Blower.

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By Sheena Ingle

COMPACT WHEEL LOADERS OFFER AN IMPRESSIVE ARRAY OF OPTIONS

W

hile skid steers and compact track loaders are extremely maneuverable and can perform tight turns – they sometimes lack the size needed for certain jobs. Conversely, fullsized, heavy-duty wheel loaders are often too large for specific jobsites. This is where compact wheel loaders enter the fray. They frequently offer the perfect balance of size, power and capabilities for a range of landscaping projects. Compact wheel loaders also boast efficient operational costs and a wide range of useful features and attachment options. While a compact wheel loader may cost more upon initial purchase than a skid steer, its operating costs can save you money over time. This is due to lower fuel consumption, fewer maintenance requirements and higher resale values.

It’s easy to see why compact wheel loaders are taking such a prominent place on landscaping jobs and construction projects. But how do you know if a compact wheel loader is the ideal piece of machinery for your project, and how do you choose the best one? We spoke with product experts from some of the leading equipment manufacturers about how these machines have evolved over time, what options and features are available and how to choose the right model for your needs.

Selecting the Right Size The size of a compact wheel loader is crucial to performance. “Tight turning circles and visibility must be considered when determining the size of the loader, as well as production requirements,” says Hitachi Construction Machinery Loaders North America product specialist Nathan Little. “Operating safely is priority one.” Selecting a compact wheel loader that is the right combination of size and power for your needs depends on a range of

“There are a lot of factors that go into [choosing a compact wheel loader], and it’s important to remember that bigger isn’t always better,”

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Case Construction

or turning radius specification. Bucket capacity or lift variables. When choosing between available capacity requirements will also influence machine sizmachines, AMS-Venieri territory manager Manny ing. Mendez says it’s important to understand the full “Knowing the material type and density is essenspecs you’re comparing. tial to determine the appropriate machine and bucket “There are a lot of factors that go selection,” he continues. “Some applications may have into [choosing a compact wheel loader], and it’s important to remember that bigger isn’t always better,” Mendez says. “For example, hydraulic pressure (gallons per minute flow) will matter greatly depending on the needs of specific attachments that require auxiliary hydraulics. Contractors should also take into consideration the jobsite topography. An articulation-type center joint on a wheel loader will bring better traction in unfavorable conditions.” “The type of work environment and the ground conditions in the majority of the applications determine what kind of differential gear should be selected — limited slip, locking or torque proportional,” Little points out. “This will be a big factor in the wheel loader efficiency depending on the ground condiw. against sno tions, particularly in mud, clay or the assault w ad o le sn to y e to an ho lik gravel.” for those w is adaptable ol. g ilt u in b W is w o g n in to eS owW “All applications and jobsites are ith a single rmations th The HLA Sn different fo ow blades w in sn y fl er th to o f ed o unique and have their own sets of Design variety exclusive replacing a tem, and an needs and challenges,” says John ys S clearing task n io ct rote ler pins. ators, Tire P such as trai u s Deere Construction compact wheel ct g A an ry rh ta ve o o w atented R nce under lo loader product marketing manager It features p p* for cleara ti g in w le Grant Van Tine. “Jobsite space conremoveab rmation. r more info straints or limitations may require fo r le ea d l r loca Contact you contractors to choose a compact ings only wheel loader that meets a particuon 5 foot w *available lar machine height, width, length

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Hitachi

Hitachi ZW50 compact wheel loader operating in the snow. Hitachi product specialist Nathan Little says, “Considering the type of work environment and the ground conditions used in the majority of the applications determine what kind of differential gear should be selected.”

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specific dumping or lifting height requirements, which may drive the need for a specific machine size or a high lift option.” “When right-sizing a machine, business owners and fleet managers need to know the weight and density of the material being moved,” Case Construction Equipment product marketing manager Andrew Dargatz agrees. “They need to know what size bucket they plan on using, what size trucks/hoppers they’ll be filling, etc.” Factors such as material weights, truck height or hopper height and target bucket size can affect more than size requirements. “These factors will help determine the size of the loader needed,” Dargatz says. He also adds, “Selecting the various application-specific options such as axles and transmission type will more directly impact cycle times and maximize production.”

How Have Compact Wheel Loaders Evolved? All of our consulted experts agree that compact wheel loaders on today’s market offer far better attachment capabilities and more useful features than machines from the past. “Over the past decade, the growth in attachment offerings has helped make compact wheel loaders more productive and versatile machines,” says Van Tine. “Compact wheel loaders are capable of operating so much more than buckets and forks. When equipped with a skid-steer-style coupler, [they] can operate many of the same attachments commonly used by a skid steer or compact track loader, such as pick-up brooms, root rakes, snow blades and snow blowers, just to name a few.” Improvements in visibility, cab comfort and ride quality also make the loaders a preferred tool among operators for running attachments, he adds.

Selecting the various application-specific options such as axles and transmission type will more directly impact cycle times and maximize production.

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Case Construction

The adjustable electrohydraulic controls on Case Construction Equipment’s new compact wheel loaders allow operators to change the responsiveness of lift and tilt bucket functions.

“[Compact wheel loaders] have evolved from a single tool (i.e., bucket only) machine into multi-tool machines. These new machines quickly adapt to augers, forks, multipleuse buckets, blades and many other tools,” says AMSVenieri’s Manny Mendez. A universal skid-steer attachment plate, such as the one offered by the VF2.63C, further outfits compact machines to take on virtually any job with no customizations required. “With all the new attachments — buckets, snow brooms, brushes and grapples — coming to market, the Hitachi compact loaders have been engineered for flexibility in multiple applications and environments,” notes Little. “One Hitachi loader can utilize dozens of different attachments interchangeably. Without having to get out of the comfort and safety of the cab, these changes can be made with the push of a button.” Versatility has been aided by advances in the controls, as well. Dargatz says, “Case has recently updated its compact wheel loader lineup with new adjustable electrohydraulic controls. This added functionality allows operators to adjust the responsiveness of the lift and tilt bucket functions for improved control, efficiency and versatility on the jobsite.”

adjust the responsiveness of the loader lift arms independently of the attachment tilt functions,” says Dargatz. These new adjustable settings enable users to program the machine’s response based on their personal preferences or job demands. Options available on Case Construction Equipment’s compact models

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What Features and Options Are Available? Manufacturers of compact wheel loaders continue to add more useful features and options to provide landscapers and other operators with everything they need to get projects done. “Lift and tilt settings can now be adjusted with two new three-way rocker switches (high, medium or low) mounted on the side console, allowing operators to

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John Deere’s compact wheel loaders offer functions such as creep control, throttle lock and high-flow hydraulics to tailor machines to jobsites.

include new electrohydraulic controls and an E-inching pedal. The electrohydraulic controls offer automated bucket metering functionality, providing operators more precise and consistent movement of the bucket edge while metering or sifting material into a truck or feed wagon. “The E-inching pedal uses an electronicallycontrolled inching valve to provide greater response and more control in applications where the operator requires precise movements at slow speeds,” Dargatz notes. “The pedal has also been ergonomically positioned for improved operator comfort.” “There are numerous options available to tailor compact wheel loaders to meet the needs of specific jobsites or operating conditions,” Van Tine comments. “Contractors planning to use hydraulic attachments will appreciate features like creep control, throttle lock and high-flow hydraulics to maximize machine performance and controllability.” Both skid-steer-style and ISO-style couplers are also available based on customer preference and attachment compatibility.

Other Considerations Consider all available features and options when choosing a compact wheel loader for your projects. For example, operator comfort can have a big impact on productivity. Climate control, air suspension seats and ride control can help combat operator fatigue, while other features, such as rear view cameras and LED lights, may be needed to help improve visibility for certain jobs, says Dargatz. “Contractors who perform work early in the morning or late at night (such as snow removal) will especially appreciate LED work light options to brighten their jobsite,” Van Tine notes.

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Other features to keep in mind include: • High lift options for applications that require additional lift and John Deere reach capabilities • Reversing fan options for high debris applications to keep the cooling package clean and maximize machine uptime • Guarding options such as window guards and rear machine guards that help protect the machine in certain applications and environments • A boom-height kick-out option, which can increase productivity and efficiency for machines performing a lot of repeat loader work, such as loading, lifting and dumping or stacking Dargatz offered a few other considerations to ensure you find the unit best tailored to your needs. They include: • Ground line serviceability to help ensure daily service checks are completed • Tier 4 Final solutions, such as selective catalytic reduction and diesel oxidation catalyst systems, that eliminate the need for regeneration and any downtime associated with the regeneration process • Other features that reduce overall downtime “It’s all about what’s easy and what will keep the machine up and not down,” says Mendez. This includes ease of operation, access to all the moving parts for maintenance, factory support, operator and technician training and the ability to easily change attachments. Finally, take transportability into consideration. “If contractors intend to transport their compact wheel loader frequently from jobsite to jobsite, they will also consider machine weight and other key shipping dimensions for trailering purposes,” says Van Tine.

Articulation-type center joints provide traction in unfavorable conditions.

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PRODUCTS

SNOW & ICE REMOVAL

For additional snow-handling products and equipment, visit the Product Guide at GreenIndustryPros.com

 KIOTI Snow Blowers Front and Rear Mount KIOTI Tractor’s front and rear snow blowers help clear the way with fast, yet effective snow removal. These snow blowers also boast:

• Easy mounting of the front-mount snow blowers, which operate on a mid-mount power take-off (PTO) drive, by a quick hitching to the sub-frame, whereas rearmount snow blowers hook to the three-point hitch and operate on the rear PTO drive. • Availability of four front-mount models, each equipped with four blades, a balanced fan, a manual chute deflector and a balanced auger. • Availability of standard-, medium- or heavy-duty rear-mount snow blowers in widths of 54 to 96 inches. www.greenindustrypros.com/12422675

 Cargill Road Safety AccuBrine Blend v2 A compact, modular truck fill and blending system that enables you to produce custom blends by mixing your salt brine with additives. Provides an accurate, customized blend, and eliminates the need to send blended product to separate storage tanks. www.greenindustrypros.com/21136218

 Hitachi ZW50 Compact Wheel Loader The 9,250-lb. ZW50 delivers 5,620-lb. breakout force and is equipped to carry a heaped-bucket capacity of .8 yds. It has a top speed of 10.6 mph. Features include:

• Standard 46-hp Kubota engine with SCR technology and hydrostatic drive wiith limited slip differentials • Sound-insulated cab with pillarless design, low-noise engine and rubber-mounted enclosure frame and hydraulics • Adjustable suspension seat and simple, conveniently located controls Controls include audible and visual service alerts, diff lock switch located with the hydraulics joystick, inching pedal and auto-mode www.greenindustrypros.com/21074407

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 Wacker Neuson 100-hp Skid-steer and Compact Track Loaders Wacker Neusen’s 100-hp models include the SW32 skid steer, ST40 radial lift and ST50 vertical lift compact track loader are optimized to provide more working power to achieve faster cycle times when pushing or digging heavy materials.

• Kohler KDI 3404 turbo diesel engine with maintenance-free diesel oxidation catalyst and selective catalytic reduction system • Cab fully tips forward with loader arms down • Cab includes angled pedals and foot bed • Control options include mechanical hand-foot (SW models), electric-hydraulic (EH) hand-foot and selectable EH (ISO and H-pattern) • ST40 features radial lift arm • Rated operating capacity: 3,200 lb. (SW32); 3,500 to 5,000 lb. (ST50) • Hinge-pin height: 134.8 in. (SW32); 136.6 in. (ST50) www.greenindustrypros.com/21128798

 Caterpillar D3 Series Skid Steers and Compact Track Loaders  Fisher Engineering STEEL-CASTER Light-Duty Truck and UTV Stainless Steel Hopper

• Dual variable-speed control • Pintle chain conveyor delivery system • Option for pre-wet and direct liquid application kit for the 0.7 cubic yard model. • Additional accessories include: extension collars to increase the hopper’s material capacity, spill guard kit, work light kit, central point grease kit, vibrator kit, inverted V kit, tarp cover and more.

• Wider opening cab door for easier entry and exit. • Increased distance between joystick pods to provide more space inside cab • Smart Technology with higher level of integration between the machine and new Smart Attachments. • Advanced control features that include Return-to-Dig and Work Tool Positioner to assist operators with repetitive tasks like grading, digging, and loading. • Changes to the undercarriage frame and torsion axles reduce machine pitching and rocking, while still offering ride comfort. • Two CTL models, 279D3 and 289D3 loaders have a 20 percent increase in ground speeder over their D Series counterparts. Standard two-speed transmission on 239D3 and 249D3, increasing travel speed by 9 percent.

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Fisher Engineering’s two new STEEL-CASTER stainless steel hopper spreaders, a 0.7 cubic yard model purpose-built for half-ton and light-duty trucks and a .35 cubic yard hopper designed for UTVs and compact trucks. The stainless steel, riveted construction provides durable, lightweight performance that the intended vehicle can handle. Additional features include:

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Caterpillar’s D3 lineup consists of eight skid steers and nine CTLS. Operating weights for the skid steer line ranges from 5,849 to 9,573 pounds and gross horsepower of 67.1 to 110. The CTLs are available in operating weights of 7,434 to 12,764 pounds and the same horsepower range as the D3 skid steers. Additional features:

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 Buyers Products SaltDogg PRO1500 Spreader Buyers Products offers the new SaltDogg PRO1500 spreader, which gives contractors and facility managers a low-volume hopper spreader ready for residential or commercial use. Electric power means quieter operation with no need for refueling or engine servicing. The 6-foot, 1.5-cubic yard spreader is part of the SaltDogg® PRO Series electric spreader lineup and is specifically designed for trucks with short beds. Key features include:

• Fits a 3/4 ton or 1 ton truck with 6 ft bed. • Patented double-wall, 1.5 cubic yard poly hopper is available in red, yellow and black • 12V DC-powered electric drive with independent auger and spinner motors • Handles bulk salt or a 50/50 sand/salt mix • In-cab control of independent auger and spinner speeds, with vibrator control • 14 in. poly spinner broadcasts material up to 30 feet and can be easily removed for cleaning and storage. Includes high flow standard or extended length chute • Stainless steel auger, open trough and spinner shield for convenience and durability • Auger auto reverse functionality helps clear jammed material • Forklift slots for ease of loading www.greenindustrypros.com/21091445

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 Pro-Tech Fusion Edge Sno Pusher Pro-Tech’s Fusion Edge Sno Pusher is designed to give customers a superior containment plow. Features include:

• Fusion Cutting Edge, which comes in 24-in. sections that consist of abrasion resistant steel infused directly into a rubber cutting edge on both sides. The combination of steel and rubber edges allows customers to both squeegee wet, heavy snow and scrape hard-packed snow. • The Pro-Float Coupler floats vertically, horizontally and oscillates allowing the edge to contour to surface irregularities and variations. • Fast Attack Shows adjusts cutting edge depth at the shoes with a pull and reset of show pin. It is designed to help improve plow performance and decrease maintenance. www.greenindustrypros.com/21139354

 Buyers Products SnowDogg XPII Buyers Products SnowDogg XPII is the next generation expanding wing plow. The new snowplows features:

• Extends from 8-foot to 10-foot wide scoop position • Each wing can be operated separately for optimal windrowing and snow consolidation • Standard 304 stainless steel blade • Optional Illuminator heated LED lights www.greenindustrypros.com/21139341

 EGO 2-Stage Snow Blower The EGO 2 stage model # SNT2400 snow blower is designed for homeowners and contractors that want to move a lot of snow. The unit can clear an 8-care driveway with 14 inches of medium density snow on a single charge. Features include:

• 24-inchs wide • High-efficiency brushless motor • Steel augers • Retractable Drift Cutter • Flings snow up to 50 feet • 15” x 3.5” wheels for solid traction • User-friendly interface including squeeze handle grips to engage drive and one hand adjustable speed control and joystick control for arc and chute direction. • Powered by two 7.5 ah ARC Lithium batteries with option for two 10 ah batteries for 25 percent more run time. • Included in the kit is EGO’s first-ever Duo charger that charges 2 batteries in as little as two hours. www.greenindustrypros.com/21139518

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