The goal of any city or county in planning for snow events is to maintain safe travel for pedestrians and vehicles. While pretreatment technologies have made strides in preventing precipitation from bonding to pavement, ice and snow accumulation are challenges every municipality must plan for annually. Without the proper equipment to handle the elements, even the best employees will have difficulty executing your removal plans.

Industry experts say that the key to success in the municipal snow removal business is learning to use different tools that fit the specific environments and conditions. Although trucks and large plows are designed for the hundreds and even thousands of lane miles an agency’s crews are responsible for, there are hundreds more miles of sidewalks, parking lots, skating rinks, trails, even cul-de-sacs that need to be cleaned and treated. Clearing snow and ice in these areas can become hazardous quickly as space becomes confined with snow piles, impatient motorists and distracted pedestrians. That’s why many municipalities have turned in recent years to compact equipment and versatile attachments to perform a variety of snow and ice removal tasks.

Skid-steer loaders

Featuring the ability to turn within their own length, skid-steer loaders’ maneuverability and agility make them popular for removing snow in the tightest quarters, such as crowded parking lots. They also deliver the power to perform heavy-duty work efficiently. And unlike a pickup truck with a snow blade, a skid-steer loader is not only able to push snow, but lift, pile or load it for transport.

“The lifting and loading capabilities and large number of attachment options enable the operator to remove snow more efficiently,” says Mike Fitzgerald, Bobcat Co. product manager.

Attachments most commonly used with skid-steer loaders are the snow blade, snow V-blade, angle broom, push broom, snowblower, scraper, snow pusher and buckets. For more versatility, many streets departments and snow removal companies opt for a snow V-blade. V-blades can often be configured in many different ways — as a straight blade, V-cut blade, scoop blade and 30-degree left- or right-angle blade.

Due to time constraints, crews can’t always clear jobsites before traffic drives over the freshly fallen snow. So for snow removal jobs that require removing hard-packed snow and ice, Fitzgerald suggests using a scraper attachment. It has a self-sharpening cutting edge that  slides under stubborn snow and ice on pavement to produce a smooth surface.

A snowblower attachment is suited for blowing snow away from the area, into a pile or dump truck with a truck-loading chute. And for lighter snowfalls, attach an angle broom, which is ideal for sweeping less than 6 inches of snow. In addition to clearing snow from parking lots, sidewalks and pathways in the winter, these attachments can be used for sweeping away dirt, leaves, gravel and other debris, which makes them valuable year-round. Snow buckets also help plow snow, but they’re best used for piling snow and loading it into a truck.

Depending on the size of the jobsite and amount of snowfall, operators might spend hours upon hours in the machine, so comfort can play a role in productivity. An enclosed cab with heat, selectable joystick controls and suspension seat are just a few of the features and options on skid-steer loaders that help make operators’ jobs easier. Optional two-speed transmissions also increase efficiency by shortening travel time and increasing plowing performance.

Please visit the GPN site for more advice from experts on snow removal equipment.

View a variety of Bobcat snow removal equipment in action in this video, including skid-steer loaders, all-wheel steer loaders and other machines.