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Safe Roads and Paths in Any Weather

Winter service technology in clearing, spreading and cutting use in Wangen, Wuerttemberg

16. April 2015

Wangen, March 2015 – While winter was mostly absent in many places, Wangen in the Allgäu experienced a harsh winter. For the local building yard and its employees, this meant five months of winter service with correspondingly long on-call times. 300 kilometres of roads must be taken care of in the town area: main traffic routes, bicycle and walkways, angled cobblestone old town alleys, the pedestrian zone and transfers. "Our foremost target is to keep traffic running so that people can get to work and school," says building yard manager Martin Blum. "Walkways are of high priority as well." Where full deployments are required for reasons of weather, 45 building yard employees ensure safe paths in the town with its 27,000 residents. Wangen uses nearly anything that is available in the area of snow clearing devices for this: from simple shovels to narrow-track tractor units to tractors and trucks that are able to hold large amounts of spreading material. Particularly flexible and agile tool carriers such as the Holder M 480, offering special solutions for certain purposes and also being able to meet many other functions, are an important support for winter service in town. The service is rendered by local municipal specialist wholesaler Wohlgschaft.

"10 years ago, a simple spreader was all we needed. Today, we need high-quality spreading technology in the narrow-track areas as well: good dosage abilities, dosage accuracy, path dependence."

Martin Blum

Spreading Technology of Increasing Quality

Clearing, cutting or spreading: universal vehicles permit many different applications. This is added value that is essential for towns, but mostly for smaller municipalities. "The smaller the fleet, the more important multiple functions," says building yard manager Blum. "The machine must be able to do everything in one. After all, it is a question of economic efficiency. How can I achieve my target with reasonable effort? Then we go looking for the matching technology." The Holder can be used for spreading in town as well. The spreader is attached to the top of the vehicle instead of to the rear; the machine remains in contact and will not swivel out as far at the rear. It has high-quality control technology – the spreaders can be operated and the spreading width set individually; the spreading salt consumption is comparably low. "10 years ago, a simple spreader was all we needed," says Blum. "Today, we need high-quality spreading technology in the narrow-track areas as well: good dosage abilities, dosage accuracy, path dependence." Spreading material has become more expensive. There are also ecological reasons to dose it as sparingly as possible. While motorways and country roads are treated with brine in many places – also preventively, since it adheres better and will not be blown away like dirty salt – the town of Wangen mostly relies on dry material. "We are in the Allgäu. When it snows here, we get such large amounts of snow that brine just isn't enough. We have much better experience with dry salt. The snow must be kept running at all times. It must never freeze on to form boards. We clear, spread salt into the freshly fallen snow and keep it in a moderately liquid condition," reports Blum.

The Holder M 480

The Challenge of Timely Clearing

Since winter weather holds quite a number of surprises for us, it is also important that a vehicle is ready to be used quickly in acute demand. "One great purpose of the Holder is spontaneous use in cutting mode," explains Martin Blum. Timely clearing of a bus stop, for example, can be difficult with large attachments. "They need a relatively long lead time, including elaborate transport devices. This requires precise organisation. You cannot spontaneously say, let's clear the bus track there." The M 480 permits such short-term and small-area uses as well, however. Its cutter is 1.6 metres wide. It is ideal for the expansion of narrow roads, intersections or pedestrian crossings. The Holder with its snow cutter is also used for walkways where a plough will no longer get through. "We had that situation as well this winter. A track is cut out then and the material is removed or blown away where this does not cause problems."

"Comfort" Particularly Important in Winter Service

Not only the possible applications of the multifunctional vehicles are important for the Wangen building yard or the municipal council that approves the acquisitions, however. Most comfortable and safe operation by the drivers is considered just as important. "If I expect an employee to work focused for many hours, he must have a proper workplace, especially in winter. And that essentially is the driver's cab," building yard manager Martin Blum emphasises. This may be a decisive criterion for purchasing in Wangen. "In the narrow-track area, we have decided not to buy vehicles before because they were unpleasant to sit in, or because some levers could not be operated properly. Being unable to open and close the window while sitting is another reason that will take a vehicle off the list." The building yard employees love the M 480 for its all-round view, the handy vehicle, its agility with articulated steering and the comfortable entry and exit. This, too, can be a safety aspect, Robert Bollerhey, department manager for the green area in the building yard Wangen, emphasises. The speed can be adjusted gradually, at a high efficiency and easy operation. Like all Holder tool carriers, the M 480 has a Hydrostat drive. The power is transmitted with four hydraulic motors, one at each wheel. Specifically in the lower speed range of 0.8 km/h, e.g. when mowing lawns or when snow-cutting, the hydrostat permits a linear power transmission.

"In the narrow-track area, we have decided not to buy vehicles before because they were unpleasant to sit in, or because some levers could not be operated properly. Being unable to open and close the window while sitting is another reason that will take a vehicle off the list."

Martin Blum

Stress for the Driver's Nerves

Not only the long shifts are a problem in winter service. Depending on weather, they may keep a person in the vehicle throughout the working day. The many different requirements are particularly difficult for the staff in the deployment vehicles, though. The drivers must be able to safely operate the vehicle, control the respective application, such as spreading, and pay attention to traffic – under adverse conditions, with the weather changing all the time. This is made worse by the annoyance of citizens or residents. The stress on the drivers' nerves must not be underestimated, especially in harsh winters. Training can be helpful, supporting the driver in finding a routine and a calm working mode under many different snow conditions. Municipalities such as Wangen would like to use such offers. Especially in new vehicles, the training may turn out to be very helpful, says Martin Blum.

Good Utilisation of the Devices by Year-Round Use

When the snow has long melted in Wangen, another main task is waiting for the Holder M 480. The municipality has also purchased it specifically for its mowing-suction combination and for the care of sports courts and large park areas. This way it is highly utilised throughout the entire year. "We have chosen precisely what we wanted," says Martin Blum. "The motor output is right, we are happy with the technology." Agility, torsion behaviour and also the weight of a vehicle are very important in general greenery care, his colleague Robert Bollerhey emphasises. "The Holder with its articulated steering is of benefit on sport courts because there are fewer shear forces when turning. The floor pressure is lower, there is less damage to the grass since none of the wheels will spin. We are twice as fast since the Holder offers two work steps in one: mowing and collecting. We are also more flexible because of the mowing gear. Mowing is possible even when it rains, which was only possible within limitations before." Finally, comfort and operability are important in summer as well. "If the driver is starting to get tired after five hours, but still has three hours ahead of him, this is relevant for safety," says Bollerhey. Therefore, we were looking for solutions that remain operable and can be controlled by the driver.

The limits are set by the driver and not by technology.