First we clarified some of the terms of a typical snow removal contract. Last week we offered some insight into the preparation process we go through at ILT internally when the weather forecast calls for a winter event. But in case you were wondering about the operational process that takes place on the ground during a snow event, read on…
PART 3 of 3: The operational process from flakes to finished.
Simply stated, it is our goal to remove snow and ice from parking lots, driveways, sidewalks, etc. as rapidly and efficiently as possible while ensuring the safety and mobility of the employees, tenants, and residents of our customers. As I stated last time, and it bears repeating, it all starts with our people; dedicated, capable, accountable people who care about the work they do and take ownership over the properties for which they are responsible.
To achieve this goal, our people need the right equipment, selected for a specific purpose, and maintained to provide reliable and uninterrupted service. ILT owns and operates a large inventory of equipment used in our snow removal operation, which is allocated to specific job sites well before the first flakes fly and much of which is stored on those sites to facilitate the operation.
Now to the operation. Our men have been discussing the forecast, confirming manpower and equipment status, and checking site conditions as a storm approaches. As the accumulation reaches the plowing trigger point, the crews head to their sites. Every crew member has been assigned a specific job but because every storm behaves differently, they must be ready to shift gears and adapt to a change in the game plan at any time during the operation. The superintendent surveys the property in general as the equipment operators jump in their machines (plow trucks, skid steers, snow blowers). The hand shovel crews get a head start in front of the machines. That head start is an important factor in the operation to avoid causing any damage as they work ahead of the machine operators to clear the areas in front of garage doors, windows, building entrances, and other tight places that can be risky for a skid steer or plow blade to approach closely. Emergency exits, fire lanes, accessible parking spaces, etc. are attended to first to ensure safe and passable access for those areas. The crews proceed from there around the site according to the predetermined plan, alternating the starting points and progression patterns from storm to storm so that no one area is serviced first for every event.
Working in conjunction with Village snow plow operators presents its own set of challenges. It is usually the job of Village plows to clear the streets in an office park or residential community, which can work to our benefit or detriment depending on the timing of their operation. It is important for our crews to try and learn the patterns of the Village plows to minimize the frequency of return visits to clean up areas that we have already cleared that have since been closed off by the street plows.
All of our men carry cell phones to communicate their progress to their supervisors, relay issues that arise, and to provide frequent status updates to the Snow Commander and Sales Manager throughout the course of the operation. Our customer service team stays available 24/7 to field phone calls, text messages, and emails from our customers who may have special needs or specific requests. Those are relayed immediately to the site superintendent for resolution.
When the site superintendent feels like his crew is reaching a completion point, he will make one more pass around the entire property, checking to ensure that everything is clean and passable and that all of the details have been addressed. Once the superintendent confirms that the snow has stopped and been cleared to the point where ice melt can be applied effectively, he will instruct his crews to begin that operation. Generally, rock salt is applied to asphalt roads and a chloride based product is applied to concrete walks, drives, stoops, etc. Material in parking lots is applied from tailgate or truck bed spreaders while pedestrian areas are treated by hand to minimize spill over onto grass or planting beds.
The snow has stopped, the storm is over, the pavement is clear and wet, and it is time for ILT’s crews to head out. Reserve crews are kept available to handle return visits and/or drifting and icing issues as they may arise during the course of the following day. Another successful effort by the ILT SNOW TEAM!