If you are new to commercial snow removal, you may not be familiar with why box plows are such a popular option. Yet those who have been doing commercial snow removal for years find box plows are an essential part of their snow fighting arsenal. The box plows (also called containment plows) bring cost savings, ease of use, and flexibility to the commercial snow removal market making them one of the tools of choice for commercial properties.
We had a chance to talk to Jered Shuknecht, Marketing Director at Pro-Tech Manufacturing and Distribution, Inc., a manufacturer of box (containment) plows in Rochester, New York. Shuknecht shares with us why skid steers, end loaders, and backhoes, as well as box plows, are necessary for commercial snow removal.
Box Plows are Easier for Employees
Shuknecht started the conversation with employees. “Plowing is hard to do, even with containment plows, but using containment (box) plows is a lot easier.” Training is faster and getting a quality job done is easier with a box plow on a skid steer.
Not only is it easier for employees to do a good job, you need less employees overall. “Our testing showed our containment plows can move up to 500% more snow than a truck plow.” So, what took four people using four trucks with four plows in a large parking lot can now be done with a single employee in less time.
“You basically decrease the need for equipment and staff members,” Shuknecht points out. You can then hire better quality employees, train them well, and you can be sure they are the kind of employees who are on site every time the snow flies, ready to move snow in a professional manner. You can pay good employees what they are worth and STILL save money when you have the right equipment.
With the options to spread salt on the lot using a skid steer, your employees can just report to the job site now too. No longer do all the employees need to come to a central location to clock in, they can go right to the job site eliminating all the time associated with going back and forth to your shop while they are still on the clock.
A final benefit of using box plows on something like a skid steer is that you have greater flexibility with the employees you hire. Your employees do not need a driver’s license to operate a skid steer on a commercial lot and your insurance plan changes if you decrease how many employee are driving trucks on the open road.
Less Break Downs
Box plows are simpler pieces of equipment than a truck plow. The truck plow needs its own hydraulics, electrical, controls plus extra frame and hinge parts that don’t exist on a box plow. Now think about what box plows are mounted on. These plows are mounted on machines meant for rugged work on construction sites, while your average truck is primarily designed as a machine for driving on paved roads.
You will find a skid steer used for plowing breaks down a whole lot less than a pickup truck. Truck plows are hard on truck transmissions, electrical systems, and other systems on the truck. It is not that commercial snow removal companies don’t use truck plows, they just save the truck plows for the small jobs that don’t justify parking equipment on the client’s property to minimize the need for trucks and truck plows.
In the end, the differences in equipment means less maintenance and less equipment break downs when plowing with a box plow with a skid steer, loader, and backhoe. The cost goes beyond the money to fix your equipment. Clients that get frustrated with a plowing delay or poorly cleaned lot will find a new snow removal company when it is time for contract renewal…if they even give you that long.
Professional Snow Removal Means Professional Equipment
Shuknecht observes about investing in specialized commercial snow removal equipment, “It points to the seriousness, professionalism, and commitment a contractor has to the commercial sector.” Shuknecht chuckled as he shared that his dad’s old truck with the old plow might be fine “for clearing snow for his 20 buddies,” but how is a guy shopping out zero tolerance snow removal agreement supposed to take a company with just a couple of plows of F-350s seriously?
Limits of a Truck Plow
There are two key things a box plow does that a truck plow can’t which makes a big difference. First, a truck plow can’t stack snow all that high. “A truck plow does not have the ability to stack snow and shelf it. They just don’t have the height clearance,” Shuknecht notes.
With a truck plow, four feet is about as high as you are generally going to stack snow, yet even a small skid steer can push snow over 10 feet high. Shuknecht goes on, “A truck plow pushes (the snow) horizontally and windrows snow instead of pushing it forward and stacking it vertically.” In other words, since the pile can’t go up, it goes out…over your client’s parking lot, taking up space that could have been used customer and employee parking.
Truck plows can’t pull back the snow, also known as back dragging. Back dragging can be especially important for parking lots that are in use during a snow storm. A skid steer with something like the Pro-Tech Pullback Sno Pusher can reach between parked vehicles to clear out a vacant parking spot of its snow. A skid steer with the right box plow can grab all of the snow out of one parking spot at a time without leaving snow pushed up against parked vehicles.
That does not work with a truck plow. Most truck plows don’t even clean down to the pavement when pulling the snow backward, instead riding up on the snow and leaving a mess. The few truck plows that can clean backward still do not capture all of the snow, instead losing snow around the edges of the plow, leaving piles of snow next to the vehicles that are parked adjacent to the spot just cleared.
Bringing It Home
Cost savings, better customer service, and easier employee training and management is a great list of benefits of why commercial snow removal contractors should be using box plows.