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Efficient Performance: Street Cleaning and Winter Road Services at IFAT

MUNICH, December 4, 2013 - When it comes to winter road services and street cleaning, what’s important are performance, safety and cleanliness, and of course cost-efficiency. The suppliers of equipment, systems and services in this field are doing their bit via their solutions to ensure these goals are achieved. A comprehensive review of this market will being presented at the environmental technology show IFAT from May 5 to 9, 2014, in Munich.
 
When roads have to be de-iced, then it’s always a case of applying as much thawing agent as necessary in order to ensure the safety of road traffic under the prevailing weather conditions, but also to minimize the amount of thawing agent used in order to limit the environmental impact and to reduce the costs. Frank Diedrich from the manufacturers' association EUnited Municipal Equipment: "Therefore it is a common interest of manufacturers and users to operate spreading machines in such way that a homogeneous distribution of spreading material is achieved within the set pattern track." So far in Europe there have been a number of different test methods for establishing the spreading pattern and performance. EUnited has now developed a common test procedure that can be applied across the continent. The special aspect of this test is that the equipment is tested in a hall. "This makes it possible to assess the spreading pattern independently of wind and weather and to compare the spreading pattern of different types of spreader," explains Diedrich. So far the tests have only been carried out using solid spreading media. Local authority winter road services, however, are very keen on combined solutions featuring liquid components: When dealing with a thick layer of ice, or heavy snow, prewetted salt – a very effective medium – is spread by the spreader vehicles while at other times they spray the more cost-effective brine. According to Diedrich, by the next IFAT it should be possible to also compare the spreading quality of liquid thawing media.
 
According to the German Association of Local Utilities (Verband Kommunaler Unternehmen - VKU), spreading brine is particularly effective in guarding against sheet ice. With this medium, unlike with salt grains, the movement of the vehicles themselves and the wind cannot blow the spreading agent off track. Which means that less salt can be used to achieve an equally effective thawing result.
 
Another area in which the efficacy of winter road services is being enhanced is the use of built-in temperature-registering devices in spreading vehicles, now increasingly fitted as standard. They measure the temperature of the road surface with great precision and that information helps the operator decide on the precise quantity of spreading material necessary to deal with those conditions. In addition more and more local authorities are making use of professional weather-information systems. "The additional costs for detailed, precise measurements and reliable forecasts are generally recouped quickly. Because it provides a basis for deploying the limited resources in terms of personnel, machinery and materials in a more targeted way," explains an expert from the VKU.
 
In cities in Germany, in particular, one noticeable fact is that fewer and fewer cyclists want to give up using their steeds even in winter road conditions. So demand is rising to keep the cycle paths clear. The sector is rising to this challenge with new developments involving compact vehicles that can be refitted easily for sweeping, clearing or gritting operations. As well as a narrow width, a key factor with these vehicles is weight: Under German road regulations no vehicles over 3.5 tonnes are allowed to drive on pavements and cycle paths. The new multi-functional vehicles fit in with this requirement.
 
In order to avoid exhaust emissions and noise as far as possible, local authorities and street-cleaning services are increasingly turning to natural-gas-fuelled, electric or hybrid-drive vehicles and machinery. In the past the reach and running times of electrically driven units were limiting factors, but according to the VKU advances in batteries and accumulators have now progressed so far that street-cleaning vehicles powered entirely by electricity can be used all day without needing to be recharged. A similar development is happening in the case of hand-operated leaf blowers, much criticized for the noise they make: Now increased battery capacity has made electrical blowers a real competitor to their fuel-driven counterparts.
 
On the way to becoming standard in street-cleaning and winter road services is digital onboard tour tracking. This provides a detailed record of the vehicle’s movements, thus, for example, furnishing proof of the operator having fulfilled his contractual obligations. In case of legal dispute these data are accepted by a court of law.
 
Quality assurance is a well established part of day-to-day business in many areas, and for some time now it has been increasing in importance in street-cleaning, winter road services and other local-authority services. Rüdiger Reuter of INFA (Institut für Abfall, Abwasser und Infrastruktur-Management GmbH), a management consultancy specializing in waste, waste-water and infrastructure, comments: "The aim here is to obtain comprehensible and meaningful results that can be used to improve operations. This also enables an improvement in the quality awareness of employees, in cleaning performance and therefore also in customer-satisfaction." It is also possible, he said, to use these important data in promoting a more fact-based approach in public and strategy discussions on quality. An easy-to-use software program on PCs and mobile devices (PDA) ensures ongoing, standardized and systematic collection of data on cleanliness, operations and conditions.
 
At the next IFAT in 2014 around 15,000 square meters of space is being dedicated to the section on "Street cleaning, maintenance and winter road services" in Halls C3 and C4 and on the open-air site.

Further information: www.ifat.de

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