Winter Maintenance is not just for Winter
Winter is just around the corner, and our teams are busy planning for the new season. Do you have your winter maintenance solutions sorted? If not, it’s time to think about it! Our Managing Director, Marcus Watson gives his views on why planning ahead is key…
Winter maintenance not only has a significant impact on companies’ real estates and infrastructure, it also affects staff, customers and the surrounding communities. In the UK we always get a cold snap – in some cases severe – at some stage in the season, so it makes sense to plan ahead. Waiting for the winter to come along not only is too late due to the impact already being felt, but a reactive posture makes it difficult for winter maintenance teams to respond quickly, with mismatched resources and the obvious potential problems of playing catch-up.
Allocation of resources for winter maintenance solutions also needs to be a priority. After all, it is not as straightforward as deploying salt or shifting snow. Instead, winter maintenance providers like Ground Control and LitterBoss need to plan ahead throughout the summer months to ensure everything is in place for a quick and smooth deployment process that has as minimal an impact as possible to a customer’s business. Tasks include:
- Planning what sites require winter maintenance when, incorporating an estimate of the time each job will take, how much work is involved and what timeframe is best to complete the tasks;
- Mapping out of the site(s), including the areas that require work, where such things as snow are to be moved to and what the main routes in and out of the site are;
- Optimising the route to each location, therefore ensuring the teams know where they are going and what is the most cost-efficient route;
- Resource planning per site, incorporating what products will be needed for each job and how much, whether any products such as salt can be deployed in advance, what equipment will need to be transported and how many personnel will be required for the job.
All of this planning can enable winter maintenance providers to deliver a streamlined, cost-effective service to customers. Utilising organisations such as Met Office and MetraWeather, providers of winter maintenance services can obtain good, high quality, high density weather reports, enabling forecasting of where winter maintenance will likely be required across the country. As a user of Met Office’s OpenSiteGold service, we receive the highest density winter gritting service available in the UK. Utilising Met Office’s high-resolution road forecasting model, we receive a forecast for every first half of a postcode.
Using this, in conjunction with our detailed planning process, provides proactive customers with the best possible service. However, if a customer, despite all of this, chooses the reactive only service, that customer will be in danger of losing out to those who have thought ahead. After all, winter maintenance providers will service sites that have an agreement in place first, simply due to the ability to be able to think ahead. Salt can be taken to locations close to customers’ sites ahead of time; conversations will have been completed around what will need clearing. In addition, a site recce can be completed, if required, to work out in advance what needs to happen and at what time the gritting should take place to cause the least disruption. For those with a reactive service, none of this can happen meaning these companies will be at risk of causing disruption to their own staff and customers, with the obvious potential knock on effect on the company’s finances.
In conclusion, my recommendation to any organisation is that they treat winter maintenance like any other business need; they plan ahead for it. The winter months are just around the corner, and if they are not planned for, the risks could be at best problematic, and at worst catastrophic if customers cannot access their premises for example. Don’t be reactive, be proactive to avoid a winter of discontent.