Featured on mml.org
By Samuel P. Lamerato
Long before snow and ice appear on the roads, the city of Troy’s fleet division is in high gear preparing the city’s medium and heavy duty trucks for the upcoming winter season. The city has approximately 28 salt/plow trucks, which are responsible for maintaining 260 miles of local roads and 104 miles of major roads.
The fleet division begins the time-consuming winter prep of these vehicles in mid-August. When the salt truck is brought into the shop, a detailed checklist—designed and updated by technicians and supervisors—is meticulously followed. Over 70 items are checked, tested, disassembled, inspected, reassembled, and replaced, if necessary. This inspection starts at the front bumper and ends at the back of the truck:
The fleet division has experienced very little downtime or overtime in the past several years, due to the excellent job of prepping these first responder vehicles. A complete check of the vehicle allows potential problems to be identified and remedied before they become a major issue.
Employees who operate these trucks are assured that they have safe and reliable vehicles to accomplish most any task the unpredictable Michigan winter season brings. Many times during the winter, the salt trucks will run continuously for up to 48 hours, with the exception of time for refueling. Over 100 gallons of diesel fuel is consumed per hour when the city’s fleet of trucks are clearing snow and salting.
The new salt trucks are equipped with electronic salt spreading controls that monitor how much salt is being used per lane mile. This system will automatically adjust to assure a uniform amount is being spread, regardless of the vehicle’s speed. This feature prevents too much salt from being spread, which is a waste of resources and tax dollars.
The city’s salt trucks are also equipped with temperature sensors so that the operator knows the outside air temperature, as well as an infrared sensor to inform the operator of the pavement temperature. The onboard pump starts pumping a 27-percent salt brine solution from 100-gallon onboard tanks onto the salt being spread when the pavement temperature drops to below 20 degrees. The effectiveness of the salt is greatly inhibited by extremely low temperatures. The addition of the salt brine solution helps to expedite activation of the salts’ melting process at extreme low temperatures. This technology allows the roads to be cleared quickly, with less salt being used.
It takes a team of dedicated technicians and support staff to ensure the city’s snow removal vehicles are ready to respond to any snow emergency. They maintain the fleet at a high availability during a storm so the city’s public works and parks department staff can perform the job at hand—to keep our local and major roads safe for the public. We are fortunate that city management and council understand the need to have the correct equipment necessary to accomplish the day-to-day requirements of maintaining our infrastructure at a level the citizens of Troy have come to expect.
Samuel P. Lamerato is superintendent of fleet maintenance for the city of Troy. He may be reached at 248-524-3390 or firstname.lastname@example.org.