No Substitute for Experience

Paul Bowers

This winter, we hired a contractor to plow our driveway at home. I had shoveled the snow for years, and it was time to turn the job over to a professional. 

The contractor has kept the driveway clear, but there was definitely a learning curve—nuances regarding where the snow should go after it is plowed, etc. As I prepare this issue for the printer, the stories we are showcasing about snow removal at ERI and RNO (pages 30 and 24, respectively) remind me of what we encountered with our driveway.

Lesson #1: Experience is king of the hill. My contractor had no experience with our driveway at the beginning of the season. Trees at the end of our pavement prevented crews from simply pushing all of the snow past the end of the driveway. When reading about the preparation and years of winter ops experience at ERI and RNO, it is clear that their crews move into winter thoroughly trained regarding who does what. ERI couldn’t have handled 5½ feet of snow in two days unless they had done this before!

Lesson #2: Tools are important. A plow truck can clear my driveway in 10 minutes. It took me an hour or more per snowfall. The multi-tasking plow/broom units, high-tech blowers and deicing equipment that airports use today provide faster winter cleanup than ever before. Facility operators save time and money while keeping runways open and safe.

There are many lessons to be learned about winter operations—too many to be covered in one issue of the magazine. Fortunately, there are more resources available. One of the best is in Buffalo, NY: the 52nd Annual NEC/AAAE International Snow Symposium, April 14 to 18. It’s a great place to learn about the latest equipment and share best practices. See you there!

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