Simplicity is at the forefront when picking out snow removal equipment containing in-cab controls, according to snow contractors.
At Lawns & Beyond in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Owner and Operator Mark Tremere uses a Kioti CK35 cabbed tractor, which he purchased new for the 2014-2015 season.
It was also the first season he offered snow removal service and the machine was broken in right out of the gate. In addition to snow removal, Lawns & Beyond offers maintenance and landscaping services, and some hardscaping, to commercial and residential customers.
“That first season I think there was 550 centimeters (216 inches) of snow,” he says. The average seasonal snowfall in Prince Edward Island is 98 to 118 inches.
Controls to move the tractor’s plow are in the cab on the right, Tremere says.
“You’re turned around a lot of times watching backwards, so you’ve got to use the controls without seeing them,” he says. “Once you get efficient at it, there’s no problem reaching them or going from left to right, or up and down.”
Lawns & Beyond has an annual revenue of about $250,000 to $300,000 and employs eight full-time seasonal workers. It takes about 20 to 30 hours of on-the-job use with the tractor to become proficient using the controls, he says.
At Seasons Change Services, based in Comstock Park, Michigan, President and Owner Andrew Stachowiak runs pick-up trucks with BOSS Snowplow straight blades and V-plows.
The company offers property maintenance including lawn care and landscaping to commercial, residential and small municipal clients, in addition to snow and ice removal.
“I can run mine now without thinking. It’s kind of just an extension of your hand,” he says of his plow controls. “I’ve put people that have never run one (snow plow) in a pick-up truck and they’ve caught on very well.”
“The thing I do like about the BOSS, there’s no mode buttons where you have to push another button to do another type of movement,” Stachowiak says. “The BOSS is all self-contained and it’s really simple.”
The controls will move the blades up and down, and left and right. The V-plow controller can be used to run either blade, if needed in an emergency situation, adding versatility.
“I can move either left or right wing (on the V-plow) independently,” he says.
Tremere’s Kioti has a hydrostatic transmission similar to an automatic transmission in a car, which also makes employee training simple.
“I’ve put people that have never run one in a pick-up truck and they’ve caught on very well.” Andrew Stachowiak, president and owner, Seasons Change Services
“You don’t have to shift gears quite so much,” he says. “I’m basically, with my right foot, pushing forward for forward, and I push back on my heel to go in reverse.”
The snow blower’s hydraulic controls help place snow in a specific location, Tremere says.
“If there’s shrub beds and cars around, you don’t have a lot of room to maneuver, so you really have to kind of dial it in and pinpoint where you’re throwing the snow,” he says.
At Seasons Change Services, SnowEx spreaders are used to apply rock salt to properties. The company has two year-round employees and has annual revenue of about $150,000.
“There are fewer parts to it,” Stachowiak says. “It has an auger system versus the chain drive or a belt drive.
“It’s nice to be able to control the flow of your material as well as the speed of your spinner so you can either broadcast further or less.”
The SnowEx also has a blast control, which allows the user to give a quick burst of salt application.
“If you run into a parking lot that maybe has just a small ice patch in the center, you can just do a quick shot,” Stachowiak says.
Controlling the flow amount on the spreader, as well as the spinner, is done from inside the cab.
“With the Western (spreader he had previously), the feed rate was controlled by a gate, so you had to exit the vehicle at the time to control the feed,” Stachowiak says.
In addition, the SnowEx spreader has a digital readout, which allows the user to set the machine’s motor to run at zero to 100 percent throwing power.
“The old system was pretty much you just turned it up a little bit or you turned it down. There was no telling where you were at,” Stachowiak says.
Preferences Over Controls.
For Stachowiak, having larger in-cab controls is important.
“There are companies that offer different types of wireless controls, but some of those controllers look pretty small – easily losable within a cab,” he says. “They’re almost the size of a key fob.”
Tremere’s tractor has more compact cab than other Kioti models. “The four-way flashers are in a bad spot. My knee always hits them and turns them off,” he says.
“You wouldn’t want to be much larger to fit in a cab of that size.” Defrost controls in the cab would be nice, Tremere says.
“Having window defrosters like you do in your car with the wires going through the back windows that actually apply heat to the glass that defrost ice off the actual glass – that would be fantastic,” he says.