It’s that time of year again when the snow starts to fall, and we all have to start worrying about how to remove it from the top of our box trucks safely. This has always been a pesky problem for me, as I’m sure it is for many of you. In my former role as supply chain manager, this topic came up every year from the last-mile delivery team.
If you’re lucky and it’s that nice powdery stuff, it’s not a big deal, as it will blow off the first few miles of the journey. The trouble occurs when the snow or ice stays up there, creating a hazardous situation. Sure enough, one year, our drivers had a large sheet of ice fly off the top of the truck, damaging a vehicle following behind. Thankfully nobody was hurt, but it could have easily been much worse.
Box trucks usually measure between twelve and a half feet to thirteen and a half feet, making them difficult to get to for snow removal. Drivers can also receive a ticket or fine for failure to remove snow and ice from the top of their trucks. You certainly don’t want to climb up there in slippery conditions and risk a fall. So what’s the best way to remove the snow and ice from the top of a box truck?
Automated snow removal
Depending on the size of your fleet and how much snow you get, investing in FleetPlows might be the safest and most efficient way to remove snow and ice. These systems straddle the truck and lower a gigantic scraper down on top of the truck as the truck drives through. With the ability to remove snow from sixty trucks per hour, this system will greatly reduce the time your drivers have to spend in hazardous conditions.
Park your fleet inside
There are still some ways to make the process safer and more efficient for a smaller fleet or those needing more time to invest in an automated system. When able to park your trucks inside, do so to avoid any chance of ice and snow build-up. If this isn’t possible, try to park in a garage or carport whenever possible.
Roof rakes are another option for removing snow but are designed for sloped roofs, not horizontal truck roofs. They are inverted shovels on long handles, so you pull the snow toward yourself and off the roof. These are great for a laugh if someone hasn’t used them before, as the first pull usually covers them in snow.
Another downside to the roof rakes for removing snow from the top is the potential to damage the top of the truck. There are better tools for the job than this, but they can help with removal under ideal conditions. Brian Way improved on the standard home roof rake works, but as you see, it is still a cumbersome process. The Big Rig Rake is the commercialized option that slowly removes snow from the top of the truck.
Tarp the top of the truck
If you know snow, freezing rain, or sleet is in the forecast, you can take preventative action by tarping the top of the truck. This will not work once the snow or ice is already on there, but it’s a good way to avoid the problem altogether. There are some safety concerns, from placing the tarp on top of the truck to pulling large amounts of varying types of precipitation from the top of the truck.
Hire a professional
Hiring a professional is the best solution for most people as it takes the risk out of the equation for you and your team. Be sure to ask for recommendations, as you want someone experienced in this type of work with all the right safety equipment.
Heat the inside of the truck
If you’ve ever been lucky enough to experience a heated bathroom floor, you know the power of radiant heat. The same technology can prevent snow and ice from building up on the top of your box truck. Snow melting mats or low-voltage heating systems are my favorite options, but the problem is the technology hasn’t caught on yet.
Sadly, many states have enacted laws due to the loss of life from the failure to remove snow and ice from the top of trucks. When faced with the problem of removing snow and ice, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. The best way to remove snow from the top of your box truck will vary depending on the size of your fleet, where you live, and the type of snow and ice you typically get. With a little creativity (and maybe a professional), you can find the best solution for you and your team. Hopefully, someone will invent a better solution soon. Until then, be safe out there!