Whether facility cleaning mangers opt to use staff for de-icing or they hire a contractor, establishing a process for documenting salt applications performed is essential for verification of services. It will also provide a benchmark for future salt use. When possible, utilize technology to accurately automate the process of tracking and reporting salt application data.

Establish salt output estimates per application and per site to benchmark with actual output. All application equipment operators need to be trained on company policies and general salt management/ice management techniques before operating spreaders and sprayers.

Managers should standardize the process to measure salt output by site, portfolio of sites, and per storm (per site) with a goal of identifying potential material waste. Do this by measuring actual usage versus inventory, and comparing application rates across operators and equipment types.

Documentation of this information should be simple for managers. Establish a calibration process for all salt application equipment (solid and liquid). This should take into account flow settings (gates, valve/nozzles, etc.), conveyor/auger and spinner speeds, ground speed, and material size, density, etc.

Spreader and sprayer output rates should be standardized across equipment types. And application rates that are calibrated for minimum output levels of salt are required for various weather scenarios (surface temperature, moisture, etc.).

As a policy, calibration should occur every pre-season and mid-season, and any time a change to the equipment is made (i.e. repair) or a significant change to the material occurs (i.e. fines, pre-treated, etc.). Implementing these best practices should simplify winter management operations for facility managers. 

The Snow & Ice Management Association has recently published a series of best practice guidelines for snow and ice management — including sustainable salt use — to benchmark with your operation. For more information on sustainable salt use and winter management operations, visit www.sima.org.

PHILL SEXTON serves as Director of Outreach and Chief Knowledge Officer for the Snow & Ice Management Association (SIMA), and is the Founding Principle and Managing Director for WIT Companies, a network of Sustainability Advisers, Services Providers and Technology Solutions for the Landscape, Snow and Facility Management Industries. Phill also serves as Professor (Adjunct) at the Center of Agriculture and Natural Resources of the State University of New York at Cobleskill, and is completing thesis research at Harvard University that is focused on Sustainable Salt Use in Winter Management Operations.