When Sidewalk Snow Has Got to Go
Utility work machines clean up Michigan State University campus
A Michigan State employee makes easy work of snow removal with a Toolcat 5600 and snow blade attachment. Picture provided by Michigan State University Physical Plant.
When it snows, the 104 miles of sidewalk throughout the Michigan State University campus can turn into 104 miles of trouble. That used to be the case, but thanks to a very comprehensive snow plan and seven Toolcat™ utility work machines, sidewalk snow removal is now completed more efficiently.
That makes Gerry Dobbs, Landscape Services manager at the MSU Physical Plant, and the university administration very happy. "The Toolcat units are instrumental in clearing the sidewalks — and other areas — for our nearly 60,000 students, faculty and staff, as well as visitors," Dobbs says.
The university purchased its first 5600 in 2005; then added two more. Today, Michigan State University owns five 5600s and two 5610s, purchased from Bobcat of Lansing. The 5600 can be used with more than 40 front-mounted attachments; the 5610 can also carry attachments on the front, as well as rear PTO attachments and rear 3-point hitch implements.
The Toolcat machines — with heated cabs — are key components of an elaborate snow removal plan. They are assigned to work in specific zones around the Big Ten campus. For example, in the east sidewalk zone, one machine is responsible for a predetermined 6.99 miles of sidewalk, another for 8.26 miles.
"We are able to get down to the bare pavement to prevent ice buildup with the Toolcat units," Dobbs says. "Plus, we do the job right the first time and don't have to make multiple trips over the same area."
The utility work machines with a sprayer attachment are used to both pre- and post-treat the sidewalks with a combination of salt brine and an organic sugar beet byproduct called Geomelt. "This allows us to treat snow and ice in temperatures as low as minus 30 degrees F," Dobbs says. "It leaves a brown residue, but in this case brown is the new green.
"These machines are a great solution to many of our wintertime problems," Dobbs concludes.
Visit the Toolcat page for more information.
Beyond snow and ice removal
As part of the Michigan State University's 2020 Vision Campus Master Plan, Gerry Dobbs and his Landscape Services department are planting 1,800 trees (2.5- to 3-inch caliper maple, oak, elm, ash and evergreen). The Toolcat 5600s are ideal for this project. "We use them to transport trees to each planting site, dig holes with the auger attachment and quickly move on to the next location," he says. "It's very efficient."
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