What are box plows, and what are the benefits of using them?
Box plows, also known as containment plows, and snow pushers, and commonly referred to as 'pushers' have been around for quite a few years now. They are rapidly becoming a 'must have' for professional snow removal companies. In recent years, the market has seen a huge influx of new styles and designs, with many unique and innovative features. Anyone that has been in this business for many years knows that vehicle snow plows have been relatively the same since their inception approximately 75 years ago. Minor changes have been made over the years, but essentially, they are designed to move the snow from the path of the vehicle they area attached to, over to one side, be it the left or right.
Many contractors have been using back hoes, front end loaders, skid steer loaders, and farm type tractors as part of their snow removal fleets for years. With the invention of the box plow, a whole new window of opportunity has opened for contractors. Using a box plow, the contractor now has the ability to move snow exactly where it needs to go using the above referenced equipment, with a box plow attached to it. Using the bucket of the machine to move snow is a waste of time, and wear and tear on the equipment, compared to using a box plow. This is bad news for contractors that work hourly, because by using a box plow, they could cut their time by as much as half, if not more on some of their accounts. One box plow manufacturer claims that using their product on one machine, can replace three trucks with plows, and it is not a far fetched claim.
There are many different box plows on the market. Some replace the machine's front loader bucket, while others attach to the bucket. This makes box plows a very efficient tool for the contractor. For example, with a box plow, a contractor could use it to clear large open areas of a site, piling the snow exactly where it should be piled, and in minutes, remove the box plow to clear out dead ends, and loading docks, or load trucks with salt from a bulk pile on the site (or to load snow into trucks if removal is part of the site requirement). Then again, in minutes attach the box plow, and resume plowing. Some contractors even own multiple box plows, which they leave on sites they maintain, and drive their equipment from site to site connecting the site specific box plow at each site. This is becoming more common, as box plows are made in sizes ranging from six to thirty feet wide. The maximum width box that can legally be transported down most roads is in the eight to ten foot wide range.
There are box plows that are twenty feet wide that can be folded down to ten feet wide for transporting on roads. There are sixteen feet wide models that can also be folded down to narrower widths for transporting. There are box plows with hydraulically controlled end plates, allowing the box plow to be turned into a conventional plow in seconds. There are box plows with rubber cutting edges, with urethane cutting edges, even ones with steel trip edges. There are box plows that can be tipped forward, using the top edge to back drag snow away from buildings, much like a rear plow on a truck is used for.
Imagine being able to tell a client that it would be no problem to pile all the snow from a parking area in one corner. Imagine being able to use one machine with a box plow to clear the bulk of a site, and using the other machines you might have allotted for that site, on other sites. It would allow you to expand you client base significantly, while still being able to provide the timely service the clients expect.
Running box plows, there is one major 'rule'. The box plow must be sitting squarely on the ground when pushing. If it is sitting on the 'toes' of the skids, it will leave a thin layer of snow on the pavement. If it is sitting on the 'heels' of the skids, it will allow snow to escape from the sides. Additionally, running on the toes or heels of the skids will accelerate wear of the skids requiring premature replacement. A common mistake when using box plows is trying to use down pressure. For instance, on a skid loader, you want all four wheels on the ground, for traction. Exerting down pressure and running with the front wheels in the air gives the machine less traction. And will also cause premature wear of the skids. You want to run the bucket in the 'float' position.
If you have never seen a box plow in use, take the time to do so. It will only be a matter of time before you find a way to bring one into your fleet. Look at the advertisements in this issue, and you will see many for box plows.
The above article originally appeared in the May 2003 Issue of Snow Business Magazine. Reprinted with permission.
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