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SweepEx Gets Thumbs-Up from Michigan’s Thumb

Located in the "thumb" of Michigan, Lapeer County consists of more than 350 miles of road–all of which is the responsibility of the Lapeer County Road Commission. Whether it be snow removal, grading, or blacktop maintenance, Rick Pearson, superintendent of Lapeer County Road commission, has his hands full with year-round road maintenance.

Unfortunately, Pearson faced a problem with his warm-weather maintenance program. As with any county that spreads gravel as part of its winter maintenance, gravel removal becomes a concern after the snow and ice have melted. Loose, excess gravel is not only a flying-debris hazard, but it can cause traction problems at intersections. Pearson‘s dilemma was not with the gravel itself, but with the removal method.

 

Though basically effective, the rotary brooms Lapeer County used for road maintenance raised many problems–especially a lot of dust. The Lapeer County crew blew up three engines on their rotary-broom truck due to dust and dirt buildup alone. The dust kicked up by the rotary broom prevented the engines from getting enough air, not to mention the equipment itself limited proper airflow. "We even went to the extent of using PVC pipe to put the breather of the truck in the back just to keep dust away from the intake,"Pearson said. They also tried using water to reduce dust, but with little success. "We put a water tank on the back of the truck and attached a twelve-volt water pump and spray bar across the broom, but it just didn‘t effectively control the dust."

Dust was not only a concern for pickup longevity, but for traffic safety as well. "We could only use the rotary broom when it rained because of the dust hazard," Pearson said. "If you used the rotary when it was dry, you‘d have such a huge dust cloud that it could create a very dangerous intersection." Also, the sweeping–forward action of rotary brooms ran the constant risk of chipping paint and windshields on passing cars.

Pearson decided to search for different road maintenance equipment. "I don‘t remember where I first saw it, but I found the TrynEx push broom in a magazine and contacted the company," Pearson said. Upon announcing this at his foremen‘s meeting, Pearson met some resistance. "When I first brought it up, they kind of laughed at me. They didn‘t think it would work. I must admit, I was also a little skeptical."

After receiving a demonstration of the TrynEx SweepEx, however, Pearson and his crew were no longer skeptical. Lapeer County purchased three of the SweepEx 90–inch ProBrooms.

"I guess my biggest problem with the rotary broom was that it was difficult to use for intersection cleanup," Pearson explained. "With the rotary broom, you had to go out into the line of traffic and sweep the gravel off to the side of the perpendicular roadway. With the SweepEx, you can drive out, drop the broom down and pull back. This is a great safety feature because it allows you to sweep and get out of the traffic as soon as possible."

Though a completely different concept compared to rotary brooms, the TrynEx modular–style broom is surprisingly effective. "Rotary brooms are usually better at sweeping the fine dust, but we are concerned with the larger, more dangerous particles," Pearson said. "For our needs, the push broom does a much better job. It also doesn‘t kick up as much dust or cause problems with our trucks."

Besides the obvious advantages, Pearson has discovered some additional benefits after gaining experience with the brooms. "In previous years, we have never been able to get to all of our intersections," Pearson said. "Now we are hitting them all–twice a year."

Pearson credits this to the decreased equipment downtime and the faster sweeping abilities of the SweepEx.

"With the rotary broom, we had to attach it to a manual transmission pickup because an automatic wouldn‘t travel slow enough to effectively sweep," Pearson said. "We had to operate in low, low gear just so the broom could stay ahead of us." Lapeer County is now using both manual and automatic transmission pickups with the SweepEx. "You still have to watch your speed, but we can do a better job, even at fifteen to twenty miles per hour."

Lapeer County is no longer using dedicated vehicles for sweeping. Crews simply attach a SweepEx to the plow moldboard of either a manual or automatic, two– or four–wheel drive truck as needed. "One reason I think we are more productive is the guys like to operate the push broom," Pearson said. "They didn‘t like using the rotary broom. It was so cumbersome and they always had to mess with the hydraulics and drive so slow–it just wasn‘ t productive. Now they can just jump into a pickup, roll up the windows, turn up the air and away they go."

Source: Article courtesy of TryNex® International.