Butler County Engineer
Greg Wilkens has long held the belief that he employs some of
the most talented workers to be found anywhere, be they bridge
engineers or snow plow drivers. Area road salt suppliers would
certainly agree with that based on a new salt conveyor system
developed by one BCEO snowfighting crew.
"The new system
is relatively simple, yet saves lots of time and allows us to
make better use of our 6,500-ton salt barn," Wilkens said.
"And best of all, it was put together by our own people
utilizing existing equipment and an inexpensive conveyor belt."
An old salt spreader
box from an aging snow plow truck was placed on wheels and is
moved to a conveyor belt in front of the BCEO's salt storage
barn. When salt is delivered to the Engineer's facility, truckers
can quickly dump the salt and move on to their next delivery.
"This makes them happy because they are paid by the load,"
said crew leader Denny Hileman, whose crew designed and built
the system. "It makes them want to deliver here because
we are more efficient. We never have problems with delivery."
Once the salt is delivered,
BCEO crews load the salt into the hopper, from where it drops
onto a conveyor belt and is carried into the salt storage barn.
The new system also makes it easier to keep the salt barn at
full capacity, thus reducing the risk of running low on salt
during long stretches of severe winter weather.
The salt hopper and
conveyor system has proven to be an extremely efficient method
by which to handle a material that is all too familiar to Midwestern
motorists. "Road salt is a way of life during the winter,
but it is the most effective way to melt snow and treat roads,"
noted Operations Deputy Scott Bressler. "If we can manage
our supplies more effectively, it benefits the taxpayer by reducing
cost and improving efficiency."
Bressler noted the
difference between this new system and the old way: "Previously
the truckers who delivered the salt blew it into our storage
barn using a piler. It took 20 minutes per truck. Now they dump
the salt and are on their way in less than four minutes. This
means we pay less for the salt." The BCEO received bids
last August for this winter's salt and the lowest bidder was
North American Salt Company with a bid amount of $32.76 per ton
for dump delivery versus $35.26 per ton for piler delivery. "That's
a difference of $2.50 per ton," noted Bressler. "Considering
we use 4,500 tons of salt during a typical Butler County winter,
that's an average annual savings of $11,250."
And that makes County
Engineer Wilkens, well known for his belt-tightening, smile.
"That's more money we can put into replacing an old bridge
or upgrading a dangerous intersection," he said. "We're
proud of our guys for their creative effort to save the taxpayers
money. Their talent speaks for itself."
For a pictorial overview
of how the salt conveyor system works, click on the images below.
- Click on images
- Salt is dumped
- BCEO crews
use front-end loader to dump salt into hopper.
- Loading salt
into salt hopper.
- Salt hopper
with conveyor system into storage barn.
- Salt is moved
from hopper onto conveyor belt.
- Conveyor system
transports salt into storage barn.
- Inside salt
- Salt piled
high. Barn filled to near capacity. ..............................
- The crew -
Denny Hileman, John Singleton, Terry Slack, Eric Brown.