Jungfrau Zeitung – A little de-icing

Sanin | December 8, 2021

Recently, Peter has continued to bring in large amounts of snow, to the delight of many. However, the winter services are on alert: always keep an eye on the weather, and always be prepared to leave. This newspaper took a closer look at the extensive organization of the Saanen community, and it turns out that not all defrosting is the same.

This snow plow has been working hard since the end of November.Photos: Jocelyn’s page

Wipe the snow off the windshield, maybe scrape some ice, get in, and go. Tires roll on roads almost cleaned of black, despite the snow falling all night. This road condition is the norm today, which we often take for granted. But there is a lot of work behind it.

Christian Brand (left) is the Director of Operations for the Mettlen Warehouse, Philip Becker is the Director of Infrastructure for the Saanen Community.

Christian Brand (left) is the Director of Operations for the Mettlen Warehouse, Philip Becker is the Director of Infrastructure for the Saanen Community.

Snow chains for better grip: The machines have to challenge the big blocks of snow.

Snow chains for better grip: The machines have to challenge the big blocks of snow.

with united forces

Saanen municipality has a network of municipal roads of about 100 km in length, which are surveyed during the entire winter season; It’s also on the cantonal side and needs this help removing the remaining snow walls. Once thick snowflakes pile up on the ground, call after call begins to form a huge team that moves out with their machines. Christian Brand, Director of Operations at Werkhof Mettlen explains: “We always have one person on standby from Monday to Monday, on Tuesday the compensation is the order of the day. He constantly monitors the weather and moves regularly to the known, smooth salt areas. He also gets up at three in the morning every morning. To assess the condition of the road. If defrosting is the order of the day, he calls the mechanic in our workshop, who calls out to all community and corporate workers.”

By companies, the brand means construction, landscaping and transportation companies that remove snow from roads on behalf of the municipality. “We have such a large community area that we can’t even handle working with community workers and machinery,” Philip Becker, head of infrastructure at Sanin, says of this paper. Both sides will benefit from cooperation: the community will be grateful for any help so that the many tons of snow can be removed during a useful period. Companies, in turn, can secure a certain number of full-time jobs, because on the one hand there is a seasonal construction freeze and on the other hand, winter conditions are not suitable for construction work. A total of 16 companies work for the community, 14 employees crowd into the workshop with eleven machines, the job of which involves a lot of manual work.

Mytlin warehouse ensures the maintenance and operational safety of municipal roads.

Metlin Depot guarantees the maintenance and operational safety of municipal roads.

The large road network in Sanin municipality and marked roads that are maintained by the municipal winter service.

The large road network in Sanin municipality and marked roads that are maintained by the municipal winter service.

Long work assignments

They are all on the road for a long time: if there is more than 2cm of snow at 3:00 AM, community staff are on the road until about 9:00 AM with rooms available. If it is more than 30 cm long, it will be fast in the afternoon, says the plant manager Brand. But cleaning alone is not enough: the local community grinds on the walls of snow accumulated by large plows, throws snow on select landfills, salts or slices streets and driveways and clears snow. The timing of the work done and the strength of observation are key to success. It takes a watchful eye 24 hours a day, seven days a week, from the first snow to the last season – no matter if it’s a weekend or a public holiday.

As Head of Infrastructure, Philip Baker is responsible for the maintenance of municipal roads, which is why he is also responsible for winter maintenance.

As Head of Infrastructure, Philip Baker is responsible for the maintenance of municipal roads, which is why he is also responsible for winter maintenance.

Customized solution for each case

Last weekend’s example: First, it snows heavily, then it rains, followed by more snowfall. “We had to go out to clean up the wet mud. Christian Brand explains that the risk was too great for an ice bed to form and we would eventually have to struggle with the ice. Salt also needs to learn. Essentially, the dispersed salt prevents water molecules from forming in the ice crystals. However, if the temperatures drop below minus five degrees Celsius, the salt solution freezes – so the procedure will be ineffective and counterproductive.

With the salt shaker, the community prevents the formation of ice on the streets.  However, salt should not be used at temperatures above minus five degrees Celsius, because otherwise it is counterproductive.  Then the fragments are used.

With the salt shaker, the community prevents the formation of ice on the streets. However, salt should not be used at temperatures above minus five degrees Celsius, because otherwise it is counterproductive. Then the fragments are used.

Before the season During the season

In addition to quickly responding to weather conditions, winter service has a long time even before winter. The community will be in the middle of preparations from the beginning of the fall: the list of all participating companies will be consulted and updated, including the fleet of vehicles used. Among other things, the community must obtain additional permits for individual trucks so that they can drive at night and on Sundays, Philip Baker explains. The street plan was carefully studied, and the streets were allocated to each community worker and to each company. “The whole organization has to be in place before the first snow so we can get started right away,” Baker says.

Thank you for your patience

Winter Service is based on a comprehensive and innovative architecture, which must be tried and tested for spontaneity and short-term use. But the weather is capricious, which is why not always everything goes according to plan. “If it doesn’t start snowing until five in the morning, we won’t finish the evacuation when the first people go to work. We ask for your understanding and patience from all motorists,” says Becker. The brand agrees: “The more impatient people are, the faster we can get to work. This means: always follow the instructions of the traffic service and refrain from daring to overstep maneuvers around our machines.”

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