Peterborough-based winter maintenance and sweeping specialist, Aebi Schmidt, is trialling a new and innovative Combi Flex spreader with Transport Scotland in its 2017/18 winter service programme.
The brand new concept has been involved in series of successful trials in Scandinavia for the last 12 months, but this is the first time the innovative Combi Flex spreader will have been operated in the UK, bringing a greater degree of flexibility and more spreading combinations to winter maintenance than ever before.
It looks set to play a key role in Transport Scotland’s winter programme in a trial lasting 26 weeks from November 2017 to April 2018, adding a level of versatility that can be adapted to meet most, if not all, winter conditions and temperatures.
The new Combi Flex spreader, which is twinned with a 32-tonne DAF 8×4 truck, is fitted with a 5m³ hopper and huge 13,750 litre brine-filled tanks. That allows the unique new concept to provide a flexible range of winter spreading options from pure salt to pure brine – and all points in between.
David Harvey, Technical Sales Manager at Aebi Schmidt, explained the thinking behind the radical new approach.
“While there has been a trend in the European winter market towards greater levels of brine spraying in recent years, the new patented Combi Flex combines all aspects of spreading dry and pre-wet salt, with the ability to adjust brine percentages upwards of 30%, through to pure spraying.
“Under certain conditions pre-wet salt with increased brine percentages perform better where road and weather conditions play an important role. The Combi Flex allows for rapid changing between dry substances and brine, without the need for conversion.
“The new Combi Flex allows greater use of brine spraying in various concentrations depending on the weather and road conditions. For example, salt levels can be increased should the conditions dictate by using solid materials from the hopper and mixing them with the brine to increase the concentration.
“Or conversely pure brine can be used if the weather and temperatures are not too severe. By reducing the levels of salt involved, operators can not only reduce costs – by up to 30% in certain cases – they can also lessen the environmental impact at the same time.
“We firmly believe that the Transport Scotland trial will prove the new Combi Flex spreader to be a welcome addition to the winter service armoury and a significant step forward in the winter treatment arena.
“Aebi Schmidt is delighted to be working in partnership with Transport Scotland for what is a fantastic opportunity to showcase this innovative concept,” he said.
Transport Scotland is the agency responsible for keeping Scotland’s trunk road clear and ensuring the safe movement of all users, while minimising delays and disruption caused by snow and ice. It discharges this duty by having contracts in place with a number of operating companies which ensure the trunk road network is safe, efficient and well managed.
As a result, the agency can call on 208 gritters and ploughs, one for every 16km of the trunk road network, 40 depots providing winter service plant and facilities, 52 vehicles providing frontline footway clearance and treatments and more than 500 operating company staff to undertake winter service duties.
Martin Thompson, Winter Resilience Manager at Transport Scotland, said: “We are excited to be trialling Aebi Schmidt’s new Combi Flex spreader in this year’s winter service programme. We believe its flexibility and versatility will be key assets in our commitment to keep Scotland’s trunk roads free of snow and ice this winter.”