The Chicago O’Hare winter operations team is a multiple award winner for outstanding achievement in airport snow and ice control. From now on, the team can also rely on MB equipment and technology. Alan Luke, Regional Sales Manager for MB Companies, explains the challenges at an airport which is exposed more than others to snow and ice.
Last week our colleagues from MB delivered the first MB3 High Speed Runway Brooms to Chicago O’Hare and Midway. Well, when an award-winning Winter Operation Team relies on our machines and technology, it makes us a bit proud indeed and also shows that our teams really understand their customers’ needs.
We asked Alan Luke, Regional Sales Manager at MB Companies and responsible for both Chicago O’Hare and Midway airport, well known as ORD and MDW, if there is a difference in the requirements and needs of an airport that is exposed to much more severe winter conditions compared to others. Chicago ORD is the third largest airport in the USA in terms of passenger volume and the average snowfall in Chicago is higher in only a handful of major American cities. Alan explains: “Since winter weather conditions in Chicago can change drastically from hour to hour, ORD and MDW must have the flexibility to rapidly meet the changing conditions. The requirements may be the same, clearing and maintaining the primary surfaces in the shortest amount of time. But in the case of airports such as in Chicago, they have to have a fleet tailored to the frequently and fast changing conditions. That implies a fleet of high speed multitasking equipment and blowers for the runways and dedicated equipment such as front mounted brooms and plows for taxiways and ramp areas. Deploying only one type of machines wouldn’t work in such conditions.”
Alan has worked for MB Companies for over 10 years. When asked what has changed in the past years with regard to winter maintenance, he says: “Overall, there has been the deceasing size of the workforce available to airport operations. The equipment operators and maintenance technicians specifically have seen drastic reductions in numbers. This directly impacts the airport ability to deploy equipment necessary to keep up with winter operations. So multi-tasking became a relevant characteristic of our equipment such as the MB2 or single frame MB5. Multi-tasking can ease the burden of operators to maintain the primary runways. One experienced operator can do the job of three while less experienced operators maintain the secondary areas such as taxiways and ramps.” In this context, Alan adds that the relevance for a tailor made aftersales service has become more important as well, as many airports just do not have the trained personnel anymore to maintain their fleet.
We would like to thank the authorities of the city of Chicago for the order. Chicago presented major development and conversion plans for the two airports at the beginning of the year. We keep our fingers crossed for the authorities, the airports, the employees and people of the Chicago area that the plans can be implemented as soon as possible despite the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.