P.E.I. company develops new equipment for salting, sanding roads
'It's a lot more versatile'
A P.E.I. company has developed new equipment for salting and sanding the Island's icy roads and the province has been putting it to the test.
After losing one of its salt trucks just weeks ahead of the winter season, the province needed to find a replacement quickly. That's when Trout River Industries offered a new type of salt truck the company had been working on.
The company's co-founder Harvey Stewart said the new system can save government time and money clearing the roads.
The new spreader attaches to one of the company's live-bottom trailers which is hooked up to the plow. The live bottom uses a conveyor belt to move the sand, salt and brine onto the spreader and onto the road. Stewart said it spreads sand and salt more evenly and uses less than other systems.
"A lot of them have a chain drive that pushes the salt or the sand out onto the roads so it comes out in different bursts. This here has an auger in it so it spreads it very very evenly, so you'll make one pass down the road and you'll see it'll be very consistent," Stewart said.
"Whereas sometimes they have to go three and four times to do the same thing to fill in the patches in between."
A first on the Island
Stewart said the system is the first of its kind on P.E.I. He said the salt spreader uses a GPS system to monitor and measure the salt it spreads, which gives the driver more control.
"This here will metre and it tells him exactly what's going on, like if we go 200 kilograms per kilometre it will do exactly that. As you slow down at a corner, it slows down so it puts it on evenly, consistently all the time."
He said the conveyor system also allows operators to change the product it's spreading more efficiently compared to other salt trucks, which can take over half an hour to change.
"When they have to unload to change product, they just open the big door, run it off and then change to a different product," Stewart said. "If they're doing sand in the morning and they need salt in the afternoon it just takes a few minutes to switch out."
The salt spreader is also detachable, Stewart added, meaning the trucks can be used during summer months for road work to spread asphalt or gravel.
Clay Moase, depot manager for the Department of Transportation in Prince County, has been driving the new salt truck this winter.
"We've had it almost everywhere in Prince County," Moase said. "It's tried every type of material we have and in every type of condition we've had.
"It's a lot more versatile, it's definitely more stable because it is a live-bottom box," he said.
Moase said the province has been working with Trout River Industries to further develop the equipment and being able to work out of the company's manufacturing plant in Coleman, P.E.I. is an advantage.
He said most of the province's salt and sanding equipment is manufactured off-Island, which means any repairs or maintenance can be more expensive and take a long time to complete.
"The nearest place would be Quebec, that would actually manufacture these items that we've purchased in the past, some as far away as Italy and Sweden so for us to have an option right here on the Island I think is fantastic," Moase said.
The equipment has also been used in Detroit and parts of Ontario, and Trout River says it's getting orders from other cities across the country. Stewart said after a successful first season he hopes to see the province add more to its fleet next year.
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With files from Brittany Spencer