Valley News – Claremont public works idea wins state award

Claremont – As the familiar saying goes, to come up with a new idea, you sometimes have to think outside the box; Or in this case outside the hopper.

Filling a small sand and salt spray hopper on the back of a Bobcats wharf in the city when there is snow and ice can be dangerous with the constant risk of injury. But now, with the new design that recently won a statewide award, hoppers will be filled faster with less risk of operator injury.

“Previously, they would ride in the back of a dump truck and shovel salt, sand, or a combination of both into the paver sander,” said Ted Wadley, assistant director of the Claremont Department of Public Works.

Depending on the circumstances, Wadleigh said that the operator of the truck, or a sidewalk sander, would have to climb a ladder into the truck several times as they worked to remove ice and snow from the 36-mile city sidewalk. Now, when Bobcat operators on the curb demand more material, a pickup truck arrives, maneuvers in place and the use of truck controls pass material directly into the hopper in about 30 seconds without any of the workers ever having to get out of their cab.

“We figured this out,” Wadleigh said, standing in front of a previously unused hopper in the city’s DPW yard. “It’s a repurpose to use an old sander we had. All we did was weld a chute on the back. We had to change the chain (on the conveyor) and some hydraulics. So now we can fill the curb hopper more efficiently and faster.”

Although it only took about five minutes before the material was dredged into the hopper, which is about a third of a cubic yard, it’s less than a minute now with the risks greatly reduced.

“The biggest part of this is the safety aspect,” said Alex Gleeson, Director of DPW. “The worker had to go out in the middle of the night in windy weather to sweep him up.”

He said getting in and out of the car presents the potential for falls and scraping items that may also result in back injury.

“We’ve had some close contact,” Gleeson said. “With this there is less chance of back injury, slipping and falling on snowy ice or hitting a vehicle.”

The department, which completed the design in late winter, submitted it to the University of New Hampshire T2 Build a Better Mousetrap competition in May and was selected last month as a winner among several entries in the Pioneer Prize category. The award is looking for “a locally relevant product/tool ​​that is among the first to solve a maintenance problem using a local solution.”

Marily Enos, of the United Nations Center for Technology Transfer, said in an email that Claremont’s entry was selected as the winner “because of its low cost (re-used materials), and its innovative approach to improving safety and efficiency in winter operations.” “Winter operations are an important aspect of the work that New Hampshire Highway and Public Works professionals do for our municipalities, and this innovation has the opportunity to assist as many other teams with winter pavement maintenance operations as the Claremont team has.”

Competition for creativity, lower costs of spending a lot of time or money on new products, and Claremont’s entry emphasizes both criteria. Wadleigh’s team, Bruce Therrien, and Warren Mordenti used scrap metal and a damaged old V-shaped salt spreader.

“It’s about reusing what you have and trying to improve it,” Wadleigh said.

Wadleigh said the three-person team spent about 12 hours manufacturing the chute and doing other work for a total cost of no more than $700.

The competition challenges participants to “recycle what they have,” Gleeson added.

“It’s a simple but effective idea that will go a long way toward saving manpower and reducing risk.”

Claremont’s idea for a national competition was submitted with the Federal Highway Administration’s Build a Better Mousetrap program.

While this innovation has won an award, Gleeson said, his mechanics are always looking for ways to improve operations.

“It’s common among shop mechanics that if people have a good idea, let’s just give it a try,” Gleeson said.

A video of the new hopper in action is on the Facebook page: OH T2 Center LTAP.

Patrick O’Grady can be reached at [email protected]

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