Salt barns help beat the snow – and save money

12 July 2010

Structure specialist De Boer is helping local authorities keep Britain’s road network open this winter – in a move that could also help respond to the Government’s severe austerity measures.

Working in partnership
The company is urging councils to make greater use of salt barns – potentially in partnership with neighbouring authorities – in order to be ready for any repeat of last winter’s white-out. 

Flexibility for highways teams
The move would offer greater flexibility to highways teams but would also enable them to switch from marine salt, which is widely used, to cheaper rock salt, which is frequently shunned because of being difficult to store in the open air.

Temporary storage facilities
The change could save hundreds of pounds from every salt run, making the temporary storage facilities self-funding – and generating considerable long-term savings for councils.

Operational benefits
Robert Alvarez, De Boer’s Sales Director – Commercial, said: “There are significant operational benefits to using covered salt as externally stored salt will absorb moisture resulting in clumping and, potentially, freezing at the very time you need it most.”

Covered salt supplies
He added: “Critically, covered supplies can utilise rock salt, which is roughly £10 a tonne cheaper than outside stored marine salt. Even a relatively simple salt run can consume 40 tonnes and some authorities are using up to 16,000 tonnes every year.

Budget savings
“At this level of consumption, a salt barn can be self funding within a couple of years – and can then contribute significant budget savings for councils.”

Semi-permanent accommodation
De Boer, which is a long-established supplier of temporary and semi-permanent accommodation to the commercial sector, has already secured considerable business from supplying salt barns.

All Weather Hall
The company’s All Weather Hall, which was designed specifically to withstand severe Scandinavian winters, has been used by councils and government departments across Europe for a wide range of storage purposes – from salt and minerals to vehicles, plant and machinery. The structure is re-locatable and re-usable and is available with a clearspan width of up to 50 metres. It even comes with optional additional features such as roller-shutter doors, mechanical extraction systems and advanced lighting and security.

Additional storage
Here in the UK, unitary authorities in the Heads of the Valleys area of South Wales, led by Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council, are currently creating a shared salt barn with total capacity of 10,000 tonnes. The De Boer-built facility measures 30 metres by 44 metres, providing much-needed additional storage and is ideally located in a central position covering some of Britain’s highest and more exposed towns and villages.

Safety advantages
As well as offering financial benefits at a time of central and local government cutbacks, salt barns provide safety advantages for highways staff, according to De Boer. Robert Alvarez explained: “We have heard reports of crews using pry-bars to break up lumps of salt within gritters, a practice that takes time, may not always be carried out in a safe and controlled manner and inevitably damages the gritter as crews attack the salt clumps with a long steel bar. Storing salt internally helps keep it in a much better condition.”

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