Winter weather is not conducive to construction work for obvious reasons – which is why most construction projects are put on hold until the weather becomes cooperative again. But shutting down operations until Spring isn’t always an option, and road building, bridge building and other priority construction projects may have to continue in spite of the rising costs, weather challenges, worker safety and other concerns that are part and parcel of such a venture.
Listed below, are 6 factors one must be aware of when a construction project cannot wait for the worst of winter to pass:
# 1: BUDGETING FOR DELAYS
It is next to impossible to know if a construction project will be completed on time when working in winter weather conditions. There are too many variables, and patience is key when snowstorms, blizzards and other unpredictable seasonal hazards play havoc with your best-laid plans. Budgeting for these eventualities has to be a primary concern before embarking on a winter construction project to make sure the project is viable in spite of the possibility of time loss and setbacks.
# 2: TACKLING GROUND FREEZE
Ground freeze can easily run as much as 12 inches deep during cold weather in some parts of United States and cutting through such thick swathes of frozen soil is a major challenge for construction projects that do not stop for winter – even with heavy digging equipment like excavators.
Ground Thaw Machines may be the most practical solution in these circumstances. Powered mostly by diesel, Ground Thaw Machines heat a mix of glycol and water and passes the heated solution through rubber hoses that are laid on the frozen ground and covered with a blanket of concrete for a few days to melt the ground freeze enough to make it pliable for excavation. Once the hard crust of soil freeze is removed, then the work of dredging further down can carry on much more easily because the top layer of freeze has already been removed.
# 3: LAYING CONCRETE
Laying down concrete in winter is fraught with problems that show up when the ground under it begins to thaw in Spring, causing the concrete to move and shift. Using a Ground Thaw Machine to melt the freeze before pouring concrete and adding anti-freeze to the concrete mixture is a practical solution for this. Concrete emits a huge amount of heat when it is first laid down, and harnessing all that heat with insulating blankets will ease the job process as well.
# 4: FACTORING IN THE FUEL COST
Fuel costs invariably rise at winter construction job sites. Fuel consumption increases significantly with equipment like mixers, on-site heaters etc.
# 5: MANAGING SNOW REMOVAL
Another major concern on job sites during winter is snow removal. Dependent on the vagaries of weather, there is no easy way to predict how much snow will accumulate while construction work is in progress, and without a swift – and daily – snow removal plan in place, the job site can quickly become impassable, making expenditures skyrocket.
# 6: FACTORING IN `INVISIBLE’ TIME COSTS
Imagine this. A construction worker is trying to pull out something from his/her pocket while working in winter. The gloves have to come off, the heavy, outer layers of winter protection gear has to be unzipped before the pocket can be reached. And afterwards the reverse process has to happen again. An action that would have taken 3-5 seconds in summer can take as much as a minute or two to accomplish. This minor example shows how many other `invisible’ ways that working time can be expended during winter – with no accounting for them!
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