Zone 3 machines make light work of heavy weather

by Clare Gittins

Four Volvo Zone 3 articulated haulers helped to clear heavy snowfall earlier this year at Zaventem airport in Brussels, Belgium.

Snow Dumpers Arlanda Airport Sweden

Despite heavy snowfall earlier this year, Zaventem airport in Brussels, Belgium, managed to survive Europe’s big freeze better than most places thanks to four brand new Volvo snow sweepers.

The machines are part of Volvo CE’s new Zone 3 product policy, which provides machines for customers that are part manufactured by Volvo and part manufactured by a partner. Zone 3 is a business development approach to low volume products that aims to reduce manufacturing time and cost. The policy goes hand-in-hand with Zone 1 and Zone 2 as part of Volvo CE’s Fit for the Future strategy to decide which products will be made in-house and which will be outsourced to partners.

Clearing the way

The four Volvo snow sweepers used in Belgium were delivered to the airport in October 2010. The machines are part manufactured by Schmidt, using a Schmidt snow clearer, and part manufactured by Volvo, using the front section of a Volvo A30E articulated hauler.

Pierre Watrin, deputy manager for electro-mechanical material at the airport, was responsible for purchasing the machines. “We went to Sweden on a number of different occasions to see them first-hand,” he says. “Because they were used to clear snow at Arlanda airport in Stockholm.

“These snow sweepers have the advantage that their nominal load capacity for a heavy snow plough is much greater,” he continues. “Moreover, from the cabin you have a 360° view. If you had to attach this type of snow clearer on the front of a truck, your view would be considerably reduced. Also, the machines can be serviced by Volvo’s dealership in Belgium, VCM, which is based very close to our airport in Vilvoorde.”

The snow sweepers move at about 40 kilometers (25 miles) per hour to clear snow from the concreted runway area. The large Schmidt snow clearer, fitted to each hauler, is around six meters wide, with a brush in the middle to remove the most recent snow, while a blower at the back blasts away any remaining powder.

Patrick, one of the operators, says: “Our main priority is to clear the runways of snow and ice. Then we have to do the same in all the other locations where the planes circulate, like in front of the gates where the planes arrive and depart. All the snow is pushed to the middle and collected by a lorry and moved elsewhere. When it snows like it did earlier this year, you need machines like these.”

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