Top Notch Sweepers Handle Top Notch Special Events

The Darlington Raceway in Darlington, South Carolina is known as the track that is “too tough to tame.” Mike Rogers of SouthCo Community Property Management says his fleet of sweeper trucks was up to the task. “Schwarze tamed the track,” he says.

He used the Schwarze A4000 and the new Schwarze S350 before, during and after a Darlington NASCAR event in early March. SouthCo has eight trucks but only three are used during a race, and once the race starts, Rogers and his crew are no longer employed by the track, but become employees of NASCAR.

Chris Crews, S-Series National Sales Manager for Schwarze Industries, says, “I would imagine the job is a massive ordeal,” and indeed it was. Crews says the Darlington facility lets Rogers, a mechanic for SouthCo, operate the S350, because he’s extremely good with handling and operating the sweepers.

Rogers says he’s been doing race clean-up for about seven or eight years and has been with SouthCo for the last twelve. SouthCo uses multiple sweeper models in their fleet, but Rogers says, “Schwarze is the model I prefer.”

Before the NASCAR race, trucks are sent out to prep the track. Schwarze’s A4000 is used for the prep part. A vacuum hose is also used for initial clean-up between the guardrails and safety areas to clear the area of any debris before a race starts.
During the race, the trucks are on stand-by in case of accidents for clean-up such as oil spills and debris. Rogers says clean-up can be a little scary since the race doesn’t stop in the event that there is an accident. The area is cordoned off with caution signs and cars are still going around the track. Rogers said, “When the cars are coming toward you—that’s probably the scariest bit.”

In the event of a wreck, the Pace Car is brought back out, and the race continues at a reduced speed of 60 to 70 miles per hour. The cars continue to do laps until clean-up is done. Once the track is all clear, the race resumes.

Every year, approximately 400,000 people come out to watch the Calgary Stampede Parade. The parade, which spans 31 large city blocks and had 4,000 participants in 2010, is an annual celebration held every July to kick-off a ten-day event that includes a rodeo, festival and exhibition, in addition to stage shows, competitions and concerts. With that many participants and spectators, an event like the parade, not to mention the event, as a whole, can generate a lot of waste that needs to be swept up, and Elgin sweepers are the ones that dress for the occasion…literally.

Sean Somers, manager of communications for the City of Calgary Transportation Department says, “City of Calgary typically has 12 to 18 sweepers deployed in the parade, and our crews work closely with the Stampede Board to ensure that sweepers are placed strategically and evenly throughout the route, considering safety and aesthetics for both parade participants and spectators.” The ‘decorated’ sweepers, which all have names like Rocky the Bucksin, Samson the Bull and Dixie the Horse, are paired up with regular sweepers, and, while often viewed as a novelty in the parade, they play a key role in keeping the parade route safe.

Seven hundred horses participate in the parade, creating up to two tons of manure. In addition to being active participants in the Calgary Stampede, all that waste needs to be cleaned up, and Elgin’s sweepers are on hand for the job. It is estimated that the sweepers pick up a full sweeper load—two cubic meters—of horse droppings during the parade. Crews will then make three or four more passes along the route upon completion of the parade.

Somers says, “The City of Calgary also auctions off passenger seats in the sweepers—donating the money to worthy local charities—giving riders a unique opportunity to see the parade from an entirely different perspective.” Seeing Rocky the Bucksin is seeing a street sweeper from an entirely new perspective whether you’re sitting inside or out of the sweeper during the Calgary Stampede Parade.

The Special Event classification isn’t just relegated to the parade, concert or sporting event, either. In the contract sweeping industry, Spring Clean-up lends a different perspective to special event clean-up. States emerging from a hard winter, like those north of the Mason-Dixon Line, start letting out sweeper contracts to get out there and clean-up the salt, sand and debris piled on the sides of the highway after months of being left unattended.

For events, such as stadium parking lot clean-up, stadium authorities usually rely on their own internal cleaning staff or sweeper company to get the job done. However, John Paraschak, Vice-President of Sales and Marketing for Stewart-Amos Equipment Company, believes that the market is changing, “Many stadiums, especially those with limited playing schedules, are further outsourcing their parking lot cleaning to their internal contract cleaning companies.”

This provides new profit opportunities and challenges to these traditional janitorial oriented cleaning companies who have never maintained large outdoor areas or invested in large truck mounted cleaning equipment before. Tailgating parties can leave a large amount of debris in their wake, Paraschak says. “Just about anything imaginable can be found on a stadium parking lot after a game. Diapers, empty beer cases and cans, broken glass, pieces of mascots hung in effigy—you name it, it’s out there.”

These contractors need to get the job done with the simplest, easiest to use, and least expensive cleaning equipment possible. They find a regenerative air or vacuum truck well suited to stadium parking lot cleaning. They can sweep up to 20 acres in less than six hours, which is a very important feature since they could be fined if they don’t finish the job in the contract time allotted. “Many stadiums give their contractors less than 8 hours to complete the job. Image is important to them.
They also don’t want light debris being blown onto other properties by the wind,”
Paraschak explains. Many of his clients prefer the Stewart-Amos Galaxy R-4 for stadium clean-up. It can handle just about anything the fans can throw at it and represents a smaller investment cost. Most cleaning staffs don’t have well trained truck drivers on staff. The R-4 requires no commercial driver’s license and is extremely easy to operate.

Paraschak says Alaska, for instance, can have up to eight to ten inches of significant sand build up on the highway shoulders that accumulate after continually being put down for traction during the winter. The sand then gravitates to the side of the road and needs to be removed once the weather improves. Spring is the best time to begin the clean-up. Warmer weather means vacuum and broom street sweepers can employ water to provide safer and more environmentally friendly dust-free sweeping.

State highway departments and contract sweepers often use a broom sweeper to clean away the bulk of the debris in conjunction with one or two dump trucks so that operators can keep moving quickly and efficiently through the job. Sometimes a vacuum truck will come behind to do a fine sweep and clear up anything missed on the first go-round.

Stewart-Amos’ Starfire S4 sweeper is the smallest broom mounted street sweeper best suited for the event of Spring Clean-up. A top choice among many contractors, the S4 holds four cubic yards and dumps up to ten feet. Its compact, highly maneuverable and doesn’t require an operator CDL. Their Starfire S6 model sweeper is the highest capacity broom sweeper on the market, with the ability to hold six cubic yards of debris. “It’s the largest in the industry,” Paraschak says, “It can dump 1/6 as often as everyone else, saving money and time.”

With light litter, Paraschak estimates that a sweeper truck can, on average, sweep three to five miles an hour. The length of time it takes to complete a job, however, does depend on the depth of debris and the length and amount of time it takes to dump the loads. A big highway can require several passes, which, in turn, will require more dumping more often. Paraschak says there are instances where two trucks will go out in tandem, with one sweeper truck out in front picking up the heavier debris and a second trailing behind picking up the lighter stuff allowing for the job to get done quicker.

Paraschak says, “A bad winter is a welcome site for many in the contract sweeping industry.” because sweeper companies work it from both ends. Contractors plow, salt and sand during the winter and then are called on to sweep up the debris left in the aftermath come spring.”

Road Repair Season is another big event that occurs in conjunction with Spring Clean-up. When roads begin to crack, peel and become riddled with temporarily repaired potholes, it is time for resurfacing. This usually means milling away the top asphalt surfaces, reprocessed the removed asphalt and relaying a fresh surface. The bits and pieces that milling can leave behind needs to be removed and, for that job is ideally suited to either a broom or regenerative air sweeper.

These two types of sweepers will typically follow behind and pick up the debris milling leaves behind. Often times, if it’s rained the night before a road is scheduled for paving, contractors will move the job along by using a regenerative sir sweeper to suck the moisture from the pavement to dry the surface quicker and keep the job moving forward. Road Repair Season is already in full swing in the southern states, while it’s on the cusp of getting going in the Northeast.

Be it an actual event, such as a football game, concert, parade or NASCAR race, or an a-typically titled special event like spring cleaning or road repair, Schwarze, Elgin and Stewart-Amos deploy their best sweepers to the job, and, sometimes, they even dress them up.

Story by Megan McClure