Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Logistics of the Winter Olympics

Here at PEER, we’re looking forward to the coming excitement that is the winter Olympics!  Luge, skiing and snowboarding ice hockey – it’s always fun to watch the best in the world compete for the gold, and cheer our countrymen and women on.  We also have a particular sensitivity to the complex maze of operations that allow the games to happen, from a more logistical point of view.

Preparing the courses for skiers and snowboarders requires huge capacity for snow creation and movement – machines that depend on bearings to allow their blades to turn.  “Snowcats” are truck-sized trail-groomers that depend on treads to navigate the snowy slopes, and groom them for the athletes.  Preparing the ice rinks for skaters and hockey players means a smooth, level ice surface that only a commercial grade ice re-surfacer (popular referred to by the brand-name “Zamboni”) can provide.  These hulking machines also rely on precise function of an auger to scrape and remove the snow from the surface of the ice.

The athletes are not the only ones who benefit from such technology – off-highway transportation is a large part of the logistical challenge of not only the Olympics, but many outdoor winter events.  Snowmobiles and bus-like snowcats serve to cart people from place to place where vehicles with tires dare not tread.  Anything with axels and treads also relies on bearings to allow them to safely and efficiently transport people to remote places isolated from other forms of transport by snow.

It’s safe to say we’ll be watching and cheering for our winter athletes this year in Sochi.  We’re glad for both the skill of the athletes to amaze and entertain us, and the technology that prepares the courses and gets them where they need to go.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Coping With Winter Weather: Snow Removal

Winter is definitely here, as evidenced by the single-digit and sub-zero temperatures we’ve lately been experiencing here in the northern suburbs of Chicago, and across much of the country.  The farmer’s almanac was spot on this year when it predicted a cold and snowy winter.  At PEER, we’re grateful for the technology that provides us with efficient clothing, heating systems, and equipment to help us combat the effects of the cold.

For many consumers, this means graduating from the slow and labour-intensive (albeit effective) snow-shovel to the more lumbar-friendly snow-blower.  Whether your style is the more economical push-behind snow-thrower, or the no-holds-barred industrial-sized drivable snow-moving machines, it’s pretty likely you or your neighbor has invested in some kind of engine-powered snow removal system, and for good reason – the time saved alone makes it worth the expense, not to mention you can get back inside to your cup of steaming cocoa that much quicker.

Most snow blowers and throwers operate on the same basic principle – an auger or rotating blade collects the snow, and throws it out a chute directed to the side of the path.  Depending on the type, there may be a second spinning blade called an impeller to assist the auger in throwing the snow.  The belts and bearings that allow these blades to spin freely must be sufficiently capable of withstanding extremely cold operating temperatures, moisture content, and oxidation conditions that cold weather and snow create, in order to operate effectively.  These mechanisms not only make it convenient to access doors, sidewalks, and pathways, they make it safer in the slippery conditions of winter.  For commercial applications, safe sidewalks can mean better customer service, and reduce the risk of liability in the event of a slip and fall.

Check back here at our blog for more wintery wisdom and other industry conversation – and stay safe and warm this winter!