TO ASSEMBLE a municipal snow-control truck, distributors typically use products built by several manufacturers. That may be changing.
Henderson Manufacturing in Manchester, Iowa, is moving to become a source for the major components that go on a typical municipal snowplow truck. Already a manufacturer of dump bodies and spreaders, the company strengthened its commitment to the snow and ice control market by introducing a line of snowplows and a combination spreader and dump body that can be used all year long.
Henderson distributors were able to see the new products at a meeting held in Manchester August 13-14. The event included a tour of the company's plant where the new products are to be produced.
Henderson's new MUNIbody combines the features of a conventional dump body, a two-way dump, and a spreader into a single unit. Basically a bathtub-style dump, the body has a large radius where the floor and sides come together-an elliptical radius that feeds material into the in-floor conveyor. Up front, a reversible auger delivers material out either the left or right front corner of the body.
Henderson had a number of parameters to meet when designing the MUNIbody. Marty Ward, director of sales and marketing, outlined what Henderson considered the key features that the MUNIbody should have. Among them:
* To be able to unload the body without raising the hoist.
* To maintain or exceed the capacity of a standard dump body.
* To have a center of gravity that is lower than a dump body equipped with a slide-in V-box spreader.
* To have a conveyor that delivers material to either the front or rear of the body.
* To retain the standard flat, rectangular dump body tailgate design.
Responding to Demand Henderson based its design criteria on feedback from distributors and end users.
"We conducted focus groups and sent out surveys," Keith Gaylor, a member of MUNIbody development team, said at the meeting of Henderson distributors.
The company also relied on its experience in dump body and sander design, background that was important in the selection of materials for the MUNIbody. For example, Henderson uses 409 stainless steel for the longitudinals of the body and 1/4" T-1 plate in the floor.
The initial offering of the MUNIbody was scheduled to be introduced to the market at the American Public Works Association exhibition September 15. The body specifications include 36" sides, with a 54" headsheet and 48" tailgate made of seven-gauge steel. Other specifications include 96" inside width, integral fenders, 10" x 24" rear feedgate, nitrided rear hinge assembly that does not require grease, and air-operated tailgate latch with overcenter linkage.
Options include all-stainless steel construction, additional spinners, a choice of steel or polyurethane conveyor cover, berm chute for right front discharge, sloped steel side boards, and top grate screens.
Enemies of Snow and Ice Rounding out its line of snow and ice control equipment, Henderson also is introducing the SNOWfoe Series of snowplows.
The series will consist of a reversible model, a one-way, along with mid-mount and patrol wings. The reversible plow has a roll-formed moldboard, more ribs than normal, and a wider frame to improve rigidity and stability. The one-way model also has a roll-formed moldboard.
Filling out the snowplow line are the mid-mount and patrol wings. The design does not require additional spacing between the cab and body. Hydraulic controls position the blade so that it stores close to the cab in the up position.
Good Fit Both the new MUNIbody and the snowplow line can be manufactured without requiring significant changes at the Henderson plant. Although not yet in full production, the MUNIbody is expected to be built on the same production line as the company's standard dump body product.
Henderson has carved out one area of the plant for fabrication and assembly of its snowplow line. The new snowplow manufacturer will be fabricating the curved ribs that support the moldboard. To put the radius in structural steel, Henderson purchased a Bertsch angle roll. This was the only machine tool that the dump body manufacturer needed to buy to produce its new line of snowplows.
"Beyond that, the equipment we use to manufacture dump bodies and sanders carries right over into snowplow manufacturing," Gaylor says.
President Randy Smedstad believes that the company's existing facility will be able to handle the projected sales of both the MUNIbody and the plows. The plant presently operates one main shift and a small second shift. Increased demand can be accommodated by expanded staffing and continued increases in plant efficiency.
Other Additions Henderson recently made several additions to its facility to improve efficiency and product quality.
The company opened a powder coat line in January. Henderson uses it to provide a durable finish to its smaller products, including its pickup-mounted spreaders. Most of the new snowplow components will be powder coated.
Larger products such as dump bodies and larger V-box spreaders now are painted in new JBI paint booths. Twin 14-ft x 22-ft booths are dedicated for preparing steel product surfaces for painting. In one booth, the steel is cleaned and sprayed with phosphate solution that etches the surface for improved paint adhesion. A similar booth uses air heated to 180° to speed the drying process before painting.
Alkyd urethane coating is standard. A new mixing system enables painters to introduce catalyst as required, rather than combining the two materials in a large batch that might be wasted if not consumed quickly.
The curing oven, kept at 180°, requires painted products to remain there only 20 minutes before they move through the rest of the line. Reduced drying time has been a significant means of speeding throughput.
Going to Market The new products are simply the latest for a company that was started to manufacture agricultural implements. The company entered the dump body business in 1989 and has increasingly strengthened its commitment to the snow and ice control market.
"Actually, the United States can be divided into four or five distinct geographic markets for snow and ice control equipment," Smedstad says. "We must have products that meet the needs of each of them."