New 9 tonne tractor-towed Salt Spreader a rival for HGV gritters

August 21, 2020

Tractor Towed Salt Spreader (Gritter) TS6000 - VALE Engineering’s largest tractor-towed salt spreader
Tractor Towed Salt Spreader (Gritter) TS6000 – VALE Engineering’s largest tractor-towed salt spreader

VALE Engineering is really taking the fight to the competition with the unveiling of its new TS6000 model – our largest ever tractor-towed salt spreader. The TS6000 has a 6.0m³ hopper capacity to take approximately 9000kg of salt which is the same capacity as a traditional 18T HGV Gritter. VALE Engineering has calculated that it could also massively reduce winter highways maintenance costs for local authorities from Day 1, with a 79% saving on capital investment and a 54% saving on capital and operational costs combined.*

Like all other VALE Engineering’s tractor-towed salt spreaders, the TS6000 Tractor Towed Salt Spreader is capable of spreading wet or dry, brown or white salt, via its unique POZI-FEED stainless steel auger system. It is fitted with a high-speed agricultural axle and high-speed wheels and tyres. Braking by via S-cam brakes hydraulically or by optional air brakes. The spreading circuit is hydraulically powered from the tractor’s auxiliary hydraulic take off (spool valves).

James Wilson, Managing Director of Vale Engineering (York) Ltd states: “With much lower capital expense and maintenance costs, we can demonstrate that our largest ever tractor-towed salt spreader provides a very cost-effective alternative to front-line 18T HGV gritting vehicles used by local authorities and independent contractors responsible for the highways winter maintenance. We have the TS6000 launch model currently available to view and demonstrate at our manufacturing site near York. We also have snow ploughs to see.”

Massive savings on winter maintenance can be achieved by local authorities

VALE Engineering has calculated that local authorities can make an 79% saving on capital investment and a 54% saving on capital and operational costs combined if they use a tractor-towed salt spreader rather than a traditional HGV gritting vehicle.* In these incredibly challenging times, there is enormous pressure on local authorities to reduce budgets whilst still maintaining a high level of service. Indeed, the more foresighted are investigating new ways of providing services. Traditionally, highways have been gritted using HGV lorries. However, when legislation changed in 2013, it permitted agricultural vehicles towing salt spreaders to grit highways using red diesel when previously they had only been allowed to snowplough. This legislation change opened up new opportunities and ways to potentially reduce budget costs. Whilst not necessarily a concept for all locations, it is worth embarking on a cost comparison to see if it is something which could be used to ease the current pressure on councils by utilising in-house grounds maintenance tractors and/or external agricultural contractors.

VALE Engineering has taken the cost of a traditional 18 ton gritting lorry fitted with a 6 cubic metre gritter operated by in-house staff and has compared those capital and operational costs with a similar sized tractor-towed salt spreader bought by the council and free issued to an agricultural contractor to be operated by them in conjunction with their tractor. The costs are based on the equipment being written off over 7 years, with the number of grit runs within the season being 40. The yearly equipment cost of an 18T HGV Gritter Lorry was shown to be £16,857, whereas the comparable costs with an equivalent tractor-towed salt spreader was £3,557, a saving of almost 80%. Although operational costs for the tractor-towed salt spreader would be higher than those of an 18T HGV Gritter Lorry, when capital and operational costs are combined, every year an 18T HGV Gritter Lorry would cost a local authority a whopping £19,657. The tractor-towed salt spreader equivalent would be just £9,157, a potential saving of over 50%.

Some interesting facts about tractors! And why they are ideal for winter maintenance

  • Since 2013 tractors have been able to grit using red diesel whilst HMRC also decided not to impose a restrictive work radius
  • There are 323,000 tractors in the UK** with a large proportion of them underutilised on farms and at councils in winter time
  • Virtually all tractors are 4-wheel drive, making them ideal for winter work in ice and snow
  • Agricultural vehicles do not require tachographs, so driver’s hours also do not apply
  • Tractors have a heavy-duty front axle which means there is less of a compromise between the weight of a front implement and its strength
  • The standard cost per hour for a 100-150hp tractor and operator is typically £35/per hour including fuel, wear & tear and damage, as well as operator’s wages, holiday, sick pay etc
  • In 2015 the maximum speed for tractors was increased to suit their increasingly sophisticated transmission and braking systems
  • Tractors have industry standard methods of attaching equipment to them, meaning snow ploughs do not have to be custom fitted

What do VALE Engineering’s local authority clients think?

VALE Engineering clients who have switched away from expensive HGV gritters seem unlikely to turn back, particularly now this TS6000 has been launched. Tractor availability, combined with ever-tightening council budgets, means that tractor gritters are a really cost-effective alternative to traditional gritting methods and should now form an essential part of every local authority winter maintenance plan. Tractor mounted salt spreaders (and snow ploughs) are now used extensively, either as a direct replacement, or to provide extra resilience to, the front-line gritting HGV fleet. Today, salt spreaders and gritters can be fitted with sophisticated technology, as used on the HGV gritters, and have hydraulic PTO systems as standard, being designed to be used with a whole range of different attachments from various manufacturers and suppliers. Tractors have universal mounting and towing brackets so that no bespoke brackets or frames are required. Tractors also have a heavy-duty front axle allowing them to be fitted with heavy duty, well-made snow ploughs without the risk of overloading an axle. In contrast, many lorries need to have a PTO system retro fitted.

*Source: “Under Pressure to save money?” published by VALE Engineering (York) Ltd, copy available on request.

**Source: Agricultural Engineers Association.