Is an Anti-Icing or a Deicing Solution Best For Your Railroad?

In Anti-Icing Deicing, Ice Free Conveyor®, Ice Free Switch®, Rail Lubrication by Jim Silva

Businesses need reliable solutions to fight extreme elements, but it’s important that you choose the right anti-icing or deicing method for your needs. 

Whether railroads are operating in blue skies or white-out conditions, they’re responsible for delivering reliable service to their customers while keeping everyone involved safe. This can be challenging when temperatures plummet and conditions worsen, especially when ice forms on critical infrastructure and snow jams important equipment. 

Companies that fail to prepare for winter weather risk running into considerable logistical issues and safety hazards. Stalled trains can block a line completely, seriously reducing timetables until ice is cleared and infrastructure is once again performing properly. Extreme weather can even lead to derailments, which have the most serious consequences for business operations and personal safety. 

Accordingly, rail operators should consider what they can do to avoid the build-up of dangerous ice and snow. For example, investing in anti-icing and deicing products can help businesses deliver reliable and safe service despite tough winter conditions. However, businesses should first evaluate the relative benefits of anti-icing and deicing solutions to figure out which product is best for their needs. 

The Benefits of Anti-Icing and Deicing

Both anti-icing and deicing products offer rail operators relief from the worst effects of extreme winter weather. However, the way each product goes about doing that differs. With anti-icing solutions, businesses apply the product proactively to key infrastructure such as switch points, switch plates, and rail surfaces. Anti-icing products act as preventative solutions, melting snow and ice as they collect to prevent build-up between rails. 

Conversely, de-icing solutions are applied after the fact. This means that de-icing products will be used once winter weather threatens regular operations. De-icing agents melt snow and ice that have collected on rail infrastructure, allowing businesses to apply solutions where they’re needed most, as needed. 

What Businesses Need to Keep in Mind About Deicing

While anti-icing and deicing agents can both be part of an effective, comprehensive strategy to combat extreme conditions, there are potential issues with traditional deicing that rail operators need to consider. For instance, deicing is only used once businesses are already dealing with winter-related problems. This means that rail operators will need to spend precious time on applying deicer to fight snowpack and stubborn ice, time that might be saved with a more proactive solution such as anti-icing. 

Additionally, traditional deicing agents are less effective per amount used than anti-icing alternatives. In fact, deicing requires five to ten times more chemicals than the most advanced anti-icing solutions on the market. By opting for a preventative approach to dealing with winter weather, rail operators can invest in a more cost-effective and less resource-intensive operation. 

Proven Solutions from Midwest

For businesses analyzing how they can best contend with extreme snow and ice, anti-icing and deicing agents are a necessity to maintain normal and safe operations. However, while deicing is an effective way to clear snow and ice after the fact, it requires more chemicals than anti-icing and puts rail operators in a reactive, rather than a proactive, position. By investing in preventative anti-icing measures rather than traditional deicers, businesses can save on time and resources. 

With anti-icing products from Midwest Industrial Supply, Inc., rail operators can rely on a solution that is up to ten times more efficient than deicing and that consistently outperforms rail heaters. Our anti-icing agents — developed in partnership with NASA — melt snow and ice as they develop, helping businesses avoid problems before they become critical. Thanks to our Ice-Slicer System and Zero Gravity Third Rail offering, our customers can maintain normal operations even in the worst winter weather. 

Jim is Midwest’s Business Unit Manager for Global Mining. He is experienced in operations management, asset management, and business improvement.