Winter in Construction: Maximizing Productivity
Construction work often slows down in winter, with harsh conditions impacting productivity. Some sites may consider shutting down completely, but there are protective measures you can take to mitigate the effects of winter on equipment and materials to keep job sites running and costs down.
Read our guide to learn more about the impact of winter on construction and how to prepare for extreme conditions.
How does cold weather affect construction?
Colder weather can seriously impact your project – especially if you are working in extreme conditions. Working onsite becomes more challenging with less light and demanding weather conditions affecting everything from day-to-day tasks and deliveries, to the quality of materials.
Some of the ways cold weather affects construction include:
- Fewer daylight hours means more lighting and heating are required onsite, which means more power and costs.
- Delayed deliveries – if traveling in poor weather, it can take longer for assets and materials, such as fuel, to arrive. Harsh conditions may also mean employees turn up late, as they need to travel slowly and safely.
- Lower quality of materials – cold temperatures can affect some materials in several ways. For example, it can impact the chemical composition of certain bonding materials – meaning they may not work – and concrete can take longer to dry, lessening its strength.
- Slows down day-to-day tasks – most tasks tend to take longer in the winter. Snow and ice may need to melt before getting on with the job, and cleaning up means moving equipment away from the elements while maintaining the temperature of other assets, like fuel. Workers also need to take extra breaks to warm up.
- Days lost due to illness – more winter viruses mean employees are more likely to fall ill, leading to more days lost.
The number of risks that come with construction work in cold weather means that some site managers pause work until the worst of it passes. But you can avoid shutdowns and continue working in freezing conditions without stopping your operations.
How to deal with construction work in cold weather
Day-to-day operations will change as we move into winter, with health and safety considerations taking priority. Here are a few ways to mitigate risks and continue working through harsher conditions.
1. The impact on materials and equipment
Equipment and materials are expensive – and it’ll cost more to replace if damaged by the elements. Electric tools can freeze over, materials take longer to dry, and brake fluid may freeze, too, reducing the ability to apply brakes when driving equipment and fleet vehicles.
Ideally, indoor storage is needed to protect all equipment, but this isn’t always possible. In these instances, it’s important to increase your overall maintenance checks. You want to ensure that equipment is thoroughly cleaned to avoid mud, rainwater and debris build up. Inspections should also expand to your wider site, marking slippery areas and clearing the ground of tripping hazards. Monitoring the weather forecast for your area can also help you plan tasks accordingly.
You must also maintain temperatures of fuels and other fluids to avoid condensation build-up and sediment from freezing inside the tank. If the temperature is not maintained, purity is compromised, leading to blockages and damage to generators and heaters.
Western Global’s fuel tanks provide complete convenience. In the case of our TransCube Global, the secondary tank removes the need for drip trays and is easily accessible for inspections via the inner hatch. The inner tank can be removed for cleaning and maintenance, all while storing your fuel in a safe, leak-free way. Read more about maintaining your fuel tank here.
Optional fuel management systems also help you look after your fuel stock. You’ll receive alerts when fuel runs low, allowing you to refill before that bottom-of-the-tank sludge freezes and blocks fuel lines. Paired with our filter packages, you’ll have the ultimate fail-safe refueling system to get you through winter.
2. Using the right fuel tanks for winter storage
As mentioned above, reliable fuel storage during the colder seasons is crucial. Your fuel is what powers your project. If you run out of fuel, you’ll need to quickly pay for more stock and arrange fuel delivery safely and promptly. Winter conditions may also cause roads to be dangerous, so travel may be slower than usual, causing project interruptions.
Fuel storage must be durable, lockable and fully contained. If the fuel tank is not built for the elements, you may experience many problems, such as leaks, contamination, or theft.
Fuel theft increases in winter, with darker days and quieter sites providing ample opportunity. Our fuel tanks come with many features that help reduce risk of theft, including:
- Lockable equipment cabinet, protecting pumps and accessories, avoiding the costs of missing equipment and stolen fuel.
- Optional GPS tracking and monitoring systems
- Galvanized steel structure that’s strong and reliable
Thieves are not all you should be wary of when doing construction work in colder weather. Steel contracts when temperatures drop, and the risk of leaks and spills are more likely. This is where having a robust, reliable winter fuel tank can help, reducing the chances of cracks, dents and erosion.
At Western Global, we specialize in double-walled tanks manufactured from carbon steel. Our fuel tanks are 100% weatherproof and can withstand extreme conditions. Our tanks allow you to store fuel in bulk, reducing fuel deliveries onsite and increasing overall productivity. This also helps minimize onsite traffic – especially during slippery, dark conditions.
And if you’re storing DEF onsite, where robust winter storage is vital, we can help there, too. Our DEFCube provides safe and secure onsite storage features to maintain purity and aid temperature control – especially with our optional heater kit, rated at -40℉. Learn more about our DEF solutions here.
3. Working on frozen ground
Frozen conditions can cause some severe problems for your project. Extremely wet or icy ground increases slippage risk, potentially leading to health and safety issues for your site. The frozen ground also hinders excavation work and equipment performance. Wet and frozen conditions mean more wear and tear on vehicle tracks, potentially resulting in more damage.
According to the US Bureau of Statistics, the construction industry accounted for 46% of slips, trips and falls in 2020. Bring icy conditions into the equation, and these risks are even higher.
Maintaining a safe working environment for employees moving around the site is essential. Simple tasks include covering walkways, as well as using enough light towers to navigate the darker days. More fuel is required to keep light towers and heaters running, so bulk fuel storage is ideal for winter construction work. With our TransCube, you can power heaters and light towers simultaneously, ensuring you can work smoothly from start to finish.
Follow the proper health and safety procedures and ensure that all employees know how to respond to possible hazards. Regular training will also keep safety at the top of the priority list.
Thoroughly clearing your site throughout the day ensures less debris for team members and equipment to navigate. Inspect your fuel tank regularly to identify leaks and spills early on, reducing delays and shutdowns.
Our tanks provide an uninterrupted fuel supply that keeps you up and running, no matter the circumstances. When you connect your heaters and generators to a Western Global tank, runtimes are extended from 24 hours to 7 days, fueling up to three pieces of equipment simultaneously.
Onsite bulk fuel storage makes tracking your fuel usage easier. You can also purchase fuel in advance, capitalizing on lower prices when possible – especially important when using heaters regularly during freezing temperatures. Planning ahead saves costs, reduces waiting times, and increases productivity.
Become winter-ready with Western Global.
With Western Global fuel tanks, you can extend the run times of heaters, generators, and other equipment for longer. They can be forklifted straight onto sites, reducing fuel deliveries, costs and resources – all while increasing overall productivity on site.
The TransCube Global is robust and reliable, protecting your fuel, equipment, and employees during colder months. Its 110% containment thanks to the double-walled design and strong galvanized frame add an extra layer of protection, preventing exposure to the elements and reducing the risk of leaks and spills.
Our fuel tanks provide peace of mind, with fewer fuel deliveries, reduced safety risks, and lower fuel costs. Take back control this winter and easily complete project timescales, no matter the weather.
Click to find out more about our fuel tanks for heaters, or if you have a project in mind, speak to our team today.