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Winter Safety: How to Be Safe While Blowing Snow

1/10/2018 6:00:00 AM


By: Caroline Witts, LawnStarter,

Winter is here, and this year, it’s likely not going to take any prisoners. Record snowfall is expected across much of the United States, so you’ll want to get your snow clearing done with minimal time and hassle involved. If you own a snow blower, you’re in luck. These machines make quick work of the biggest snowfalls. However, they can be incredibly dangerous if not used properly. Here are a few tips on how to keep yourself safe this winter.


1. Educate yourself
Don’t venture out into the storm with a brand new machine that you have no idea how to use! Familiarize yourself with all functions of the machine. Including knowing how to clear a clog, which should be removed with a cleaning tool once the impeller blade has stopped–never with your hands or feet.

2. Clean up
Depending on the snowfall amount, you might not be able to see everything, but make sure your deck or driveway is clear of tools, furniture, doormats or toys. Even a neglected newspaper can damage your equipment, or worse–cause an injury.  

3. Dress appropriately
Make sure to wear boots with good traction. You don’t want to be slipping and sliding while you’re trying to clear your driveway. This is also important in case your driveway is icy. Since snow blowers blow things around, you should also wear good eye protection. Avoid getting pieces of ice, dirt, or twigs in your eyes by wearing safety goggles or glasses.  

Wear layers of clothing and make sure that all extremities, like your nose, ears, and fingers, are covered up. Avoid loose-fitting clothing (such as scarves), which can easily become tangled in a snow blower. Keep your clothing dry and try to limit the amount of time you spend outside in sub-zero temperatures.  

You might also consider wearing earplugs or other hearing protection. Gas-powered models, in particular, can be noisy, and create volumes above 85 decibels (which is the threshold at which hearing damage can occur). 

4. Keep the kids and Fido inside
Heavy ice and snow are typically ejected at a high speed and pressure. Don’t risk the safety of young children and pets and make sure they’re indoors before you start to work. This sounds like an obvious tip, but don’t let children run the equipment, either.

5. Start and stop appropriately 
Don't start a snowblower inside an enclosed area, even if it’s just a garage or shed, regardless of whether the door is open. This can lead to dangerous carbon monoxide poisoning. 

If you’re using an electric model, use an outdoor extension cord that is rated specifically for your model. This should be connected to an outlet with ground-fault-circuit-interrupter protection. Make sure you keep the cord clear while you’re working. If you use a gas model, make sure you shut the engine off and let it cool before adding more gasoline. 

6. Clear regularly
Overexerting your machine can cause unnecessary stress on the equipment, as well as your own health. It can also lead to more frequent clogs and mechanical problems. Clear snow regularly to ensure that you aren’t overtaxing your snow blower, and make short, small passes as you clear.

In 2016, nearly 12,000 emergency room visits were due to snow blower-related injuries. Don’t let yourself be among this year’s statistics. Keep yourself safe–and your driveway cleared–by following our tips.

Caroline Witts is the regional marketing representative of LawnStarter​​ Hartford, an online and mobile platform that connects homeowners with lawn care professionals for care-free and efficient services! 

Revolutionizing Generations of Manufacturing

1/5/2018 6:00:00 AM


By: Aaron Abler, Technical Writer,

Manufacturing has changed entirely since Ariens Company’s humble beginnings in 1933. As decades pass, we’ve continuously adjusted our manufacturing methods to meet demand and stay competitive, but it’s the most recent changes that reset the bar in outdoor power equipment production. To accommodate sudden exponential growth, a revolution within the walls of our plants has thrust our production methods to the epitome of 21st century manufacturing.​

As part of many changes that occurred in 2015, the Ariens® position as a premium outdoor power equipment brand required development of increasingly innovative and enticing products. Most notably, the introduction of the Ariens Ikon X®, a residential zero-turn lawnmower. At production launch, two shifts operated in an assembly cell capable of producing a sizeable number of units. But two short months later, the swift success of the Ikon X revealed the need for a dramatic production increase.

Doubling production is a lofty goal, but it created an opportunity to explore how to build a better assembly line. The reconstruction concept was drafted on paper, but also proved through a prototype design that was built in a retired manufacturing space known as “Plant 2” by a team lead by our manufacturing engineering group. Ironically, prototype verification and trials directed our future by taking us back to the basics of Henry Ford’s assembly line of work stations and feeder cells, but with a twist.

Automated guided vehicles, or AGVs, digital work instructions and productivity trackers weren’t available in 1913, but are now incorporated into every new assembly module at each of Ariens Company’s three manufacturing plants. Assemblers at each station complete their work as written and illustrated on touchscreen monitors and advance assembly fixtures driven by AGVs to the next station by pushing a button on a pendant. The system records productivity metrics, provides assemblers with communication tools and reduces the risk for sprains and other injuries that can occur by physically moving a heavy assembly fixture. No pushing, no pulling, but battery-powered transport guided along a magnetic strip.
 
Assembly is a core component to successful manufacturing, but it’s only as strong as the abilities of fabrication and welding. In addition to a reconstructed assembly stage, Ariens Company made large capital investments into some serious machinery. With our first dual-head Miller Panasonic frame weld robot, our first dual-headed FW1100 deck welding robot, two Amada Fiber Lasers, and four Amada HG25 brake presses incorporated into the mix, we crushed the steep goal set at the beginning of the project and tripled production. Good thing too, because the demand in our consumer zero-turn segment for the Ariens and Gravely® brands continues to exceed expectations.

One of the more exciting elements to this project is that it’s ongoing. The reconfiguration blueprint has since expanded to three more assembly lines in our residential zero-turn lawnmower plant, incorporation of new technologies in our Auburn, Neb. facility and a total reconstruction of our Sno-Thro® assembly space. In all instances, the efforts of our operations architects have increased production, created a more efficient use of labor force and reduced lost time. Additionally, the newfound floor space resulting from these initiatives has increased capacity for the advancement of new products and technologies we can’t wait to reveal.

Sno-Thro Safety Tips

12/21/2017 6:00:00 AM


By: Aaron Abler, Technical Writer,

​At first, it looked like Mother Nature was going to take it easy this winter, but it turns out she has a strong poker face. Before you start clearing paths with your Ariens Sno-Thro®, it's extremely important to first reflect on the personal safety risks associated with operating outdoor power equipment, rereading your operator's manual and refreshing yourself how to avoid regrettable incidents.

Survey the paths to be cleared and the surrounding area. Scan for obstructions likes children's toys, landscaping stones and dog chains and move them to a safe location. Additionally, make sure all pets and children are kept away from the work area and supervised by a responsible adult. According to industry standards, young children can become curious with snow blowing activity and may want to come outside for a closer look – trust me, I was one of those kids who would ALWAYS stare outside when dad used his Ariens ST1032 Sno-Thro. Not only can the engine noise be loud, but children are at risk of being unseen and unheard by the operator, especially during nighttime operation.

Take a minute to evaluate your attire. Are you wearing eye and hearing protection? According to a Mayo Clinic article on hearing loss, long-term exposure to noise levels from small engines can put your hearing at risk. Besides protective gear, make sure your clothing is comfortable for operating in cold temperatures and fits snug to your body. Untied long hair and loose clothing has the potential to get caught in moving parts – an occurrence that usually doesn't end well.

Another critical time to acknowledge safety is during operation. As satisfying as it is watching your Sno-Thro quickly ingest and hurl the compacted berm the snowplow left at the end of your driveway into a safe direction, try not to get caught up in the moment. Always stay alert and yield to traffic when operating close to the roadway. There's always that chance a snow-blinded driver may not see you in the street.

And finally, let's discuss the big kahuna of snow blower safety, clearing a clogged chute. If safety warnings are ignored and the chute is unclogged incorrectly, injury can result. Simply put, do not reach into the machine! If by chance a heavy, wet snowfall clogs your machine, stop the engine, remove the key and wait for all moving parts to stop. Then, and ONLY then, use a clean-out tool to clear the blockage from the discharge chute. Once the blockage is cleared, return the clean-out tool to its storage position and get back to work.

For a detailed list of safety practices, we strongly urge reviewing the safety section of your Sno-Thro operator's manual. A paper copy is included with every unit and digital copies are available for free download at ariens.com.​

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