Two Indiana municipalities turn one brine maker into economic savings

Jan. 16, 2015

Saving money on winter maintenance was a top priority for the City of Anderson and Madison County, Ind. After co-investing in a state-of-the-art automated brine maker, the two municipalities have done just that. What’s more, they’ve nearly recouped their investment in just one year.

“Looking at my salt barn, I know the brine maker has paid for itself already,” said Todd Leever, street commissioner for the City of Anderson. “After a season of pretreating with brine, I still have a thousand tons of salt. In ten years, that’s never happened.”

Scott Harless, superintendent for Madison County Highways, agrees, noting that even though official budget numbers are not yet calculated, the cost savings are more than either of the municipalities expected.

“We each paid for half the cost of the system, so teaming up together saved money to begin with, but the savings we’ve experienced after using the system is amazing,” Harless said. “Even if the numbers aren’t quite there this year, by next year we will for sure have covered our costs.”

The city and county purchased an AccuBrine automated brine maker from Cargill Deicing Technology. Fully automated with custom programming options, the system produces up to 5,000 gal of salt brine per hour and pumps directly into the 10,000-gal storage tank housed at the county facility shared by both organizations.

Predominantly treating roadways with salt, a sand-salt mix and the occasional calcium-chloride treatment, Harless and Leever wanted to change their practices after hearing about the cost savings associated with brine pretreatment.

“We did our research, and everything said that using brine cuts costs in terms of time, fuel, labor, vehicle maintenance and salt use,” Leever said. “Once we were convinced of the effectiveness of the application, we needed to find the right system to make it.”

After checking out a number of different systems, the team selected their brine-making equipment based on the advanced technology, automated features and accurate salt concentration capabilities. Furthering their economical partnership, the two municipalities continued dividing costs by utilizing advanced programming features within the system to track individual consumption.

“It’s all set up on a key-code system in the machine,” Harless said. “The system tells us exactly how much brine my organization uses and how much Todd’s organization uses, and we keep track of the costs. It’s real simple.”

It’s also simple to make a batch of brine. The system only requires one operator to program the machine and add salt to the hopper. Monitoring is not necessary, so after setting up the system, the operator can take care of other tasks, which saves on labor and costs.

And while the two organizations continue to benefit from cost-effective, automated, accurate brine making, the taxpayers themselves benefit from wetter, clearer roads and safer winter driving conditions.

“We get wetter pavement quicker and we’re saving money,” Leever said. “Many residents called and commented that this was the best they’ve seen winter streets in years. Residents are happy, the mayor is happy and the county commission is happy. And that makes us happy.”

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