1st & 2nd July 2024
Hilton Deansgate, Manchester

Q&A: In conversation with De-ice Director Vicky Lopez


As the nights draw in and the temperatures fall (hurricanes notwithstanding) we sat down with Vicky Lopez, director at De-ice, one of the UK’s longest established winter gritting and risk management specialists, to talk about the best ways for businesses to prepare for winter…

Q – How should UK facilities managers be preparing their response to possible bad weather this winter?

A – Winter is only around the corner, and being prepared for severe weather and taking responsibility is vital for any business. At De-ice we are ready to begin service as soon as the weather temperatures fall, and feel reassured that we (and our clients) are ready to tackle the elements.

Here are a few tips for implementing a winter plan:

  • Sites should be considered on a case-by-case basis.
  • If the decision is to outsource the service, then review winter maintenance organisations and find the one that meets a site’s specific requirements.
  • Make sure your winter maintenance supplier provides the following as a minimum:

– Daily forecasting based on road surface temperatures

– Agreed site plans – highlighting areas to be serviced

– A tracking system to evidence attendance

– The ability to stockpile salt

– Work with dedicated winter maintenance machinery, which can be calibrated for an even spread of salt

– Insurance

– A transparent audit trail

– A dedicated account manager for you and 24/7 contact during the winter

  • If you are self-delivering, then review and update your policy and processes. Make sure staff are appropriately trained and machinery fit for purpose.  Make sure you keep accurate records of when you gritted.
  • Don’t wait – regardless of the weather, standard winter maintenance contracts commence on 1st
  • Plan ahead – to ensure you remain operational, and minimise the exposure to slips and trips.

Q – How has the propensity for ‘extreme weather’ in recent years altered how businesses need to manage the associated risks?

A – No two winters are ever the same, and for the last three years we have experienced few incidents of extreme weather in the form of heavy snow and severe ice.  But that doesn’t mean we should all rest on our laurels and think Winter 2017-18 will follow the same pattern. Whether we like to admit it or not, frost, ice and snow — even if they don’t last long — are predictable features of a British winter.

It certainly seems more companies are becoming aware of the importance of working with winter risk management providers to help manage the overall risk. Outsourcing brings peace of mind for the business during difficult and uncertain weather conditions. 

Q – What new products and technical advances can we expect to see deployed by De-ice during winter 2017/18?

A – We always look to be proactive and lead innovation within our industry. While many tried and tested products and processes are still effective and provide value for money solutions, we have to remember that providing winter maintenance support is a lot more than spreading grit on a car park.

This winter, the accuracy of our weather forecasting and our audit trails have both seen significant advances.  Forecasting is more site specific, and improvements in GPS tracking enables us to track both vehicles and personnel.

Q – Road gritting is always a key talking point in the media – what are the best strategies for the effective treatment of areas that need gritting?

A – Proactive treatment in getting your product – salt, brine, and chloride – onto the road surface before frost, ice or snow take hold. And this is essential for the service to be effective.

Monitoring and understanding the weather in your area can only enhance service delivery when there is a marginal or low confidence forecast.

If the 2009/10 winter taught us anything then being sufficiently resourced to deal with extreme weather is imperative – ensuring there is enough fleet, staff and material (salt) to cope with potential demand.

Q – In 2022, we’ll all be talking about…?

The weather. We all love to talk about it – from snow and freezing temperatures, to heat waves.

The weather is a hot topic of conversation across the world, and extreme weather events always hit the headlines given the impact they can have on areas such as transport and public services.

De-ice is an Event Sponsor for the FM Industry Christmas Party, which is being hosted by the FM Forum and FMJ on Tuesday, November 28th at Grange St Paul’s Hotel, London – and tickets are just £30, which includes drinks, canapés and entertainment.

Register Today!

Alternatively, contact Paige Aitken for more information on 01992 374079 / p.aitken@forumevents.co.uk.


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