UD Trucks snowplows keep society moving in Japan snow country


Aomori Airport is located in heart of Japan’s snow country, a place that experiences some of the snowiest conditions in the world, with snowfall often exceeding 10 meters annually. The airport’s dedicated snow removal crew uses snowplows manufactured by UD Trucks to clear the runways quickly and efficiently, priding itself in maintaining a record of zero cancellations related to snowfall. This effective combination of man and machine keeps the airport running and society moving, no matter what the harsh winter may bring.

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UD Trucks is the only manufacturer of all-wheel snowplows in Japan and supports the maintenance and uptime of these vehicles nationwide. Aomori Airport, which averages 40 flights a day, requires quick and reliable snow removal from an area covering 55 square kilometers. This is equivalent to 12 Tokyo Dome size stadiums. The airport snow removal crew is dispatched when more than 3 cm of snow accumulates, using 37 vehicles to briskly clear the runways of snow in roughly 40 minutes.

Extra attention to maintenance and speedy repairs

The UD Trucks Aomori Customer Center works closely with the airport snow removal crew to ensure their snowplows are well maintained and running optimally. Aomori Customer Center Masao Takahashi explains, “When it comes to snowplow maintenance, we need to do more than address conventional problems such as oil or water leaks. We need to have a firm grasp of how the cold affects driving conditions and thoroughly inspect the vehicles in the off-season. Things like the fogging up of windows inhibits driver visibility and we routinely check the effectiveness of cab heaters for example. Snowplows often see more action as the temperature drops and we need to ensure that they get the job done in the harshest of conditions.”

In the event a snowplow breaks down, UD Trucks moves quickly to remedy the problem, day or night, regardless of prevailing weather conditions. In the unlikely case that the Aomori Customer Center does not have a necessary part in stock, it reaches out to other nearby customer centers to secure it as fast as possible. Takahashi says, “We go to extraordinary lengths to fix problems on site, in time for the next snow removal shift. I have been working on these trucks for most of my life, and will try to fix the problem on the spot, anytime, wherever it may be. We owe this to our customers, and to sustaining logistics and serving society”.

Addressing driver shortages by attracting new ones

The snow removal crew at Aomori Airport is made up of 120 people in total, with anywhere from 6 to 70 on standby at any given time, ready to mobilize at a moment’s notice. Most of the crew consists of seasonal workers, many of whom engage in agriculture or construction in the warmer months. With declining rural populations, securing snowplow drivers has become more challenging over the years. While the traditional demographic of commercial truck drivers is in decline, the ease of driving the vehicles manufactured by UD Trucks has the potential to reverse the trend. Equipped with ESCOT automatic transmission, new or inexperienced drivers can learn to drive the heavy-duty trucks with ease. In an industry traditionally dominated by men, the ease of driving a UD truck allows women to enter the profession as well.

Masato Fukushi, Head of the Aomori Airport snow removal crew explains, “While we do not yet have female drivers on our team, we welcome the opportunity. UD Trucks’ vehicles are easy to steer and gear changing is smooth. The design of the truck emphasizes ease and comfort for the driver. Moreover, we feel a great sense of purpose and satisfaction in the job we do, which can also attract the next generation of drivers”.

Making life better

With strict attention to safety, operational efficiency, and maximizing uptime, UD Trucks is committed to playing its part in sustaining the livelihoods of people and communities in Japan’s snow country. The company’s snowplows and service network supports snow removal crews all over Japan, similar to the team at Aomori Airport. The vehicles are designed to be easy to drive, allowing new drivers, male or female, to enter the profession more readily. Snowplows keep society moving, and help make life better – all in line with company’s larger Better Life purpose: to make life better for people and the planet.

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UD Trucks is a leading Japanese commercial vehicle solutions provider, active in more than 60 countries on all continents. Since its inception in 1935, the company has been an innovation leader with a clear vision to provide the trucks and services the world needs today.

The company is committed to go the extra mile for smart logistics with the most dependable solutions for demanding customers. To best support across applications and geographies, UD Trucks offers a full range of heavy duty trucks - Quon and Quester, medium duty trucks - Condor and Croner, and light duty trucks - Kazet and Kuzer, as well as associated operational and financial services.