Just about everyone working in road construction has at some point operated a compactor. It is the machine that many people first operate before taking on more challenging jobs. However, technological changes to the machine category has made compaction equipment operation more sophisticated, and contractors would be wise to change who they put in the operator’s seat so they can gain the greatest benefits from the most recent technological innovations.
Chief among the changes to modern compactors include:
– Intelligent compaction
– New drum technologies
– Technologies that ease operation and maintenance
Intelligent compaction (IC) is comprised of a series of features that include providing real-time information to the operator and automation.
Case DV Series rollers can be equipped with Case ACE Force IC system, which improves compaction quality by giving the operator needed in order to avoid under- and over-compaction. “It is now very common to see compaction meters made available from compaction equipment manufacturers,” says Nathaniel Waldschmidt, product marketing manager, compaction, Case Construction Equipment. “These meters measure the amount of rebound at each drum as they go over an area.
Volvo’s proprietary IC system—Compact Assist with Density Direct—provides real-time density data so operators can eliminate guesswork, as well as temperature mapping and pass mapping. Available on all C-Series compactors, these features allow operators to react while the mat is still workable versus waiting for a core sample or nuclear test. And it measures the entire mat, whereas core samples and nuclear tests reveal density data for only a single location.
“Intelligent compaction solutions enable operators to monitor critical factors such as pass count and mat temperatures in real time. This allows them to optimize the efficiency and uniformity of their work, leading to lower costs, greater smoothness and longer pavement life to enable consistent, uniform compaction,” says Bryan Downing, Global Sales Consultant, Caterpillar.
caterpillar compaction equipmentNEW DRUM TECHNOLOGIES
The single most important component on the compactor is the drum, so it is no wonder that it gets a lot of attention when manufacturers redesign these machines.
The drum off-set design on Hyundai and Case compactors offers tighter turning radiuses for added maneuverability when compacting in confined areas and when maneuvering around obstacles, as well as improves mat quality.
“The ability to offset drums is important for a couple of reasons,” says Waldschmidt. “When compacting asphalt on a roadway or another large-scale project, it’s important to bind each pass together. By having a compaction machine that allows you to have the rollers either in-line or offset, you’re able to have an overlap of up to six inches to bind the two passes together.”
Cat rollers can be equipped with one of three different vibratory systems, allowing contractors to choose the system most suitable for the types of asphalt mix they work with. Additionally, some models can be configured with an oscillatory drum to provide alternate compaction energies.
On some Volvo compactors, an optional eight-amplitude drum provides lower amplitude to prevent over-compaction on thin lift applications. “To improve productivity for thicker lifts, the drum’s higher settings ensure thorough compaction in as few passes as possible. The large diameter drum provides a high-quality mat finish and can be set to rotate continuously in its travel direction to prevent shoving of the material,” says Mark Eckert, Global Product Manager, Volvo.
hyundai compaction equipmentTECHNOLOGY THAT SIMPLIFIES
To aid contractors in their practice of putting lesser experienced operators in their rollers, OEMs are simplifying machine operation.
“Cat rollers are advanced machines, but very simple to operate,” says Downing. “Controls are ergonomically designed and easy to understand. The operator’s station ensures comfort and maximizes visibility and safety. These factors help operators maintain confidence and control, allowing them to focus on the work and optimize production.”
The automatic vibration control found on Case DV series compactors makes it easier to avoid surface damage when starting or stopping the machine. The ability to set a maximum speed means the compactor will not move forward too quickly relative to the frequency of the drum.
Along with simpler operation comes simpler maintenance. Hyundai uses a sealed, maintenance-free, Teflon-coated bearing in the articulation joint of their single-drum roller models. “This reduces maintenance costs and eliminates the need for daily greasing,” says Plotkin. Also, sealed bearings and drums simplifies daily maintenance routines and helps limit maintenance expenses.