Asphalt paver ready to climb faster

Long before intelligent compaction, there was high technology for asphalt pavers. This technology continues to evolve as both managers and manufacturers seek smoother mats that are required in more stringent government specifications.

And there is no doubt that the market will see even more technology as it is poised to finally take advantage of longer-term federal funding. Manufacturers tell Construction Equipment that the asphalt paver market surged over £ 21,000 anyway before the government rose.

“The market has grown a little compared to last year,” says Jon Anderson, Marketing Segment Manager at Cat Paving.

Size class (lb.) Average price Hourly rate *
19,000-24,999 $ 17,008 $ 154.72
25,000-28,999 $ 23,277 $ 209.71
29,000-34,999 $ 26,024 $ 236.61
35,000 and more $ 25,937 $ 251.73

* The hourly rate is the monthly operating costs divided by 176 plus operating costs. Unit prices used in this calculation: diesel fuel, $ 2.78 per gallon; Mechanic wages at $ 52.33 an hour; and cost of money at 3.75 percent.

Jonathan Oney, Product Manager Paving and Milling at Atlas Copco, agrees. “There has been steady growth for this class of pavers, and we forecast an increase in the number of heavy highway and bridge projects by around 4 percent in 2016. This is due to the recently passed federal budget, which will also have an impact on government funding for these types of projects, “says Oney.” I think the market will stay on the same trend for several years – the demand for equipment is increasing steadily, as more motorway and bridge projects are being financed by the federal and state governments. “

With the FAST Act, buyers gain confidence.

“Contractors feel safer when they make large investments in paving equipment,” says Henry Polk, product marketing manager for paving projects at BOMAG Americas.

“The passage of the FAST bill will obviously help drive highway development and predictably fund the paving industry,” said John Mooney, product manager at Volvo Construction Equipment. “I think the market expansion started in mid-2015 in anticipation of the bill. As a result, the demand for pavers can rise to levels that we have not seen since the major road projects. “

There is also increased consumer demand – for good roads. But not everything is rosy. Lower fuel prices don’t always translate into a decline in liquid asphalt prices, which managers need to consider in their overall purchase decision.

“We haven’t seen fuel prices this low in a long time, and people drive more miles on the road than they have in a long time,” says Mooney. “People go out and do what they love to do – travel. It is important to note, however, that lower crude oil prices and lower prices at the pump do not mean lower prices for liquid asphalt. The modern refinement processes for liquid asphalt deliver more light fuels than ever before – this leaves less heavy fuel oil, which does not reduce asphalt costs. The good news is that liquid asphalt prices are predictable, so states can offer more work and contractors can feel more confident dealing with the risk of competitive pricing. “

In favor of managers and OEMs, there is also a backlog of projects that were caused by the infrastructure problem that is now decades old. “We will have a lot of catching up to do to improve our federal and state roads,” says Mooney. “The road equipment markets may grow over the next few years thanks to the bill, but will be limited by the manageable growth of contractors looking not just for new equipment, but also for the right equipment. As we juggle the risk of adding more new crews, adapting new technologies, and working with increasingly stringent specifications and techniques. “

What to look for in asphalt pavers

Several buying trends have now emerged. Contractors are looking for more choice, efficiency, ergonomics and technology, including telematics capabilities.

“They want technology that will support efficient, high-quality operations,” said Anderson of Cat Paving. “Reliability, easy service – things that keep operating costs down.”

According to Laikram Narsingh, commercial support and development manager at Vogele, buyers are looking for a choice of two-wheel, four-wheel and six-wheel drive chain units with equally wide front screeds and unequal front screeds mounted against rear screeds. They also deal with automatic tilt control systems, lights for night pavement, 3D control options and telematics functions.

Comfort was also a factor.

“Contractors asked for convenience updates and BOMAG responded to some of those questions,” says Polk. “The most remarkable thing is the relocation of the screed generator. This has greatly reduced the noise level for the entire crew. Uptime kits and spare parts lists have also been created for each model. Contractors have asked about these suggested maintenance items. “

Atlas Copco has also focused on ergonomics to ensure comfort and ease of use. “We integrate ergonomic operator stations and design the paving stones for easy maintenance,” says Oney. “For example, the F800 has two operator platforms that swivel out of the side of the paver. The platforms help avoid operator fatigue that can occur when tensioning on a stationary seat to provide a clear view of the pavement surface. “

A manufacturer gives a practical advice about buying technology for the sake of technology.

“When looking at pavers and paving teams, the contractor is faced with how they update their fleets,” said Mooney of Volvo. “While the manufacturers are constantly developing newer technology and telematics offerings, the bottom line is that the contractor needs reliable and reliable equipment – equipment with which the crews feel comfortable and can work without any conditions.

“I would dare say that the average mature paving team wants proven technology beyond the technical promise of an advanced design being forced upon the industry,” continues Mooney. “The contractor will eventually adapt tomorrow’s high-tech industries, but today they are generally very conservative about buying practices. They tend to designs and dealerships they know and trust, and give their crews what they know and trust. “

“Consider dealer support,” says Anderson. “Who would you trust if the machine breaks down? Also focus on functions that simplify the operation and support of the machine – things that get you up and running straight away in the morning and keep you working all day. Look for features that add to factors like smoothness and help you maximize awards or get a bonus. Also, think about your crews keeping them comfortable, confident and in control. “

“Pavers are expensive; You need to ensure a long, trouble-free life, so the equipment manager’s investment decision is difficult, ”says Mooney. “Buy what the paving team can work efficiently and effectively. Remember that all equipment requires maintenance and repair. So buy a paver that is easy to maintain and quick and affordable to repair. Finally, buy from a manufacturer / dealer who understands the industry.

“If the paver is not asphalted due to service, repairs, parts, damage or for many other reasons, everyone has to be on board so that the paver earns money again. So think carefully and ask the questions to make sure the paver will continue to receive support in the future. If you have concerns, you are not making the right decision, ”says Mooney.

Narsingh’s suggestions are based on functions. “Consider a Tier 4 final engine with internal dousing for regeneration instead of an external dousing burner system for regeneration,” he says. “Also consider 24 V LED balloon lights with rigid frames instead of inflated halogen balloon lights, as well as onboard diagnostics with LEDs on magnetic coils.”

Polk from BOMAG: “When you switch from a rubber tire to a rubber tracked paver or vice versa, you give the operator a break-in period to get used to the new drive system. There are subtle operational differences between the two.

“Also, look at current and potential applications,” says Polk. “If the paver is working on a high percentage of the new build, a track paver is preferred. Chains help reduce ground contact pressure to 12 psi, which avoids ruts and improves traction. If a contractor is constantly busy with overlay projects, a rubber tire paver may be the best option. States are now implementing thermal specifications that limit temperature differences across the mat to just 25 ° F, in addition to mandatory practices for eliminating material separation. Pavers that re-mix material in the hopper during the final stage of the paving process help reduce temperature differences on the mat to less than 10 ° F and eliminate virtually any signs of material separation.

“The screed of a Remix paver differs day and night in the uniformity of heat and material from a conventional slat conveyor. Without re-mixing, the separation in the truck is reflected in the mat behind a conventional lamellar paver, ”says Polk.

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