Compaction Equipment: What to Consider When Purchasing

volvo compaction equipmentCompaction equipment has been undergoing rapid change in recent years. 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

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.

Case CE Compaction EquipmentKey Insights for Buyers

For those who are considering purchasing a new compactor, these experts urge you to consider uptime, ease of use and total cost of ownership when making a purchase.

“There are many variables that determine the right roller for each compaction job,” says Waldschmidt. “Factors include the width of the area to be compacted, the final density required, the grade of the area to be compacted, the type of asphalt mix, as well the type of materials that lay below the lift being compacted. There are also considerations related to weight, frequency, amplitude and centrifugal force that will have an effect on final density.”

“No matter the brand or model, buyers should look for a compactor capable of maximizing uptime with high-quality output and consistent results, as well as one that is backed by reputable dealer and equipment OEM support and service,” says Eckert.

“Simplicity is the key,” says Plotkin. “Most compaction rollers don’t have a dedicated operator – anyone operating another piece of equipment on the jobsite can and does operate a compaction roller. Hyundai has taken that fact into consideration in designing our compaction roller models to be very easy and intuitive to operate.”

“Buyers should consider the total cost of ownership—not just the initial purchase price, but also other factors over the lifetime of the machine,” says Downing. “This will include the owning and operating costs. What is the annual cost for maintenance? Does the machine offer Eco-mode for lower fuel consumption? What are the costs for training? What is the resale value? Over the course of ownership, these factors can have a big effect on the actual cost of the machine.”

CONEXPO Connect brings the power of CONEXPO online, connecting you with equipment manufacturers, industry insiders, and your peers, so you can get the answers you need from the people who know. Experience a new, more connected way to research construction equipment, always free for contractors and materials producers like you. Access Now