In many applications, dedicated grading machines just aren't a practical alternative, whether it's due to space constraints or utilization requirements. In these instances, a compact machine with the proper grading attachment may provide the perfect solution. They offer a much lower acquisition cost and, when not needed for grading, the attachment can be quickly swapped out to keep the carrier productive.
Today's compact machines also produce more power - in some cases, more than the previous generation of full-size machines used to install the country's infrastructure. "Compact equipment of today is larger than [the equipment] the railroads and early roads were built with," says Darrell Hoelscher, Hoelscher Inc. "So the only limitation is the time available to do a job."
Another advantage is maneuverability. For example, Hoelscher Inc. offers graders, scrapers and rollers for use with compact tractors. These attachments use the tractor's three-point arms to control depth of cut.
"Our equipment is designed for use in tight quarters," says Hoelscher. "Our products are unique in that we can fit into areas where others can't. These machines are made for development areas, parking lots, driveways, etc. They allow a contractor to perform jobs too small for conventional equipment, [and they] are more productive and controllable than a bucket on a skid steer.
"Very few operators are capable of producing an acceptable grade with a bucket," he adds. "A pull-type compact unit allows for quick finishing with less operator skill."
Lasers heighten accuracy
When it comes to achieving grade specs on smaller jobsites, there is no substitute for the proper grading attachment.
"A compact power unit paired with a grading/scraping attachment allows for greater accuracy," says Glen Parrett, HitchDoc. "Accuracy is an absolute necessity when talking about subgrade surface preparation. Conventional buckets or larger grading tools won't provide the fine grade necessary for concrete flatwork. The compactness of the attachment paired with a compact power unit make this machine extremely maneuverable, particularly in confined areas."
Laser-guided attachments are also becoming increasingly popular in the compact equipment market. A laser-guided box blade or grader attachment can provide accuracies as precise as +/- 0.25 in.
"As equipment technology has improved, yesterday's limitations have become today's opportunities," says Parrett. "Technology has given contractors the capability of not having to seek outside services such as engineers or surveyors."
HitchDoc designed its Dual Dozer to take advantage of the accuracies possible with laser systems. "Our product attaches to a tractor three-point hitch and most major brand skid-steer loaders, and is equipped with two blades, which allows forward and reverse grading," says Parrett. "It is designed to utilize dual independent laser controls."
The attachment was actually built around the laser control system. "The mount allows the blade to operate independent of the power unit, and holds a precise grade level by receiving a laser signal simultaneously to each laser receiver sensor," Parrett explains. This results in accuracies within 1/8 in.
Subgrade surface preparation for slab floor flatwork is a specialty of the Dual Dozer attachment. "Subgrade surface preparation is not only a major time and cost component of slab floor flatwork, but it is also a key factor in concrete yield, slab fitness and ultimately slab performance," says Parrett. "This attachment allows you to complete jobs faster with fewer re-work corrections. There is reduced staking and a higher level of accuracy over conventional methods."
SitePro, a division of Worksaver Inc., offers the SSGB-8 Grader Blade for asphalt, landscaping and concrete flatwork contractors. It features an 8-ft., six-way hydraulically controlled moldboard with 25° rotation/tilt. "This unit can be equipped with a laser system to hold grade," says Mike Kloster, president, Worksaver. "With a laser system, it can maintain closer tolerances, saving material costs."