Pavement milling machines, often referred to as cold planers, initially made their mark in pavement rehab and overlay jobs that involved milling up relatively straight miles of street and highway pavement.
But following the market's acceptance of that process, and combined with the rising costs of labor and paving materials, manufacturers of milling machines have developed milling machines that are accessible to contractors of virtually any size. These machines are smaller than their main line milling big brothers but equally adept at providing the pavement milling work that is now much in demand by contractors involved in a variety of pavement repair, pavement rehabilitation, and paving projects.
"These types of mills can be used on parking lots, shoulder repairs, cut outs, utility trenches, bridge deck repairs, and a lot of other jobs where a large mill just won't work," says John Hood, product development and sales manager for paving and milling at BOMAG Americas Inc. "They can be very valuable pieces of equipment, and we are seeing them used increasingly for work traditionally done by several laborers and small equipment."
Here's a sampling of what's available for contractors.
"In-between" machine: Wirtgen America's W150
Marketed as "the largest small milling machine," Wirtgen's W150 fits neatly in the gap between its W100F and W1900, according to Jeff Wiley, Wirtgen senior vice president of sales and marketing.
"This mill is ideal for jobs ranging from trench cuts and parking lot profiling to full-blown milling of pavement where production rates are key," Wiley says. "It's aimed at contractors who are just getting into milling, and it's a great machine for contractors who already run milling machines and are looking for a mill to complement that fleet. The flexibility and economics of this machine do that. It's an in-between machine that fits in a number of different spots and a number of different uses."
Introduced to the market 18 months ago, the W150 is a 370-hp mill with a 5-ft., center-mounted drum that can cut to 13 in. deep. It features Wirtgen's Flexible Cutting System, enabling it to use drums of 2-, 3-, and 4-ft. widths, and its transport weight of 41,226 lbs. means it's easy to transport from job to job without permits.
Other features include:
- Level Pro grade control system provides simultaneous display for both sides of the machine and provides for automatic adjustment of grade and slope
- Control panel with digital readout can be operated with one hand, and targeted and actual values for the milling operation are displayed continuously
- Automatic track tensioning performed hydraulically
Wiley says the W150 offers high production on jobs that need it, but he adds that several systems and design aspects make it a versatile machine that can be used in restricted areas as well. He says the W150 has large steering angles and an automatic all-track steering system that coordinates the front and rear axle steering angles for accurate milling, even in narrow turns and on curves. A "crab steering" system enables the operator to move the machine into an area to be milled without complex and time-consuming maneuvering
In addition, front and rear tracks are hydraulically adjustable for height, what Wirtgen terms its "4 Fold Height Adjustment System." With this system the W150 can rise above obstacles, and also enables the machine to adjust to changing ground levels without manual adjustment.
In addition, a "wasp waist" design, which is the unit's narrow central chassis, enables the operator to have an unobstructed and easy view of the milling edge, even while seated, which Wiley says makes work easier for the operator and results in a better quality job.
Wiley says its design enables safe and efficient operation by a single person.
"Larger half-lane machines should have a ground man because the operator can't see all around the machine so you need a person on the ground for support and safety," Wiley says. "Because of the way the W150 is designed you can actually run it without a ground man."