Ray-Tech’s Mini Combo is the company’s best selling trailer-mounted infrared unit, Van Velsor says. Ray-Tech touts its Mini Combo as a starter unit for the infrared industry. It features a 6’ x 8’ heating chamber that can operator as one chamber or two 4’ x 6’ heating elements. The unit also incorporates a 2-ton hotbox reclaimer on the unit.
Truck systems. Truck systems can provide contractors with a flexible, whole maintenance package, Kieswetter says. Like trailer systems, truck-mounted infrared units can have varying heating chamber sizes and can incorporate a hot box as well. “Truck unites are usually considered the ‘Cadillac’ of infrared units,” Van Velsor says. “They have everything you need on one vehicle.”
Contractors doing infrared repairs on roads or long, straight ahead repair will find a truck-mounted unit more efficient than the smaller options, Schwarz says. It can be challenging to fit these units into tight places or on smaller repairs, though.
If purchasing a trailer or truck system, consider the size of the asphalt reclaimer/hot box. If you will be doing a lot of heating during the course of a day or will need a lot of asphalt you’ll want a larger capacity unit, Van Velsor says.
Kasi’s most popular unit is its 4-ton truck-mounted Patriot with a 6x8-ft. chamber. “This unit only takes a two-person crew to operate, and it has every thing on one truck chassis,” Allen says.
Some infrared units can also be mounted directly to asphalt pavers, such as Heat Design Equipment’s best selling Joint Heaters. These joint heaters are most popular with larger highway paving operations and can be used to reheat a cold joint to create a seamless road and prevent early deterioration, Kieswetter says. Kieswetters says contractors generally connect 16 to 20 feet of joint heaters to a paver. The heat created by these infrared joint heaters penetrates the depth of the surface course to allow recompaction of the asphalt at the joints.
What to consider
Contractors have a lot to think about before purchasing an infrared unit. Two of the most important determining factors include budget and size of repairs being done. Once a budget is set, ask more specific questions to find the best equipment option. Strassman says contractors need to also consider the cost to purchase versus the costs to operate and maintain the unit as well.
Contractors who currently subcontract repair work should consider whether it make sense to continuing subbing or to have an in-house crew? And profit-wise, does it make sense to augment your business with this type of service, Allen asks. Are you seeing enough demand for the service on your jobs?
Demand is the biggest determining factor when it comes to selecting infrared equipment, Van Velsor says. Degree of acceptability often influences demand. Some areas may not be as familiar with infrared services, which means contractors will also have to invest more time and money into selling these services, Kieswetter points out. But he also suggests contractors be proactive in promoting and offering infrared services no matter the degree of acceptability. “You need to teach the client what infrared can do,” he says. “The environment is there for infrared to grow.”
Consider your target market, Larsen suggests. Is there demand in your area in this target market? A contractor might intend to only use the equipment for one service but it isn’t long before customers start asking for other infrared services, Larsen adds. Consider what you intend to use it for in the beginning and what you might use it for down the road.
Will it be used more on parking lots or streets, Cameron asks. Will you be working more with residential or commercial customers? Will it be used for patching, oil spot repair, thermoplastic application or something else?
Consider the size of your infrared crew. Will you have a dedicated infrared crew or will you train all your employees on how to use the equipment? Strassman says a typical crew of two to three people can efficiently use an infrared unit without anyone standing around. If you plan to have a larger infrared crew, consider whether you can get more production with multiple infrared units.