They're on the job from the beginning, and they don't leave until it's done. Through all phases of a job, they're doing multiple tasks, making them productive members of the workforce. What are they? Skid-steer loaders. What makes these machines so versatile? Attachments.
Attachments increase productivity and reduce labor by decreasing the amount of work that is done by hand. Multiple attachments used on one carrier is the solution to completing many different tasks and lowering equipment costs. When one machine can do many things, it eliminates the need for multiple pieces of equipment that are dedicated to one job.
Beyond the attachments dedicated to concrete work, a concrete contractor will find just about any attachment useful. These attachments assist with every phase of concrete projects. Here's how:
There is no more critical phase to a concrete construction project than site preparation. One attachment that aids contractors with this stage is the grader attachment equipped with a laser control kit. K+L Construction Inc., a commercial concrete contractor headquartered in Moorhead, Minn., uses the laser-equipped grader to level sand. "It's not unheard of for one worker to single-handedly level 6,000 square feet in 45 minutes. It would take a half-dozen guys a couple hours to do about the same work without the laser grader," says Josh Krieg, a project manager with K+L Construction. "It saves us time and manpower. We use it once or twice a week and wish we could use it more."
Krieg's crews use the Bobcat® grader and laser control package for more precise grade control in concrete flatwork. The laser system automatically adjusts the blade height to keep the base material within plus-or-minus .25 inch of grade.
Greg Rostberg, a marketing manager with Bobcat Company, recommends flatwork contractors should consider purchasing a laser control system. The system can be used with a grader or box blade attachment. "When used with the laser, these attachments can quickly pay for themselves within a couple of pours because the precise control function saves time, concrete and labor," says Rostberg. "Jobs that once took a half-day with three or four people can now be more accurately finished in a little over an hour with only one person."
Other attachments used on loaders to perform site preparation are augers, which dig footings and place piers. Backhoe attachments also dig footings, as well as foundations and trenches. Planers mill down concrete curbs and shave off high spots to level the surface. Wheel saws make clean cuts in concrete to repair damaged areas. Vibratory rollers and trench compactors compact soils prior to pours. Contractors will even find land-clearing attachments, such as brush saws and rotary cutters, useful for initial site preparation.
Often, preparing a site means demolishing and clearing away old concrete. Hydraulic breakers excel at this task. Another attachment, the drop hammer, offers contractors the ability to break large areas of concrete they might not have even considered breaking in the past. In addition to demolishing concrete up to 18 inches thick, the drop hammer does not displace the surface. This means the loader can drive over the work area until breaking is complete, which is not possible with a hydraulic breaker.
After concrete is demolished, it needs to be hauled away. Grapples are excellent attachments for this job because they easily grab odd-shaped objects, like pieces of broken concrete.
When it's time to pour concrete, there are three attachments that can assist: the dumping hopper, concrete mixer and the concrete pump. When a concrete truck can't get to the places where concrete needs to be poured, all three of these attachments can transport the concrete. Concrete can be loaded off the truck, placed in the dumping hopper, and transported to the site, similar to a power buggy. "A power buggy only has one function," says Rostberg. "Concrete contractors should get as much as possible out of their equipment investment and use machines that can do many things."