Good things come in small packages, right? Look no further than ever-evolving computer technology to see how a premium has been placed on getting more out of the smallest possible package.
For roadbuilding contractors, however, the bigger is better cliché historically has been very accurate. Highway projects involving miles of road and thousands of tons of asphalt have been the paving contractor's Holy Grail. With big money going hand in hand with larger assignments, there was little incentive for highway class paving contractors to pursue commercial paving jobs.
While the almighty dollar was the clear primary factor, the available equipment also had an influence on contractors' job preferences. Compact pavers were perceived as machines that lacked the speed and ability of a highway class paver. The quality of the machines satisfied the needs of commercial contractors but fell short of the performance expected by highway class contractors.
But times have changed. Although the passing of a new federal bill may help revive the highway paving business, the lack of funding over the past few years has resulted in inconsistent workloads spread among contractors. Conversely, the number of available commercial projects has risen due to the need for repairs to an aging urban infrastructure, as well as the continuing growth of suburbs and new businesses across the country.
In addition to the increased quantity of commercial jobs, the quality of compact pavers has also improved. Just 10 years ago, a compact paver could lay about 500 tons of asphalt per day. But thanks to a design incorporating thicker and heavier steel components, the productive effort of compact pavers has risen dramatically. Now those same classification machines can reach up to 1,500 tons in a day and provide a high-quality finish in the process.
Money, of course, still remains the key ingredient of any business. So paving contractors will only engage in work that results in high profits. What many larger contractors have discovered is that a compact paver is almost a necessity for new or changing areas of the paving business, and that investing in a compact paver will create the desired profits.
One size does not fit all
Commercial projects of every type have changed. No longer are parking lots composed purely of acres of unending asphalt. Parking lots are expected to be aesthetically pleasing, so trees, curbs, benches, resting areas and other obstacles are now scattered about to give a better overall appearance.
But with these added features come paving jobs that are more difficult to accomplish. Jobs that previously could have been successfully completed with a mainline paver now can be finished in half the time with compact pavers, which are better suited for the tight, twisted areas found on most commercial paving projects.
It doesn't stop at parking lots. Driveways leading up to homes in rural and suburban areas used to be long and straight. Today, the look of the driveway is nearly as important as the construction of the driveway itself. A common preference is for a driveway to be curved, and compact pavers, due to their maneuverability, lend themselves better to this type of job.
It's a commercial world
The growth of commercial paving can't be attributed to just one root cause. But if one had to be chosen, look no further than the aging infrastructure of American cities. The design life of infrastructure is being exceeded in most places. The requirements for water, gas and electricity are forcing the upgrade of old utilities or the installation of brand new utilities.
City streets have to be milled or torn up to accomplish a lot of this work. These jobs in turn create a lot of specialty paving projects, ranging from replacing torn up asphalt to paving trenches. Bringing in a mainline paver is rather impractical for a lot of these jobs, and in some cases mainline machines are just too big for the task. A compact paver provides the solution.