Wilson notes that another feature which is becoming more popular is the two-way strike-off blade, along with options like an angle blade which can slew like a snowplow and a tilting blade which rotates left to right and works on angled slopes.
"These are useful in rental because they help the soil compactor act in place of a skid steer or grader," says Wilson at Bomag. "They really increase versatility."
Many manufacturers today are offering more comfort to their customers as well. Soil compactors are available with cabins to shield operators from the elements, and some even offer heat and air conditioning as well as glass with UV filters. What's more is that manufacturers are striving to improve creature comforts such as the operator's seat, making the suspension more forgiving, and arranging the position of controls to make them easier and more comfortable to reach.
"Larger operator platforms, ergonomically placed controls and indicators, as well as multi-point adjustable seat designs all work together to make the machine more user friendly," says Jeff Fox, product/marketing manager at Ammann America.
"These features reduce fatigue and improve safety," Wilson adds. "The initial cost is more, but it's still not that much when you consider how much more productive the operator can be."
Dale Starry, manager of industry and governmental relations for Ingersoll-Rand, agrees that ergonomic features are becoming the standard in ride-on compaction equipment.
"There is more attention being paid to complying with ISO and SAE ergonomic standards," he says. "Machines offer better isolation of the operator platform, better placement of operator seating and controls, reduced noise, better all-around visibility of work zone with one meter by one meter visibility to the front and the rear, and available enclosed cabins with HVAC systems."
Ease of service
According to Starry, productivity and uptime of soil compactors are being improved by extended engine service intervals, maintenance-free batteries and more. The incorporation of sight gauges on fluid reservoirs, grouped hydraulic test ports and extended-life fluids like engine coolant go a long way toward making service and maintenance easier and less time consuming for rental houses and operators alike.
Starry says other features assisting in this movement include tilting decks or removable panels for easier and faster access to major hydraulic components, more use of bolt-on rather than welded assemblies and components, and color-coded maintenance decals with instructions in multiple languages or in international symbols.
Is it worth it?
When equipment advances technologically, it's often difficult to justify the increase in cost that inevitably goes along with it, particularly in a rental setting. But as the manufacturers in this article point out, many of the advancements being seen on today's soil compactors increase productivity to the point that they arguably pay for themselves quickly. Even the creature comforts that are so often eschewed by rental houses that believe customers renting equipment don't expect or need such features can be cost effective because they increase the potential for resale down the road.
And since many customers rent equipment to try things they're not yet ready to buy, it might pay for you to offer your customers something more than just the basics. Plus, being perceived as technologically advanced in the market can only serve to boost your image in a positive direction.