Couto also feels the machine is more productive than a backhoe-loader. For example, some roads requiring patching are paved with concrete. For breaking up the concrete slabs, most contractors use an air hammer attached to the boom of the backhoe section. "I do not need a hoe ram [hammer] for breaking up the concrete using my excavator," says Couto. "I can dig out each slab and, with the bucket curled, lift it high before letting it drop to the ground. By repeating this [procedure] a couple of times, the slab becomes fractured into pieces small enough to load into the dump trucks. This saves time compared to using a hoe ram, then loading the concrete pieces."
Another benefit of using the excavator is faster, more precise grading, which is important for road patching work. After backfilling the sub-grade, it must be precision-graded followed by placing a 6- to 10-in. lift of crushed stone, which also must be precision graded. This ensures the new asphalt paving is uniform in thickness and the joint with the existing road is flush.
Couto claims a work crew of five additional men is needed if a backhoe-loader is used for patching instead of a Gradall. This is because all the precision grading is done by hand, including the sub-base backfill and aggregates base.
Although Couto has had to turn away opportunities because of the current work volume, he intends to expand his business by adding another Gradall and hiring an experienced operator. "I intend to expand my business by buying dump trucks and excavators. There is plenty of work to be had so another Gradall is in the picture," he states.