When you've been paving roads and parking lots since 1959, you know what you want in a roller. Paving contractor Black Diamond in Oak Creek, WI, has been doing just that and today operates 14 rollers that range in drum size from 30 to 84 inches wide. Five of the company's rollers fall in the smaller 3-ton category and are employed primarily for parking lots and driveways.
What does this contractor look for in its rollers? "Sure, price is important in any buying decision, but you also get what you pay for," says shop manager Ted Schulz, who has been with Black Diamond for 23 years. "We probably put 1,000 hours a year on our rollers. We look for a good, pressurized watering system that allows our operators to use the least amount of water possible. Being able to shut off one of the drums on our double-drum vibratory rollers gives us added versatility, and I prefer air-cooled diesel engines over gas. Diesel power is more reliable and air-cooled engines take one step, checking the radiator, out of the maintenance equation."
Black Diamond employs upwards of 50 people who operate six paving and grading crews. Like most paving contractors, the company looks for ways to increase productivity, and to keep pavers moving all day long. "Reliability continues to be an important factor in all our purchase decisions," explains Schulz. "The manufacturer has to stand behind its product, provide field support, and have excellent parts availability. Any piece of equipment, no matter how well it is made, will eventually break down, and when a roller shuts down, so do the pavers and the trucks hauling the mix.
"Being productive also requires that machines are easy to maintain. The easier a machine is to maintain, the better it will be maintained."
Black Diamond is typical of mid-size paving contractors who operate rollers of all sizes, including smaller compact units. But small rollers do not imply a small market, according to Tim Springer, mideast regional manager for Texas-based Dynapac. The smaller roller market accounts for somewhere between 25% and 35% of all roller sales, he notes.
Dynapac offers nine asphalt rollers in the 1¾ to 4¼ ton category. Two, the CC 102 and CC 122, come standard with dual controls to make roller operation easy for both left-and right-handed operators, and a slide seat moves side to side and forward and back to enhance operator visibility. The company also offers a patented isolation system that reduces vibration with four shock mounts. "Vibration is more of an issue on larger rollers," Springer says, "but we have the mounting system on our smaller rollers, as well."
Other features include timers on the water sprinkler that give operators a choice of three watering settings so "they can apply more water to the drums on hot days and reduce water output on cooler days," and a sprinkler bar that is integrated into the top scraper on the front and rear drums. "The sprinkler has self-draining nozzles to prevent lines from freezing on cold evenings," he says. "All four drum scrapers are spring-loaded to reduce maintenance time and help spread the water."
Springer says a contractor can pay anywhere from $7,000 to $30,000 for small asphalt rollers.
Productivity, he adds, will continue to be a big concern for all contractors, as will accountability. "It's not just how fast you can put down the pavement, but how well you put it down, too," he says. "New technology, the positive influence Europe has had on our paving market, and higher grade mixes have all contributed to customers having higher expectations from their paving contractors."
Ingersoll-Rand compaction marketing manager Dale Starry agrees.