"One of the most dramatic ongoing trends in the market is the makeup of mixes. In the near future there will be little if any conventional hot mix available. The new mixes require more compaction and a different way of handling the material, hauling mix in insulated trucks, for example. All paving contractors, not just those that pave highways, will need vibratory rollers, and every contractor, because of the higher cost of the mix, will be more concerned about waste." Echoing Springer, Starry adds that contractors will be required to pay more attention to quality control as customers specify how compacted and smooth they want a parking lot to be. Even homeowners will start to require (or ask for) warranties on their drives.
Mixing it up
The competitive nature of the marketplace and the emphasis on quality puts the average contractor between the proverbial rock and hard spot: to do the best job he can do and still be competitive on price. This places even more significance on equipment and the all-important buying decision.
"There are two extremes when it comes to smaller paving contractors," Starry says. "At one extreme are those contractors who spend little time comparing roller features and benefits and instead look only for equipment that will fit comfortably on their trailers. At the other extreme are those who absolutely match their roller size and speed to their pavers for optimum productivity. Most contractors fall somewhere in between, wanting to find a unit that matches their application, that will be productive, and will do a quality job for them."
He mentions a few features that are attractive to all productivity- and quality-conscious contractors. "Automatic controls that engage both vibration and the watering system are helpful, especially for less experienced contractors," he says. "Having the versatility to manually override the automatic systems allows operators to vibrate at slower roller speeds or apply less water as the application warrants." Ingersoll-Rand rollers, he adds, have a seat contact switch with a three-second delay. The feature will not "kill" the engine if an operator briefly stands or otherwise moves off the seat for a moment. Smaller Ingersoll-Rand rollers are powered by four-cylinder, liquid-cooled engines and feature a hydrostatic transmission with dual-drum drive, a sliding seat and control assembly, and standard ROPS with seat belt for safety.
In addition to looking at features and matching machine to the application they should also look into the future when buying a roller, Starry says. "Rollers are typically depreciated over a term of five to seven years, but they will operate efficiently for a much longer period of time. Contractors should buy units that will grow with their business."
Keep 'em rolling
"One of the most important features on any roller is reliability," says Vibromax manager of marketing and sales support Tom Meyer, reemphasizing that if a roller stops, so goes the paver, trucks, and job.
Vibromax has two models that fall within the 3-ton category ideal for average-sized parking lots, models 255 and 265.
"To help ensure reliability, all the hydraulic components, the engine, and the electrical system are very accessible on both of our units," says Meyer, who echoes Black Diamond's Schulz when he says, "Make the roller easy to maintain, and it will get maintained." The use of all-sealed bearings, he adds, helps to keep maintenance to a minimum.
"We try to make the roller as comfortable to operate as possible," Meyer says. "Our operator platform is located in the middle of the roller for good visibility in all directions. The location also means that operators are not sitting directly over a vibrating drum."
Having a compact and easy-to-maneuver roller is also important for smaller jobs, he adds. "Our model 265 features a 65-inch turning radius. You would not be rolling while turning this sharp, but operators still need to get around light posts and sharp curves. The unit is only 94 inches long, too."
Other features include a non-corrosive, pressurized watering system with 10 spray settings to adjust watering intervals and dual, retractable vulkolan scrapers on each drum.
Contractors know how important rollers are to the end product. As Starry points out, a mix will be comprised of between 20% to 25% air voids. A paver might remove 5% or slightly more of this empty space and the roller is left to remove the rest, short of a few percentage points. Over-rolling can damage the pavement and under-rolling or otherwise failing to do a uniform job can leave waves in the pavement.