Matching a paver to your fleet means taking a look at the clients you have, the type of work you expect to do, the long- and short-term cost of a new piece of equipment, and support from the manufacturer or dealer.
It also means matching the paver to your existing fleet. Unless you have more work than your current paver can handle, you don't want to simply buy the same machine. You need something to enhance the fleet you already have in the field, a paver that will enable your crews to do more work, different work, and perhaps the same work quicker.
When Dan Dauffenbach, president of Northland Paving, LLC, was in the market for a mid-sized paver, he looked for one that will be a good match to the company's mainline paver, a 10-ft. Blaw Knox PF5510. He wanted a paver that can be used interchangeably with the Blaw Knox, which he uses to pave the many commercial, industrial, and retail jobs that are the backbone of his work.
A 30-year veteran of the asphalt paving industry, Dauffenbach started Northland Paving three years ago. His hard-working equipment fleet includes Caterpillar 140 motor graders, Case and Caterpillar wheel loaders, one vibratory and one static steel roller, a pneumatic roller, and quad-axle trucks for loading the mainline paver. And then there's the mid-sized paver.
"We need a mid-sized paver that we can put side-by-side with the mainline and get the same quality mat," Dauffenbach says.
For the past three seasons, the Minneapolis-based paving contractor has operated a Gilcrest ProPaver 814 lay-down machine. Last spring, Northland replaced that machine with a new ProPaver 813 RT tracked paver by BOMAG Americas, who acquired the paver line from Gilcrest in December 2003. With the weather the area experienced this spring, the 813 RT was put to the test.
Heavy downpours, severe storms, flooding and 18 days of rain in a 21-day period had left the ground in Northland's market saturated. Days normally 80° F and partly cloudy were 60° F and rainy, delaying a number of paving projects and making for a slow spring for Northland's paving crews.
But when the weather finally broke in late June there was a tremendous spike in paving activity, which placed extreme demands on both the mainline and mid-sized pavers. In normal times, the ProPaver 813 RT would be found mainly on bike path, tennis court, and road patching applications. But with the weather delays, Northland relied even more on the mid-sized paver's ability to pave larger jobs in tandem with the mainline paver.
Filling the Need
Although in business serving predominantly the Minneapolis market for only three seasons, Northland has already developed an impressive customer base.
"We pave for approximately 100 general contractors in 15 different counties throughout Minnesota and two counties in Wisconsin," Dauffenbach says.
Having the tandem of a 10-foot mainline and the mid-sized paver expands the types of applications the paving contractor tackles.
"Being lighter and more maneuverable, our mid-sized paver can be used on jobs where the mainline can't or is not cost-effective," says Jeramy Ladzun, fleet manager for Northland Paving. "If we didn't have it we'd be giving a lot of jobs away to the competition."
He says the mid-size machine also enables the company to work on sites too wet for the heavier 10-foot paver to pave without damaging the base.
"But we could use the mid-sized paver to quickly lay the mat and keep the job moving ahead," Ladzun says.
Among the mid-sized pavers on the market, the ProPaver 813 RT spreads its 13,500-pound weight over two tracks with a 61-inch surface contact length, offering a low pounds-per-linear-inch (PLI) ground contact pressure. Ladzun says the lower PLI also lends the machine to parking lot patching and paving some of the more unusual applications the contractor encounters.