There are certain types of equipment in your fleet that don't change much over time, but compaction is not one of them. Rammers, plates, trench compactors and rollers are constantly evolving to meet the changing needs of today's jobsites. Following is an update of some of the innovations in compaction equipment that can make it easier for your crew to do a better job in the field.
High-quality compaction is the goal
Advancements are being seen in all areas of compaction technology, but perhaps the area currently getting the most attention is compaction metering. Compaction meters not only improve the final product, creating better roads and paved surfaces, they vastly boost efficiency by shortening the time it takes to get to the finish line, reducing operator fatigue, saving gas, as well as lessening wear and tear on machinery.
Plate compactors have featured compaction meters for several years, making their first appearance on Weber MT models in 2004, but they're becoming much more prevalent now that several manufacturers have begun offering the feature on their models.
"Having a tool that guarantees uniform compaction to at least 95% or 98% standard Proctor density and assuring that the area has no weak spots is not only a quality assurance tool, but a huge time and money saver," says Peter Witt with Weber MT.
Weber MT's compaction control device, called the Compatrol-MSM, is in its second generation. It's not only a compaction meter but incorporates machine and motor service functions as well: engine temperature, eccentric frequency, air filter and V-belt usage are monitored consistently and the operator receives feedback if any of these parameters are outside of their tolerances. "This enhances engine and machine life and dramatically reduces the cost of ownership as preventive maintenance costs are always lower than any repair costs," Witt says.
Compaction metering technology has increasingly been adopted in various forms by manufacturers such as Bomag, Ammann, Multiquip, and Atlas Copco (Dynapac).
According to Jon Williamson with Multiquip, the new COMPAS (compaction analyzing system) for the Mikasa MVH306 and MVH406-series reversible plate compactors helps operators improve efficiency and maximize productivity, while avoiding costly over-compaction. He explains that a series of LED lights indicates the progress made with each machine pass. As soil density changes, lights illuminate and inform the operator to either make additional passes or stop because optimum soil conditions have been attained for the specific plate compactor.
"Contractors are increasingly looking for ways to reduce costly errors, such as over-compaction, and for ways to train new operators on proper equipment operation," Williamson says. "The COMPAS provides real-time feedback to the operator."
BOMAG has taken the intelligent compaction technology that has been available on heavy rollers for many years and applied similar technology to its mid-size and heavy walk-behind reversible plate compactors. "Our reversible plate compactors are offered with the Economizer soil stiffness indicator, which shows instant soil stiffness results on an LED light display," explains Timo Stenz with BOMAG Americas. "This allows operators to react quickly to changing conditions and gives them the confidence that the job is completed correctly. And in addition to ensuring compaction quality, this saves time and money by allowing jobs to be completed in fewer passes."
Quality of compaction is a balance between compactor static weight, centrifugal force, vibration frequency and compactor shape, explains Dave Schulenberg with Wacker Neuson. This is especially true in asphalt compaction where finished appearance is extremely important.
"The Wacker Neuson WP asphalt plates are an excellent example of the perfect balance of these factors," says Schulenberg. "The centrifugal force and static weight are high enough to provide excellent compaction on common asphalt lifts, but not so high that it marks the surface. The WP plate also features a patented base plate design that allows operators to spin the plate in place without marking the asphalt. This is a key feature for compacting in confined spaces."