Another advantage to an 8-ft. paver is that it is much easier to move to and from jobsites. "The weight, length, and width allow contractors to put more machines on low-boy trailers, making it easier to move their equipment around," Mooney says.
Harkins says that hauling more than one piece of equipment on a trailer is more cost-effective. "A skid steer and a paver, a roller and a paver -- when you can haul them together on one trailer it saves them money," Harkins says.
A byproduct of the size of the 8-ft. paver is its reduced weight. Harkins says a 10-ft.paver typically weighs in excess of 28,000-30,000 lbs. As a result it might have difficulty paving on soft soil. "An 8-ft. paver is much lighter and can get in and pave on sub bases that might not hold up to heavier weight," Harkins says. "The bigger paver will get stuck on some of that base if it's a little soft."
8-ft. Pavers Can Produce
Harkins says that 8-ft. pavers are deceptively productive. "Production is not really an issue with them," he says. "Eight-foot pavers range in size from 12,000-25,000 lbs. and the smaller pavers can place 500-600 tons a day and the bigger 8-ft. machines can place 1,200-1,800 tons a day."
He says productivity of the 8-ft. machines has improved over the years as developments on 10-ft. machines are now often found on the smaller pavers. "The 8-ft. paver definitely has been enhanced over the last 10 years as contractors want smaller pavers but want to maintain their productivity," Harkins says. "So auger size, among other technology, has mirrored the 10-ft. paver."
Mooney says there's no question a 10-ft. highway paver out-produces an 8-ft. paver because the highway machine's hopper, tunnel, and augers are bigger and are designed to push through more material. In addition there's higher compaction out of the back of the 10-ft. screed because the screed is heavier than an 8-ft. screed. But, he adds, the screeds themselves are very similar, with the 8-ft. model simply being smaller.
Harkins agrees that screed technology on 8-ft. machines has been improved, particularly the electrically heated screeds which used to only be available on 10-ft. machines. "The finished product coming out of the back of the machine is virtually flawless," Harkins says.
Jobs Impact Paver Size
But manufacturers don't just view themselves as selling equipment, they see themselves as problem solvers for contractors and in that light they make sure to learn what types of problems each potential paver purchaser is trying to solve.
"If someone comes looking for a 10-ft. rubber track paver we always talk about application because some people come in asking for a machine they just don't need," Hutchins says. "If we know how they're planning on using it we can make them aware of other machines that might be better tool for their application. Not that we always change their mind but we do want to make them aware of an alternative that might work better for them."
"So far they're not looking for 8-ft. pavers unless we bring it up to them. We don't just sell equipment to our customers, we're a solutions company and that's why we focus on the application first because that helps define what kind of paver they can best use," Hutchins says.
"In some cases we try to tell contractors 'why spend $350,000-plus on a machine that will require you to spend more on fuel, that you have to have a permit to trailer, and where the residual value declines quickly? Why not buy an 8-ft. machine instead?'" Hutchins says. "It's easier to maneuver; you can place a lot of material-- it's not like it's not capable of putting down tonnage, and in five years the residual value of the 8-ft. machine is going to be higher than the 10-ft. paver."