On-Site Magazine

Hitting the road


Asphalt Concrete Construction Equipment Equipment Technology Roads

Newest generation of pavers and rollers focus on advanced automation and greener technologies.

(Photo courtesy of Bomag)

Current trends in road construction equipment put a spotlight on greater efficiency and improved operation with less environmental impact than ever.

“Right now, manufacturers are continuing to push for greener technologies like battery-powered and alternative-fuelled equipment, but they’re also focusing on increasing efficiency and output quality, as well as safety,” explains Sheldon Allan, paving industry support specialist at Finning, a major Canadian CAT distributor.

Martin Hilken, product marketing team lead at Vögele, also highlights sustainability, but points to user-friendliness, process automation and cost-effectiveness as well.

“The aim is to make the machines even easier and more intuitive to operate and learn,” he says.


Intuitive and efficient operation are driving innovations for manufacturers of pavers, as well as compaction equipment.

“Many of the changes and updates to asphalt compactors have revolved around making the operator’s job simpler, to give them more confidence and ultimately greater satisfaction in a job well done,” says Jeremy Dulak, product manager with CASE Construction Equipment. “This has included more comfortable operator stations, improved visibility, more intuitive control locations, and giving the operators greater control flexibility.”

Hilken adds that asphalt paving processes are being automated as far as possible in order to reduce the workload on operators and counteract paving errors.

Allan agrees that automation is coming, saying, “Although a fully autonomous paving train isn’t available yet, the puzzle pieces are being introduced on a regular basis.”

Costs will be trimmed in paving equipment, says Hilken, through more-efficient drives, but alternative drive technologies are also being considered.

“For the smallest pavers, the focus will be on battery-electric drives, while intensive research is being carried out into other alternatives for machines in larger performance classes,” he says.

Among other advancements, a new design for screed plates is coming to the market. These plates, notes Allan, have a three-dimensional angular design that provides a kneading action as the asphalt mix passes through the grooves.

“This reduces air voids and increases density behind the screed, leading to longer-lasting roads with increased joint density and better smoothness (IRI) scores,” he explains.



(Photo courtesy of Caterpillar)

Caterpillar recently announced new features in its large asphalt pavers, like the AP1055F, a high-production, rubber track paver. These aim to reduce errors and increase consistency and efficiency.

Pave Start Assist is an optional integrated system that uses smart cylinders on the screed and tractor. Allan explains that once the paver is set up to produce the best quality mat, the screed setup can be stored into the paver’s display. This allows for repeatable performance, which reduces errors and improves mat quality and joints while also saving time.

Other new features include a hopper level temperature sensor, which identifies issues with incoming material, and thermal mapping, which identifies thermal variations early.

Caterpillar compaction equipment also incorporates sensor systems through options such as object detection, compaction control and cameras (birds’ eye and front/rear). These options improve operator effectiveness and efficiency by extending sightlines, ensuring adequate coverage and more, says Allan.

“Caterpillar has also introduced its ‘Command for Compaction’ feature, a semi-autonomous option for soil compactors that brings together machine control, positioning and object detection systems,” he says. “The operator drives the soil compactor around the perimeter and inputs passes, speed and overlap. The system then takes over.”



(Photo courtesy of Wirtgen Group)

Vögele’s newest paver features include Road Scan, a non-contacting temperature measurement system that enables seamless control and documentation of the asphalt temperature directly behind the paving screed.

“There is a version specially developed for the North American market that enables collected data to be transmitted online via a secure serve,” says Hilken. “The data is conveniently forwarded to the Departments of Transport via a direct download from WITOS Paving Analysis. The data provided meets the VETA requirements.”

Vögele’s 3D control systems, Navitronic Plus and Navitronic Basic, are available for several pavers, including the 8-ft SUPER 1700-3i and 10-ft SUPER 2003-3i. Navitronic Basic not only provides conventional grade and slope control, but also automatically controls the paving position. Navitronic Plus has the same features but also takes over steering of the Vögele tracked pavers.

“This makes the Navitronic Plus a true 3D control system of a kind offered by Vögele only,” says Hilken.



(Photo courtesy of Gomaco)

Concrete paving machine manufacturer GOMACO recently introduced the GP460, which is a placer/spreader that can go up to 50 feet (15.2 m) wide, and a slipform paver that can go up to 40 feet (12.2 m).

It’s built on the framework of the GOMACO two-track GP4 slipform paver with the ability to convert the prime mover into a concrete placer/spreader. The prime mover is equipped with vibrator circuits for paving and auger drive circuits for placing. Control of the new technology is achieved through GOMACO’s G+ digital control system, which handles the controls conversion needed for each application while also bringing onboard machine-to-machine communication, sonic sensors, 3D machine guidance, and more.

The GP460 is also available with an optional sonic sensor system to monitor the concrete depth as it is placed. Information from the sonic sensors is used by the G+ control system on the paver using M2M communication to provide an optimum and consistent head of concrete in front of the paver.



(Photo courtesy of Bomag)

Among BOMAG’s newest offerings are its BM 2200/65 and BM 1200/35-2 cold milling machines. The BM 2200/65 is equipped with the company’s exclusive Ion Dust Shield technology for effective reduction of fine dust and particulate matter generated by the milling process. It turns captured fine dust into course dust, improving environmental safety on jobsites.

In its implementation of “intelligent compaction,” BOMAG equips its new BW 120 SLC-5 combination roller with Intelligent Vibration Control. This system alerts the operator in real-time when optimum compaction is achieved.

Its highway-class BW 174 AP-5 AM and BW 206 AD-5 AM tandem rollers both feature its Asphalt Manager, which allows operators to enter the asphalt lift thickness so that the system will automatically adjust compaction force relative to material thickness and temperature. Vibration direction is automatically matched to the roller’s travel direction to prevent ripples in the mat.

BOMAG also offers electric compaction in its roller lineup, with a new tamper, single-direction plate and tandem ride-on roller through its e-Performance line. The BT 60 e tamper has a plug-and-play system for easy charging without tools, and an optional quick charger allows for the battery to charge in less than two hours.

The new BP 18/45 e single direction plate uses the same battery as the BT 60 e and features an optional water tank for asphalt compaction.

The BW 100 AD e-5 tandem roller is designed to operate for a full typical workday with one charge. Two high-efficiency electric motors independently control the drum vibration and travel/steering, so only one motor is needed for travel mode to conserve power.



(Photo courtesy of Volvo CE)

Sensor systems and autonomous operation that improve efficiency, consistency and overall performance are the latest trends in rollers at Volvo Construction Equipment.

“Intelligent compaction has come a long way in the last several years and is growing in use,” says Mark Eckert, the manufacturer’s product manager for compactors.

Volvo CE’s most advanced sensor system, Compact Assist for Asphalt with Density Direct, provides operators with real-time density estimates of the surface area being compacted, enabling greater accuracy and consistency.

The company introduced its newest compactor, the DD25 Electric asphalt compactor, in January. It’s a smaller machine for jobs like street repairs and bike paths and the company’s first electric machine for the road segment. Volvo CE also makes three electric excavators and two electric wheel loaders.

Due to the size of its components, the DD25 Electric is more responsive in terms of speed and vibrations, providing better performance on grade. It’s also better at high elevations compared to a diesel machine, says Eckert.

On that note, Volvo CE’s newest diesel compactor is the DD128C, which offers the highest frequency in the industry.

“The rear 55-inch drum has auto-reversing eccentrics that ensure eccentric rotation in the direction the machine is traveling for unparalleled smoothness,” Eckert explains. “It’s also equipped with an automatic drum wetting system that provides speed-dependent water flow to minimize water usage and ensure uniform coverage to prevent material pick-up.”



(Photo courtesy of Case)

At CASE, the aim is to provide contractors with the flexibility to choose equipment that fits their company’s workflow.

“If you look across the line, we give people options in size, drum type, and setting and performance capabilities that really allow a contractor to select the machine that is best for them,” says Dulak. “There’s no forcing one size to fit all. As you look at our more compact rollers, they now have many of the control settings and capabilities of large-frame rollers in terms of frequency and amplitude and dialing in that machine.”

The manufacturer’s focus on providing a comprehensive line of asphalt paving equipment that meets the need of every paving contractor provides a lot of choice in its equipment, which ranges from compact double-drum and combi rollers to full-sized double-drum vibratory rollers. CASE also offers large-scale pneumatic tire rollers for larger highway and roadbuilding projects.

“If you look at compact solutions from 39 inches up to large-frame drums at 66 inches, we have 11 machines in that range with various drum and tire styles, compaction settings, et cetera, to fit every business,” illustrates Dulak. “And then if you need the true large-scale roadbuilder with massive flexibility in compaction: you have the PT240D.”


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