In what could be termed a maturation of the product type, the curb-and-gutter paving machine is being offered with more capabilities and options seemingly every time a new or updated model is introduced.
A manager with one leading equipment manufacturer has a theory as to why this specialized type of machine has developed rapidly of late.
"With so many of the contractors I talk to, the labor shortage is becoming a bigger and bigger and bigger concern," says Steve Milam, regional sales manager with Power Curbers. "With the housing downturn, that may not seem to be as big an issue today as it was even two months ago. But in any case, I think in general the lack of people willing to go to work seems to be a big issue out there."
The industry leaders are, indeed, out in front in dealing with this.
Introduced by GOMACO exactly one year ago at the World of Concrete show, the 27,500-pound GT-3400 is the first curb-and-gutter machine controlled by remote control. The model's all-new three-track footprint features the all-track, five-mode steering system also available on the company's GT-3600 and Commander III models.
"The curb-and-gutter machine has definitely matured with the digital control systems providing simple setup and operation," says Kent Godbersen, GOMACO's vice president of worldwide sales and marketing. "The machine-poured curb has nearly eliminated the hand-poured process, basically because of production.
"We have a GOMACO customer in Alabama who poured over 16,000 feet of 30-inch-wide valley curb in nine hours."
The GOMACO curb-and-gutter line features the exclusive G21 digital operating system, which provides push-button steering setup and trainable track steering when interfaced with GOMACO's "smart" cylinders. The new G22 system, now an option on some models including the GT-3400, has a graphical display with colored pictograms depicting the machine's functions, as well as a second language feature.
With the "hook-and-go" mold system on the GT-3400 and GT-3600 models, contractors simply drive the machine up to the mold and hook the mount to a special attachment plate, avoiding the use of pins or latches. The operator hydraulically lifts the mold and goes right back to slipforming on the job.
Power Curbers has introduced a fourth-generation version of its top-of-the-line 5700 model, first introduced in 1985. The 23,600-pound 5700-C replaces the 5700-Super-B, and offers such labor-saving features and options as a choice of control systems, left/right pour capability, increased water and fuel capacity, a mold misting kit, a barrier mold lift kit, a post-hole digger, and a driveway knife.
"If you go back, especially 20 years or so, these machines were very manual-adjusted. Over the years, more and more of that manual adjustment has been replaced by hydraulic-adjustable features," says Power Curbers' Milam.
The 5700-C , he points out, is arriving on jobsites more often with the optional quick-connect mold mounting system that was formerly available, but not at all mainstream.
"The standard mold mounting is fairly quick in and of itself, but for guys who are looking for something even quicker, we have this hydraulic mounting system that cuts it down to about five minutes or less. And there is very limited manual intervention; it's more or less a hydraulic process, so one guy can easily do it by himself," says Milam. "Some people over the years, due to the additional cost, may have said, 'No, I don't need that.' But as labor becomes more and more critical, I think we can see more people looking at that as a definite option that they need to get."
Huron Manufacturing continues to extend its background in large mining technology to the curb-and-gutter paving market, as evidenced in the Easi-Pour 880 Compact that competes as either a tracked or tired model in the 20,000- to 25,000-pound market.
"We've got a customer who's pouring foot-and-a-half radius with a new machine that's legs are turned with actuators rather than the standard steering cylinder setup," says Randy Sondreal, company president. "It came from a piece that we used to turn a conveyor on a 150,000-pound mining machine. We said, 'Look, can we get something smaller to put on a curb-and-gutter machine that will do the same thing?'
"There have been 10 people who have seen the machine, and of the 10, I bet six are going to buy . . . and they don't even need to buy now. They just liked so much what they saw that they're interested in trying something different."
The Easi-Pour has a 2-cubic-yard hopper capacity, "so while we're waiting for the next ready-mix truck, we just slowly inch along, never disturbing the quality of the curb. We're slowing production while we're waiting for the ready mix, but the curb looks like we never skipped a beat," says Sondreal.
"That's a huge plus. When you're going around the radius, you don't have to have the ready-mix truck live with you. The ready-mix truck can't go around a 2-foot radius — he's got to pull forward and back up, pull forward and back up. With our machine, he doesn't have to. He fills it up at one end and we meet him about 40 feet later."
At the same time that established players from Lil' Bubba up to Miller Formless are enhancing their small and large products, emerging onto the North American curb-and-gutter scene is a new participant, albeit one firmly ensconced in the general paving business.
Visitors to Terex Roadbuilding's King of the Road dealer and customer event in late 2007 caught a glimpse of what will be that company's full-fledged entry into the market. Among the equipment on display was the three-track SF2003B, which has been marketed outside North America as Terex's only true curb-and-gutter machine, says Tom Devonshire, Terex Roadbuilding's sales engineer, concrete mobile products. The roughly-20,000-pound machine has been established in Europe since 2003, and the hope is that, with upgrades and testing, it will be ready for marketing in North America at or near the start of 2008.
The upgrades represent the enhanced wants and needs of contractors in North America, says Devonshire.
"We offered a screw conveyor with a larger hopper because contractors want to have enough mud in the hopper to keep the paver moving," he says. "Just like any other piece of paving equipment, you have to keep the thing moving, because every time you stop, you create a bump. Curb-and-gutter is no different. Stopping creates a bump, which requires more hand finishing.
"Actually, in the curb-and-gutter market, tolerances are becoming tighter and they're starting to hold the paving contractor accountable for the curb-and-gutter work. It's just like mainline paving is — there are tolerances and ride specifications you have to meet."
As well, the addition of two-speed track motors "gives you that little better control at slower speeds."
As part of Terex, the former CMI operation in Oklahoma City is able to leverage being part of a worldwide company, says Larry Jack, Terex Roadbuilding's director of marketing and sales support.
"We have a lot of opportunity partnering up with some of our engineering groups and product development elsewhere," says Jack, "and looking at what's going on in other parts of the world."
Terex Roadbuilding also announced recently the offering of a new curb-and-gutter side kit for the Terex CMI SF2204B HVW, the company's "utility-sized" hydraulic-variable-width slipform paver.
"If you look at how the legs can swing on a parallelogram and maintain the pour position on the track, that's the same feature we have on the smaller SF2003," says Devonshire, who adds that the 360-degree visibility the SF2204B HVW provides operators will also lend itself to curb-and-gutter work. "You can see directly into the hopper — it's right there. If the operator's starting to overload his hopper, then he can shut his conveyor down or have the truck stop pouring mud into the hopper.
"When you're doing a lot of curb-and-gutter, you can run into obstacles. One of the other nice features about this is the actual frame can shift laterally. You can shift to the side, go around an obstacle, and then get back in place."
While larger than the horsepower and weight needs of most curb-and-gutter jobs, a side-kit-equipped SF2204B HVW unit offers an equipment utilization alternative for contractors.
"You spend the money on a paver, and you want to be working it to make the money, so you can configure it as a curb-and-gutter machine also," Devonshire explains. "That way, you don't have to buy a second machine and run it."
"And, actually, the conversion's pretty quick. You take the existing tandem mold off, and the same sub-frame structure that supports the tandem mold will actually retract and extend out, and it'll attach to the I-beam underneath the tractor. Then we just equip it with a conveyor belt . . . and we're ready to go."
Ready to go join the curb-and-gutter game, that is.
|The Cost of Ownership|
|Operating Weight (lb.)||List Price||Hourly Rate|
|* Hourly rate is the monthly ownership costs divided by 176, plus operating costs. Unit rates used are diesel at $2.83 per gallon, mechanic's wage at $43.07 per hour, and money costs at 5.75 percent.|
|Source: EquipmentWatch.com , phone 800/669-3282|
|Up to 12,500||$67,901||$36.11|
|24,000 and up||$224,168||$115.63|
|Curb-and-Gutter Pavers (1,000 pounds and up)|
|Model||Drive Type (No. of Units)||Operating Weight (lb.)||Max. Mold Height (in.)||Max. Paving Width||Turn Radius||Gross Power (hp)|
|Source: Spec-Check.com Xpanded Specs (as of November/07)|
|Power Curbers 440-XL||Wheel (4)||1,170||12||1′6″||4′0″||25|
|Messinger Curb Fox 2000||Tire (3)||2,000||14||1′6″||1′6″||18|
|MBW C101||Tire (3)||2,590||18||1′0″||1′6″||26.5|
|GOMACO Curb Cadet||Track + Wheel (1+8)||2,650||14||1′0″||2′0″||24|
|MBW C101-18||Tire (3)||2,725||18||1′6″||1′6″||26.5|
|MBW CG200||Tire (4)||3,395||18||4′0″||2′0″||26.5|
|Messinger Curb Fox 3000||Tire (3)||3,400||24||2′10″||2′0″||28|
|Miller Spreader MC1050 Curbilder||Tire (6)||4,800||18||4′0″||n/a||35|
|Messinger Curb Fox 5000||Tire (3)||5,000||24||5′0″||2′0″||28|
|LeeBoy LBC-24W||Tire (n/a)||7,500||24||4′0″||2′0″||44|
|Huron 650B||Tire (3)||9,900||48||n/a||n/a||80|
|GOMACO GT-6000-78||Track (2)||11,700||18||4′0″||n/a||92|
|GOMACO GT-6000-90||Track (2)||12,500||18||5′0″||n/a||92|
|GOMACO GT-3200||Track (3)||15,000||36||5′0″||2′0″||92|
|Miller Formless M-1000||Track (4)||18,800||32||5′0″||2′0″||115|
|GOMACO Commander II||Track (2)||20,000||32||5′0″||n/a||92|
|Huron 880 Tire||Tire (4)||21,900||42||8′0″||9′0″||118|
|Power Curber 5700-C||Track (3)||23,600||50||10′0″||1′8″||130|
|Huron 880 Track||Track (4)||24,000||42||8′0″||9′0″||118|
|GOMACO GT-6300||Track (3)||24,400||n/a||12′0″||n/a||155|
|Miller Formless M-8100||Track (4)||25,000||84||16′0″||18′0″||156|
|GOMACO GT-3600||Track (3)||25,670||24||2′0″||2′0″||99|
|GOMACO GT-3400||Track (3)||27,500||n/a||6′0″||2′0″||127|
|GOMACO Commander III-3T||Track (3)||29,300||n/a||3′0″||n/a||185|
|Huron 1000||Track (4)||31,000||84||16′6″||15′0″||185|
|Miller Formless M-8800||Track (4)||36,600||96||20′0″||30′0″||185|