Concrete slipform pavers are considerable investments for fleets, so it’s important for managers to do all they can to keep operating costs down and use the latest technology to advantage on these concrete paving machines.
First and foremost, concrete paver manufacturers stress maintenance as the lynchpin of a cost-saving strategy.
“The most expensive part of machine ownership costs are repairs,” says Fred Bryan, VP of sales for Power Curbers. “The best way to reduce those is to follow the manufacturer’s recommended service schedule. Keeping the machine clean and free of concrete buildup is another essential part of machine ownership. Spending a few additional minutes at the end of a pour will save time, money, and reduce frustration over the long haul.”
Watch this video to learn more about operating costs.
Kevin Klein, GOMACO’s VP of engineering/research and development, also stresses cleaning and maintenance of concrete paving machines.
“Start a rigorous and continual maintenance program which includes a daily cleaning regiment,” Klein says. “Concrete slipform paving equipment must be thoroughly cleaned after each day paving to remove dried on concrete and concrete spatter. Skipping just one day starts a gradual build up which can lead to problems and maybe even serious equipment failure.
“Have all your paving team review the Operator’s Manual that was shipped with the machine,” Klein continues. “[Check it] primarily for all safety notices, but also pay particular attention to maintenance information it contains. Each piece of GOMACO equipment has guidelines for servicing the engine and changing out fluids, greasing the slew drives and other moving components, and replacing worn components—a well-maintained machine is an efficient machine.”
Klein also says that telematics plays a role, pointing to his company’s remote diagnostics.
“Take advantage of GOMACO Remote Diagnostics,” he says. “GRD allows our service team to update machine control software, complete diagnostic checks or troubleshoot equipment over the phone helping to keep the contractor up and running, even when traveling becomes difficult because of Covid requirements.
“Along with GRD, we have in-house service representatives available 24-7 taking contractor phone calls and helping to troubleshoot machine issues,” Klein says.
The consequences of skimping have a ripple effect.
“Ignoring daily and periodic upkeep can cause unscheduled equipment downtime, which in turn can cause wasted concrete, shortened productive labor hours, and, potentially, time penalties,” says Wade Bowman, product manager, concrete slipform paving, for Wirtgen.
Technology is also a big part of controlling costs. Construction Equipment asked some of the industry’s major slipform concrete paver manufacturers to review their latest and greatest.
“For GOMACO, and our slipform concrete paving equipment, our newest advancements are in our exclusive G+ control system and machine controls using 3D guidance systems,” Klein says.
“New to the G+ is the GOMACO Navigator software for pavers that brings all of the G+ paver accessories together for easy control and monitoring on an optional touchscreen display,” Klein says.
“This gives personnel on the ground the ability to fine-tune the paver’s performance, configure settings for the paver’s GSI (GOMACO Smoothness Indicator), side bar inserters, and PTAs (Power Transition Adjusters), monitor elevation and steering deviations, and make as-need adjustments for sensitivity control,” he says.
Klein explains how the GSI feature works on the ground, where smoothness is key to meeting stringent specs and perhaps achieving performance bonuses.
“It allows the personnel on the job site, standing next to the paver, the ability to monitor the smoothness of their pavement on the go,” he says.
“The Navigator has a GSI screen which allows up to four GSI smoothness traces to be monitored using either a real-time localized roughness graph or a simulated California profilograph,” Klein says. “It helps the contractor achieve ultimate rideability. The paver’s speed and travel information, and paver start and stop events, are all logged to allow our contractors the ability to correlate machine speed with pavement smoothness in relationship to the profile they’re slipforming that day.
“We’ve also updated the hardware for the mold-mounted GSIs. We’re using new, lightweight aluminum GSI mounts to make handling and assembling the GSI units easier. They also require less maintenance,” Klein says.
“The new mounting system is low-profile so a work bridge can be mounted directly above the GSI. New CAN-based slope and sonic sensors read the smoothness data from anywhere on the surface of the slab for the most accurate measurements possible,” Klein says.
“Each of the GSI units has its own digital LCD screen right on its tracer bar providing digital diagnostics right at the sensor location,” Klein says. “The mold-mounted GSI and Navigator system aboard a GOMACO slipform paver offer quality control tools that are quick and easy to install and offer immediate feedback to produce a quality pavement in today’s paving market with stringent rideability specifications.”
Wirtgen is also improving the tech offerings on its concrete paving equipment.
“We continuously enhance the capabilities of our equipment to improve equipment flexibility and utilization,” Bowman says. “These enhancements improve ride, cut mobilization time, and make trouble shooting much more automated.
“In today’s environment, those things have a huge impact on the bottom line,” Bowman says. “And, we’re adding new equipment to our lineup. For instance, we recently introduced a placer spreader to the market, the WPS62i. It has numerous never-before-seen features, like a remote control that allows the slipform paver operator (which follows behind the WPS62i), to change the position of the strike-off to increase or decrease concrete feed to the paver with the touch of a button.”
Power Curbers Bryan also keys on controls.
“Our newest machine controls, the SlipSmart Control Solution, provide Power Curber operators the most precise concrete placement yet,” he says.
“Cross-slope controls are smoother, more responsive, and intuitive, and integration with Topcon, Leica, and Trimble 3D control systems is simplified,” Bryan says. “For tight-radius pours, there is auto-calibration for the radius steer sensor. The speed controls now offer finer scaling. Also, the display is standardized and it can easily switch between English descriptions and icons and other languages.”
The slipform concrete paver market has been a mixed bag, according to those OEMs who answered CE’s questions on the market. Covid-19, of course, looms large, as does the annual wish for lasting infrastructure legislation the national level. “Covid has certainly created some challenges in the market this year, especially internationally where many countries have been in lockdown much of the year,” Bryan says.
“After a pause domestically, we’ve seen a strong finish to the year and are closely following state budgets for 2021,” Bryan says. “We’re hopeful that Congress will find a way to approve and fund a long-term infrastructure bill. It will be a game-changer for contractors and suppliers alike. Housing starts have continued to drive a solid market for curb and gutter machines.”
Wirtgen sounds a positive note, despite the odd and challenging circumstances of 2020.
“We’ve actually had a very good year and our sales are up,” Bowman says. “We thought we might see a flattening with the pandemic and election uncertainty, but our pavers have been very well received by the market.”